Victoria. The state of stunning green rolling hills and fabulous coffee. It also comes with some monumental road trips. The Great Ocean Road; check! Grampians National Park; check! With an unexpected trip to Melbourne, I couldn’t pass up another mini trip somewhere great with Daniel, it’s just what we did when I came to visit! But where? Onto Google Maps I go.
There is no limit to stunning surrounds in this contrastingly lush state so we opted for the very popular Wilsons Promontory and Phillip Island. We only had 2 days but after a long drive, we crashed out for the first night leaving us only 24hours to explore these two locations.
We left Melbourne around 10am and the wind was biting. Car packed up with essentials like two containers squeezed with Schnitzels and bread to save on the extortionately priced restaurants.
The drive in itself provides us with breath taking vistas, however, this is always something which annoys me with road trips. These picture perfect landscapes which you pass have absolutely no place to pull over to capture what you know will be a National Geographic quality photograph. But we soaked it in none the less. After a quick stop in Loch for our first schnitzel sandwich of the trip we were only an hour or so out of Foster where we would be bunking for the night.
Due to it being Anzac weekend, our accommodation options where limited to say the least. I was put in charge of finding two decent places which would normal take the same time to find and book as it would to make and drink a coffee. It took me 6 HOURS. Everywhere wanted a two night minimum or charge $250 per night. I eventually found us something affordable and comfortable looking.
Daniel crashed out almost immediately so I headed into Foster for a wander before it got dark. Got to say, there was nothing special to report about Foster. Just a tiny tourist town with a handful of shops.
Better to get rested up for the night as we would have a big day tomorrow. A big climb up Mt Oberon was on the cards, so after munching down another schnitzel, I got some shuteye.
Mt Oberon is situated within Wilsons Promontory and less than an hours drive from Foster. The previous night left a frost across the cars and the clouds were drawing in. Damn. I need to reacclimatise to this sort of weather before New Zealand in June. We made a quick stop at Squeaky Beach, where, due to the weather, was not so squeaky! But an extremely pretty beach none the less!
Despite the impending down pour, the car park for Mt Oberon was full and Daniel had to do a little cheeky parking where he could. No one seemed to be rushing up the hill anytime soon, but we got our walking shoes on, literally, and started the assent to the summit, some 558m into the sky.
It wasn’t long before the few water droplets decided to multiply and the heavens opened with full force. The term “soaked to the bone” has never been more appropriate and like the genius I was, I was wearing jeans and a fleece. Both which tripled in weight in a matter of minutes. There were a few songs and random chit chats to begin with, until the climb took it’s toll on us and it just became uncomfortable to talk through the wind, rain and cold. There were no markers updating us on our progress so we used some logic to guesstimate how much further we had to go.
When people get stranded in the desert, they start to see an Oasis. I experienced something similar. Between ragged breaths, I dreamt of a large lodge cabin where you would be greeted with a pre-warmed fluffy towel and be guided to a large open fire places. Big mugs of hot chocolate and coffee would be provided and you could relax and enjoy the view.
Just a few… more… steps. I look to my left over the railing. All I see is a thick fog. Seriously? OK. Don’t get angry. I haven’t just walked all this for a view of fog have I? Come on. Keep going.
A fellow sightseer greeted us at the summit. “You’re so lucky. I have been waiting up here for 40minutes for the fog to clear”. I look out and sigh. Oh sweet heaven, we have a view! After seeing nothing but my feet, mud and fog for the past hour my heart sprang out of my chest when I got to take in the glorious vista before us.
A couple of photos later, we perched on a wet rock to catch our breaths. It could have only taken 30seconds for a unnerving chill to pierce through our bodies telling us we had to keep on moving. The walk back down was glorious. We managed it with grace and ease. A stark contrast to our performance heading up!
The car ride to Phillip Island was less than pleasant due to the fact we both looked like a pair of drowned rats; so we headed back into Foster to grab a large coffee and change into the only dry clothes we had. Pyjamas! Heater on, extra large marshmallow floating in my hot chocolate and we were good to go!
We would make it with an hour or two to spare to catch Victoria’s infamous Penguin Parade. The idea of pulling a pair of ice cold, soaking wet 3 tonne jeans on over my now warm legs was not appealing, though a better alternative to Daniels alternative of staying in his thin jim jams.
The beach spreads out in front of a large seating area comprised of two sides of raised benches. The fairy penguins make their assent from the waves up the beach and towards their homes. In order to get any decent view due to the huge crowds which gather even in horrendous weather, wardens wander around making sure that everyone remains seated.
The first waddle of penguins appear and what does everyone do? STAND UP. Are you kidding me? The poor wardens must get sick to death of telling people off every single night. A few more waddles appeared and disappeared through to the other side in quick succession. Was that it? I was very confused. Did I just pay $25 to see a handful of penguins, a view which I only got in between the small gaps in the crowd in front who would just NOT SIT DOWN!
Daniel and I wandered up with the crowd and I got a little happier when I saw all the penguins waddle their way up to their little houses. So cute. So tiny. It is the Phillip Island experience but here is some advice. Arrive about an hour before the show starts. Get straight to the front. Once you see a few exit the water, immediately walk back the way you came to watch them all go into their homes. I was given the same advice however, didn’t know how long to leave it before I followed the crowd back up the boardwalk. Do it soon. Do it quickly.
Unfortunately, there is strictly no photography allowed but of course we bagged ourselves some highly fashionable penguin slippers. Obviously!
With only a day (not even 24 hours) and a lot of driving in between places, I am super happy with the amount we saw. We took our time. Had some laughs in the rain (there was also some grunting and perhaps some slight resentment from Daniel for me dragging him half way to heaven in the rain) and overall a great weekend with a dear friend.
Only 8 days till I leave Australia. Let the countdown begin!
Have you been to either place? What was your highlight? Let me know in the comments!
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