Monday, March 29, 2010

Phillip Island

The Nobbies - and no, it's not what you think

Captain's Log. Tour Day 8:

This trip has brought out the best in our team. Chief Navigation Officer Linda has worked closely with young recruit Mandy the GPS and, with the exception of our retreat from Ballarat, there has been little backtracking and almost no major Where the Hell Are We moments.

But even CNO Linda would acknowledge that it is Chief Weather Officer Shirley who has performed the most brilliantly this trip. It has been CWO Shirley's responsibility to ensure we have sun and reasonably warm weather for our tour, and that she has done in spades. There were even days when we left one place under heavy cloud cover only to have blue skies and bright sun by the time we arrived at our next destination.

Her dedication is beyond doubt. I had given her Saturday as a day off since she had done so well. And sure enough, without Shirley working Ballarat was gloomy and cool - which, by the way, was not inappropriate. But no sooner had we decided to go up the road a few miles to Daylesford, and Shirley forgot it was her day off and delivered beautiful skies and a warm afternoon.

She faced another challenge today. It started raining overnight in Phillip Island, and we were facing a real test of her skills as it was still bucketing down around 10. But we had faith, and by noon the sun was breaking through and the temperatures were rising. By the time we had lunch outdoors around 2, I was actually starting to get a bit of a sunburn on that part of my head between my hairline and what used to be my hairline.

With the weather under control, we explored Phillip Island and went to a nature center on the tip of the island.

If North America has the Rockies, South America the Andes and Europe the Alps, we discovered today that Port Phillip has the Nobbies.

Those are the rocks just offshore from the western end of the island. The coolest part of the Nobbies area, though, is a 12-meter deep cave that forms a natural blowhole. The waves weren't big enough to see a massive splashback, but we could see enough to appreciate it.

For some reason Linda and Shirley kept snickering and looking at me whenever the topic of "blowhole" came up, but I am not sure what that was all about.

Best of all, there were lots of nesting penguins around the area. In fact this little guy just stood next to the walkway and looked at us without a care in the world.

I say best of all for two reasons. First, because it's really fun to see penguins up close. But second, because we had planned to drive back for the penguin parade around dusk, which is about two hours after cocktail hour. But we all agreed that we'd seen enough penguins at the Nobbies that there was no need to go back for more.

So, after a hugely successful Margarita Night last evening, we are now a few minutes into Martini Night. And I have enough experience to know with absolute certainty that the second one is going to taste heaps better than the first.

Tomorrow we chart a course for the Mornington Peninsula.

Ccaptains Log Out.

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