Unsurprisingly, I'm behind on blogging about my time in Australia - there's just been so much going on during the days, leaving me too tired at night to get caught up. But we're having a bit of a slow morning before heading to the beach, so I'm going to recap Friday and the weekend before everyone else is out of bed. (Speaking of getting out of bed, Friday started out with quite a sunrise, through Melbourne's smoky haze.)
Friday's activities began with what would have been, if not for the flight delay, our first tour -- Melbourne City Sights. We might have liked it better at the beginning, when we were still getting oriented, but given how terrible the guide was, perhaps not. The city itself did not disappoint, however, even though the guide did.
We saw the gorgeous St. Patrick's Cathedral:
And Firzroy Gardens, where Captain Cook's house is. (It was moved from England for reasons I'm not entirely clear about.)
We also stopped by the World War One Memorial, which -- in addition to being beautiful in its own right -- offered nice views of the skyline.
(At this point, I have realized this post is already too long and there's no way it will recap the past three days without hitting the tl;dr stage, so I've just changed the title to make it only about Friday and I'll give the weekend its own post.)
Friday afternoon/evening was our koalas and penguins excursion, which took us back out of the city. Our first stop was the Maru Animal Park, where we had our pictures taken with koalas.
And while this was, without a doubt, super-cool (koalas are much softer than they look), the park overall was incredibly depressing. It reminded me of the sad monkey park I went to in Thailand, though at least the animals here weren't tethered. It was kind of like a petting zoo in the US, rather than a normal zoo or a wildlife reserve, but with koalas, kangaroos, and emus rather than goats and sheep. On the bright side, the money they raise there doing the photo-with-koalas thing goes to wildlife conservation, so it's all for a good cause.
We headed next out to Philips Island for the "penguin parade," which sounds like some godawful thing they think up for tourists, but it's actually the natural daily migration of Australia's famous "little penguins" from the sea to their burrows on land. As it's the beginning of molting season (when they stay in the water longer to feed) we didn't see hundreds of penguins, as is sometimes the case, but it was still pretty cool nevertheless.
No photos were allowed at the penguin parade to protect the animals from accidental camera flashes, so instead, here are a few pretty vistas from the island, which is closer to Antarctica than the top of Australia.
And that brings us to the end of Friday. I hear other people stirring at this point, so I might get up instead of writing about the weekend. So, more to come later.