On Friday it was Australia Day, a national public holiday which commemorates the founding of Australia in 1788. Unlike most other public holidays, Australia day is always celebrated on the 26th January rather than being moved to the nearest Monday. This year it happened to fall on a Friday, giving everyone a bonus long weekend. b-)
Sara and I booked the following Monday off work too, allowing us to take a four day break and explore a bit more of Victoria. We decided to visit the Bass Coast, about two hours drive south. :d
Typically for us, we didn’t organise anywhere to stay until the last minute and then, because of the long weekend, we discovered that most places were already fully booked. Our original plan was to stay at either Venus Bay or Inverloch, within easy driving distance of Wilson’s Promontory, but everywhere we tried was full. #-o
On Friday we just enjoyed the sunshine, strolling along the beach and relaxing outside the cafe bars on the Esplanade. It seemed very European: the drive over the bridge from San Remo on the mainland reminded me of Ayamonte, on the Spain/Portugal border. If it wasn’t for all the cars going by with their Australian flags draped out of the windows, it would’ve been like a Spanish promenade. In our hurry to pack we forgot to bring the sunblock, amongst other things, so ended up with red faces. x(
We spent Saturday exploring the Bass Coast. The Tarwin river and Venus Bay were lovely but, with hindsight, we’re glad we ended up in Cowes; if you’re not into fishing or surfing there’s not much else going on. (:|
We then drove on to Wilson’s Prom — the most southerly point in Australia, a vast National Park with stunning forests, beaches and wildlife including koalas, kangaroos and emus. We purchased a day-pass and made our way down to the Tidal River campsite area, amazed by the spectacular scenery every time we turned a corner. Some of the beaches are like on “Lost”, with secluded inlets and crystal clear lagoons. It’s a beautiful place, well worth a longer visit in the future — Sara even said she’d stay there in a tent next time! 😉
On Saturday evening, as the sun went down, we enjoyed live music and sampled cellar-door wines at the Night Market on Cowes foreshore. :-”
Sunday was spent touring Phillip Island. We had a leisurely lunch at a waterfront restaurant in Rhyll, a tiny marina village (which is thankfully nothing like Rhyl in North Wales). We also took a look at Smith’s Beach, Newhaven and Woolamai Beach.
The highlight of the trip was definitely last night’s visit to the Penguin Parade; something we didn’t get a chance to do when we visited Phillip Island on holiday two years ago. We arrived at the visitor centre shortly before dusk and waited at the beach for the tiny penguins to come ashore. Watching them fight their way out of the rough sea and waddle up the dunes to their nests, only inches away from you, was an absolutely magical experience — it was well worth making the trip for this alone. (*)
Edit: Although I only had my mobile phone camera, I managed to take quite a few pictures which can be found in the gallery. The quality isn’t amazing, but you get the idea.