If you ever happen to visit the fine city of Melbourne, I have two recommendations: don’t rent a car from East Coast rentals downtown and don’t go see the Penguin Parade. Thankfully, we only did one of those things. While we waited around for our car–I’ll spare you the long story–we had the opportunity to visit the Melbourne Gaol and learn about the seedier past of Australia. In the 1800s, Ned Kelly was kept in the Gaol, along with many other notable delinquents. Several of the cells had biographies of prisoners, along with death masks created after execution. Super creepy. Highly recommend.
Our first impression of downtown was “meh” given our recent sojourn through beautiful New Zealand countryside. Melbourne is big, very flat and not at all green. I was captivated by the architecture right away, but left wondering why on earth people compare the city to Seattle. We got out of town as quickly as we could and headed southward to The Moonlit Sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula. Highly recommend. For the same price as admission for one to the Melbourne Zoo, the two of us got to snuggle with dingos, pet wallabies and feed some seriously weird-looking native critters. Also, I finally got to touch a koala–check that one off the bucket list!
Since we were all the way south, we decided to continue driving south to Phillip Island, home of the famous Penguin Parade and not much else. The scenery was beautiful rolling grasslands, very much like Eastern Washington or Oregon. We drove through the Penguin Parade parking lot, dodging tourists eager to pay $22 to watch the worlds tiniest penguins walk around on a beach. We decided to keep going and watched surfers catching the last few waves before sunset instead.