Tuesday, November 25, 2008

St Kilda Penguin parade 23rd Nov

On Fri 23rd Nov I went down to St Kilda to go on a guided tour of the little penguin colony at the end of the pier. I had been put in touch with one of Prue's friends Tiana who is doing a PHD on the penguins and has open nights to show people around the colony as the penguins come into shore at dusk. I decided to go down early to have a look around St Kilda before going to the tour. So here is another pictorial tour: First stop off the tram was into a small park which had this plaque.

I wonder if it should have read: 'We knocked down the first building in St Kilda to make way for this plaque'? On through the park past the war memorial (post to follow)

On past the luna fun fair (which was closed) to the beach crowded with sun seekers and swimmers:

Er - well it should have been crowded with sun seekers and swimmers this being effectively late spring/early summer but then I am here so of course it was freezing cold, windy and there was a storm on the way.

Another beach full of babes!

On to the pier to see where I had to meet everyone. By this stage a gale was blowing and it was hard to even walk down the pier. It reminded me of walking along any seafront in Ireland. I felt right at home!

Back past this clock tower

Then I ran out of things to see and went to the esplanade hotel for some beer and food (ok I was cold and hungry and thirsty!)

I had probably the worst meal I have had so far in Australia. I ordered a burger with everything and after 15 mins was given a piece of meat that looked as if it had been zapped by a laser cannon. The bap wasn't much better and was more carbon than bread. Not a good meal at all! The place looks good for live music etc but I wouldn't recommend eating there.

I still had nearly 2 hours to kill so went down to the main street with all its tacky shops (including some sex shops with dubious Santa costumes displayed) looking for a half decent bar. I eventually found one which was good enough and supped on some pots (that's half pints to you and me) while it began pouring down outside. Eventually it was 8pm and I headed back to the pier:

lovely weather for penguins!

I think I seen this scene in Ghostbusters

I got there in good time except that after 15 mins nobody had turned up. I texted Tiana only to get a reply saying they had cancelled due to the weather. Wimps! I told her this was Balmy weather in Ireland! The rain had ceased by this stage and the wind had died down as well so it turned out to be an excellent night to view penguins so I decided to do my own wee tour. There is a section of the breakwater which is not closed off to the public where you could see some of the penguins come to shore.

There is something quite magical about watching animals at night and these penguins with their comical walks and noisy chatter were fantastic to see. There was plenty of light from lamps to see them with the naked eye and you could in some instances get really close to them. My camera was not up to the job due to no flash photography being allowed but I put it on video mode which has slightly better night vision:

This one walked right past me (if you can see it in the bad light)

There is another video here but I have not been able to upload it yet - will do so in Melbourne

Featured animal - Little (or Fairy) Penguins:

Its the smallest penguin in the world and breeds around the coast of Australia and New Zealand. Here is some info from the boards around about the area.

At the start of the pier I also seen a notice about future work being done to enhance the pier and help protect the penguins. The next day I queried the developments with Tiana who replied that she was really excited about the enhancements as it would mean they would be protected from people. Apparently all sorts of dubious people such as druggies and drunks go to the end of the pier to lark about after dark (thanks for the warning Tiana!) Penguins have been disturbed and even in some case deliberately killed by some of these assholes.

That probably explains why these people were also there when I arrived:
police divers

When I asked what they were doing one policeman told me that they were looking for evidence of a crime - a weapon which had been thrown into the water.

As I said earlier - I felt right at home :)

Castlemaine XXXX Gold. Normally I wouldn't go anywhere near this beer but it did say Gold on the tap so I assumed it must have been different from the normal crap. It wasn't.

Or rather heard. On the tram down to St Kilda there was a women talking on a mobile phone who was possibly the loudest talker I have ever heard. Shouting would be more like it. The funny thing was that at the end of her (far too long) conversation she said to the person at the other end of phone. 'People say I talk very loud on the phone' Your bloody right ya do dear - my ears are still throbbing!

Rakali: Water Rat with webbed feet: As well as the penguins I was also lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one at the pier.

Cactus: Aussi Expression: Buggered, Dead. eg "this bloody washing machine is cactus"

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