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Penguin Parades and Related Sillyness 

Lesse, what has gone on in the last two weeks...

I went to an overnight orientation put on my the international office and the housing service. We traveled down the Morrington peninsula by coach. We stopped at a couple of scenic spots on the coast, can't seem to remember the names, very nice though. We then went to a small winery for a wine tasting and then onto the home of the housing director. Her and her husband gave several lectures that evening, one on aboriginal history and the other on the political structure of Australia.

Sculpture in a shopping center on the Yara.

The politics lecture was quite interesting, their ceremonial head of government is actually the queen of England. There is a big conflict right now over whether they should revise their constitution to get rid of the whole queen thing and have a president instead (though not in the same sense that we have a popularly elected president, it still would be mostly a ceremonial position). Right before dusk we went out down a farm road to look for some kangaroos. We spotted three in field and couple hundred yards from the road. Some of us jumped the fence and tried to get closer, but they bounded over a fence and were gone.

Stained glass roof at a museum in Melbourne.

In other news, I decided to bail out of my homestay and move into a student flat. Last Monday I moved out and into a really swanky flat on the north side of the city. The housing director bought this flat so she'd have a place to stay while she's in the city. Consequentially, it is the nicest one of the bunch, with big rooms, hard wood floors, etc.

Johan, Florence and myself outside of our flat.

There are just two other students staying there, Johan from Sweden and Florence from France. Johan and I get along great, he's also in computer science and has a lot of similar interests (bushwalking, taking photos, eating pasta). Florence is somewhat quiet, her grasp of English is less than stellar, I usually have to repeat myself several times. She also smokes like a bloody chimney. I guess in France smoking is much more prevalent than in the US. She's starting to catch on to the idea that I don't like her lighting up next to me when I'm eating my dinner. All in all, I like living in the flat much better. I don't have to pay for homestay meals that I miss when I'm out and about. I get to eat whatever and whenever I want. Plus it only takes me 15-20 minutes to get into campus compared to 30-45 minutes from the old place.

Johan, Florence and Jen sampling the "bush mush".

Classes started last week. My first experience was my Graphical User Interface class on Monday. The class only lasted 10 minutes since the main lecturer wasn't in town yet (and still isn't). The next day I had Data Communications, I was hoping for another 10 minute deal, but this one actually met for the full two hours (classes here generally meet once a week for two hours). This class is pretty much the same as the Networks class taught at Morris. On Wednesday, I had my History and Aesthetics of Photography class. This should be a fun class, there are guest lecturers scheduled almost every other week.

Johan feeding a roo on Phillip Island.

The next day we met up with the other 5 that didn't show up. They claim I didn't tell them where to meet at the station, but I know I told them. The island has no public transportation, so we ended up walking around the island Saturday. Some of our group went horseback riding and we also walked through some nature trails on a koala reserve (didn't seem any bears though).

Kangaroo with joey in her pocket.

That night we went to the main attraction, the penguin parade. Every evening after dusk, all these penguins come in from the ocean and trek across the beach to go to their boroughs (my editor doesn't have a spell checker, can anyone tell???). This is the second biggest tourist attraction in Australia. They have big grandstands and lights. I was packing full photo gear, tripod and all (hired the pod from the student union, only have to put down a deposit and you get it all back when you return it). You're not allowed to use a flash so I finally had a use for that 3200 speed black and white film I bought a few years ago. About 100 penguins came trekking by, they are quite small, only about a foot tall. Probably a few thousand people there, makes you wonder who is watching who. Even better than the penguins was the moon rise over the ocean. It started out as brilliant orange and faded as it got higher in the sky. I can't say I'd ever seen a moon rise before...

Narrow country road on Phillip island.

Sunday, Johan and I got up early and rented some bikes and rode around the island. We went to a wildlife park where they had kangaroos, koalas, wombats, Tasmanian devils, and much more. The 'roos where free in the park, they would bound up to you and see if you'd give them some of the food pellets you can buy at the entrance. Some of the mothers and little baby 'roos riding along in their pouches. We also rode to two scenic spots on the north and south sides of the island before we had to get back to catch our ride back to Melbourne.

Well this is too long already, so I'll leave it at that. later...

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