No one can stand before the sight of such glorious beauty and not feel awe-inspired despite the chilly winds that threaten to get under your skin in literally all directions. This was taken at The Nobbies, Philip Island, what is claimed to be Victoria’s “best kept secret”. The view was breathtaking from all angles of the boardwalk, and Isabel and I had a fantastically exciting time trying to snap decent photographs of ourselves without hair flying into our eyes, noses, and mouths.
The penguins aside, this is my favourite place of visit in Melbourne this time around. I remember thinking how blessed and people living in Melbourne must be to be able to drive down to Philip Island whenever they crave a short holiday trip to behold such natural spectacle. At one point, the heavens looked like they were opening up and huge shafts of light poured down towards us on the boardwalks as the sun began its descent as the evening went by. What a brilliant Artist and Creator God we serve.
There are different things people take delight in when on vacation, and I have never been a city girl to begin with. Crowds and shopping malls can do little to please me with the exception of pretty colourful holiday lights and festive decor. (Food, on the other hand, can though, ha ha.) Golden beaches and suntanning habits with rubber balls and water sports don’t appeal to me either. But The Nobbies had me convinced that I love just being close to and within such natural beauties in the world. Take me to a national park or put me at the beginning of a nature trail and I will be skipping away to my heart’s content. The only way things could get any better would be to have a lovely companion to make the journey with.
One other stop we made before heading down to the Penguin Parade was to drive up to Churchill Island, where a gorgeous heritage farm remains running and open for tourists and visitors who would like to spend some time on an old farm with animals in barns and participate in cool activities like sheep shearing and boomerang throwing ecetera. It isn’t the first time being on a farm for me, but just being around those gentle creatures (ducks and chickens cackling around you and friendly sheep poking his head out to welcome you) with the beautiful scenery in the distance actually made me entertain the prospect of living on a farm for an extended period of time! There was even a wedding lunch reception going on in a lovely little room next to the cafeteria. (If only!)
The Penguin Parade was a fascinating sight to watch as those little cuties scrambled through the waves and waddled across the sandy shores to the rocks and grass to their personal burrows. I wasn’t fascinated by how adorable they are compared to how much their behaviors resembled that of a human being. The rangers explained that these fairy penguins always returned to one home burrow their entire life. That speaks a lot to me, about how faithful these creatures were made to be. According to the seasons in a year, they would build their nests, mate, give birth to chicks, feed their young, and repeat the cycle over and over. They would never lose their way home, the ranger said. Have we ever lost our way home? At certain moments these fairy penguins would stop their scramble back home and call out to their friends as they are social creatures. It’s almost similar to how we are designed to be social creatures – befriending others, being neighborly and showing acts of love towards others. Without the strong support and companionship of their friends, these fairy penguins will find it hard to make it back home at sundown – they need each other to build the fort against the predatory sea birds always on a keen lookout for them. It is unfortunate the Penguin Parade do not allow photography – but it’s a fair exchange for the lovely experience we received at the centre. The penguins need their privacy and the centre needs the support from its visitors – which is why the centre is a non-profit organisation. Made buying little Penguin Blue worth it. ;)
A second tour we went on while in Melbourne was on the Great Ocean Road Drive. This took up most of the day as our tour group made several brief photo-stops along the way and lunch at Apollo Bay.
The sight was amazing – the rocks, shore and sea altogether. Although I personally felt that it was ridiculous to spend so much time driving up just for the view like that when we have had more thrilling breathtaking views the day before. If given a second chance, we would have opted to drive up t o the places that interest us rather than follow the tour groups. The experience wasn’t as perfect here than the day before, also because of the immense number of tourist crowds.
Tourists tirelessly taking photographs of the scenery and themselves in it – got me thinking after a while. It was almost like a sterile zoo where all the beautiful creatures and sights we saw were enclosed behind glass walls which we could not touch or hear beyond it. It was almost as if we were looking at all the earth’s splendour but did not comprehend it. If those photographs we took were nothing more than beautiful pictures to look at, they would become vague and meaningless memories in the distant future. How could we behold something as beautiful as what we saw before us, and not connect with it, and the Author behind it? It scared me because seeing the many tourists push their way up to the observatory deck to take photos after photos of something as grand as those amazing rock formations without any recognition or praise for the artist mirrored my life in 2012 – unconnected to the Savior. Was some serious food for thought.
Some more beautiful pictures as testament to the beauty of the place at Port Campbell National Park. We circled around this park during our tour to admire the natural beauty of Australia. Again, buzzing with tourists eager to snap photographs of what they saw.
We went to other cool places on this trip. The vineyards in the Yarra Valley was another, before we headed to Healsville Sanctuary to see the full range of Australian animals – wombats, koalas, kangaroos and wallabies, long-necked turtles, emus, echidnas. That was another one of my favourite places. We stopped by a winery for wine-tasting and lunch. Here was what appealed to our palates that lazy afternoon.
We spent the next one to two days walking around the streets of Melbourne City, trying to pick up and take in as many sights and sounds as we could. It was a strange pity our accommodation was not very near the heart of the city, so it took us awhile before we found ourselves within the city centre with the massive shops and decorations all that.
Isabel had a cousin studying in Melbourne and he took it upon himself to be our guide and companion for a day. I think we both enjoyed the change in dynamics with an additional companion, and anyway we were all rather amiable in nature. He was very nice because after patiently showing us the prime stops around the Queen Victoria Market to get our souvenirs and foodies back for relatives and friends, he showed us around the University of Melbourne before introducing us all the fabulous eating places in the city – which made us very very fat. and happy. This included a stop at some awesome gelato house – filled with people, the very first Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Melbourne to taste the cakes and chocolate beverages, and thereafter to the best steak I have ever tasted in a rustic little restaurant of the City Steakhouse. It is no wonder why we need to exercise and shed some huge pounds now that we are home! Anyway, his kind hospitality and generosity of time made it a very pleasant way to end the trip. It reminded me of the same warmth and kindness JY showed to us in London and the family who extended their love to us international studies in Loughborough. May God bless these people – and let us not stop doing the same towards others, seeking no reward.
Now that we are home in Singapore it is time to begin writing our Christmas cards and sealing them off in an envelope before the mad Christmas rush kicks in. It is also time to start sorting our thoughts and feelings and sweeping the excessive ones all away as we enter into the new year 2013. It seems faster than what we can imagine, honestly, given that Christmas is just about 1 week away. There have been many successes – some smaller than others, some more prominent – this year, and also many disappointments and confusions. May I have the wisdom and patience to slowly sit them out one by one and tie them up into pretty parcels with neat little ribbons before throwing them out.
This trip to Melbourne may not be a significant milestone in my life, but it was surely a nice break that I was looking forward to. I got to know my colleague and friend Isabel better along the way, and I think we realized each other’s little eccentricities and idiosyncracies more too. I don’t believe in making trips every year to “see the world” although it is able to broaden your experiences. Yet, if we do not actively look for meaning and value in these holiday trips, we will just be seeing the world and never understanding it. A poem written by an anonymous person was engraved onto a large rock on one of the trails in Lake District. I remember it distinctly because I found it most thoughtful and it clearly resounded in my heart.
Thou who has given one eyes to see
and love this sight so fair
Give one a heart to seek out Thee
and read Thee everywhere.
Happy holidays, everyone!