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Melbourne’s Most Memorable Part 2: Philip Island and Little Penguins.

Time November 14th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by


You haven’t seen the world until you have watched two tiny penguins run and fall belly first over the same patch of sea grass within 30 seconds of each other.

Allison and I, thanks to a fabulous Australian family friend of Allison, were able to visit Phillip Island and enjoy an event called the march of the penguins.


Philip Island is located just outside of the city of Melbourne and is home to thousands of ferry penguins. These penguins leave their burrows for days at a time to feed and bring back food for their families. The march of the penguins consists of watching packs of these little animals waddle up onto shore, make sure it’s safe, and then waddle as fast as they can towards their burrows. With their nerves on high, necks stretched, arms flailing in takeoff position, and knees fused together, you haven’t lived until you have witnessed this phenomenon.

On Sunday afternoon Allison and I boarded a small bus decorated with photos of tiny penguins and the words “The Little Penguin Company” scrawled brightly across the side. After a short and rainy drive, we arrived at the western tip of the island where we were able to explore the Nobbies at Point Grant. The Nobbies are made up of boardwalks along the coast that overlook the ocean and rocks below, and some of these boardwalks are also homes for the ferry penguins.


I hopped off the bus at the Nobbies and was immediately blown backward by the winds that followed the rain of that day. For protection, I wrapped my jacket around my camera and I and trudged towards the boardwalk. The sun began to set as we walked along the coast and the waves, with the help of the wind, crashed and swirled white froth along the hillside. The sun set behind a small but tall island and illuminated its green shrubs on all sides. The island looked as if it was wearing a halo and the waters below it glistened and danced around its edges trying to touch the aura of sunlight.


As we got back on the bus, the golden Nobbies disappeared behind us along with the sun, and we headed towards the Phillip Island Nature Park to watch the penguin parade. Allison and I were lucky enough to go on a guided ranger tour which allowed us to be up close and personal with the penguins as well as receive headsets through which our guide to explained the process of the penguins return to home in depth.


It did not take long for the Penguins to begin coming up onto the beach. We sat and watched as masses of twenty to forty Penguins sat in the water, waited for someone brave to venture out, and then all tumble and run as fast as their penguin feet could take them towards the sea grass. There were multiple times where one penguin would be left behind; it would then either run as fast as it could towards the pack or completely turn tail and flop back into the water. This part of their day is by far the most dangerous and stressful for the Penguins as they are completely exposed; so when they reach the safety of the high grass and rocks of the beach they take a well-earned breather. But the trip is not over yet, they then continue along the “penguin highway” which is a long strip of dirt until they find their burrow. We walked along this path, without disturbing the penguins, and watched them waddle and stumble towards their homes. Allison and I stood by a patch of sea grass and watched small penguin run so fast through it that he tripped and fell on his stomach letting out a noise of surprise as if the grass had miraculously appeared in front of him. As he got up and waddle off, we watched as one of his pals followed his direct path and flopped over becoming just as frustrated with the grass as the first one.


Seeing the Penguin Parade and walking the boardwalks of The Nobbies is a trip you need to take if you are visiting Melbourne. Getting there takes an hour and a half, and you stay till about 10 pm, but it is well worth the time!


*Photos of me taken by Allison Hefter
*Photo of penguin is from:

Here We Go: Week One

Time July 6th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

9, 682 miles. Tomorrow that will be the furthest I have ever been from home. 18 minutes, 37 seconds, and my order from my favorite Indian joint will be here. 9 loving and sincerely freaked out adults that are even less ready for me to be over 9000 miles away for 5 months than I am. 1 night. I have 1 night left before I leave Atlanta, cross the Pacific Ocean, and begin my study abroad adventure in Melbourne, Australia

Now the obligatory “this is me” section. My name is Danielle. I was born in Louisville, Kentucky. I am a Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology major at Emory University. I play rugby, perform in musicals, and I am a huge nerd – evidenced by my love of all things Harry Potter, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. And I’ve always wanted to travel the globe.

Like I said, I leave tomorrow to study abroad; the first stop on my lifetime world tour of the….well, world. It’s weird but the realest part of the whole thing is the 24+ hours I’ll be spending in the air (or in airports). What I’m really excited for is, well the reason I chose to study abroad in Australia, the research opportunity. I will be working in Dr. Heather Young’s lab. My focus will be on neural crest cell development in the enteric nervous system. I am beyond excited to work in the lab and to get a taste of research outside of the U.S.

My journey begins with my first stop: L.A. I’ve never been to California, and it’s bittersweet that my first time there I won’t see anything outside of the airport. My dad says that doesn’t count. I’m tempted to agree with him… But there I will meet up with my fellow study abroad students. And prepare for the long flight. But hey, there’s ocean views right?

After L.A., I begin the 16 hour flight to Sydney (well 16 hours before the “super-fun” delays airports are known for). But I’ve stocked up on reading materials: Tale of Two Cities by Dickens, Return of the King from the Lord of the Rings series, and Neuromancer by William Gibson.  I also have my Rubik’s Cube (remember that nerd thing I mentioned earlier?) not to mention the almost 50 hours of music I have at my fingertips. Hopefully that will get me through the time I don’t plan on sleeping, because I am the worst at being bored. Maybe that’s why the insanely long time in the air is what feels like reality. The five months in a new country still feels so far away.

But no. It’s so close. In a a little over 24 hours, I’ll be in Sydney getting over jet lag and taking touristy pictures of the Sydney Opera House. I’ll be there for 4 days. They’ve got quite a line-up for us: walking and harbor tours of the city, a pub dinner, and (what I am most excited for) a trip to Featherdale Wildlife Park in the Sydney Zoo.

Then it’s another flight. Luckily it’s the last one for a while. This one takes me to my final destination – Melbourne – for three more weeks of orientation. And as a hard-core night owl, the 8:30 am sessions are going to be…. really, really hard. Step one when landing in Melbourne: find the nearest coffee shop.

Well, I look forward to blogging with you over the next 140 days! See you next week.


G’Day Melbourne!

Time June 3rd, 2013 in First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

I have exactly two weeks left till I head back home to Atlanta, and with the classes being finished, I decided to take a trip to Melbourne. I wanted to keep my trip short and sweet, so my weekend started on Thursday. I left for Melbourne in the morning, and arrived at my uncle’s house. He lives about two hours away from the city, in a suburb called Castlemaine. The suburb is kind of like the area I visited for country life weekend, lots of green trees and cold, crisp wind. Side note-Melbourne has super extreme weather, so in the summer it is extremely hot, while the winters are rainy and cold. Upon my arrival, of course it started to rain so buying an umbrella became a necessity. Anyways, I got to explore the town of Bendigo, which was quite beautiful and picturesque. Afterwards, on Friday we headed to the city. The city of Melbourne is beautiful, with street performers entertaining the crowd to the fancy stores and the uptown malls. I also checked out the Eureka tower, which gives a 360 view of the city. The tower also had this attraction called the ‘edge,’ where you are put into a glass box, and it seems as though you are on the edge of the building, where you can see the streets beneath your feet from a 88 floor height. It was honestly a pretty cool experience! Melbourne also has a great scenic river that is similar to the harbor in Sydney, but not quite.

In Melbourne, I saw more fashion, hipsters, rich people, and a structured pattern of living. It is very different from Sydney, but good different. My friends here say that either you love Sydney or Melbourne, but not both. Although Melbourne has amazing coffee, cheap shopping, and great atmosphere, I am a Sydney girl at heart. I would say that Melbourne is good for bringing up new families and creating a professional lifestyle, but if you’re single and like adventure and creative locations, Sydney is for you.