Thursday, 5 April 2012

A to Z of Australia - I is for Islands (Part I)

Australia is the largest island in the world, and it is surrounded by 8,220 islands within its maritime borders.
Most of them would be uninhabited of course, but there are some pretty big islands, big enough to be independent countries!
The largest of these islands is Tasmania with 68,332km2, and in turn it is surrounded by another 1000 islands! Tasmania is one of the six states and 2 territories that Australia is divided in. I´ve never been to Tasmania, but it´s a place I would love to visit in the future.

The only island I have visited in the Eastern States, is "Phillip Island", in the State of Victoria, located 140km south of Melbourne.
It´s 26km long and 9km wide with an area of about 100km2. A concrete bridge of 640mt connects the mainland town of San Remo with the island town of Newhaven.

Bridge from mainland San Remo to Newhaven in the island
In the 2001 census, the island population was around 7000, but during summer the numbers swell to 40 thousand. The major tourist attraction is the Penguin Parade that brings to the island 3,5 million visitors a year, to watch hundreds of Fairy Penguins (or little Penguins), that come ashore in groups. There is also a wildlife park where wallabies and kangaroos roam free and can be hand fed. The western end of the island is also home to the largest fur seal colony in Australia.

Last year, when we visited Phillip Island it was winter, and the rain and bitter cold wind prevented us from staying to watch the Penguins return home, which was a pity, as that had been the purpose of our visit. Luckily we managed to see the cute penguins in the Melbourne Aquarium a few days later.

Fairy Penguins at the Melbourne Zoo
Aren´t they just too cute?
 The island has also hosted major surfing events like Rip Curl, and is linked to the history of Australian motor racing, having been the site of the original Australian Grand Prix in 1928.
In 1956 the new Grand Prix circuit opened and has held various races from Bathhurst 1000, Australian motorcycle grand prix, superbike world championship, V8 supercars, and the Australian driver´s championship. (Since 1985 the Australia Grand Prix is now part of the Formula 1 circuit and is run in Albert Park in Melbourne).
Entry to the Motor Racing track

The wonderful chocolate factory.
As the day was miserable we stopped at the Chocolate Factory and had some lovely hot-chocolate drinks, tasted some of their chocolate and bought some to take home. 
We drove around the island, found some lovely beaches which could be wonderful in summer, sweet holiday villages, and also came across these strange birds, that I later found out were called "Cape Barren Geese". They are about the size of the domestic goose with pale grey feathers, pink legs and a yellow area on the base of their beaks.
The live on small windswept islands in the southern east coast of Australia, and venture to farming areas in search of food. They are able to drink salty water which enables them to live on offshore islands all year round.

Cape Barren Geese feeding
On Phillip Island looking onto smaller islands. You can see here how miserable the day was!

Do you enjoy visiting islands? Are there any islands around the country you live in?
Do they have such a cute attraction as the penguins in Phillip Island?

Stay tuned to Part II, when I will write about some of the most popular Western Australian islands that I have visited.


  1. I love islands and though I live on one, like the UK and Australia it is too big to feel like an island. I had no idea Australia had so many islands and I would love to see penguins in their natural habitat too.

  2. Quite true Lindsay, Australia does not feel like an island. To me an island is just a small piece of land surrounded by sea, that you just drive around in an hour or two and it´s done! Penguins are so cute!!

  3. My, you DO have a colorful life, Sami! And you have a very fine blog, as well. :-) Thank you for visiting my site!

  4. Thanks for visiting and for your comment Robin.

  5. Australia is such a fascinating place. It's hard to think of it as an island. I love the penguins and think watching them in there daily walk in real life would be such good fun. :)

  6. Boa Pascoa, Sami! :-)
    Obrigada pelos votos deixados no meu cantinho.
    Tenho de ca voltar para ler este post com a atencao que ele merece.
    Beijinhos e Bom Domingo! xoxo

  7. Thanks E.C., I also wish we could watch more penguins in real life, they are just so cute and serious.

    Hi Sandra, there is so much to write about "islands" I had planned to do 2 posts, but I have already decided to split it in 3, as the second post is already too long, and I haven´t talked about all the islands I wanted to!

  8. Hi Sami! Just caught up with this one and you must have the second written by now!
    Islands- you could write a book!
    Armona, off the Algarve, for me, but if ever there's a tsunami it's not the place to be.
    Ireland feels like an island even though it's quite big. Definitely a hot chocolate place too.


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