Personal Journey: An unexpected Australian wonder

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tr1pj31 The Nobbies at Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia. PHOTO: Emily Whelahan

On Saturday morning of my first week studying abroad in Australia, I embarked on a daylong tour of Phillip Island. The ultimate draw of the tour was supposed to be the famous "penguin parade," during which penguins come back from sea as the sun sets. Surprisingly, the most memorable part of my day ended up having nothing to do with penguins.

Our tour group's day began with a visit to an animal park, where we got to see characteristic Australian animals such as koalas and dingos. We were even able to take selfies with kangaroos.

Our second destination was about a 30-minute drive. I had no idea where we were going until we pulled up to the Nobbies, a coastal area at Phillip Island overlooking the Bass Strait. I was amazed by the spectacular view.

I went on the boardwalk, and all I could see was the vast blue water crashing against the rocky outcrop. The water's turquoise shade contrasted sharply with the whitecaps created each time it crashed onto the rocks.

As my gaze traveled up higher and higher, the rocks turned to hues of yellow, orange, and red. Eventually, I spotted an enormous rock several kilometers from the shore, leaving me wondering how this area could possibly have been formed naturally.

Even with only a half-hour at the Nobbies, I could not get over how at peace I felt there. As our tour group walked along, my feelings varied between totally relaxed and completely in awe. I observed the people around me, and it seemed they, too, were absorbed in the scenery surrounding them.

When it was time to leave the Nobbies, it was very hard for me to pull myself away. I felt as though I could sit for hours watching the waves crash against the rocks, and observing the local birds and animals go about their day. But it was time for the tour to move on to the final, and supposedly most anticipated, part of our evening - the penguin parade.

Several hours later, as I watched the penguins come ashore, my thoughts kept returning to the picturesque scene that had overloaded my senses earlier. Despite the penguin parade being advertised as the most notable part of the tour, it was clear the real highlight of my day was the Nobbies.

I hope t one day I will be able to return to the Nobbies, but for now I will have to settle for having it as the new background on my computer.

Emily Whelahan writes from Newark, Del.

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