A trip to Melbourne, Australia was to be my first - although for M, it was her 3rd visit! Staying for awhile in the city, we decided the best way to see what Southern Australia had to offer was to take a few different day tours. One of them went to Phillip Island - home of the famous racing circuit and of course the Penguins! The drive out there was quite long but took us through some amazing countryside. On the island, one really got a feel for how exposed this part of the coast actually is - we had some rain squalls but also some sunshine - wind was very strong from the West.
I did the small 5" x 7" oil study (top) shortly after visiting as our time there was limited so no possibility of setting up for any plein air painting. I had to make do with small sketches done in my sketchbook. Still the experience was amazing with huge waves, sea spray, gulls, shearwaters and further offshore, albatrosses. Unfortunately those were too far away for identification but a welcome sight non-the-less.
A stop at the koala reserve turned up a few different individuals (mostly asleep) but we did find an active adult feeding low down in a tree that I managed some excellent reference photos of. Birds were quite good with a selection of parrots and other more common species seen.
Viewing the penguins was scheduled for the evening so we settled in at a viewing site and waited patiently until they came ashore. I could see a raft or two of them just offshore through my binoculars but it was almost dark when they first arrived. We were watching the shoreline and when a wave receded on the beach, suddenly a small group of them were standing there! In ones and twos they waddled ashore right past us but we weren't allowed to take any photos so any future paintings of them will have to rely on my sketches and drawings. So all in all, a wonderful start to our visit down under.