Melbourne tours: Puffing Billy, Penguins and Moomba

Typical tram in Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne and the area around it has a lot to offer. There are a lot of diverse tours around the city, and it's the stage of the impressive Moomba Festival.

Our first encounter with the city of Melbourne surprises us. Having slept until 5 PM after a tiring delayed flight that arrived in Melbourne at 7 AM, we are wondering what all the fuss is about. It is very crowded in the city and questioning around informs us that the Australian Formule 1 Grand Prix just finished, almost in the backyard of our hotel. We didn’t hear a thing…

Moomba Festival

Together with the Grand Prix, this weekend is the start of the Moomba Festival. Nowadays renamed the Moomba Waterfest, this annual festival is one of the largest and longest running festival in Australia, we fall just in the middle of it.

In the parklands around the Yarra river, there are a lot of festivities going on. We enjoy the carnival, the water parade, street actors, and a water ski demonstration. Most impressive to us was the Colombian act of Palo Q’Sea. Huge demonic creatures on stilts, accompanied by music and a fire show, an amazing spectacle.

Puffing Billy

Melbourne covers a large area with a lot of activities and tours around it. The next day we take the train to Belgrave in the Dandenong mountains. This is where we can experience a ride on a century-old steam train, Puffing Billy. We enjoy both the ride itself and the beautiful scenery. When the train passes the curved wooden bridge everybody is taking pictures, and so are we.

Penguin Parade

Another must-do tour when you’re in Melbourne is the trip to the penguin parade at Philip Island. So we are picked up by a bus that will bring us there, via a few stops at a kangaroo farm and koala sanctuary. To be honest, the trip wasn’t very exciting. The stops were nice, but not very special. And the bus is a bit annoying, slow, not very comfortable and there are always people that ignore others and arrive late after every stop. So, our advice is to go either by public transport or by your own (rented) car.

The Penguin Parade on Philip Island, Melbourne Australia The penguin parade itself is amazing. The fairy penguins arrive on the beach at dusk, and then move up the dunes in search for their home, where the female penguins and their children are waiting and calling for them. It is a very funny sight, which can be viewed from elevated boardwalks. Although it is said this doesn’t disturb the animals, we have our doubts. But, the tourist money coming in is used to preserve the area, so we guess it’s okay.

March in Melbourne is the end of summer, and a bit off season. This makes it the ideal time for a visit, also because of the Moomba Festival. We even enjoy a day at the beach. Further, the city center is relatively small and relaxed. Although it is the largest city in the world measured in square kilometers, it feels more like a small town. Ideal for starting a vacation in Australia.

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