So now I’m starting to sound like Tony Abbott (er, before the election campaign started), but let me explain…
Last week, a few of us toddled down to Phillip Island, just south of Melbourne, a little chunk of land that has been given over to growing penguins and kangaroos. Literally. We stopped in a wildlife park and spotted such delicious creatures as Tasmanian devils (notoriously bad tempered, anti-social creatures) and open grasslands where large kangaroos leapt up to you, frisking your pockets for food. There was also an area for koalas.
If you’re reading this and unaware, koalas sleep for about 18 hours a day, and the rest of the time is spent eating leaves and mating. In all, a fairly uncomplicated lifestyle. Australian kids are brought up knowing they’re not the most exciting animal. They don’t sing, dance or beg to be patted. Mostly, they just sleep. Ok, so I’m trying to justify shouting at the tourists who were throwing pellets at the sleeping koalas, so they could get a better photo. Cranky? You bet.
It felt so good, I had another crack at some girls down at the penguin parade where, every night, hundreds of tiny penguins return from a day’s fishing at sea to their burrows and mates. They are wild, so the wildlife service has built boardwalks so we can see them running home, undisturbed by a size 10 boot squishing them.
Visiting the penguins is so popular, the warnings not to take photos are repeated in a swag of languages, including Japanese and Chinese. If you’re caught photographing the penguins, your camera is immediately confiscated by the wildlife rangers because the flash sends the penguins blind and they die because they can’t catch fish. Simple, really. Except most of us can’t turn off a flash, hence the blanket ban against cameras.
So why do people persist in trying??? Annoyingly, both times I had my little tantrums, the women apologiesed in perfect English. No excuses.