Study abroad student travels to Phillip Island, animal sanctuary

Erica Hamman | Collegian Erica Hamman, junior in biology and second from left, poses with a kangaroo in a wildlife sanctuary while on her way from Melbourne, Australia, to Philip Island to observe the local penguins.

Hello again! I have continued my travels and ventured to a little place called Phillip Island, a location about a two-hour drive from the heart of Melbourne. This was a sponsored trip through Deakin University, so they took care of all the travel arrangements and provided us with a tasty lunch and dinner.

First, we met up with our bus driver Rob, who was very friendly and accommodating throughout the trip. We made a couple of pit stops before we made it to Phillip Island, including a visit to a wildlife sanctuary.

This sanctuary held numerous animals including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and emus. There was even an albino kangaroo and a kangaroo that had a joey, or a baby kangaroo, in its pouch. When I was there, I found out that it is widely thought that the kangaroo and emu are on the coat of arms of Australia because they are the only land animals that cannot walk backward, indicating this country’s progressiveness.

After we cuddled with some kangaroos, we went on to Philip Island where we found a spot in the bleachers to sit and wait for the penguins to come waddling up from the sea. The instructors there told us that the penguins come in after sunset to protect themselves from predators.

The penguins were much smaller than I expected, but they were still very cute. Once the penguins came onto the beach in front of us, they scurried to their homes further inland to feed their chicks. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures of the penguins because it would scare them away.

This trip only took one day, but it will be one I remember for a lifetime. Once again, I was able to further explore Australia and understand its wildlife while getting more accustomed to my home away from home.

Erica Hamman is a junior in biology. Please send comments to