When I woke up no one was around. So I went for a walk through the rose fields looking for everyone - found them finishing off with the mornings harvest. Got directions and said goodbye and set off on the short drive to the ferry. Perfect timing so I only had to wait five minutes before the car was loaded. Took the ferry across the mouth of Port Phillip Bay from Queenscliff (Bellarine Peninsula) to Sorrento (Mornington Peninsula).
On the Mornington Peninsula I tried to go to a few wineries, but they were all closed - they're only open on the weekends. Set off to drive to Philip Island (my planned stop for the night). Shortly into the drive I noticed that my "Charge" light is on - uh, oh. I stopped at a winery to check out the fan belt (and try a couple wines). The belt was fine (so it's either one or both of the batteries, or the alternator), and the wine was average. Tried another winery, the light is still on, and the wine was much better (Villa Terlato - bought a bottle of their Cab-Pinot).
Got in to town checked into a YHA hostel and called an auto electrician, but he can't see me until Friday. I get out my shop manual and look at things, but I can't find anything wrong with the system, so I think it is the alternator. I decide I'll keep driving, and ignore the problem until the voltage drops significantly. While I'm under the hood I look at the AC - it looks like it's still full, then realize the pump has seized - no more AC for me, that's going to be big money to fix.
Set out to explore the island. It's quite crowded and obviously a huge tourist attraction. Visited the Koala Conservation Center - got there right at closing time (the sign says open until dusk, but they close two and a half hours before sunset). They let me in anyway and I wandered around looking for koalas. There is an elevated boardwalk, so there were five koalas that I could get within a meter or so of. The rest of the koalas are way up in the trees and you can't see them very well. I have to admit they look every bit as soft as a stuffed animal, but not nearly as friendly ad the stuffed variety.
When I pulled out of the conservation center I pulled on to the wrong side of the road - only the first time I've goofed since leaving Sydney, and I had to do it when it nearly resulted in a head on with a police car - oops. They gave me a warning and were pretty cool about the whole thing.
Drive out to Point Grant (Seal Rocks) at the end of the island. Walk around the boardwalks - beautiful views of the coast, and even a few Fairy Penguins, but the crowds are pretty bad and after a couple hours I leave. The Penguin Parade - what Philip Island is famous for - was a bit of a disappointment. Very commercialized - there are even grandstands you have to sit on. They used to allow photography without flashes, but they've now made all photography, video, and digital against the rules. They say it's because of flashes caused by the auto-focus systems, but with the huge floodlights they have set up there would be plenty of light for video, digital, or fast film. There must have been 2,000 people there, and maybe a total of 40 penguins - the biggest group was probably only 20 birds - far less than the 2,000 they advertise! Back at the hostel I started talking with two Californians and agreed to give them a ride to Wilson's Promontory National Park - where I'm going tomorrow. Last thing I do on my way to bed is warn them about the electrical situation.