Paula here. Ihave been a dog lover all my life. Even before owning a dog, I was spellbound when I first saw the Walt Disney movie, “The Lady and the Tramp.” Even now, I can see Lady eating spaghetti when she is taken to dinner by Tramp.
- I remember that moment, when both dogs unknowingly are eating the same strand of spaghetti that leads almost to a kiss. I’ve seen other dog movies and “Red Dog” the Australian movie comes in second place to “Lady and the Tramp.”
Oddball – The Movie
- Now, there is a story about another Aussie dog, named “Oddball.” The main human character is Allan “Swampy” Marsh and the true story of his Maremma dog named Oddball. Swampy convinced the local Australian authorities to allow Oddball to protect a colony of Little Peguins from wild cats, dogs and foxes.
- In true life, there was a thriving little colony on Middle Island in South Australia on Middle Island which is part of Innes National Park. You have to reach it by sea as it is located in Spencer Gulf. In and around 2003 foxes in particular started to swim over to Middle Island and kill the penguins.
I’ve Seen These Little Penguins
My wife, Trish, and I have been fortunate to travel to Australia, either on a teacher’s year exchange or to house/pet sit. We have never visited Middle Island, but we have sat quietly with crowds of other animal watchers and waited at dusk for these Little Penguins to come ashore. We sat on bleachers (wooden stands) and silently waited. Suddenly, a little boy yelled out, “I can see them!” The first or alpha Little Penguin came out. He (I guess it is a he) looked about and indicated that the area was safe. Then, one by one and then in flocks, they came out of the sea .
Little Penguins are often at sea for several days with one of the mates back on shore looking after any chics that have been born.
Some More Info on Little Penguins
In Australia, they are often called fairy penguins. In New Zealand, they are more commonly known as little blue penguins or blue penguins, owing to their slate-blue plumage. They are also known by their Māori name: kororā.
The head and upper parts are blue in colour, with slate-grey ear coverts fading to white underneath, from the chin to the belly. Their flippers are blue in colour. The dark grey-black beak is 3–4 cm long, the irises pale silvery- or bluish-grey or hazel, and the feet pink above with black soles and webbing. An immature individual will have a shorter bill and lighter upper parts.
Like most seabirds, they have a long lifespan. The average for the species is 6.5 years
Little penguins are diurnal and like many penguin species, spend the largest part of their day swimming and foraging at sea. During the breeding and chick rearing seasons, little penguins will leave their nest at sunrise, forage for food throughout the day and return to their nests just after dusk. Little penguins preen their feathers to keep them waterproof. They do this by rubbing a tiny drop of oil onto every feather from a special gland above the tail.
The Movie “Oddball.”
Trish and I are eagerly waiting to see this movie. The scenery around that area is known as the “Great Ocean Road.” It is a favourite drive for tourists. The road winds around the sea and the main attraction is the “Twelve Apostles.” These are golden cliffs and crumbling pillars in the sea. There are NOT twelve pillars anymore as a couple have crumbled. They and Middle Island are part of the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park.
If you wish to visit Middle Island, a boat leaves from Port Campbell or Princetown.
If you watch the movie, “Oddball” the director promises that you will have a tour of this area. Be ready to see spectacular arches, canyons, fissures and waves that pound the “apostles” and the shoreline.