Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kangaroo Island capers

We awoke on Sunday to learn that the Victorian bush fires had claimed 43 lives. As I write this the toll is standing at 173 and is headed for more than 200.

This has obviously led to a fairly somber couple of days with us tuned in to the ABC to hear the harrowing stories emerging from the affected areas. The scale and ferocity of the fires has been numbing, and to think on the Saturday night I was talking to a (drunk) climate change skeptic.

We were privileged to have passed directly through or close by many of the communities that have been so badly affected by this tragedy and have received help and shared a yarn with many of the good people we've met. It's just baffling to think that some of these fires have been set deliberately by people from within the community. Not much else to say really.

* The Red Lobster at Kingston SE (which is for sale if anyone has some lazy cash).

We left Naracoorte last Thursday after two wonderful nights and headed over to the coast for a planned stop at Coorong National Park back on the coast to cool off. However given the extremely dry weather the lakes had evaporated leaving a nasty whiff in the air so we pushed on to catch the last ferry over to Kangaroo Island. We did briefly contemplate a trip to Adelaide first but with more 43 degree days forecast there (and nightly minimums of a staggering 32 degrees) we opted for KI.

It was a bit further to the ferry terminal at Cape Jervis than I'd expected and we ended up with a new PB for daily kms - a whopping 525km for the day by the time we pulled up a Browns Beach. (If we kept that up everyday, as well as being broke we'd end up covering the equivalent of five trips around the equator in our year on the road.)

The ferry ride lasted about 45 minutes and was pretty smooth. The only difficult bit was reversing the Troopie into our alloted space on the deck but I received lots of help and encouragement from the staff and it didn't delay things too long.

Kangaroo Island is Australia's third largest island, after Tasmania and ..... actually I'll let you guess the second. I'm sure VJ will fill you in with the proper details in due course but the island has some wonderful and unique wildlife given it was cut off from the mainland around 9,000 years ago. My favourite so far is the Tammar Kangaroo, which is basically a minature version of the eastern grey, and stands about a foot tall. The geology of the place is also pretty choice, steep limestone cliffs, caves, some volcanic rock formations etc etc.

* Beached is bro - needed to git wit asap. Not quite sure how this humpback got so far up the beach but he looked like he'd been there a while.

On Tash's advice we went to Seal Bay on our first day on KI where we spent a couple of hours with the colony of Australian sea lions.

A top spot, if a little busy with tourists so we'll go back again when it's a bit quieter. Most people seem to come to KI for a few days but we've given ourselves two weeks to make the most of it.

The forecast was pretty dodgy with a strong southerly change forecast so we headed across to the top of the island to Western River (another recommendation from Tash).

It was a sensational secluded beach which we pretty much had to ourselves. The southerly came through as predicted at around 10pm and turned the tent into a sail. We hadn't been able to bash the tent pegs in far enough into the rock floor of the campsite so there was nothing to do but pack up the tent before too much damage was done and sleep on the floor in the picnic shelter.

* The view from campsite at Western River.

* A stowaway that was hiding in the pocket of the one of our camp chairs. He unfortunately didn't survive my attempt to relocate him.

After our two nights at Western River we headed off to explore the north west part of the island, camping at Harvey's Return and then West Bay last night which is in Flinders Chase National Park.

We took in the entertaining tour at Cape Borda lighthouse (the only remaining 'real' lighthouse in South Australia apparently) and then spent the remainder of my birthday at West Bay watching the huge waves rolling in.

There was even the brief threat of a sunset over sea but we were denied at the last minute. Not to worry, we'll be WA in just over a month and then we should get one every night.

Today we explored the far south west corner of KI including the Remarkable Rocks and Cape de Couedic which has a colony of New Zealand seals. VJ was feeling a bit out of sorts and looks like she's been in a boxing match - right eye a bit droopy. Probably a spider bite but we'll keep a good watch on it.

In finance news, Challenger shares got down below a dollar each today which now means they're down 85% from their high. Next place I work I think maybe I should design incentive plans that pay people in cash rather than shares.

And finally, if you were wondering, the second largest island in Australia is Melville Island, which is off to the top left of Darwin.

And with Darwin being named after Charles Darwin I'll wish everyone a 'Happy Darwin Day' for Thursday. May you naturally select an appropriate way to celebrate the most significant scientific discovery of all time.

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