So much travelling. Enough that Karen has sworn off travelling for the next little while. Unfortunately, she still has a few days in Hong Kong before landing back in Toronto.
Anyways, despite the travelling, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island (K.I. to the locals) was a lot of fun. The highlight of Adelaide was the Haigh’s Chocolate Factory Tour. A free tour of a chocolate factory, complete with samples. Enough to make us a little sick afterwards. And a little broke, there’s a store attached to the factory, so I bought a few seconds (chocolate not quite good enough to be packaged but still tastes pretty good). Overall, though, Adelaide was a little boring, you can pretty much see it all in a day.
Then it was off to K.I., the first official settlement of South Australia. After a two-hour bus ride and an hour long ferry ride, we were finally on the island. First up on our tour was the Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery. Eucalypt, or gum trees, are a sustainable resource because the base regrows quickly. The oil can be used for many things- it has disinfective properties and can be used as a cleaning solution, among many other things. Next up was a demonstration of birds of prey. Unfortunately, it rained during the demo but Karen and I had ponchos which elicited a stare from a little boy wondering why we looked like ghosts. The birds didn’t seem to mind the rain though – a kestrel, white-bellied sea eagle and a barn owl. There were also wedge-tailed eagles but they were not part of the demonstration. After that, we went to Seal Bay to see Australian sea lions. We were able to walk directly on the beach but had to stay at least 8 metres away from the animals. These sea lions do not have a thick layer of blubber so they have to huddle together to stay warm. There was this particularly amusing character who swam in, toddled up the beach to a fellow who barked at him to go away, so he headed up into the bushes, practically whistling all the way (if sea lions could whistle). See photos to understand what I mean. Our driver explained to us, that like human teenage boys, adolescent male sea lions like to annoy others.
On to Parndana Wildlife Park where we were able to feed kangaroos, pet koalas and be stalked by ducks that look like Elvis (pictures were a little fuzzy but they wouldn’t stop moving). The highlight however, was that we were allowed to take photos with a kangaroo joey. I was the last to hold her, and ended up holding her for twenty minutes. Ridiculously adorable, and it was hard to let go, Karen couldn’t stop teasing me about trying to sneak her out of the wildlife park. Our final stop of the day was the Island Pure Sheep Dairy. Yes, a sheep dairy, complete with milking machines. Sheep cheese is a little different, not really to my taste although the Manchego was alright, I kept eating that one.
On Day 2 of our tour, the first stop was a honey farm. K.I. is a sanctuary for Ligurian bees, meaning you can’t bring in any bee products from outside, or you will be fined. Ligurian bees are originally from Italy but now K.I. has the only pure strain, and often exports queens via regular post. There was a delicious non-alcoholic honey drink we sampled but as we only brought carry-on bags, we could barely buy any liquids. There was also delicious honey ice-cream that we ate at 10 o’clock in the morning. Afterwards, we headed to the Kelly Hill Caves. The caves are named after a horse that slipped in and disappeared in them. Unlike most caves, these ones formed from a giant sand dune, and are mostly dry limestone that crumbles easily and because of that, we were not allowed to touch the caves at all.
Lunch was at Beckwith’s Farm, a local campsite. Our driver took us on a walk on the grounds so that we could see wild koalas and other local flora. It was finally explained to me that the colours of Australian athletics was green and gold, after the national floral emblem- the wattle tree. It should be noted that koalas are not actually native to K.I. but introduced there because they were threatened in other parts of Aus. And because they have no predators on the island, they flourished, a little too much and ended up eating most of the island’s gum trees. Now the island is overpopulated. Since people objected to the culling of cute animals, the government decided that the best way was to sterilize the animals. Unfortunately, the stress of being handled and desexed ended up killing the animals anyways.
The penultimate part of the tour was looking around Flinders Chase National Park, which takes up the western half of the island. Last year in December, K.I. experienced the worst bushfire in South Australian history, so much of the island is still recovering but eucalypt grows back quickly, lots of green shoots amidst the blackened trees. The Remarkable Rocks are these large granite formations, and are really quite, well, remarkable. The rocks are covered in lichen, which give it a distinct orange colour. We climbed the rocks and got to the top and realized that it was quite steep. Next up was the Admiral’s Arch near the Cape de Couedic lighthouse (the French tried to claim the island, only to be bested by the British…there seems to be a pattern of the French losing to the British). The arch is a land bridge but you have to walk underneath to see it. It was an interesting rock formation but I was more interested in the New Zealand fur seal colony that lives there. See if you can spot the seals in my pictures, they blend in quite well with the rocks.
The final and shortest part of the day was the pelican feeding. At the marina in Kingscote (the main “town” of K.I.), a man comes down everyday to feed the pelicans. And the seagulls know it. Karen and I stood back from the feeding to avoid being pooped on. On the choppy ferry ride back to Cape Jervis, Karen threw up. Then it was a two hour bus ride back to Adelaide to check into our hotel at 11 pm and then check out at 6 am to make it for a 8 am flight…I didn’t plan that too well.