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Adelaide and Kangaroo Island

AUSTRALIA | Sunday, 12 April 2015 | Views [124]

Adelaide kind of reminds me of an East coast college town. The museum and art gallery are nice. I had a good time traipsing around in there, especially on a rainy day. I got to explore the downtown area near Rundle Mall. It's got quite a few shops and basically everything you would need. The whole middle of it is a pedestrian walkway for about 5 blocks. 

I think my friends up in Cairns have made it easier for me to start randomly chatting people up. I ended up hanging out with a Polish girl, Danish guy and a guy from Melbourne. We went to the Botanical Gardens for a guided tour that lasted about 2 hours. It was nice to hear some of the history of the place. They actually have a sort of competition with roses there. They plant a bunch of different ones, don't spray any insecticides or anything and the ones that pass the judging can be grown and sold in the area. They had some really pretty and aromatic ones growing.

There was a pool tournament at the hostel after the free BBQ and I was forced into it. Luckily I lost rather quickly so I didn't have to humiliate myself for too long. I ended up playing scorekeeper for the rest of the night which was where I should have been all along. The Polish girl I had been hanging out with during the day won a bottle of wine, so we broke into that after the tournament. It was a bit of a strange evening. I ended up braiding a Canadian guy's hair, a group of us had a rather spirited conversation about guns and I watched the last 20 minutes of Kill Bill and was thoroughly confused. My time working at the hostel kicked in as I started to clean up everyone's bottles since all the others had either gone to bed or passed out on the couches.

I caught the bus and ferry over to Kangaroo Island the following afternoon. I'm intrigued to see how the long train rides will treat me after the bus ride. I don't think I should be left to my own devices for too long. I have way too long to think and overthink. At least I should be able to get some good writing done on the train though. KI very much has an island feel. It's very chill and the people can be almost too relaxed at times. If you want anything done in a timely manner, don't get your hopes up. I had the good fortune to have a room to myself my first night. I got to put on some music and have solo karaoke night. I was also fed some food by some fellow guests. They had some pasta and sauce leftover and when they saw I was eating cup noodles, they took pity on me. Huzzah for free food! I actually slept really well here for the first time in a long time. It was very quiet and peaceful, it was a good thing I set my alarm, because even after getting 10 hours of sleep, I was prepared for more. I guess I'm still making up for lost sleep after my brief stint with alcoholism.

The next morning I got ready for my all day island tour. Our guide was very entertaining. He was a Kiwi but had been on KI for over 10 years now. He added his signature humor to pretty much everything. KI has 4,500 people living on it... and half a million kangaroos. There are only two chicken farms on the whole island, and they both have heaps of dogs protecting the chickens form predators like goannas, eagles and feral cats which are all a big problem. We passed a town called American River where the first American's to the island settled. They were actually the first to come to the island and they went for the seals, to get oil from them since it would burn for a long time. That's basically all the little historical anecdotes I have and can remember from the tour.

We went to Seal Bay first. It was mating season so the sea lions were quite active. We got to see quite a few males challenge each other. Nothing got too out of hand, but it was still neat to watch. You can only go on the beach in a tour and they are very strict about how close you can get to the sea lions. It was quite funny to watch them scratch themselves and hop along the sand. At one point, there was a group of them snuggled together and one of the larger ones raised his flipper and wrapped it around the one next to him. Who knew that sea lions were fans of spooning. I s'pose it helps keep them warm.

We were off to lunch next which was delicious. There was salad, coleslaw (with cilantro!), bean salad, and the best potato salad because it had corn and bacon added. We got some chicken and beef sausage as well. They had some pretty good coffee there as well. The water was actually really delicious because it was rain water. South Australia is the driest state in Australia so nearly everyone on KI has rain water catches. They also have a few dams on the island, but they're not like the dams that we have with the locks and everything, they're basically small freshwater ponds for the animals to drink out of, or, if there is a really bad drought, farmers and locals will hike up to them to get water for their homes.

Next it was off to the koala walk. They had flags marking the trees where the koalas were located. There was even one in the car park near the bus. Apparently they have to cull the koala population quite a bit because they just keep growing in numbers and killing all the gum trees. They apparently don't like the blue gum trees however and will actually starve themselves to death than go back to eating it. Not a very good outcome. It's a hard balance they have to strike, because most of the world thinks to the koalas as nice, cute and cuddly critters, but they can actually do quite a bit of damage to the trees in the area. We had the good fortune of spotting an echidna! My phone had decided to die right before hand, so I got a few shots with my GoPro. I got really excited and had the opening theme to 'Rescuers Down Under' playing in my head because there is a small section where an echidna scuttles across the bush.

We were off to the Remarkable Rocks next. These are basically rocks on a cliff that had been weathered and worn into neat shapes over the years. There were some great photo opps at that location. You could even go inside some of them which was really handy when it started to rain a little bit more. We were pretty short on time, so we popped from one location to the next. We went to Admirals Arch to see the New Zealand fur seals and the light house. The seals were going nuts in the water. Some were play fighting with each other and others were diving for food. Quite a few of them were even jumping out of the water, I assumed for fun. Apparently they are more family oriented than the sea lions. When out at sea, a big group of them will link flippers and form a giant raft so that they can have a rest after diving for all their food. Team work!

We got to drive through Flinders Chase National Park. There was quite a big fire that went through the park back in, I believe 2007. When we would come to the top of a hill, you could see all the dead tops of trees. Apparently it was a bit of a disaster because no one could agree who should be in charge of stopping the fires. The cops wanted to be top dogs, then the rangers at the park wanted to be in charge, and finally the fire squad, who should have been heading it up from the get go, finally came in. The fire was started by lightning strikes and it seemed to be well contained at first, but then the winds shifted and what was four small fires became one giant blaze tearing through the park. It took awhile for tourism to pick back up as well. KI is one of the few places where you can get 100% organic honey as well. I picked some up and they are the only place to have this certain kind of bees and only that one kind, so their honey is quite special. As night approached, we were dropped back off at the ferry and most people went back to the main land while I opted for another night on the island.
Again, it is a very quite place, so there wasn't much to do at night, other than read, write, and sleep. The next day, I explored the port city of Penneshaw which is where the ferry drops you off at. Public transportation is essentially nonexistent on the island, so I couldn't really stroll very far as the main attractions were a bit of a ways away. So, unfortunately, no sand boarding for me, oh well, you can't win them all. I did head down to the penguin center, though I didn't see any. Apparently they are mostly active at night, and at the same time, there aren't many around right now because the seals have been eating them. Whoops. I did spend over an hour walking on the beach though. I initially was just going for a stroll, but I started picking up seashells for souvenirs. There were quite a lot of varieties all in good condition. So, people, you may be getting some authentic KI seashells when I get back. There were quite a few photo opportunities and the sea is a very pretty color. It goes from the deep blue out in deep to the blue green as you get closer to land and finally a light teal to end. There were quite a few people out having picnics and such despite the rather strong winds. I managed to walk around town a little bit more before heading back to the ferry terminal - the only place where there was legitimate free wifi - to upload some photos I had taken. That evening I was able to catch my ferry and bus back to the hostel. I'm one for a chill lifestyle, but KI was a bit too relaxed for me, I prefer more things happening. I think that's why I enjoyed Cairns so much, it's chill and relaxed, but there's basically always something to do very close, even if it's just going for a walk or hanging out at the lagoon.

Back in Adelaide for a few more days. I finally did a tour of Haigh's chocolates. Bright and early at 9 am, because who doesn't want chocolate first thing in the morning? It was cool to see that they do everything by hand. Apparently they only do a certain job for 45 minutes max before they switch though. We got to see them coat and decorate some truffles and got to see some chocolates get a chocolate shower. They had some cocoa pods from different locations around the world for us to smell, and it's kinda crazy how distinct the aromas are. I resisted the urge to buy some chocolate at the end. It would all melt, assuming I didn't eat it all first. There were a few markets going on in town that I checked out, and I also took a nice walk to an op shop to see if I could find anything I liked. I explored the mall a bit more as well. I came upon a rather nice Kathmandu duffle bag that I nearly bought. I don't really need it, but it might be nicer and easier carrying a backpack and duffle instead of two backpacks. However, I did get my Kathmandu backpack I currently have for free, so, even though the duffle is on sale for like $40, I may have to give it a pass.

I finally found a gig guide to Adelaide online and found a band to listen to. They were called Frenzy. It was kind of funny, because I stopped by The Woolshed first (I needed to see how it compared to the one up in Cairns). I basically went in and then out at The Woolshed. It was much worse than the one in Cairns if that's possible. I'm sure it's because I went alone, and because I got hassled by a drunk guy after less than a minute in the place. I was out. I made my way over to P.J. O'Brien's to listen to the band. They weren't starting for awhile, a 10:30 start seemed really late to me. I had a delicious iced salted caramel drink at the chocolate shop next door to kill some time. I finished and still had some time before the band started, so I ordered a drink. When I was on KI I wanted a drink so bad. I did a throwback to Cairns and ordered a rum and coke. I almost immediately regretted it when I saw the bartender but Bundy rum in the drink. This is gonna taste bad. I thought. Sure enough, it did. I didn't realize how spoiled I had been on Sailor Jerry's and Bacardi. Never again will I order a rum and coke from a bar where Bundy is the rail rum. I'll stick with my ciders than you very much. I was excited to be at P.J's because it gave me my Cairns connection for the night. I stayed for two sets. The band was quite good. They played a good variety and even had some fairly new stuff. They were the first band I've heard do a Vance Joy tune. They were using an X32 board, and I talked to the sound engineer after the first break to check out the gear cuz I'm a nerd like that. I could only make it for two sets before I had to call it a night. 12:45 is a late night for me since leaving Cairns. I popped back to the hostel and grabbed my tablet. I needed to upload the videos and photos so that I could free up more space on my phone. I was delighted to receive messages from the girls up in Cairns. They were having a good night and we continued chatting until I had finished with my uploads and called it a night.

On Sunday I decided to check out a bike again and head to Glenelg. (I love that it's name is a palindrome). It was just as far away at Port Adelaide, about 15 kms one way. I packed my delicious lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and took off. Honestly, I don't know what my body's gonna do when it gets real food. I've been using the hostel's white bread for my sandwiches, and honestly, I feel like I'm getting the same nutritional value I would if I were to eat cardboard, but I digress. The ride was quite nice, about 40 minutes or so. I didn't get lost this time luckily. The town was quite cute. There was a guide dog event going on, so I got to see lots of dogs and even pet a few! There was also a volleyball competition going on that I watched part of. I basically wandered around aimlessly for awhile before eating lunch and eventually heading back to the hostel. I was beat. I attempted taking a nap while watching a movie, but it didn't really work. I started writing about half way through and haven't stopped since. That was at about 4 pm... it's now almost 10. So, yeah, I've done a shit ton of writing today, and hopefully it will pay off. With any luck, I can get heaps of sleep tonight before heading off to the airport tomorrow.

Oh, and once again my plans have changed. I will be giving Tassie a pass and visiting just Auckland in New Zealand. I will also spend my last two weeks back up in my home in Cairns. I can visit with my friends that will still be up there, get my open water certification and talk with dive shops about returning in the fall. I'm excited for all of that... and to be warm again. Well, that's basically it now kids. On my way to Alice now for some hot, dry heat and Uluru! It should be a wonderful adventure. See you all in a week.


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