Monday 5th July
I don’t think we even slept late the day we left. Can’t remember. All I know for sure is that it was HOURS till we needed to leave, and we were all packed already…so boredom ensued.
We left the house around 2:30 pm to catch a 6:00 ferry. Stopped along the way a few times to take pictures of road signs (Darrin’s new hobby) and a massive wind farm at Cape Jervis, where the ferry departs from. We actually arrived in Cape Jervis at about 4:30. We didn’t need to be at the boat till 5:30. So boredom ensued AGAIN. But we stopped at a little general store and got some snacks & drinks.
We sat around in the car in the ferry lineup till the ferry arrived, then watched it dock. Considering all the boats I’d been on previously were a) canoes, b) a riverboat on the Mississippi 14 years ago, and c) a smallish ferry across the Murray river on my first visit to Adelaide, this boat was HUGE. Of course Darrin told me the Spirit of Tasmania (the ferry that sails from the mainland to Launceston) is four times the size, but it was big to me.
So then they started unloading, and there were lots of cars, and a trailer full of sheep to become people’s dinners eventually. Passengers boarded on foot, while the drivers drove onto the boat and parked the cars. I went up the stairs to the top level. Darrin was just coming up on the other side, so we met up and went downstairs to the main lounge area, sat right in the front at the window, where we could see nothing much because it was getting dark by this time. And just before six, there were these loud metallic motor sounds coming from underneath us, and we were preparing to get underway.
I’d been told that this part of the water, the Backstairs Passage, was one of the roughest in the world. And I thought, pfft, I’ll be okay, boats are boring, at least if the boat goes down I know how to swim (unlike if a plane goes down, I don’t know how to fly). But it wasn’t boring at all. I wish it HAD been boring. Luckily it’s only a 45 minute trip. About halfway through, we decided to go outside to the back of the boat for some fresh air. And that was much better. Standing up does quite a bit of good for the equilibrium. And watching the water seemed to help a lot too. We could see the lights from Penneshaw if we stuck our heads around the side of the boat, otherwise we were just looking back at Cape Jervis, if there were any lights there at all (it’s a pretty small town).
And so we docked. And the drivers went down to the parking deck to get the cars. And the passengers walked out to the pickup area. And I waited there for Darrin to drive off and pick me up. We drove through most of the main streets of Penneshaw to get to the cottage we were staying in (which isn’t a stretch; Penneshaw has only a handful of main streets anyway). We drove past a pizza shop, and past the penguin nesting area, and saw a penguin on the side of the road as we drove past. We found the cottage with little trouble (although there was some initial confusion as to which one we were supposed to be in – the owners have two, we were told the one, and ended up using the other). And as we started to unpack, I decided it was high time to check out the toilet/bathroom, and I shut the door behind me, and I realized…there was no toilet paper. Not one square to be found in the entire cottage. And I, of course, think there should still be SOMETHING open (since there always is in my experience, even if it’s just a gas station). But apparently there isn’t, because Penneshaw is only 300 people, and country towns generally close everything at 5. Okay, so we go to the pizza place to get some food, and ask if there’s anything open where we can buy toilet paper. The girl at the counter says no, but she’ll talk to her manager. A few minutes later she comes out with a paper bag containing a roll of toilet paper, which she sells us for $1.50 (or was it $2? Whatever). And we go back to the cottage, and eat, and test the toilet paper, and set up our laptops (we’re geeks, okay?), and set up the DVD player, and watched Pirates of the Caribbean, and went to bed.
Tuesday 6th July
Even though we were on holiday, we couldn’t manage to sleep past 9 am any morning. How very annoying.
We got up & had some hot chocolate that I’d brought along. Sat at our computers for a while, then went out to find some real food and some petrol. The petrol station didn’t have anything grocery-ish, so we went around the corner to the IGA, which did. It’s an island, and I knew the prices would be a bit more than on the mainland, but still…it costs a LOT of money for three lamb chops. Also got some eggs, bacon, veggies, and some cashews. Went back to the cottage, made bacon & eggs for breakfast, then looked at the tourist guide book & the map to see what we wanted to do for the day. We decided we’d drive to American River & Kingscote (the other 2 major towns on the island). Got some pictures along the way. Climbed up to the top of Prospect Hill about 20 minutes from American River. The stairway is something like 500-600 steps, and the lookout is one of the highest points on the island. And the view is great, but my leg muscles hurt for the rest of the week. After this we drove into American River, got some drinks & food, and drove around the town. In one under-development part of town, we saw a group of wallabies (like kangaroos, only smaller) just sitting there on the side of the road. Pictures again. Then we hit the highway again to take us to Kingscote, but took a sidetrip on the way to A Maze ‘n’ Fun, where they have a hedge maze (they claim it’s Australia’s biggest), 9 hole miniature golf, a train that goes around the grounds, fishing, a gift shop, basically a lot of things little kids would like. We just did the golf & the maze, then went on to Kingscote. (Note: the 2 roads we took to and from the park were dirt roads. Most of the backroads on KI are dirt.) So we got to Kingscote and drove around for a bit, then down the road to Emu Bay, and back to Kingscote to see if we could find one of the Internet places that were in the tourist book. We found the library, which was free, but probably booked solid. And then we found the kiosk in the front of the Ozone Hotel, but it charged an arm & a leg. And the third place we never did find, because nothing of the layout of the town suggested “mall” to us (this is “mall” in the Australian sense of the word, like the Washington Mall, rather than Mall of America-type mall). So we headed back to Penneshaw, back to our cottage, and thought about tea. And promptly got back in the car to go to the petrol station, which had roasted chickens. Brought the chicken home, ate it, and watched CSI on TV. Went to bed.
Wednesday 7th July 2004
Today we just stayed in Penneshaw. Had sausages for breakfast, then in the afternoon decided to walk up to the post office/bank/Internet cafe and use a computer for a bit. Afterward we wandered down to the penguin area, where we walked through the paths & looked at the nests. I managed to just see a baby penguin in its nest, tried to get a picture, and you can JUST tell there’s something in there. There were lots of paths in this area, so we took most of them. Stopped at lookouts to, um, look out. And take pictures. At one of these lookouts Darrin mentioned we hadn’t seen any dolphins yet. Half a second later, he says “There’s one now!” I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. Kept seeing this fin come up above the water. Also saw seals/sea lions swimming around, and a double rainbow out to the east (a minute later we were getting wet). Wandered around some more, walked back to the cottage. Had those three lamb chops for tea, and watched Spaceballs & George of the Jungle. Went to bed.
Thursday 8th July 2004
We woke up to roaring waves & winds. And it was cold. Very cold. We stayed inside all day, reading & playing Warcraft. Even though we had the heater on max most of the day, it was still cold. Around teatime we were (obviously) getting hungry, so we got into the car & drove around to all FIVE of the restaurantish places in Penneshaw. Two were closed. One we’d already been to (the pizza place). One looked a bit too classy (and weird food) for us to enjoy. The last was the local pub. The pub won. We had pretty good rump steaks and veggies, and the price was good. Darrin even got a free second glass of Coke because he’d pointed out to the till guy he’d given us too much change. And so we went home feeling full, and watched the entire Back to the Future set before going to bed around 1 am. (Or was that Friday night? Can’t remember, doesn’t really matter I guess.)
Friday 9th July
We got up & had some breakfast, then decided to hit the road again to see the more unsettled parts of the island. Our first stop was Seal Bay, where we took a tour of sorts down to the beach where the sea lions live. Again, lots of pictures. And another rainbow. And the tour guide was pretty friendly and took pictures for people who wanted pictures of them and the sea lions (not that we were allowed to get close, but you can see them in the background of the one he took of us). We grabbed a couple bottles of water on our way out and headed toward the Kelly Hill caves, where we checked the times for the tours. One had just started, and the next wasn’t for another hour or two, and we didn’t feel like sitting around with nothing to do till then, so we wrote down the tour times and got back in the car, in case we still had time when we finished at Flinders Chase National Park. (We didn’t make any of the cave tours; something to do next time.) So our next stop was the visitor centre at Flinders Chase, where we paid our fee and had some lunch. We got a picture of my sandwich too. And then we got in the car and drove (yes, drove through a national park, on a PAVED road) out to the southwest coast, where we saw even more things that warranted pictures: a lighthouse, a couple hundred New Zealand fur seals, Admirals Arch, and the Remarkable Rocks, which are really big rocks that have been worn down over time by wind, rain, the sea, and whatever other weather has been there. And they look funny. They’ve got shapes ‘carved’ into the rock. Just go look at the pictures, they’re too hard to describe.
And then we got in the car and drove out of the park. And saw a mama kangaroo with her baby feeding on the side of the park road. I rolled down my window to get a picture of them, and the mama turned and looked at me as if she was posing for the shot (she was really hoping I’d feed her something). And not 100 metres down the road was another kangaroo, right in the middle of the road. And as Darrin rolled his window down, this male roo started sniffing like he was expecting food too.
And then we actually left the park, and went back toward Kingscote a different way than we’d come. And Darrin was talking about how the particular order of the shrubs & trees along the side of the road was something kangaroos would like, and that I should help him watch out for them bounding across the road. And just then we were rounding a corner in the road, and right there in front of us were three kangaroos hopping across the road. They made it to the other side of the road, and we kept going. On to Parndana, another small town of about 300, where we got petrol enough to get us back to Penneshaw (and partway back home the next day). And then on toward Kingscote, where we drove around looking for a place to eat. Nothing looked very interesting, so we went to the Ozone Hotel again, this time for food instead of internet. The food was good (although the sauce on my schnitzel was a little too tomato-ey for my taste). And back to the cottage at Penneshaw for our last night on the island.
Saturday 10th July
So we got up at some point in the morning and started packing. We’d left our suitcases in the second bedroom because the main bedroom was way too small for them and us to fit (i.e. about two feet from the bed to the wall, in any of the three directions). And we cleaned up the place, and put our trash in the bin outside, and sat around reading till it was time to load up the car. And so we loaded up the car. And drove out to the dock. And waited for them to let us on the boat. And got on the boat, and prepared for a rough ride (the weather wasn’t as bad as Thursday, but not as good as Monday). We were sitting at one of the tables in the lounge, next to a window, playing cards, when we started to move. Up and down. Rock right, rock left. And over and over again. And my stomach was feeling funny every time I took my eyes off the water. (The captain, after we left the dock, said over the loudspeaker that we’d be taking a slightly different route to give us a “smoother ride” on account of the weather. This was met with laughter by just about everyone.) Didn’t make for good game playing (I lost, but that’s not entirely the fault of the boat). Once we finished the game I decided to go outside, even as cold & windy as it was. Figured the fresh air would be good. So we both started walking toward the back of the boat, and it was rocking so much I must’ve looked like a drunken sailor reaching for the wall and/or the seats every time I lost my balance. You’d think they’d have handrails along the wall for just this purpose. Anyway. I was hesitant to go up on the top level, after Darrin kept saying that the bottom level was the least rocky, but we went up anyway. And it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It WAS cold, and it WAS windy, but I didn’t really notice the cold (the wind I couldn’t help noticing because it kept blowing my hair all over – including the braid that I’d just thrown back behind my head, which the wind was strong enough to blow BACK in front of my shoulder). And so Cape Jervis got closer, and the captain told the drivers to go to their cars. And the engines shut off, and we just drited the last bit, and I thought it was funny when I saw a speed limit sign on the jetty that said “4 knots.”
And so the boat part of the trip was over, and I went out to wait for Darrin at the passenger pickup area. And we were one of the last cars off the boat, so we got stuck behind about fifteen cars, all going back to Adelaide on the same road. At 20 kph UNDER the speed limit. But we made it home, and Biscuit was happy to see us. And we’ll hopefully be going back there again someday, and I definitely recommend that anyone visiting Australia take a few days to explore Kangaroo Island, because it’s pretty cool.