February 26 – 28
Kangaroo Island was named by some sailor dudes who ran out of food, found the island, and killed a shitload of kangaroos to fill their ship with. Now that’s what I call good eating!
That was a few hundred years ago, but even now you could probably kill enough of the suckers to eat well for a long time. In fact, there’s so many of them that if you’re driving a car around the island at night, it’s only a matter of time before you DO kill one. Kangaroo Island night driving is like a video game — wild creatures pop out in front of you with little notice, there are point values for each one, and you go for the high score. Kangaroos, wallabies, birds, you name it… KI is a roadkill lover’s dream.
There were only six of us on this Groovy Grape tour, so it was pretty laid back. Two German girls, a Dutch girl, an English girl and a Korean guy. Not exactly a party group, which was fine. A few days of clean living was just what I needed.
On the first day we took the ferry over to KI from the mainland and visited a lookout point and a few beautiful beaches. Then it was off to a remote cabin to do some kangaroo-watching, chop firewood (yes, I look ridiculous while doing any kind of manual labor) and prepare dinner.
After dinner we went down to a dock for some penguin-watching, but the full moon meant that the little buggers had more light to go fishing with, so they didn’t head back to their nests at the “usual” time. GOD DAMN YOU PENGUINS.
Back at the cabin we discovered that the tap water was from a well, and tasted horrible. This is when we realized why we had been given so much fruit punch concentrate — it was the only way to choke the water down. As an added bonus, now we all have diabetes.
We camped out around the fire overnight, and I’m pretty sure one of the vegan girls was eating marshmallows, blissfully unaware of what was inside of them. I did not feel the need to inform her — this girl freaked out when I told her that parmesan cheese particles are airborne, and were hopping from all of our spaghetti plates onto hers. Some people just don’t know how to take a joke.
In the morning we went down to the island’s protected sea lion colony for a guided tour. The fatties were pretty lazy and huddling together since it was cold out… not much to see here. I was hoping to see some crazy alpha male power struggles. Usurp the throne!
Next up was sledding down a giant sand dune called Little Sahara. Fun, but sand got everywhere, and stayed there for days. Yes — even there.
Then off to some boring caves to look at stalagmites (the upward-thrusting phallic things) and stalactites (the downward-hanging phallic things). We saw a baby stalagmite, only a tiny puddle on the floor, that was apparently “born” in 1977. Now, my mother teaches in Eastern Michigan University’s department of Geography and Geology, and I can now say without a doubt that geographers are far cooler than geologists — while geologists are watching things grow micrometer by micrometer, geographers are dealing with crazy shit happening every day. Yugoslavia split into seven countries in the blink of an eye! Zaire is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo! The ONLY interesting thing we learned about the caves is that they were discovered because a horse named Kate Kelly fell in and died. Why interesting: (a) that is a stupid name for a horse, (b) the horse’s remains were never found.
The Flinders Chase National Park was a highlight. There is a big attraction called the “Remarkable Rocks”. The committee that named these things doesn’t win any points for creativity, but gets full points for accuracy and alliteration (as do I). These may be the only rocks that have ever made me genuinely happy, other than those in my glass keeping my scotch cold. They looked like they belonged on the set of some sci-fi show’s alien world.
At Admiral’s Arch we saw some fur seal hanging out, in no apparent danger of being clubbed.
We stayed overnight at a little farmhouse with drinkable water where I played didgeridoo for the first time. I’m actually decent at it, and picked it right up while everyone else in the group failed miserably. Go figure.
Went for a koala-spotting walk in a eucalyptus forest and saw eight of the little “tree lice” in about fifteen minutes. Koalas are cute but BORING. Next!
Next up, the island’s eucalyptus distillery where they extract the essential oils from the leaves and put them into medicines and hand creams and other things which were all conveniently for sale. Rather than buy anything, I played with a orphaned baby kangaroo in a shopping bag.
At our lunch stop we encountered a drunk, shirtless old man with two huge dogs who told us where we could find some tame kangaroos and wallabies to hand-feed. He pointed at an old shack across the street, and said we should drive just behind that and follow the road until we found the animals. We actually tried this, and found nothing. Eventually the drunk guy wandered up, and told us that we hadn’t driven far enough… “just a little further, around that bend”. It got creepy quickly — like the scene in Goodfellas when Robert De Niro is trying to get Lorraine Bracco to go into an abandoned old shop to pick out some “free dresses”. We got the hell out of there.
Eventually it was time to head back to the mainland, and we hopped back on the ferry. I bumped into a girl I knew from the Great Ocean Road trip, and she asked if I wanted to meet up for a drink that night once we got back into Adelaide. I said it was a great idea, assuming our buses got us back to the city from the docks in one piece. Of course, this jinxed the whole thing: her bus had a flat tire, and mine broke down completely. Lesson: don’t joke about this sort of thing!
There may not be any updates for the next two weeks or so. I’ll be in the middle of nowhere on a 10-day tour! See you in Perth!
On Flickr: Full photoset