Sunday, August 22, 2010

Adelaide & Kangaroo Island

I thought I would take a few minutes and write about what we've been up to over the last week. I'll touch a little bit on Adelaide before covering our side trip to Kangaroo Island. I'm writing this entry on Friday 8/20 as we make our way from Adelaide to Melbourne by train. We decided to travel by train after taking three intra-Australia flights across the country. You really do not get a chance to see much from 30,000 feet plus it was slightly cheaper than flying although not by much. The scenery for this 12 hour train ride has been pretty but somewhat similar once we left the Adelaide city area. It is mostly rolling hills and farmland. The most popular crops have been canola and wheat with the most popular animal being sheep by far trailed cows. We did pass by a zoo a couple hours east of Adelaide that is part zoo and part animal rehabilitation center. We were able to see some giraffes in one part of the zoo. We also spotted a couple kangaroos in the wild shortly after leaving Adelaide. One funny thing we keep seeing is that every time the train passes close to a field of sheep the sheep take off running away from the train. They are probably scared to death. Anyway, back to the trip summary starting with Adelaide.

We arrived in Adelaide Friday evening the 13th after having spent the previous few days in Cairns where it was nice and warm. In Adelaide it was pretty much in the 50's with either rain, wind, or both. We couch surfed in Adelaide again. Our host, Carlo, even picked us up from the airport. He also gave us a little bit of a quick driving tour downtown. He mentioned going to a few clubs but we settled on going to a billiards club for a game and beers which helped us get acquainted. We then headed to Carlo's house and settled in for the night. Carlo is pretty new to couch surfing but was a good host. We slept on a queen size inflatable mattress that had not been opened. It was actually pretty comfortable.

We spent Saturday and Sunday checking out the sights in Adelaide that we're open and free. We spent several hours Saturday at the Central Market which is a very large (compared to US standards) farmer's market that had all types of meats, vegetables, fish, cheeses, and breads. We even purchased our dinner supplies at the market for Saturday night. We continued to meander around the downtown area Saturday before heading back to Carlo's place. We got kind of lucky and he happened to be in town and was able to give us a ride back to his house which saved us some money on their rather expensive tram line. The main reason he was downtown was that he was picking up another fellow couch surfer named Pauline. Pauline is 25 years old and was from France. She has been in Australia since January and is about to head up through the middle of Australia to Ayer's Rock and eventually to Darwin on the north coast. She was very nice and even hung out with us on Sunday when we went back in to town. On our second day we toured an art museum, the University of Adelaide, and wrapped up the day using some of the free but very slow free wi-fi at one of the library branches downtown. Adelaide was a pretty basic town. There wasn't that much to see or do and the weather didn't really cooperate that much. I'd probably skip it or only stay for a day. The region does have a lot of wineries but we were limited by the weather and by our lack of transportation. The primary purpose for traveling to Adelaide was for our side trip Kangaroo Island.

As I mentioned Kangaroo Island was the focus for traveling down to the state of South Australia. We both wanted to see some native wildlife and take a quick break from being in cities. We arrived on Kangaroo Island on Monday the 16th and left on Thursday the 19th. Kangaroo Island was a quick 20 minute flight on a prop plane from Adelaide to the airport near Kingscote on the east side of the island. It was is probably one of the smallest airports that I have been in with only two gates and no security screening facilities. We arrived around mid-day Monday and drove around the island's north shore after a quick trip into Kingscote. It took a couple hours over mostly unpaved roads but it was pretty. The north side is pretty green and lush. It reminded me somewhat of Ireland. We actually spotted our second kangaroo in the wild during the drive.

After our tour of the north coast of the island we arrived at the Pardana Wildlife Park which is a private wildlife park that for me was the highlight of the island. The park had numerous types of animals. We saw wallabies, all sorts of birds, deer, a pig, couple donkeys, koalas, and numerous kangaroos including an albino one to go along with an albino wallaby. We stayed at the park for a couple hours. We got to pet the koalas and went in to one of the pins that contained kangaroos. In the kangaroo area we were able to pet them and feed them. They were anxious to get some food. They may be a little aggressive but they are pretty well behaved. We also met up with our couch surfing host for our island visit Dave Morris. Dave is actually the only couch surfing host on the island. We were surprised that there was even one on the island given that is pretty small (only 4,000 residents). He was a great host though. We had dinner with him each night and spent a day with him on his day off on Wednesday. On Thursday when we flew back in to Adelaide he actually picked us up from the airport and dropped us off at our hostel. Dave is a tour guide for the ferry company Sealink. He has traveled the world and has been some of the places that we're going. After we met him at the wildlife park we went to his house while he continued on with his tour for the day. The funny thing was that his house wasn't even locked. You just opened the sliding door and lifted the shades up and went in. I don't think any of the doors had any locks on them.

On Tuesday we spent quite a bit of time in the car. We drove to the far west side of the island to the Cape Borda lighthouse. It was about 60 miles from Dave's house. We stopped and ate lunch there before hiking to an overlook on a bluff about 1 km from the lighthouse. After lunch we drove down to Flinders Chase National Park on the southwest corner of the island. At the park, which came with a $9 per person entry fee, we saw some beautiful scenery at Admiral's Arch and at the Remarkable Rocks sections. At Admiral's Arch we saw several New Zealand Fur Seals in addition to the arch itself and at the Remarkable Rocks we saw some uniquely shaped rocks on an outcropping overlooking the ocean. We also saw some dolphins swimming in the bay from the distance.

We spent Wednesday with our host Dave. We kept to a light schedule but still manged to attend an interactive bird exhibit and eat a good lunch by Vivonne Bay. We also stopped on the way home and bought 3 dozen oysters that were pulled out of the ocean that morning for only $7 a dozen. The only bad part was that we had to clean and shuck them which took awhile. I managed to cut myself 3 times on one oyster so Alethea and Dave did most of the shucking. We all had bloody hands by the time we were done. The oysters we ate with our dinner were good though. After dinner we actually went on a night time animal watching tour in Penneshaw where Dave lives. We saw several wallabies, some cows on the run, and even some penquins!

On Thursday we flew back up to Adelaide and spent part of the day walking around Chinatown in Adelaide with Dave. We stayed at a very basic and somewhat filthy hostel in downtown Adelaide. It wasn't too bad and served its purpose of allowing for a good night's rest before heading to the Keswick train station for our trip to Melbourne. We'll spend 4 nights in Melbourne before wrapping up our Australia part of the trip. Our next stop will be New Zealand. Hope everyone is doing well and I am not putting everyone to sleep with my writing.

Pictures for this part of the trip are posted on the blog and at the link below. After getting caught up on pictures, blogging, and documenting our expenses on the spreadsheet (where we log just about everything), I think I'll head to the bistro car and enjoy the scenery for the remaining two hours of the train ride into Melbourne.

Adelaide and Kangaroo Island album link:

Adelaide & Kangaroo Island Pictures

(This entry covered 8/13 to 8/20: Adelaide – 8/13 to 8/16, KI – 8/16 to 8/19)