After the rail journey


I’m going to be forced to learn how to drive here because…Kangaroo Island is back on!

Our original booking fell through due to an illness.  It was a horrible disappointment to me, but the owners were worse off.  The wife had a sick mother.  And family is very important.  I understand.  We’re on holiday, we’ll adapt.  And we aren’t sick.

Alicia asked around and found another place available.  A friend had a two bedroom holiday house available.  We snatched it up immediately.

Off to organize at Sealink Ferry Service in Adelaide.  Bad news.  No rental cars available on KI.  Except for an SUV.  1 lousy SUV, for an astounding $880 for four days.  NO WAY.  I’d walk before paying that.   Seems that there are numerous cruise ships there this time of year and the passengers are slapping up cars as quick as the cars come available.  Sigh.

But, by renting a car here in downtown Adelaide, we could drive there and back, ferry crossing, unlimited miles, everything for $800 for six days.  That we could live with.

The price of the house rental more than makes up for it.  The price is unreasonably low and I refuse to take advantage of the owners.  It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know.  Some how I have to make this right.

We went shopping this morning for food.  Everything on KI is crazy expensive as it all has to be ferried in.  Food, booze, fuel, restaurants, motels, B & B’s, tours, you name it.  Stores can some times sell completely out if there is a rush of people.  So we’ve bought 6 days worth of food here in Mount Barker and will be hauling it in by car.  The house has everything else, cooking and utensils, bedding, all that a person needs.  The island has scenery, wildlife, roads, beaches, quiet.  Well, the quiet will be interrupted by the hordes of passengers off of the cruise ships.  At least they will only be there from about 8am to 4pm.

I wonder if Holland America will be represented.  One of their ships was purchased by an Australian interest and plies these waters under a different name.  I’ll recognize it immediately as the old Ryndam.  Repainted of course.

Traffic is hectic in Adelaide and I’m getting lost easily.  Fortunately Alicia and Graeme have worked out getting the rig out here to Mount Barker.  I can handle it from here.  We will leave here at 3:15pm and pick up the rig.  Graeme drives it here, and I practice a bit on the back roads around this area.  No problem.  Getting to the ferry port is easy as Mount Barker is a third of the way distance between the two.

I should mention that Mount Barker is what Americans call a “bedroom community”.   The houses out here are fancy to say the very least.  Our subdivision is occupied by numerous professionals escaping the city for the evening.  We are surrounded by lawyers, doctors, and business people.  Alicia is a nursing supervisor at a major hospital in Adelaide.   I’m a rather scruffy Fish (eries Researcher) out of water around here.   I try hard not to look like what I truly am, a countrified hick from Washington state.

12/6/2016 8:30pm

On Kangaroo Island.  It’s been rather an adventure to get here.  Plus it’s rather surreal.  I simply can’t believe that I am sitting in a large, grand, holiday house in Australia.  I expect at any time to wake up back in the good ole US of A.   But the noisy parrots outside remind me.  And I pinch myself now and then.

We picked up the car at 4pm.  Graeme drove it to the freeway, then he handed it over to me.  Crap.  Well, I had to start somewhere.

High speed on the freeway.  My forearms got pumped up I was gripping the steering wheel so hard.  Hold it on 110 (70 mph) and gut it out.

It’s very disorienting to drive on the left side of the road if all you’ve ever known is right side.  I’ve disciplined myself to aim my side of the car at the center of the road.  It seems to be working.  But at first it was very confusing.  Roundabouts are the worst.  Because you go through them clockwise.  Scary at first as the traffic patterns and yield patterns are reversed.  I made one serious error, but fortunately no one else was in the intersection.

After dinner I took the car out and wandered around the quiet subdivision.  That helped a lot and after perhaps 20 miles of side streets, I felt comfortable enough to take the stab at Kangaroo Island the next morning.

The GPS on the phone works well enough but the lingo was confusing.  “At the next roundabout, go strait ahead”.  Yeah, right.  Strait ahead is strait ahead, but this meant take the first left.  We wound around downtown Mount Barker for an extra 10 minutes as I struggled to understand the instructions.  Lucky for me, the traffic was light and I was determined.  After a half a dozen sashays off into the side streets, we were on our way southwest.

Of course no photos.   I was too busy gripping the seat with my butt cheeks to reach for the camera.  About 20 miles out, I managed to smack a white cockatoo looking thing with pink feathers on it’s neck at about 50mph.  It was on it’s final Kamikaze run.  Oops!  Just like the commute to the dam at home.   It didn’t fare any better than the ring necked pheasants I’m so familiar with.

I wasn’t trying to do that at all.  Luckily no damage to the front of the car, just a polished spot thanks to the wings.  About 3/4 of the way there, I called a halt.  We went into a supermarket and I rewarded myself with a coke.  Stopped again at the outskirts of Port Jervis to top the fuel off.  Then, on to the ferry terminal.

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The little Toyota at the front of the line is our rental.  Nimble, small, and powerful, it’s a perfect car for a beginner.  Very forgiving.  We arrived about 2 hours early.  We wanted plenty of time to make up for any……errrr….diversions caused by the GPS or my ignorance.

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But here we are tucked on the ferry.  Just behind the red Jeep.  Damn tight quarters.  Praxy could not have gotten out if she was allowed to board the ferry in the car.  She was required to walk on.  The truck is a double trailered sheep hauler that carries sheep four tiers high.  Dunno how many sheep per load, but it’s a pile of them.  Perhaps a couple hundred.  Very very stinky, this truck was going back empty to get another load from the island.  And a guy brought in a hay rake and baler.  The rake with trailer is on the far side of the truck.   One car with a trailer got left behind.   Glad it wasn’t us!

45 minutes from the mainland to KI.  Off the boat, pick up the wife on the side of the street, and off to our accommodations.  We got a little lost, but no big deal.  Finally found it with the help of the owners.

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Overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

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Inside…pardon our clutter.  We’re planning our day trips.  Four of them.

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There is a washroom and a nice deck that goes 3/4s of the way around.   No food, you have to bring your own.  No problem, we brought our own food.  Lots of it.   A second bedroom that sleeps 4.  Our luggage is in there.

Tonight, rotisserie chicken from Coles Grocery, fried potatoes, salad.  Guinness beer and Jack Daniels for me.  Yep.  Jack Daniels whiskey.  About the same price as in the states.  I couldn’t resist, no shame here.  It goes down smooth with the view of the Pacific Ocean.  Tomorrow night?  Grilled kangaroo tenderloin with grilled potatoes, grilled cauliflower, and more salad.   Yes, kangaroo steaks.  How can you not try it?  Unless you are a roo hugger or squeamish.  And NO, it isn’t from a road kill.  Farmed.  I jokingly told the butcher that I hoped the steaks were NOT from the hoppy part of the animal.  He grinned and assured me we had the best cuts.

No koala meat planned.  I think they’d taste like a cough drop.  Cuji (I think that is how it’s spelled, you can get it in Ecuador) would certainly be better.  Haha to those of you that look that one up!  And yes, if I’m ever there, I’ll try it.

We haven’t seen a koala yet.  At least a live one.  They roadkill quite frequently.  They aren’t the speediest of automobile avoiders.  Not to worry, though.  There are tons of them around and in many places they are a destructive nuisance.  Alicia gets them on her deck every once in a while.

We went for a walk on the nearby beach…

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The sand is pure white and soft as silk.  Hard to walk on.  You sink in.  On the way back we came across a goanna or monitor lizard, don’t know which one it was.  It was shy and hauled ass into it’s burrow before I could get a picture.  Ungrateful little wretch. 

Time to end this post with a picture of my lovely little wife on the ferry.

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approaching Penneshaw.

Oh, and a slightly bigger boat…

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They only get one day here.  We’ve got four!  This is the reason we had to rent a car in Adelaide.  I should thank them.

12/7/2016  8:00pm on Kangaroo Island

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About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
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