Hello from Adelaide!

Once again it’s been an eventful week or so. I think I last wrote from Warranambool where we stayed for a few days. The weather was wonderful there –- and has been since – and we spent a lot of time in the most amazing playground and hanging out on the beach with Jessica. It was nice to just hang out without an itinerary.

After much shopping, we finally managed to find a pair of jeans for Jessica, which are SO huge on her that they’ll fit for ages. I have to cinch up the adjustable waistband and roll them up by about two inches. She’’s very fashionable! We also FINALLY managed to find a small heater for the campervan. It was just shy of $200 and – hopefully – Britz will reimburse us for it.

We left Warranambool and headed up the coast and across the border into South Australia. We spent the night at a free rest top beside Mt Schank. These free stops are amazing -– I wish we had the time to stay at more of them. Often they have full picnic facilities, toilets, fire-pits, etc…. and they’re totally free!!

We had a nice campfire and climbed the volcano in the morning. Jessica is hilarious when we go walking. She loves steps. She will climb the side of a mountain without stopping if there are steps. But, ask her to walk across a parking lot and the whining begins: “CARRY me Daddy!!” Go figure.

From Mt. Schank we drove on to spend the night in Wellington; just a stopover on our way to Kangaroo Island, but a really nice little caravan park there. This was the evening of the football finals so there was a bit of a party atmosphere in the park when we arrived. People were doing victory dances and shouting all over the place. Unfortunately, there was also a car accident just out side the park and some guy on a motorcycle was rushed off by ambulance. Thankfully he was wearing a helmet, but that certainly dampened the party atmosphere considerably. Hopefully he’’s ok -– we never learned what happened.

The following morning, we headed off to the Kangaroo Island Ferry. We caught the last ferry for the day at 6pm. Grant had to back the campervan into an impossibly small space and almost squashed the guy who was guiding him into the spot. The guy was less than impressed and had a few words to say when Grant got out of the vehicle. Thank God I didn’t have to drive! Apparently on the return trip one girl got so flustered she got out of her campervan and handed the keys to the guy guiding her in and said -– YOU do it!! It’s amazing how many vehicles they can pack onto those ferries.

Jessica made fast friends on the ferry with a little girl named Tess who was one day older than her. They had a blast playing together on the ferry and terrorized the place. Jess & Tess -– cheeky girls!

Our first night on the island was spent in Kingscote. We spent the night in a caravan park just outside the town and shopped at a few local art galleries in the morning. So far, I haven’t found anything I love -– which is probably a good thing. One gallery we went to on Philip Island was SO pretentious. The art was all a bunch of ambiguous blobs selling for tens of thousands of dollars. One hunk of granite that was supposed to be a bench (I think) went for something like $70,000. It hadn’t been carved or shaped or anything it was just a big block of granite named something stupid like: “simplicity.” Then there was a big iron statue of a fat cartoon-like man. It was $90,000. But, I digress….

Monday afternoon on our way through to Finders Chase, we visited the Pardana Wildlife Centre. It was really good, and this time the kangaroos were smaller and less aggressive (a different breed of kangaroo lives on the island – named, surprisingly, Kangaroo Island Kangaroo) so Jessica had a great time feeding them and patting them. A goose chased Grant which was pretty funny. They had a whole bunch of different kinds of birds, which the park is famous for. Australia sure has some beautiful birds – …although I sure don’t think so when we have a kookaburra outside our window at 6am.

We spent four nights in the Flinders Chase National Park. What a wonderful campground! Curious kangaroos popped their heads into our campervan, and raided the tent next door. There were wallabies and possums everywhere at night. At just about any given time you could look out our window and see some sort of critter. Of course, for our budding scatologist, this meant a million kinds of POOP to inspect and talk about incessantly. Jessica’’s getting pretty good at identifying animals by their poo.

The campground had no power but had hot showers, which is all you can ask for, really! They’’re really environmentally friendly on the island. Everything was powered by solar energy and the lights in the bathrooms were run on motion detectors at night. The only bad thing about that was if you happened to need more than about a minute in the shower or the stall, the lights would go out on you and it was DARK. I overheard a guy and his son arguing in dark shower stalls about who had to go and turn the lights on every time they went out. Very funny.

We drove out to the Remarkable Rocks and Admiral’s Arch on the Tuesday. We did a bit of hiking in the area and checked out a lighthouse. We saw our first (and only live) goanna on the walk to the rocks. There was a seal colony in the Admiral’s Arch area so we spent some time watching them.

Wednesday, we took a tour of Kelly Caves and ran into Tess and her family again. Jess and Tess had a blast playing together in the caves and out in the parking lot. The caves were pretty typical limestone caves, with the usual lot of stalagmites and stalactites -– which I can now differentiate between! After the caves we went to the island’s koala sanctuary and stared at a few koala bums way up in trees. I’ve come to the conclusion that, unless you can actually pat them, koalas are pretty boring creatures!

Thursday, we didn’t have anything planned and we had run the batteries down in the campervan so we went for a drive to the closest grocery store an hour away. Oh –- we also had lunch at the Flinders Chase Visitor’s Centre, which has been by far my best meal in Australia so far. I honestly think the guy caught the fish after I ordered it. Yummy! Anyway, I was driving to the store and I think it is my fate to find the worst roads in Australia. I saw a sign pointing to the local public toilets and a campground. So, I turned off the highway thinking that the grocery store was probably down the same road. OH MY GOD. I have never in my life been on such a washboard road. Things were flying off shelves in the back and Grant and Jessica were both yelling at me. Horrible. After about three minutes, I turned around. It has to be some sort of sick Aussie sense of humor that the only public toilets for 30km are 8km down the bumpiest road in the universe!

That evening we went for another night-time hike around the park. The trails are well marked, the moon was full on a clear night, and we had our flashlights. So, secure in the knowledge that there are no predators on the island, we set off about an hour before dark on a 9km hike. We figured we had enough daylight left to go and look for the platypus and then hike back in the dark looking for all the nocturnal animals on the island. We had done shorter night time hikes in the same area previously and had seen tons of cool critters.

So, off we go with Jessica on my back in the kiddie backpack so we can actually walk at a normal pace. We make it to the platypus ponds with light to spare and have absolutely no luck spotting a platypus. Of course, it could have had something to do with the fact that to spot a platypus you have to be completely silent and still. Not something easily accomplished with a three year old on your back. So, no platypus watching for us!

We headed off down a more wooded part of the trail, and by this time it was getting dark. The trees were blocking out the moon and the previously well marked, wide, gravel trail had diminished into something a rabbit might follow through the forest. Hm. Ah well -– we’ll just follow the river and what we think is the trail and we were occasionally coming across a man made bridge or a place where someone had cut away brush so we figured we were on track -– mostly. Plus there’s nothing in the forest that’s dangerous, right?? Then what the HELL was that noise? Something trotting through the forest, not hopping like a kangaroo or wallaby or scurrying like a possum. Interesting. There are lots of them, too. Finally caught sight of one or two and figure they’’re small pigs. Well, there’’s not supposed to be any wild pigs on the island. Let’s just hope we don’’t run into mommy pig in the dark.

We continue hiking, a little more wary this time – speculating on what might happen if we run across a big angry wild boar in the forest …and the trail is seriously dwindling. I’’m leading, and I THINK I’’m on track, but it’s been ten minutes or so since we’ve seen anything man-made and it’’s DARK now, and I’’m not entirely sure we’re following the right path. Then we hear something much bigger than the ‘pigs.’ It’’s walking through the forest – – again not hopping like a kangaroo would do. It seems to be moving away from us, which is good… – but the trail is going that way, too… and I’m not leaving what little bit of trail I have left here! Besides – nothing dangerous in the forest, right? Not even any pets allowed, right? Right.

Several minutes later, our trail and the thing’’s path converge and I catch it in my flashlight beam. It looks pretty canine to me –- dog, wolf – something like that…… and it’s BIG.  It stands like a dog, it’s shape is dog-like and then it growls at us. That pretty much convinces me it isn’t a kangaroo. Thankfully, it took off in the other direction, and we picked up the pace considerably from that point on. It was another half hour or so before we were back in the campsite. We spooked at every bloody wallaby and possum on the way back. Whew. No more night-time hikes for us!

Friday was our final day on the island and we spent it driving back across towards the ferry. We arrived in Penneshaw early enough to do lunch and play in the local playground with Tess and her family (Mom Trish, Dad Gus, and Brother Tyler -– hi guys!!) before boarding the ferry. By fluke both families had booked the same ferry crossing, so Jess & Tess, the cheeky duo got to terrorize another lot of ferry passengers. We ran into a lady who had a baby wallaby in her handbag. How adorable! Jessica is still talking about Tess –- even in her sleep last night -– and misses her a lot. It’’s hard to explain to her that we’re not likely going to run into her again.

We arrived in Adelaide late Friday night after discovering that Daddy is getting old and can no longer read maps in the dark! The caravan park is right in the centre of the city, so we don’’t have to drive anywhere. We spent yesterday stocking up on groceries, walking through the local botanic gardens, and doing some shopping.

I bought a couple of opal bracelets and had the shop send them home for me. Of course, now I’’m second guessing did I buy them in the right shop? Did I get ripped off? I don’’t even get to see them for another year and a half! I also spent a small fortune on some salon shampoo that is eucalyptus and cinnamon, thinking it’s some sort of exclusive Aussie stuff…. Read the label in the shower this morning and –- hey – – it’s imported from Canada. No wonder it’s expensive here! Typical.

We saw them shooting a movie for Bollywood on the streets of Adelaide yesterday. Cheeeeeesy and very low-budget. Don’’t think that’s a movie I’’ll be interested in seeing anytime soon.

Today we’re going to see a few galleries and wander around the city. Tomorrow we’re heading – – once again –- to Britz to see if they can fix the air-conditioner that the last guy swore was working. They can’’t switch this unit out because they don’’t have one in town, so if they can’’t fix the air-con, we’re headed into the centre of Australia with no bloody air-con! This whole heater/air-conditioner saga does not impress me and I think someone is going to get an earful tomorrow at the Britz place. I don’’t think we’ll rent from them again.

After this, we’re heading into the Barossa region so Daddy can sample some wines. Then it’s on to Port Lincoln and the shark diving!!

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