Friday, 25 September 2009

Tie me kangaroo down, sport

Back from Kangaroo Island, off the coast of Adelaide: it rained for two days out of three, I had a streaming cold throughout, and I loved it. Brilliant, brilliant trip.

We started at 6.30am on Monday, heading out to Victor Harbour where we saw the last of the Australian Right Whales (called "right" because they float to the surface when harpooned, hence they were the "right" ones to hunt) before they head out to sea for the summer. There were some mums there, being very stately, and some babies playing - flicking their tails flirtatiously, breaching the water and so on - as they got their test drive before the big migration. Fantastic - and just the start of the wildlife.

Once we hit the island, Simon (our guide, a right-on Australian dude) took us to one of his koala spots, where we saw (and this is pretty rare) a couple in the wild. One was even awake, which is something of a miracle - since this isn't mating season, they mostly sleep, and then eat, and then sleep again. Basically, they're stoned on eucalyptus... If there's such a thing as reincarnation I'm coming back as a koala - they eat, sleep, get high and have sex and that's it. Sounds pretty idyllic to me.

After that, we hit the caves to escape the rain (I should say that it started raining when we disembarked from the ferry and didn't stop) - cool stalactites and other formations - and then tried to go for a hike along the cliffs, but only got five minutes in before we were wet through - and I'm not talking a bit damp, but wringing water from our clothes and hair! After that we gave up and went to the camp for the night, which was really comfortable. Got the wood fire going, got the clothes drying and played Jenga amid the steam. We were seven at this point - me, an English guy called Mike, three cool Chilean dudes, an absolutely silent boy from Hong Kong (I never knew his name) and Eva from Holland, perhaps the world's coolest 18-year-old.

Next day it was still raining (!) and I still didn't care - though possibly it was something to do with the fact that I was high on cold cures throughout - and we did another hike to a beautiful waterfall (I concentrated on not having a seizure when we went up a horrible hill - even the youngsters were struggling with this one), then met some birds of prey at the sanctuary: a frog-mouthed tawny, peregrine falcon, barn owl, kestrel and wedge-tailed eagle, some of whom we could pass from arm to arm. Very cool indeed.

After which, we joined up with the two-day crew and went sand-boarding (basically like sledging except on sand dunes at Little Sahara), and in the evening went out looking for fairy penguins. In between we saw echidna (shy creatures who weren't best pleased to be surrounded by tourists taking photos, bless them), kangaroos and their joeys, wallabies, brush-tailed possum (including a cheeky one who was stealing from our bin late at night), Australian sea-lions, New Zealand fur seals, more koalas and a whole heap of scenery. Sadly there aren't many photos - and none of the third day when the sun came out - because my camera ran out of juice and I'd stupidly left the charger behind - so I'll just have to remember the Remarkable Rocks (actually remarkable - like a Salvador Dali sculpture) and the Admiralty Arch, with the fur seals basking underneath, or the little schoolhouse that was in use until 1945 (one room, and an outside dunny)...

Altogether a great tour; only a few days before I head out into the desert and I'm hoping I can shake this blessed cold before then. To which end, I'm spending the day with an Ian Rankin novel and some biscuits. If that doesn't do the trick, nothing will...

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