The Storks of Böbs

The Storks of Böbs
A Very Fine Pair

Around the World (Again) Kangaroo Island Day 1 & 2

Kangaroo Island-Arrival, first and second day, with a bit of history slapped in for good Measure!

The crossing was a tadge choppy though not unduly rough, it was under a leaden sky and a little squally rain.

The ferry arrived punctually and disgorged it cargo of passengers and goods for the re-victualing of the island, this is the only way that anything gets on or off the island (there is an airport, but this deals with a limited amount of goods and tourists). There are two ferries at the moment, which ply between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw on the island.

The Kangaroo Island YHA is only a matter of 200 metres from the terminal and is perfect for what I wanted, peace and quiet and far, far from the maddening crowds.

I went to the reception to be met by Libby a true Islander, she looked at my bookings and said you are early, but I will put you in room 7, it is empty at the moment but there are other occupants coming later in the day. I would suggest the lower bunk next to the rear window, you hear less at night and it has a place to store and hang your clothes. There are two part-time wardens here and some cleaning staff. I never saw any of the cleaning staff (they just cleaned and disappeared, I thought of Nobby the house elf of Harry Potter fame).  But both Libby and Helen were jewels, nothing was a bother to them, being a permanent resident  (most tourists only come to Kangaroo Island for 1, 2 or 3days and take one of the arranged tours) I became a part of the fittings.
By the time I had got rid of my rucksack and the other essential requirements of a Backpacker, the ferry had loaded its passengers and wares and was already leaving the bay.
The first day was a bit of orienteering, Penneshaw is not large and most of its traffic is through traffic of tour coaches or campervans as they pass through to the sights and attractions of this 155km x 55km Island. Penneshaw has a permanent population of less than 300. This swells in the summer by a few hundred more, mainly tourists here for the summer break, or backpackers doing the rounds. I cannot think of anything better.
But first a bit of History of Penneshaw and Kangaroo Island in the charting in general (you do like a bit of history don’t you)?

There were Aboriginal people on Kangaroo Island but they seem to have left about 2000 years ago (they called it Karta, Island of the dead), there have been stone implements and middens (places where they left their rubbish, bones, shells and broken tools) found that give credence to this. But when the first Europeans set foot on KI no Aborigines lived on the Island.
The First Europeans were the crew of the British Naval Vessel HMS Investigator under the command of Lieutenant Matthew Flinders .

Flinders had been sent, after much cajoling from the now famous naturalist Sir Joseph Banks of the Captain Cook and HMS Endeavour fame, to circumnavigate and map the continent of Australia.

The Investigator like the Endeavour had started life as a North East Collier and was thought most suited for navigation mapping as having a shallow draft could enter shallow waters, and having a wide beam could also carry a large amount of stores, provisions and have space for botanical specimens.

The main reason though was because Britain being at war with France, she was the only ship that could be released to carry out this task.
Flinders and his crew started charting Australia after sighting cape Leeuwin off SW Australia, the type of charting carried out is called  “ A Running Survey”  a surveying technique much favoured by Cook and those that sailed under this great navigator and sailor, others were Bligh, Vancouver and now Flinders.  To carry out this type of survey it is important to have a good cartographer, but most of all a very good landscape artist, this he had in William Westall. The idea of a “Running Survey” is that the navigator will set bearings to fixed points on land (or in the sea in the case reefs and out crops), the Artist will then fill in the areas between by sketching in the coast line as the vessel sailed close in shore (you can see the need for a shallow draft). But enough of this Nautical stuff (though I could go on for hours, if not days) we are here to talk about Kangaroo Island.

Flinders never actually circumnavigated the island; he encountered a French survey vessel called  Geographé under the command of Nicholas Baudin at a point just off Port Elliot, this is now called of course “Encounter Bay”. Though the two countries were still at war (though in reality the treaty of Amiens had been signed on the 25 March 1802, the captains of the ships would not have known this)
The men spent a few days together exchanging notes and information, Baudin had circumnavigated the Island, and Flinders just superimposed that information onto his charts, thus you will find most of the North of the Island has English names and the South coast French.

Flinders actually hit land at a point he named Kangaroo Head, there is a cairn erected at this point to commemorate this event. They also found fresh water a little further round the coast at what is now called Hogs Bay, this information was given to Baudin who later visited it and collected water from a spring there. One of his seamen carved this event into the rocks at a place now called Frenchman’s Rock. The rock has now been removed for safe keeping to the Information Centre just North of Penneshaw and a replica substituted.
After its discovery the Island was at first used by whalers and sealer, who set up small colonies to carry out their tasks, this almost led to the extinction of the Australian Sea-Lions, these are still only to be found in a few places but seem to be on the increase. The sealers were not after their pelts, but their blubber that was melted down for the candles of London. It was different story about the New-Zealand fur seal, their pelts were most sought after for use in the fur trade in Europe and America, the Ladies are to blame in this case as they loved the soft seal fur for their coats, hats and muffs. Fortunately the fur seal has a much quicker reproduction cycle and is now very much on the increase.

It was the first settlement in South Australia and at one time proposed as the capital, but due to the supply logistics it was thought better to site it on the mainland and so Adelaide became the capital of the state of South Australia.
Right I am sure you’re sick of facts and figures, now back to my journey of re-discovery.

My first encounter with wildlife was right outside my room a small blue and grey butterfly, they seem to be everywhere, along with an orange and black larger one, I will see if I can find the names of them and insert at a later date.

After a short walk down to the beach, it was back to a major part of Backpacking, the supermarket, now I am not a typical Backpacker and would normally have went for the small producer or the corner shop, one problem on Penneshaw , there is only the Supermarket. It seems a place where everyone meets everyone at least once a week; well I certainly did as I became a regular. So shopping done, I headed back to the YHA and got it stowed in the fridge and onto the dry goods shelf.
To get down to the beach, it is just a matter of crossing the road, through a very nice little park, down some steps, through some scrub and dunes and there is the beach.

It was here that I caught a glimpse of the Splendid Fairy-Wren a wonderful colourful chirpy little creature ( I think it would go far better on Christmas cards than the robin).

I then walked the length of the beach to Frenchman’s Rock (see above), I done a bit of beach combing and rock pool inspection and just generally investigation. The beach is a few hundred yards long, made up of a fine silver sand with corpus amounts of sea  shells, mainly cockles of the Goolwa type. This told me that there are large expanses of cockle beds just off shore. Also the winter storms had left large amounts seaweed, shells of all kind and large cuttlefish bones, large enough to make a dinner for 3.

Then I climbed the rocks to the sweet water spring and the Frenchman's Rock (remember original is in the tourist information), there is a pleasant little well laid out garden beside the domed covering.


There is a nice view from here looking back along Hog Bay.

Hog Bay is so called because a certain Frenchman going by the name of Baudin (remember him) thought it a good idea to release some pigs here so that any wrecked seamen could have a roast pork Sunday dinner. A good, kind, thoughtful idea did I hear you say? Well it was pure stupidity! These animals like all feral animals do not belong here, they decimated many of the ground breeding animals and birds, eating there young and eggs, they root up crops and because they carry pests and diseases are not well loved.

I dabbled my pinkies in the water, still far to cold than to do more, I retraced my footprints back and crossing the forbidden zone (though only after dark) I saw a pair of hooded plover running and picking amongst the seaweed from the last high tide.
I then cut through the penguin nesting colony. plenty of evidence that man is making shelters and accommodation for them, but not a chick in sight.

The board walk brings you out just beside the ferry terminal, I decided to have a look along the jetty for two reasons, first was to check on the fishing possibilities  and second I had seen a large colony of Black-faced Shags on the breakwater. The Australian Black-faced shag is a member of the Cormorant family, they are a large elegant bird, that dives to great depths and can swim at great speeds underwater. But it is not loved, it has a voracious appetite, taking and swallowing quite large fish and snakes, but also small birds and young penguins. As everywhere it is hated by fishermen.

I then went back to the hostel and made my evening meal, I intended going to see the smallest Penguins in the world coming ashore from their daily fishing expeditions to feed their young. The Penguin Centre is just a short walk from the YHA and I thought why bother paying good money when you can see them coming out and walking up the beach to the nesting sites. Ha! that was my first mistake, never trust the signs. But I had seen earlier a piece of the beach is out of bounds after dusk so that the penguins could reach the burrows in peace. It was starting to get dark and I went through the small track to the beach, I passed three Wallabies grazing in the park (you only see them at dawn and dusk) , so I being up at dawn and never going to bed before dusk have seen loads. The first ones I photographed at night and you only see their eyes glowing in the dark, spooky, very spooky.

But anyway down on the beach, at 20:30 the time when the first guided tour starts, I thought they must know when it is time for the nightly show and they do, but more of that later.

I sat and waited as day turned to dusk, it got a bit chilly, but I had a fleece on, but it was still a bit parky (as they say up North).

But I waited and I waited I actually waited for 2 hours, I did see the punters on the paying tour with their guides flashing their red lights from the vantage points, but if I, with the hunters eyes couldn’t see them, then red lights or no red lights they couldn’t either. Dusk turned to darkness with a wonderful moon, but not a penguin in sight.

But at 10:30 I had enough and went and had a pint.
So that was my first day on Kangaroo Island in the second largest town on the Island Penneshaw. A nice day even if I hadn’t seen any bloody penguins (though we had in New-Zealand).

Day 2
I was up as normal at 06:00 and decided to have a wander to see if I could see any signs of nocturnal activity, I did see some footprints in the sand, I do not know if they were left by a penguin, but for the sake of argument lets say they were.

In the place that I had yesterday expected to see young begging penguins, I chanced upon a family of Wallabies, one sweet little young Joey, he would look nice skinned and on a plate.

 I had scrutinised the map of the Island and had seen there was a winery only about 5km distance, I thought to myself that’s a nice days outing 12km walk shouldn’t take me more than an hour there and an hour back . Now here a little bit of advice from an old fool, never trust a tourist map, they do not have gradients or contours on them. I wonder why Libby had a look of surprised when I told her of my plans for the day (I actually told her that I was walking to American beach which is a good 1Km further on. She had said but promise me you will not take the main road down but cut through the winery it is much safer, they drive like mad men on that road and there have been several deaths. I promised her I would, telling her that wine was far more preferable to death. 
I walked out of town and first noticed Christmas Cove (first charted on Christmas day, getting the idea of running surveying).
There is also the Tourist Information Centre on the left (I wondered why and still wonder now, why it is not down at the ferry terminal, no one could answer this), there is the historical museum and a Methodist church, this was the original first settlement and Christmas cove the first harbour.
At the historical museum (didn't go inside as it wasn't yet open), was a small fishing boat that bore a great similarity with the Northumbrian Coble, I wonder if their were a few Geordies in the first lot of settlers? There was also a grain mill, though I think that sail is quite modern!

 As you leave Penneshaw you pass through grass lands and at one time Kangaroo Islands primary product, sheep.

I then chanced upon the cemetery, I thought I shall have a look in and check out the gravestones, this is not on the off chance that I may find mine, but they are great source of information of where and when the first settlers came, there could well be Geordies buried there.  I was looking at an old one and suddenly felt shooting pains in my ankles.

I looked down and my feet were covered with ants, I was standing on top of an ant hill, now these brothers were out to get me, I hot footed (if you will excuse the pun) out of that place, with still loads of the beasts attached. There was a council chappie cutting the grass on a machine, who had stopped work to looking on in amazement at my dance, when I explained he laughed and said yep the buggers can sure bite.
I then started walking up this quite steep incline, now if I had a proper ordinance survey map I would have seen what was to come, but I hadn’t so don’t moan.
I turned round and had one last look at the small town of Penneshaw and the backstairs passage beyond.

But that incline just went on and on, but at least it was in the shade of the Koolibar trees and the Gum trees and the wattle trees, but that road just went on and on and up and up. It passed pretty farmsteads with wonderfully planted gardens,

 it passed farmsteads with rusting old cars,

Now, you would have thought, this fool would have learnt, to look where he is standing when photographing, but that nipping around the ankles certainly jogged his memory, bloody ANTS again,

The never ending road went on,

it passed Kangaroos and bandicoots in a state that in Europe one can assimilate to those flat hedgehogs. I think you are more likely to see a flattened Roo at the roadside than see a live one.

But it still went on and up.

At last I saw the sign Sunset Wines OPEN,

I left the road as Libby had told me and followed the dirt track still upwards until I came to a fork in the track, one said the scenic rout the other said car park, I not being a car went the scenic route, it was worth it, a wonderful view down onto the sweeping expanse of American Beach (or as it has now been re-named Baudin Beach).

I entered the winery at the same time as a couple who had sensibly come up in a car, as soon as we entered a glass of sparkling sunset shiraz was set before us. We chatted a bit and the lady, who I now know was originally from Holland, though many years ago, I believe she had left her native home when she was 5, (though of course not of her own accord) she was quite knowledgeable in her trade, flogging wine, asked what we would now like to taste. I said I would like to have your tasting platter, she said no problem, I will first give you, the six wines and a bottle of iced water, find yourself a table and I will bring you the food. Well I must say, the samples were good measures, 3 white and 3 red. When the food came it was a very good sized portion indeed. It consisted of 3 cheeses, plus a feta and sweet pepper mix, a beetroot humus, black olives, crackers and fresh bread. All of the stuff local, she told us that on the island they have a policy in wineries and food outlets of using as far as possible produce from the island. 

I enjoyed my lunch immensely, good wine, good food but most of all the fantastic view, it was priceless. 
The other two guests said it was a pity but they had already eaten and after eying mine said they would return the next day. He was actually from Adelaide and she was from near Winchester, we had a laugh as none of us could get who sung that song Winchester cathedral. But google came to the rescue to tell us it was the New Vaudeville Band. I had hoped that they may have been going in my direction, but alas during our conversation I had gleaned the fact they were on their way to Kingscote in the opposite direction. 
But never mind, sufficiently strengthen by my repast, I set off in the knowledge that at least it was all downhill.

Passing bleached Roo bones,

that had been picked clean by the inhabitants of this.
it was warm but I missed out the rusting cars and Cemetery ants nests. I did pop into the Information Centre and found out about fishing and the hire of fishing gear.
And it was:
I arrived back at the hostel, my feet burning, I thought I will have blisters tomorrow (which I did not), but Libby was still there I said I have a bone to pick with you and before I could say anything else she said “but it is downhill all the way back”.
That evening I walked along the beach cooling my poor feet in the surf, but I was at least able to sus out the penguin scam. But I shall tell you about that tomorrow.


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