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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Passing bleached Roo bones,
that had been picked clean by the inhabitants of this.