Monday, June 15, 2009

Full day on KI

Up around 7:30, had grocery store breakfast and made our way over to Flinders Chase National Park (just 7-8 minutes away). Checked in & went on a walk that started at the visitor’s center (Platypus Watering Hole Walk) w/ the suggestion that we might see a platypus since we were the first visitors of the day. On the walk out there we passed a huge colony of Cape Barron Geese (grey w/ a lemon-lime beak, sound like pits) and heard lots of frog calls. It was also pretty much raining the whole time. When we neared the end, we discovered that the trail was flooded over and impassable. So, no platypii were seen. L

After returning to our car, we drove out to the Admiral’s arch. This is a place where the waves have eroded low layers of rock, but not the top, creating a gigantic archway. Lots of seals live here, but a different breed. These were New Zealand fur seals, and they were much better camouflaged. They were the same size & color as the rocks they were lounging on. The arch was impressive – much bigger than I had expected! We enjoyed watching the seals jump in and out of the surf under the arch.

After the arch we went up a little hill & had a brief look at a lighthouse (Cape du Coudic). Built in 1909 after 3 very deadly shipwrecks.

Next we went east a bit to see the “Remarkable Rocks.” They are some unusual rock formations upon a granite dome. They were right on the ocean so it was a really remarkable (ha!) view. Would have been spectacular at sunrise or sunset. We got to climb around on the rocks which was fun. Read some stories about people who tried to swim here and died very painful deaths.

We headed back for the visitor’s center for a hot lunch, then went out to Kelly Hills Caves for a cave tour. We got there early and went on a walk before meeting our guide Hamish at the cave entrance. We were with 2 other groups from NYC and a couple from Adelaide. After a VERY steep staircase, we got into the caves. They are dry caves, so no new formations going on. Thousands of stalactites and –mites. We could see where some columns had formed & then broken off as the floor shifted. We went into several different chambers. In the last cavern, Hamish turned off all the lights and showed it what it looked like with just 1 candle (which is how the caves were originally explored), and then he blew that out to show what it would look like if we got lost. It was SCARY darm. A really neat and different kind of tour. (Nerd geology talk ahead). Oh, these were “Aeolian” caves. Caves in TX would have formed from CaCO3 sediments from seabeds getting eaten through by water. These were formed from CaCO3 getting windblown from dried up seabeds, then solidifying, and THEN getting eaten through. Much rarer, according to our expert Hamish.

On our way back to KIWR, we stopped at the Hanson Bay Sanctuary to go on the “Koala Walk.” Basically it’s a grove of eucalyptus trees w/ a bunch of koalas! We saw 5 or 6 up in the trees. Fewer than usual, probably due to some getting moved after the 2007 fires on the island. Also saw lots of wallabies, roos, & TONS of birds including some very colorful variety I can’t name. The koala walk is right next to some beautiful green fields and we saw several rainbows. This is truly heaven on earth.

Got back to KIWR, had a grocery store dinner & glasses of KI wine. Fed the wallabies & again turned in early.

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