Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kangaroo Island - My Favorite Hike

The sun is out! Clear skies! FINALLY! J

Had the KIWR breakfast (yum!), then went back to Flinders Chase for the “Snake Lagoon” Hike. 2 park employees said it was the hike to do, so I was excited, but had no idea what to expect. A

snake? A lagoon? The 1st 20 minutes were just through bush, relatively flat. We then reached the Rocky River, crossed it, and walked along its east bank for another 15-20 minutes. Suddenly we turned around a bend and saw why this hike was so highly recommended. WOW! We saw the river valley gently slope down to meet the southern ocean at a little cove. Simply stunning, one of the most picturesque views I have ever seen. I was speechless for several minutes. This is what I had so hoped to see on this relatively remote little island. We finished out the walk and reached the point where river meets ocean (and a funny sign that said “Freak Waves”). Soaked in the view, greeted the one person we saw during the hike, & turned back. Just wow.

When we got back to the car we headed north to Paul’s Place Wildlife Sanctuary. What a CRAZY adventure that was! Paul is a guy who takes in sick or injured wildlife and keeps them on his farm. Right when we walked in, someone handed a bucket full of animal feed to Michael and told us we made it just in time for feeding! Goats, sheep, roos, a llama, ducks, a deer, a dog, emus, and chickens all swarmed around him! He finally handed it off after a few minutes. Eventually Paul came out and called us over to another area, added more emus to the mix, and we had feeding time again. Paul handed me the bucket and the animals attacked! Paul just laughed! We did that for about 10 minutes, then moved on. He got a scared girl, had her close her eyes, then got a marron (lobster-type thing I am unfamiliar with) out of a shed and put it in her hand. She pretty much freaked out, and I was glad he didn’t pick me J We also got to see & hold some emu eggs at the point. Big and teal-blue.

Next we went to a eucalyptus grove & paul got a koala out of a tree for each of us to hold. I didn’t care that it was the 3rd or 4th time I’d seen a koala, it was cuter than ever! Its claws hurt a bit, but it was so fuzzy, soft, and clingy. CUTE! Next was the bird cage area. There was some cockatoos & lots of other big birds, and we all got to let them perch on us. No poop on me or Michael, thank goodness. We saw some big KI native lizard nearby, then went over to hear Giggles the Kookaburra laugh. Pure joy!!! <3>

I thought this must be the end, but then Paul took us to the Sheep Shearing Shed (which is what his farm is really for). Shed a sheep for a demo. Interesting, but a little awkward to watch. The funniest part was that the dog liked to roll around in the freshly-cut wool.

Last on this adventure was holding a kangaroo like a baby (heavy!) and bottle-feeding it. It was completely weird J

After Paul’s Place we drove to Kingscoate to go to the daily 5:00 pelican feeding. The guide was quick to tell us that the Australian Pelican was much bigger than anything found in America, especially Texas. Whatever! He had a bucket of fish and was throwing out handfuls. I’m not sure what to say about it, but it was interesting! We had a quick dinner at a pizza place in town, then went back to the wharf to kill about an hour before the little penguin tour.

Oh, I forgot to say, before the pelican feeding, we went to a place called Emu Bay. It was a really beautiful beach, except for some weird seaweed/grass stuff that was all over the beach and stunk like rot. It was several feet high, about 20 feet wide, & as long as the entire bay. It will always be a mystery to us, I guess.

The penguin tour started at 7:30, which seemed SO LATE! We actually saw a penguin before the tour while walking around. We went into the Marine Center which has a display of saltwater aquariums. Seahorses, pufferfish, and lots of other locals. Also had a cuttlefish, which was a lot like a squid, and changed colors when it saw itself in a mirror. It was amusing. After all that we went out to the water to look for the penguins. Our guide had a red light to shine on them so we wouldn’t disturb them too much with regular flashlights. We saw a group of 3 in one area, and a few other individuals. Probably 7-8 total. They were so adorable and made the loudest crazy noises! They are the smallest species of penguins, only ~35 cm tall. So cute J

After the tour we had to make our way back across the island to the KIWR. It took an hour and a half, and was the creepiest drive ever. First off, after we got out of town, it was the darkest dark I have ever seen. Darker than any national park I’ve ever been to, which is the closest thing I can compare it to. There were 10 minute stretches when we were the only humans and lights for miles around. No street lights, no farm houses, no other cars, no nothing. On top of that, we encountered several patches of dense fog (had to slow to 25 km/hr) and rain. Totally crazy! The one good thing about the darkness is that we had ideal conditions for stargazing. This is what it must have looked like hundreds of years ago in most of the world. It was like someone sprinkled sparkly glitter all over the sky.

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