Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Merry Month Of May

Saturday 31st May, 2014

I can't believe that I last wrote on this blog a month ago.  Here it is the last day of May and I couldn't let the month pass without writing anything.

Now what's my excuse for not being here......we are having too much fun.  It's not that we are going out a lot but the weather here has been perfect.   This month created another set of weather records.  We had 10 consecutive days over 22C (71.6F).  The last time this happened was in 1918.

Rather than spend my time in front of the computer we have spent a lot of time outside enjoying the sunshine.  Yes, we've had a few days where we've had rain but those days were spent catching up on sleep.  As you know we love watching cycling races and for the last 3 weeks we have been watching the Giro d'Italia.

This year was the first year it has been telecast directly into Australia and for the first week it was more like Giro d'Aussie as the Australian teams and riders were winning stages and we had the Aussies wearing the Maglia Rosa (pink jersey).   As the race has gone into the mountain stages the Maglia Rosa has been handed over to the mountain climbers but last night we had another Aussie, Michael Rogers, conquer the Monte Zoncolan.

The crowds on top of Monte Zoncolan

Nairo Quintana in the Maglia Rosa.  He's king of the climbers and will win the Giro d'Italia

Earlier this month Tony and I escaped to Kangaroo Island for a few days.  Knowing that we had to go across by ferry I had worked myself into a lather.  I do not like boats, ferries and the like regardless of how big they are. To combat my fear I stocked myself up with ginger........I had ginger tablets, ginger tea, ginger lollies, ginger biscuits, and barley sugar.

The morning we left was perfect.  Not a sigh of a breeze and the sun was shining.  When we got to Cape Jervis the sea was calm. The ferry from the Island was just berthing and the passengers coming off looked fine.  I thought, "hmmm this may not be so bad after all".  Once it unloaded all the trucks, cars and buses Tony had to drive our car onto the ferry.  There were quite a few cars going over on our trip.... a lot more than we thought.

Cars and trucks lined up to go onto the ferry

We left around 10.15am and I was eating the ginger lollies and barley sugar like a child who was having sweets for the first time.  Earlier, I had taken the tablets. 

The trip over wasn't too bad.  The sea was calm, all that worry for nothing!  It took 45 minutes to get to the Island.

Goodbye mainland

 ferry returning to the mainland

Hello Kangaroo Island

The ferry berthed at Penneshaw.  We had to make our way to Kingscote as that is where we would be staying and Kingscote is regarded as the business centre of the Island.  There wasn't much at Penneshaw, a supermarket, a couple of cafes and a hotel.

When we got to Kingscote there wasn't much more than what there was at Penneshaw.  OMG!!!  In the following days as we drove around the island we found it was like living in the past.  I put it in the 1970's.  There was nothing modern.  I thought that they might have had a shopping centre but it was only strip shopping and not much of it. 

We found where we were going to stay and I must say we were pleasantly surprised.  We had booked into Acacia Apartments.

After unloading the car we headed off to look for something to eat.  Not being able to find anything in the town we had noticed a place as we were coming into the town and so we went there.  They didn't offer sandwiches but we did have a Devonshire tea (scones with jam and cream and honey and cream) and coffee.

We had to go and find a tourist information centre but the only place we had seen was the one back in Penneshaw and so we had to drive back there. One thing that shocked us about driving on the island was the amount of dead animals on the side of the roads.  There were kangaroos, Tammar wallabies, possums and other critters that we couldn't make out.  

Being a tourist place we thought that the council would clean this up.  We had been warned to keep a lookout for the wildlife and to be especially careful driving at dusk because that's when the animals come out of the bush and onto the roads.

Back in Penneshaw we went to Frenchman's Rock and also drove to the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse.

While in Penneshaw we noticed that there were Penguin tours and so we decided to come back another night to have a look.

Heading back to Kingscote we noticed that the Island has some spectacular scenery.

Back in Kingscote we went to the Ozone Hotel for dinner.  Expensive for a pub meal but very nice nonetheless.

On Wednesday we decided to go to Seal Bay and the Flinders Chase National Park.  Two things I wanted to see on the Island were the seals and Admiral's Arch.

Lucky we chose that day to go as it was the most gorgeous day, brilliant sunshine and hardly any wind even on the coast.  Firstly we went to Seal Bay.  It was about a 15 minute walk down to the beach and as you walked along the board walks there were plenty of seals basking in the sunshine. They say that the seals will go up to a kilometre inland to find bushes to rest under.

After Seal Bay we headed on down to Flinder's Chase National Park.  We stopped at the Visitor Centre and paid for our entry into the Park and decided we may as well have some lunch.  After lunch we drove down to the coast, about a 20 minute drive.  The road was long, narrow and very windy.

At the end of this road we came to Cape du Couedic, this being the south western corner of Kangaroo Island.  When we arrived we saw the lighthouse first and then had to drive down to the carpark.  We walked along the boardwalk and on the rocks below were the New Zealand fur seals basking in the sun.  Further around we came to Admirals'  Arch....a spectacular sight.

I would've loved to have stayed at the Arch to get a photo of the setting sun but that's a promise we made to come back and do another day.

From here we took a short drive around to Remarkable Rocks.  I was a bit wary about getting too close to them as people have been washed off these and gone to their deaths.  Thank goodness we had dry weather, they say it gets very slippery when it's wet due to the moss.  Until you get up close you don't realise just how massive these rocks are.

Just to see what we had seen today made this trip to Kangaroo Island worthwhile.  The coastal views were also spectacular.

On the way back to Kingscote we came across this little echidna.  He was slowly making his way across the road and so we slowed down for him to safely get to the other side.  For that I asked him to let me take his photo but he was too shy, he would only lift his face far enough to see if I was still there. There was no way I was going to pick him up, he had his spikes in protection mode.

Thursday morning we started off at the Lavender Farm in Emu Bay.  I always thought that there was English Lavender and French Lavender with the English Lavender having the strongest scent.  I didn't know that English Lavender has so many different cultivars.

We also learnt that lavender is used in a lot of they made scones, biscuits, honey, lavender bread, and icecream.  Tony had the lavender bread, which was absolutely delicious and I tried the biscuits.

If there was a place on Kangaroo Island that I would live I think it would be Emu Bay.  It was beautiful!  It is only a small community but has gorgeous white sandy beaches.

From the Lavender farm we made our way over to the Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery.  Here, they distill the oil just like it was done in the early days.  No modern machinery here, other than the tractor that harvests the Eucalyptus trees.

the harvester

the pit where the oil is extracted

Oil on the left is raw and on the right the oil is refined

Pile of burnt eucalyptus leaves

A bit further down the road was the honey farm.  Here we enjoyed tastings of different flavours of honey, cup gum, spring flora, stringy bark, sugar gum (my favourite) and coastal flora.  They also make a creamy honey ice cream which you must have.

The Ligurian Bee was imported from Italy back in the 1880's and Kangaroo Island has been declared a sanctuary for these bees. No bee products are allowed to be taken onto the Island.

Then it was off to the sheep dairy.  At the entrance it said that you could have tastings of cheese made with the sheep's milk and I'm thinking "nah, I'll give that a miss".  The guy brought a plate over with some grilled Haloumi cheese splashed with lemon juice.  I was very hesitant to try it but OMG it was absolutely delicious.  They say that the difference between cows milk and sheep's milk is that with the sheep's milk you can't separate the cream and so the cheese is smooth and creamy.

We also tried their yoghurt, another tick of approval by me and their other flavoured cheeses.  They were all delicious but my favourites were the Haloumi and Feta style.  (I know where I can buy it here).  So much for my pre conceived idea about sheep's milk cheese.

From here we went back into Kingscote and waited for the guy to come and feed the pelicans.  Not only did the pelicans come but also the seagulls and sea eagles.  We didn't go back to see the fairy penguins as this guy told us that there were none.  Apparently the fur seals eat them and also eat a phenomenal amount of fish and he said that if it continues, then in around 10 years there'll be no fish in the area.

Friday morning was wet.  It had rained all night and as we would find out it will rain all the way home.  Today we will be leaving the Island and have to be at Penneshaw to have the car on the ferry by 2.00pm.  The ferry is due to leave at 2.30pm to take us back to the mainland.

When we got down to the wharf and I saw the sea I started to panic.  It was very windy as well as wet and the waves were crashing into the rocks and there were plenty of white caps on the water.  I'd taken my ginger tablets earlier and had everything else close at hand.

The trip back was slow.  Obviously the captain of the ferry knew how to handle the rough sea and kept the rockin' and rollin' of the ferry to a minimum.  Still, there were some people who were sea sick.  All I can say is thank god for ginger!! 

As we were getting close to the terminal the dolphins came and swam alongside the ferry.  Maybe they were letting us know that all will be well. I was so glad when we arrived back on the mainland and my feet touched solid ground.  I'd still like to know how the cars don't get tossed around as they are not tied down.  I don't know what was worse, coming back on the ferry or driving home in the rain and fog.  At times we could just make out the bonnet of the car.

Finally we arrived home and it was so good.  Kangaroo Island was nice but next time we go (if we do) it'll only be as a day trip.