From Adelaide to Melbourne via Kangaroo Island (8.12.-23.12.)
8.-11.12.07 – 72-75th day - Kangaroo Island
This beautiful island full of native fauna is located about 100 km south of Adelaide. We went there with Kangaroo Island Ferries, a recently established company operating from Wirrina Cove to Kingscote, the capital of the island. The journey took about 2 hours. We learned only on the boat, that about 80% of the island had been evacuated and almost all roads closed due to huge bushfires raging in all the island’s national parks. We knew about the bushfire before, but we had no idea about the size of it. Two days before our trip, there was a big thunderstorm setting 14 fires over there. We were disappointed that we couldn’t see this beautiful piece of land where the foreign animals (foxes, rabbits etc.) that cause so much damage to the native species on the mainland have never been introduced and also disappointed that the ferry people didn’t tell us about this when we were buying our tickets.
The only open road was between Kingscote and Penneshaw, about 60 km. We decided to ride to Penneshaw to see Little (Fairy) penguins, the smallest penguins living on the southern hemisphere. They live and raise their young ones in burrows along the coast. There are many human made burrows at Penneshaw to support the breeding of these cute little birds, but a lot of them are empty now, because the population of little penguins has been decimated by the colony of seals and the people cannot do anything about it, because the seals are also protected. We saw some young ones waiting at the burrows and the adult ones coming home from the sea when it gets dark and also two seals hunting them.
When we arrived back at Kingscote, we learned that the road leading to Parndana wildlife park had been open, so we decided to ride there to see the native animals – koalas, Kangaroo Island kangaroos, parrots and other birds, wombats, possums, etc.
In Kingscote, just before the departure of the ferry back to the mainland, we watched the feeding of pelicans.
The fires on the island were enormous. We watched long convoys of fire fighting vehicles from all over Australia and Tasmania coming to fight the fires. The last fire was put out just before Christmas.
12.-18.12.07 – 76th – 82nd day – Along the coast in the direction of Melbourne
From Wirrina Cove, we continued along the coast via Victor Harbour, which used to be a popular holiday town. We had a chat with the driver of the famous horse tram, which takes tourists along the bank to the nearby Granite Island. We continued through Goolwa and Strathalbyn, a historic town with old-fashioned buildings and a very well done park. It was probably the most beautiful town we had seen so far. Then, we rode several hundreds of kilometres through unattractive and boring landscape full of smelly salt lakes. The weather wasn’t very friendly, we had a lot of head wind slowing us down. Nevertheless, we had to make 100 km per day to be in Melbourne for Christmas.
The main attraction before the Great Ocean Road was feeding of possums in Mount Gambier at a place called Umpherstone sinkhole. It is a gorge with a beautiful garden inside. When it gets dark, a lot of cat-size creatures start to creep out of the holey limestone walls to be fed. They are used to people and they take food off the hand. It was a great experience. We could even pet them. One of them bit me to my ankle, but only gently, he was asking for a bit of banana.
The following day, we cycled to the Blue Lake, a beautiful caldera lake with turquoise water.
Then, our trip in South Australia ended and we entered another state on our way – Victoria.
19.-22.12.07 – 83rd-86th day – Great Ocean Road
We got to the famous Great Ocean Road through the cities of Portland and Warrnambool. We reached the ocean at the Bay of Islands when it was getting dark. We saw a dark storm coming, so we hid at a desolate house. It was only a short thunderstorm and afterwards the sky turned red. The sight at the cliffs and little rocky islands in the ocean was spectacular. The following morning we rode along the ragged coastline where many ships went to wreck when the first settlers came. There are a lot of bizarre cliffs in different shapes – London Bridge, the Grotto, the Arch or Loch Ard Gorge, named after a ship, which hit the rocks and sank there in 1878, out of 54 passengers only 2 survived. By the time we got to the famous Twelve Apostles, the weather deteriorated. There were many people and a lot of helicopters circulating with tourists on 10-minute scenic flights. We rode along the rest of the Great Ocean Road in rain, especially around Apollo Bay. At the end of the Great ocean Road, we saw wild koalas right on the side of the road. One of them was protecting a little baby. They were feeding on Eucalyptus leaves. They didn’t seem to be bothered by our presence.
23.12.07 – 87th day – Arrival at Melbourne
Then, we rushed to Melbourne to spend Christmas with our friends Mark and Prue, whom we met on Nullarbor. We arrived on a busy freeway, weaved our way through the suburb and then the skyscrapers and historic buildings all squashed on each other creating a magnificent artistic sight of the city centre. We spent a couple of hours with Korinek, brother of my former colleague Mirek, who was also there with his family visiting him. When we arrived at Mark and Prue, it was already dark. We couldn’t find it. We didn’t have a proper map and had to ask people. Mark rode his bike to meet us. When we got to their place, there were beautiful pizzas waiting for us.