Mount Field National Park – day 329

Another early start as we did our usual morning routine and headed out to our 54th UNESCO site, Mount Field National Park, part of the Tasmania Wilderness and, fortunately, an easy drive from Hobart. Mount Field National Park was founded in 1916, making it, along with Freycinet National Park, Tasmania’s oldest national park. The drive out of town was easy and we got to see the changing scenery as we zoomed past in the car, as well as passing (what looked like) a cherry farm. Shame there was no fruit growing on the trees as the ones within arms reach may have been stripped bare! There was also several vivid rainbows.Purchased our permit pass from the visitors centre and, wanting to avoid the crowds that usually turn up on day coach trips from the capital, headed straight for the popular Russell Falls walk. Considered one of Tasmania’s best knew scenic attractions, the 10 minute level ground walk dropped us right in front of the magnificent waterfall. Green and graceful ferns lined the track edges while giant eucalypts towered overhead. The tiered-cascade waterfall itself was absolutely stunning and gushing with water. So much so, it was hard to take a photo as our camera lenses kept getting wet and we needed to wipe them with a tissue after every shot to remove the water droplets. Walking up the slope and some incredibly slippery steps, we arrived at the top of Russell Falls where you could appreciate the rush of sound that came from the amount of water passing through it every second. About 100 metres further upstream we arrived at another tiered-cascade waterfall, Horseshoe Falls. Not as big as Russell Falls but equally as captivating, Jayne managed to play around with some of the shutter speeds on her camera to get some nice shots of the waterfall.Continuing on with our walk in the National Park, we entered into the Tall Trees walk which took us through a forest that features the world’s tallest flowering plants and one of the tallest trees in the world, second to the coast redwood – the magnificent swamp gums. A straight-trunked tree with smooth grey bark and a stocking of rough brown bark to 5–20 metres above the ground, it regularly grows to 85 metres, with the tallest living specimen, the Centurion, standing 99.6 metres tall in Tasmania. The trail took us about 30 minutes during which time we saw a pink breasted robin and a pademelon (a marsupial endemic to Tasmania). We then completed the circuit with a visit to Lady Barron falls. Another tiered-cascade waterfall named in honour of Lady Clara Barron, the wife of Sir Henry Barron, who was the Governor of Tasmania from 1909 to 1913, and Governor of Western Australia from 1913 to 1917.

Back at the visitor centre car park we decided to drive up road to Lake Dobson. The lady at the desk had assured us that the road was suitable for a 2-wheel drive car but once it started raining, the drive got a little scarier. I was able to distract myself slightly as the tyres slid about on the mud by the diversity in vegetation, ranging from tall swamp gum forests and massive tree ferns at the base of the mountain, through rainforest along the road, to alpine vegetation at the top – this park really did have it all!Finally arriving at the top of the road, we headed into the hut to eat our lunch. Colder inside than it was outside, at least we had some shelter from the rain whilst we ate. Deciding to put on our rain jackets and brace ourselves against the wind, snow and rain we headed out to walk around the lake. Jayne found enough snow on the ground to make a snowman (Tommy the Tasmanian Snowman) although my hands were too cold to even consider removing them from my coat pocket!The walk around the lake is called the Pandani Grove walk and it is named after the remarkable Pandani, which is just one of many subalpine plants found in Tasmania and nowhere else on Earth. Along the walk we encountered numerous alpine plants and, it seemed like, there was a greater diversity of plants at the top of the mountain than at the base. At the end of the lake, we entered into a stunning patch of forest dominated by a mixture of pandanis and pencil pines. Pencil pines are one of a number of ancient conifers that are endemic to Tasmania. Got chatting to a local lady who was also walking around the lake and chatted about her heritage being from UK and how she came up to this region every winter with her kids to take them skiing. Continued walking around the lake, keeping an eye out for the elusive platypus that can occasionally be spotted in the lake, especially around dawn and dusk. It must have been our lucky day because the afore-mentioned lady came charging back down the path telling us there was a platypus near the waters edge. Cue, the three of us standing in the cold rain looking into the deeps of the dark lake trying to spot him again – we must have been quite a sight! Fortunately, our patience (and soaking wet feet) paid off and we got to watch him for about thirty minutes, scavenging for food along the fallen branches in the water. When he started swimming across to the other side of the lake, we said goodbye to the lady and returned to the car to blast hot air onto our soaking wet and freezing cold feet. An easier drive back down the mountain and into Hobart. Stopped by the Botanical Gardens to have a quick look around but they closed slightly early than we had realised as it is winter! Managed to get a quick peek just past the gate but didn’t want to venture too far for fear of being looked in for the night. Drove back to the YHA where we had the usual battle to find some space in the kitchen to prepare dinner before jumping into bed to watch half of ‘Miss Congeniality’ – I was too tired to finish it and Jayne was frustrated that I had chosen the film and couldn’t even finish it… Oops! 

Wednesday 31st August 2016

Coles Bay – day 328

We had set our alarms for an early start but didn’t really need to… It was freezing! I even woke up at one point, contemplating whether to release myself from the cocoon of blankets to steal the free duvet from the bunk above. This idea was squashed quickly as I didn’t want to move one inch to let any cold in so slept huddled up and fully clothed. Ah… It brought back memories of being a poor university student all those years ago! 

Warmed up in the shower, dressed and in the car before the other ‘hostel’ guests were up, we headed back down the road we had driven on last night at some ridiculously slow pace. In the daylight, it didn’t seem so scary but, with the amount of roadkill on the side of the road, it was a good job that we had gone slow. 
I drove us the 30 minutes down the road as Jayne fancied doing some scuba diving. I really wanted to join her but my ears have been a bit sore recently and I didn’t want to push it, especially since I shouldn’t really be scuba diving at all. Dropping Jayne off at the dive centre, the one shore dive quickly became a boat dive followed by a shore dive. So with my blessing, she headed off for around four hours and got back in the car and headed back down in the direction we had just come from to walk in the Freycinet National Park on my own (cue the tiny violins!!!) Jayne: Unless, there was a crab called Sebastien, some trumpetfish and a guitarshark lurking nearby, there was no lament as Katherine drove off. Ok, maybe a small bit of guilt. Suited and booted, into the back of a rusty old truck, hopped on a boat before the boat was professionally launched behind the Governor Island. 5minutes around this bit of rock, being watched by the fur seals, we arrived at our dive site: Bird Rock. There were no birds on the rock itself and the churning water didn’t look appealing. But, the dive was a treasure trove, especially with one of the easiest accessible sites EVER! Giant rock boulders and gullies contained a variety of life. The surge was at times a difficulty, others a real joy. The trickiest moments were when going through the caverns and swim-throughs when it had to be timed well to get in to the sweet spot where it wouldn’t knock you against the sides, seabed or cave roof. Going through all these passages was fabulous. It was explained to me later that it was much to do about giving the open water diver a chance to practice old buoyancy skills before going to dive some particular wreck. A multitude of fish species that I can’t remember the names to, a draughtboard shark, old wives, secretive crayfish, massive abalones, colourful sponges and tunicates and a patchwork of encrusting algae where seaweeds and kelp didn’t grow. I managed to squeeze my fat ass out of a tight gap, idiot skinny people thought we would all fit through, waited for the last diver to shimmy through as well (at least it wasn’t just me), and returned to base for a hot milo and chit chat. The owner and the club are all heading off to Papua New Guinea soon and Bob and I chatted loads about hiking the Himalayas – not something he was expecting. Second dive was just Al and myself. An interesting ride down in the other jeep, with wide turns for the vehicle that didn’t have power steering, he set up a dive flag at the end of the pier and I picked up a smashed phone from the car park. This site was even better than the first – it is no wonder that so many locals dive it several times a week. Depth instantly off the pier with a beautiful mixture of granite sea bed, sandy areas and kelp forests. The pockets of vegetation were the best chances to spot the wildlife as we could hover and circle around the area with keen eyes looking for elusive creatures. We were thus rewarded with a pot-bellied seahorse and 6x weedy sea dragons. Completely over the moon with having seen these remarkable creatures I was fortunate enough to figure out the camera settings on the dive and get a few shots. Of course, all good things must come to an end and the idea of warming up was soon more alluring. Katherine: Having paid my park permit, and receiving a free set of posters to celebrate the centenary of Tasmania’s National Parks (what am I going to do with them?!?), I started with the Wineglass Bay walk. Considered one of the most celebrated views in Tasmania, I began the steep uphill climb on a rocky, well-constructed track up to the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson. About half way up the path, I stopped to look out over the viewpoint of Coles Bay (and to catch my breathe and strip off several layers of clothing!!) which was absolutely stunning, even more so as I was the only one there! Continuing up the path, the granite rock formations were truly mesmerising especially when they were formed during the Devonian period. At the saddle, I followed the short side track that leads to the lookout with spectacular views over the crystal clear waters and white sandy beach of Wineglass Bay. Chatted to a Welsh and Australian couple who were also travelling through Tasmania. Offered to take a photo for them and captured a beautiful one of the both of them and the view. When they returned the favour, the photo is a close up of me and not much else – so much so, it’s not even making the blog so you’ll have to put up with my poor attempts at selfies instead. If only Jayne was there with her long lucky selfie arm!!

Backtracking down to the car park, I headed back through the park towards the Cape Tourville circuit. A really easy walk with gentle slopes and no steps, the walk provided sweeping views of the Freycinet Peninsula, Wineglass Bay, the Tasman Sea, the Nuggets and Friendly Beaches. Stood looking for whales and other marine life for a while until a (very) loud American woman came and choose, despite the entire empty boardwalk, to stand right next to me to have a conversation with her husband about the lack of wild koalas in Australia. Seeing that I had just over an hour before I needed to collect Jayne from the dive centre and I only needed 45mins to drive there, I decided to do one more walk to Sleepy Bay. I followed the gently graded steps leading to the rocky shoreline of Sleepy Bay which, despite its name, often experiences wild and rough seas. Didn’t make it all the way to the sandy bay itself as, being conscious of time, I turned around about half way and headed back to the car. Arrived at the dive centre just before 1pm (as promised) only to have to wait for three quarters of an hour for my lovely wife to turn up – typical!! Chatted to one of the women who works in the dive centre who told me all fantastic places she has been diving in the world… I’m not jealous, not jealous at all.

Helped Jayne rinse her gear before we jumped in the car and drove to the dock where Jayne did her shore dive so she could point out where they went down and saw all the weedy sea dragons. Stopped off at the bakery on the edge of town to grab a couple of hot chocolates to warm us both up and may have, accidentally, purchased a chicken and camembert pie and a couple of caramel slices too… Oops!
An easy drive back to Hobart, stopping at Spiky Bridge on the way. As the name suggests, it’s just a bridge but it’s pretty cool. Built by convicts in 1843, this bridge abruptly pops out of the landscape to baffle passers-by with its odd design. The bridge was made from field stones laid without mortar or cement and the parapet features field stones laid vertically, giving the bridge a spiky appearance. It’s claimed that the spikes were designed to prevent cattle falling over the sides of the bridge, though no one really knows if this is true. There are also the remains of the Governor’s cottage on the hill overlooking the unusual bridge.Back in the car, we cruised back to Hobart, stopping in a nearby town to waste away time in Coles buying dinner supplies as we can’t park outside the hostel before 6pm. Back at the hostel, I got busy with a much needed load of laundry whilst Jayne tackled the mess in the tiny kitchen to make us some dinner. The lovely lady at reception had put us in a dorm room on our own so we were able to snuggle up in bed, watching a film at the end of the day and looking at Jayne’s photos from the dives. 

Tuesday 30th August 2016

Port Arthur – day 327

Unfortunately, the only free parking in Hobart is on the street between 6pm and 8.30am. Not a problem as we managed to find parking straight outside the YHA last night but slightly inconvenient as it required us getting up early when, quite frankly, we both just wanted to stay wrapped up in bed. After eating breakfast and making sandwiches for lunch, we headed to our rather lovely bright red Kia and headed onto the ‘freeway’ to Port Arthur Hostoric Site, which is considered to be one of Australia’s most important heritage sites and tourist destinations. The drive was quite lovely as we drove through the scenic Tasman Peninsula on the south east of Tasmania to get to the ruins of the former penitentiary. 

Using our YHA membership cards, we managed to get a concession price into the site – those cards are fantastic and have more than paid for themselves ten times over. Well worth the $25!! Treated ourselves to a guided tour of The Isle of the Dead too (also at a concession price). We where given a playing card each which corresponds with a convict that had resided at Port Arthur. As we had 45 minutes to wait until our harbour cruise and tour, we went into the museum to find out the fate of our convicts. Mine was from Cork, Ireland and was sentenced to transportation for stealing. Fortunately, my convict was a blacksmith so spent his time in a ‘decent’ job and environment within the prison. Jayne’s convict didn’t far so well… He was from Norfolk, England and he was also convicted of petty theft. He was given a job as a shoe maker and cobbler and spent his days making prison shoes until he was caught stealing again… He was then ‘demoted’ to the chain gang to chop and carry timber. A dangerous job as the logs were often dropped and men were crushed from the rolling trunks. We then went into the beautifully gardens and ground, including the reconstructed Commandant’s Garden which was originally planted in the 1850s, to explore the timber and stone church, constructed in 1836-37 and a lasting tribute to its convict builders. Built on high ground to overlook the convict settlement, the church could accommodate over one thousand souls at its services. The building was never consecrated, due to its use by prisoners of different denominations, but was representative of the authorities’ goal to reform the convict population through religion. The building was destroyed by fire in 1884 and has undergone repeated conservation work throughout the 20th century.Before we jumped onto the catamaran and started our cruise of the harbour. The MV Marana took us past the Dockyard, the Isle of the Dead Cemetery and the Point Puer Boys’ Prison. A really interesting cruise with the guide explaining bits about the islands that we passed and the history of the whole site, introducing us to the maritime history of Port Arthur.Jumping off at the Isle of the Dead, we began our guided tour which provided an insight into the live and deaths of some of Port Arthur’s past residents. The tiny island cemetery holds the remains of over 1,000 people, convicts and ‘free’ (guards etc), although there is supposedly space for over 2,000 bodies. Between 1833 and 1877 over 1000 people were buried on the Isle of the Dead. The island has two distinct burial sections; with convicts buried largely in unmarked graves on the low southern end, and the free and military burials marked by headstones up on the high northern end. The reason convicts were in unmarked graves was because they were considered criminals and, it was believed that, in their death they should be forgotten. After 1850, some of the convicts ended up with headstones but only if their family and friends could afford to purchase one. We got to hear the personal stories of convicts transported half way around the world, the soldiers who gave their lives to guard the prison, the men in positions of responsibility, and the families who followed them to the ends of the earth. The story of the convict tombstone engraver who made his friends (and partner in crime) tombstone the most ornate one in the entire cemetery was incredibly moving. 

Back on the boat, we made our way back to the port and were able to capture the iconic photo of Port Arthur before we began our free walking tour of the site which provided an introduction to the most significant parts of Port Arthur, giving us a great foundation to continue exploring the rest of the site on our own.Finishing the tour and heading over to the imposing ruin of the Penitentiary which was constructed in 1857 as a flour mill and granary. The flour mill and granary was converted into a penitentiary, capable of housing over 480 convicts in dormitory accommodation and separate apartments when the convict building became overcrowded. Flanked by the Watchmen’s Quarters, the building also contained a mess room, library, Catholic chapel, workshops and ablutions complex. The building was gutted by fire in 1897 and lay derelict until a conservation program began in the 1960s.

We walked around the various other buildings, including the reconstructed homes of important people. The building we both enjoyed the most was the Separate Prison. In 1848, harsh physical punishment within the prison was rejected in favour of punishment of the mind. Flogging gave way to solitary confinement and the Separate Prison was built at Port Arthur in 1850. Cruciform-shaped, each of the four wings comprised a central corridor flanked by rows of solitary confinement cells. Separated by thick sandstone walls, it was hoped that the convicts would benefit from contemplative silence and separation. So much so, the guards weren’t allowed to wear shoes or talk to each other when working so that the convicts heard no sound whatsoever. Even the chapel continued individual cells so no one could see each other. As we entered the Prison, a voice read out the Rules and Regulations of the Separate Prison as they were read to each man who was imprisoned here. It was also written on the wall, highlighting the strict solitary confinement that was ahead of each prisoner. Our echoing steps walked along the central hall to A Wing, and the cells where the men spent their days—sleeping, waking, working and eating. We then went into the narrow exercise yard, where we were surrounded by by high, imposing walls, revealing a sliver of sky – the convicts only link to the outside world.

We even tried the additional solitary punishment cell, used for convicts who broke the rules of solitary confinement (usually by making noise!). The cell was located through four doors, each one could be individually locked, and each inner wall was a metre thick – 4 meters to lock out every sliver of sunlight – when we each shut the other person inside, the darkness was so imposing. I couldn’t even last a minute inside, let alone 23 hours a day for a couple of days. Having already spent five hours wandering around the site, we decided to head to the Coal Mines Historic Site which was Tasmania’s first operational mine, established as a much-needed local source of coal, but also as a place of punishment for the ‘worst class’ of convicts. During its busiest years almost 600 prisoners with their jailers and their families lived and worked at the Mines. While the underground workings are no longer accessible, we were able to visit the picturesque ruins of houses, barracks, offices and punishment cells. As we explored the evocative unspoiled landscape, we were able to appreciate something of the isolation and hardship that the convicts had to endure.Knowing we had a three hour drive ahead of us to Coles Bay, we didn’t linger too long at the Coal Mines. Heading down the main road back towards Hobart, our sat-nav directed us down another main road to save us driving all the way to Hobart and back out again. Well, I say a main road… Within 5km the sealed tarmac road turned into gravel and then, slightly further on, dirt! Not exactly the same quality of main roads we are used to!! Seeing the funny side of being reduced to driving along this road at about 30km we kept a close eye out for wildlife as the side of the road was littered with roadkill. We came across loads of live animals as we drove for nearly an hour down the road – kangaroos, wallabies, possums and I even saw a Tasmanian devil but it disappeared easily before Jayne spotted it. 

A much longer drive than anticipated as, even back onto the proper main road, I was too worried about hitting anything to drive fast. Especially as I witnessed the car in front hit a possum. A slight difficulty finding the YHA due to confusing road signs, we grabbed our key that had been taped to the reception door and headed to our cabin (the hostel was closed for repairs). In a cabin with three others, a couple from Italy and a German girl, who were all huddled around a little electric heater whilst Jayne made pasta for dinner as I let my heart rate and adrenaline levels settle down!

Monday 29th August 2016

Travelling – day 326

Happy 4 year wedding anniversary to us!!! Can’t quite believe it’s already been 4 years but wow – what a four years it’s been! We have been fortunate enough to travel to the far flung corners of the world together and still save enough money to take a career break from work and follow our dreams. It’s been tough and it’s been stressful, but the smiles and laughter have more than made up for the tears and arguments. Right, enough with the soppy stuff, and on with our day… Which, unfortunately, was pretty non descriptive. Had to get up reasonably early to catch our shuttle bus transfer to Adelaide airport. As we sat in the YHA dining area, all of us nursing a coffee to wake us up, we clearly looked like a group of people who wanted to be left alone in peace and quiet. Clearly not portraying this emotion well enough, the very enthusiastic elderly lady who plonked herself down next to us started talking animatedly about all the places we should see in Australia. Don’t think we even managed to get a word in to tell her that we only had a week left in Australia and that Tracey was actually an Australian! Standing outside on the street, we waved the little old lady onto her tour bus for the day as we clamoured onto our shuttle bus. We were supposed to be the last pick up but another customer hadn’t been ready so he did a quick detour on the way to the airport. Turns out they still weren’t ready when we arrived but just as we were pulling out of the parking area they came dashing out. The driver called out the window that he’d turn around before doing a massive loop through the one way streets back to the hotel only to find out the women had decided to get a taxi instead… FFS. Everyone was slightly annoyed at how inconsiderate they had been, especially the driver as he ranted for the rest of the drive about all of us in the bus being on time at our pick up locations and needing to get us to the airport. Fortunately, we got to the airport in plenty of time and flew through checkin with the quickest typist ever on the desk. Jayne disappeared after security with the pretence of going to the toilet. In reality, she was buying me a trashy magazine and writing a (post)card for our wedding anniversary.  

A quick hour and a bit flight to Melbourne and we were saying goodbye to Tracey. Felt really strange waving her off on the SkyBus back to the train station as we rechecked in our bag and got our boarding passes for Tasmania later on that day. A rather uneventful day sat in the departures lounge in Melbourne domestic terminal, alternating between organising photos and trying to upload blogs. Deciding that the wifi wasn’t strong enough to cope with uploading photos, we got ourselves some burritos for lunch and settled down to watch ‘Lilo and Stitch’ on the netbook. Slightly stressful moment when boarding our flight when TigerAir did the RyanAir trick of weighing everyone’s hand luggage. We quickly ducked out of the queue and put the heavier things from Jaynes bag into mine and kept our fingers crossed that our bag weights would be okay. Mine was fine and just as Jayne was about to weigh hers, the woman behind us in the queue started talking to the stewardess which allowed us to sneak on to the plane with 7.8kg in the allowed 7kg hand luggage. Clearly, we weren’t the only ones as people started stripping off several layers of clothing as they boarded the plane with one group of women looking like they’d filled their hand luggage with Krispy Kreme donuts. 

A few episodes of ‘Friends’ and watching a stunning sunset from the window of the plane later and we had arrived in Hobart. Picked up our rental car from Thrifty and, as we were checking it over, two foreign gentlemen came over to ask what we were doing. When we told them we were checking for any damage so we didn’t get charged when we returned the car. Clearly novice car hirers, they said they didn’t knew they should do that and started to do the same – our good deed for the day!

With Jayne navigating, we quickly found our way to the hostel, parked the car outside and checked in. Slightly painful carrying all our stuff up three flights of stairs after being so tried from our day of doing nothing! The dorm room was like a sauna when we got in from the Dutch girl who was, evidently, trying to kill her cold with heat. The room, unfortunately, also had the same odour as our Kangaroo Island room of sweaty bodies. We headed over to Woolies and grabbed some food supplies before Jayne made dinner in the smallest kitchen we’ve ever had to use in a YHA. Slightly frustrating as you really can’t have more than two or three people in it at a time. After dinner, we went back to our room where the Dutch girl had turned off the heating (thank goodness) and cleaned up. Jayne opened her anniversary card from me and we both got into our separate beds to fall fast asleep. 

Sunday 28th August 2016

Kangaroo Island – day 325/15

All woke up toasty warm from leaving the little heater on all night. On the plus side, our feet weren’t freezing lumps of ice. On the negative side, the aroma of three women slowing cooking in their own body juices in what can only be described as a miniature oven was an experience that none of us are keen to experience anytime soon. We tucked into our free hostel breakfast before packing up the car and heading out for the day. 
Driving to the north coast of Kangaroo Island, we headed for the ‘secret beach’ that was recommended to us by Lyndi and Sarah. Apparently a bit of a challenge to find unless you have inside information, we headed for the RockPool Café and went to explore. Stokes Bay was absolutely stunning in its own right, with beautifully clear turquoise waters which were captivating in even the cold. However, to the very right end of the beach there was a secret sign directing us behind some rocks. At some point in time someone was clever/crazy enough to blast through the cliffs and create access to a secret beach. It took some ducking and weaving through the narrow caves, which was particularly difficult for Jayne and I as we are so tall – Tracey hopped, skipped and jumped through like a sure footed mountain goat, to reach this mysterious piece of paradise.Wandered along the shore for a while, enjoying the tranquility of the completely deserted beach. The rapidly incoming tide cut our time short on the beach especially as waves started lapping into the entrance of the caves. 

Next stop was only just down the road at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park. Opened in January 1992 and sold to the current owners in 2013, the wildlife park is home to over 150 species of Native Australian wildlife and houses over 600 animals! We were fortunate enough to arrive in time for the koala talk, where we got to enter the enclosure with these cuddly bundles of fur, stroking them and posing for photos. Learning loads about my new favourite animal, I was delighted to find out that Jayne had paid for me to have a koala holding experience. Standing over to a quiet corner of the park, I was given Alfie to hold. 10kg of gorgeousness, as I was the only one with a koala experience, I got to hold him for ages!As you can see from the photos, this was definitely one of the best experiences of my life and thanks so much to Jayne and Tracey who happily stood around as I cuddled and stroked that koala. Slightly concerning moment when he started sniffing my neck. Thinking it was just a cute snugly thing, the keeper seemed a little worried. Apparently it is the start of their mating ritual, just before they start biting your neck and humping you – clearly I smell like a horny koala…

Reluctantly giving him back, we headed out to the rest of the park – small birds, nesting cassowaries, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, penguins, farm animals, snakes, crocodiles and reptiles. They are currently building a new enclosure for dingoes (which was currently closed to the public but we spotted the dingo puppies being walked around the grounds and got to have a quick cuddle with them too!). Found a quiet picnic bench to eat some lunch whilst we watched the world go by and got to watch the next group of people do the koala experience. A much larger group, they only got to hold the koala for a couple of minutes each before he went back into the enclosure – I was definitely lucky! Treating ourselves to an ice cream from the shop, we were delighted to discover that a major ice cream brand was using local ingredients to make the different flavours. Tracey and Jayne both chose the Kangaroo Island honey with pistachio flavour while I played it safe with a cookies and cream. 

Back in the road again, we headed for Island Pure sheep dairy which is a 260 hectare grazing property situated on the banks of the Cygnet River and Gum Creek. Opened in 1992, twice a day the ewes wander in to a purpose-built dairy to be milked before heading back into the paddock. The dairy makes a range of cheese and yoghurt products which are entirely homemade on site. We began with a tasting season where we got to sample all of the products that they have available to buy. My favourite was the Cygnet cheese (a semi-matured manchego) whereas Jayne preferred La Casuarinas (a feta) and Tracey loved the Ravine Des Casoars (halloumi). We then watched an informative DVD which explained about cheese making before getting a visit of the factory and watched the sheep being milked. A truly fascinating experience, especially as I used to be a ‘young farmer’. The milking process we saw for these sheep is similar to that when milking cows, except, that they only milk half of the sheep at each time and then swap the milking teats over. 

Having watched Tracey stock up on cheese products (mostly halloumi), we headed off to our next stop of KI Spirits. Walking past the 80 litre copper pot which is still used to hand make their entire premium range, we sampled several different gins, spirits and liqueurs. Tracey treated herself to a coffee whilst I bought a drink of the ‘Old Tom Gin’. It was incredible and clearly I have expensive taste. It is the award winning drink of Oz and cost a small fortune per bottle – however, it slid down my throat like liquid gold! It didn’t need any form of chaser and I would have been quite happy drinking it as a digestif most evenings!Last stop on our quick tour of the island was the pelicans. These massive birds have become accustomed to a daily feeding frenzy from a local man, who regularly gets into trouble for feeding the wildlife. Not entirely sure how we felt about it, we were delighted to hear that these birds are often present at this site an hour before the feeding time begins. As we made our way to a small, wooden amphitheatre set above the rocks that lined the harbour there were half-a-dozen of the birds perched on the rocks, along with a similar number of silver gulls. We watched the birds fly around and land nearby, waving their voraciously snapping beaks as they premed their feathers and waited for an easy meal.  Driving back towards the ferry, we kept our eyes open for any last sighting of kangaroos before catching the ferry. We filled up with fuel, having a slightly bizarre moment when the pump wouldn’t let us fill up the tank anymore but the gauge said the tank was only half full. A quick call to Hertz to explain the issue and we were reassured that sometimes the gauge takes a while to move. Sounded slightly fishy, we weren’t in a position to argue as we couldn’t put in any more fuel from the only petrol station in town and the office was closed. Had a pub meal as our last night together as a threesome on this holiday – I, unfortunately, had major food envy of Jaynes beef schnitzel but she gave me some in exchange for my salt & pepper squid so it all worked out (she is so good to me!).Catching the ferry across the bay, we boarded the Sealink bus to take us back to Adelaide. The bus driver seemed to double up as the local postman as he stopped several times along he route to check the post boxes for letters and putting them in the bus (or we had just witnessed some very unstealthy post thief!). One of the passengers had a very loud and irritating laugh so Jayne and I fell asleep to block him out. Tracey took this opportunity to take unflattering photos of the two of us as we snored gently in the seats behind her. Arrived in Adelaide and made our way to the YHA. Clearly during the two weeks together, we still haven’t realised that Tracey can’t walk as quickly as we can… Sorry Tracey for walking too fast and that you had to remind us for the umpteen time! Fortunately, we were able to make our beds without worrying about waking anyone up, as all our roommates where out and we quickly fell into bed and passed out. 

Saturday 27th August 2016

Kangaroo Island – day 324/14

I’m going to skip what we did when we got up because let’s face it, our bowel movements and what we ate for breakfast must be pretty damn boring by now. The most exciting thing that happened was that Katherine thought she saw Amanda’s (the Canadian) nipple at breakfast as she paraded around in a top that was two sizes too small. I missed the entire thing so I can’t vouch for the sighting. We left around 9am to head out on the days adventure. We picked up our hire car and headed out in the road. We had our trusty map, (thanks Lindy) and a tank full of fuel with the excitement of possible sea lion sightings keeping us focused. Our first stop was the Pennington bay lookout. Pennington Bay is on the south coast of KI (Kangaroo Island) that’s accessible by an unsealed road. It offers some of the best surfing on the island. The surf is not ideal for swimming but it’s great for taking photos and laying on the beach. Surfing is still the main activity as the surf can be large and rough. Next we headed off down the back roads to Clifford’s Honey Farm. Random Fact: Kangaroo Island is the last place in the world where pure Ligurian Honeybees remain. They are Italiano!!

Herein lies the end of the lore of the Hobbit. She never finished her blog and it is up to one of the big folk to finish her tale of adventure.

After watching the short informative video about the bees, looking at a see-through hive of the species and looking at artefacts of the trade, such as transport boxes for queen bees to go to other countries, we went back in to the gift shop. Tracey and I bought some of the exquisite honey ice cream and with the minimum payment on the credit card needing a few more dollars, I tried the mead. Memories of a long forgotten story of a tavern on the drive to Wicklow came back to me and the golden liquid was delicious. Far too easy to drink, it was a good thing it came in a small plastic cup. Around the corner was the Eucalyptus distillery. A compact little site with a gift shop bigger than the workshop we watched a video about the establishment as we came in to reception. Katherine was very posh and sat in the carriage for the presentation. Intrigued by the site and process of eucalyptus distillation we decided to do the self-guided tour. Katherine was our guide extraordinaire and pointed out various points of interest in the yard and explained the process stages as we passed. The jars and bottles of raw and refined eucalyptus oil were incredibly pleasant for the olfactory senses and with the multitude of uses for the oil now known to us, you can expect either a lot of trips to a Swedish sauna or a house smelling of the stuff in the near future. Driving to the Flinders Chase National Park we drove past beautiful scenery and a mixture of habitats. We paid our entry fee for the park and carried on to the Remarkable Rocks. Accurate in its nomenclature, these rocks are a prominent feature at the edge of a headland and are quite remarkable. The elements and passage of time have eroded the granite blocks to misshapen architecture with nothing between them and the Antarctic. With evidence of possums and wallabies in the area we headed off to the Admirals Arch. But, one was a bit distracted firstly by the force of the waves crashing off the two small islands and then by the hundreds of fur seals adorning the rocks. It was a while (and a lot of photos) before we descended the rest of the way to see the arch itself. A beautifully framed piece of nature – an overhang of rocks, stalactites and vegetation with intertidal rocks peppered with sealions (New Zealand fur seals) and the gentle wash of waves into the protected little alcove. But, of course with bright sunshine pouring through the opening, no camera was every going to capture the full extent and beauty of the place in a still image. On a solid bluff of rock at the top of the hill at Cape Couedic was the lighthouse. Not a picnic bench in sight, so we plonked ourselves down on the steps, cut up some avocados from the Adelaide market with our sporks and enjoyed a delicious meal. It was interrupted by the bus load of tourists stopping to take a photo of the lighthouse – bloody tourists! Guess who was amongst the throng on the tour… Amanda. Wearing a suitable bigger top, Tracey was unable to verify earlier sightings. It was probably for the best, it was a bit cold. A jaunt over to Weir Cove to see the site of the storehouse. This humble, sturdy limestone building (recently restored) would have been used to house supplies shipped in every three to four months for the occupants and lighthouse workers. Built on a treacherous, rugged coastline, I’m afraid the coastline was a bit more impressive than the history. The cliff face has still got it’s dramatic fissure hewn from the rock where the winch brought stuff up from the boats. No vegetation has yet reclaimed the passage to the sea below, but it has almost completely hidden the chains that are visible in the sand behind the car park. We chanced our pick at the caravan park down the road. MapsMe and insider info shows a walking trail around the perimeter for koalas. But, the owner was having none of it, the property just for camp site guests. Ah well, on we go. He’s losing out on a trick and could make a fortune just doing a gold coin donation. So, pulling over to see a wallaby – what the hell are you doing up in the middle of the day – we slowed down quite a bit and none of us had a camera ready for the big kangaroo that skipped across the road. Thankfully we reached Vivonne Bay without incident and looked out for the mother and calf Southern Right Whale that has taken refuge her for a bit lately. We didn’t spot any cetaceans so proceeded to try jumping photos on the sand. Tracey was either deliberately trying to tire us out with jumping or was having a special moment with the camera. Either way the slog up the sand was tough and we were silent for the journey home. 

We ended up chasing the setting sun on our way home. Knowing that the marsupials were limbering up for the night and our insurance not covering us, we couldn’t stop to take any photos. But, it is still vividly clear in our minds of how the sun cast a golden colour on the trunks of the trees and the fields between them was a blur. Dinner sorted with ease, I finished the work for the beauty clinic at the computer (finally, weeks later) and the Ninjas caught up on some drinking – Tracey with the goon and Katherine with a honey ale and goon (I tore through my vodka pop once finished the computer stuff). All to bed with snoring the minute heads hit the pillows.

Friday 26th August 2016

Adelaide – day 323/13

The night bus rumbled on through the wee hours with our skilled bus driver carefully traversing the road and dodging kangaroos, yes that’s right, two of them, finally, on the road, nearly being killed. Not what I was hoping for.

There were a few small stops to drop off and pick up passengers but mostly a quiet journey with little to report…..until Port Augusta.

We got in around 2am for the drivers fatigue management stop that would include fuelling the bus. Now that we were all awake we ventured into the roadhouse for flavoured milks and chocolate. I observed the guy who was working the roadhouse, he was a slow man, perhaps he’d had more than his fair share of the food or was just a lazy lazy man because I’ve never seen anyone work so slow for money in my life. It was painful! I felt like jumping the counter and taking over.

Around 2.45am we all jumped back on the bus and got settled for the next 3.75hrs into Adelaide. We were all trying to get some shut eye when it occurred to me that I was cold, really cold, in fact reezing. To add to this was the unceremonious stench of foul body odour as some of our fellow passengers had clearly forgotten what deodorant was invented for. Add to that the full 45 minute break that some passengers spent chain smoking and it felt like the smell was basically slapping us in the face repeatedly screaming “NO SLEEP FOR YOU” over and over again. It was like some kind of prisoner torture or behind the scenes at Guantanamo Bay.

Bring on 6.30am! I’ve never been so happy to pull into a bus station in my life! The bus driver announced our arrival and apologised about the air conditioning which had been stuck on since we left Port Augusta. Now go back and read the last paragraph. That’s 3.75hrs with the aircon on, whilst on a night bus, that smelt like death when it was only 4 degrees Celsius outside. We were all shattered.

We regrouped to make the hard decisions on what to do until 3.45 pm when we had to be back at the bus station again for our transfer to the Kangaroo Island Ferry. We got our bearings and realised that the Adelaide YHA where we were staying on Saturday was literally around the corner. We decided to throw ourselves on there mercy preying that the 20 something, beany wearing, guitar playing, finding himself young man wouldn’t be a dick and let us use their facilities as we were freezing and desperate. Luckily said young man was clever, gracious and generous and clearly knew by looking at us that if he said no that one of us would jump the counter, the other would clearly injure him whilst the last of us would break his guitar. That’s how cold we were, we were on the edge, it was the perfect storm, all three of us had synced, our moods were black and deadly like a ninja.

After using every drop of hot water we could to recover, we pushed the boundaries more and managed to get our bags stored and a security card that let us use everything until we left that afternoon.

We headed off to Rundle Mall and headed straight to Mc Donald’s. The only place that could get us all back on track. We wandered through the mall where I bought my obligatory “Big Issue” and then proceeded to buy the biggest hard cover book on floristry that I could carry, it was 40% off, what a bargain. Of course it weighed a tonne and I then had to lug it around all day….We managed to find a bus stop for the free solar powered tourist bus that goes around Adelaide, great idea, solar powered, amazing, should be more of them….then the announcement came through, change buses to the one in front, this bus needs to go back and charge up, I guess that’s the equivalent of running out of fuel. Tourist bus fail!So, we were off again on one the high polluting diesel bus and off on a loop of the city and the northern suburbs when I remembered to tell the girls that Adelaide is called the city of churches, hence why there are so many churches.After getting our bearings we headed off to walk along the Adelaide river to the zoo, where we saw a lot of ducks, bird life and a pelican. There were of course the Lycra mafia with there bell ringing and unflattering rear views, just because people in the Tour de France wear Lycra , doesn’t mean everybody should. We decided not to go to the zoo as I think we only wanted to see the pandas and couldn’t really be bothered doing anything to energetic as we were definitely the walking dead.

We strolled through the botanical gardens and generally just enjoyed the sunshine. We saw a sign for a wine appreciation centre in the botanical gardens and thought why not? Well it turned out to be as elusive as the red kangaroos in the outback.We wandered through Adelaides Central Market which is the biggest farmers market in Australia and marvelled at the produce, cakes and meat. We couldn’t really buy much as we only had a few days before heading back to Melbourne. A quick trip to Coles and we walked back to the YHA. A quick late lunch, some productive time for the girls as they booked their Tasmania leg of the tour and it was time to gather our bags and head back to the bus station.Unlike the overnight bus this was a lovely transfer that took us from Adelaide to Jervis Bay 1.5 hrs south to get to the ferry terminal. The countryside was beautiful and I thoroughly fell in love with it. Rolling hills, cows, sheep, vineyards, olive groves and kangaroos, hundreds of them, no not the elusive red kangaroos, the ever reliable, proves our kangaroos are the best, eastern grey kangaroos!! I chatted with some ladies on the bus who worked for Sealink the tourist company that run the ferries and for tours on the island. Lindy and Sarah spent the entire 45 minute ferry ride to Kangaroo island telling us all the good spots to go and marked them on a map. We docked by 7pm and walked the 100 metres to the YHA. Well that was nice and easy! We checked in, made dinner and drank wine and chatted with Cedric who was an older guy who has bought land and is going to build a house himself and Amanda, an over the top Canadian girl who was pretty full on and swore more than me of which I thought not possible! We all chatted a while during which Amanda proceeded to constantly hold my arm which was a little weird as I didn’t know her! I don’t mind a little in appropriate touching but I’d prefer it from Brad Pitt. We hit the sack, excited by the fact that there were thick mattresses on the beds. We hiked up the heater in the room as it was cold and tucked ourselves in for the night after a couple of sleep deprived days. I think the litre of wine and exhaustion worked well together as I don’t think I moved until my alarm went off the next morning.

Thursday 25th August 2016

Coober Pedy – day 322/12

Waking up 6.5m underground in a dug out that was excavated decades ago was weird… The sounds of other guest waking up in the cavernous holes (otherwise known as the hostel dorm rooms) were joined with pitch black darkness – until we turned on our room light and then we were squinting like blind moles! Managed to find a bathroom that had cubicles free for all of us where we proceeded to spend our shower time singing across the partitions, only to have a man cough halfway through our rendition of the ‘Muppets’ theme tune – cue some girly giggles from us and a hasty exit from the gentleman. Managed to get a clothes wash done whilst we had breakfast, choosing to sit outside (slightly cold) after spending the night in what can only be defined as a fancy coffin, complete with bunk beds and a mattress. Decided to spend the day walking in the town rather than partaking in one of the over priced tours which, apparently, showcase this town as a mining and tourist mecca. As we walked down the street and out of town towards our first opal mine of the day (that’s right… The first!!), it seemed like we had arrived in a post apocalyptic wasteland with the dry barren desert being riddled with holes, adjacent piles of dirt and signs warning of the dangers of ‘deep shafts’ and ‘walking backwards’. There were rusty car wrecks in front yards of houses that appeared to only have a front porch – the rest of the house is dug underground to cope with the 50°C summer days and lack of trees! Even at 10am in the morning, there were groups of aboriginals loitering on the streets in small groups, either already drunk or still intoxicated from the night before. The scene was the same for nearly every group we passed – swearing, shouting and poor attempts at fighting each other whilst calling ‘hello’ to every person who walked past them. Arriving at Tom’s Working Opal Mine, we were given hard hats and a map before being sent down into the working excavation. We were allowed to try the bosun chair that the miners used to descend themselves into the mine shaft, posing for the obligatory photos with a pick axe as we hung precariously several feet off the ground, not entirely sure if the cable on the ‘Ute’ could withhold our weight and/or had been checked in the last decade. All on solid ground and in one piece with an extensive amount of stone dust on our backs which glowed up under the UV light like a min solar system on our backs, we headed off down into the mine, exploring all the nooks and crannies including the sections where miners are continuing their search for the big vein. Jayne got far too involved in searching for her own small fortune by using the tools in the museum to crack open undiscovered opals in the rocks strewn around the place – alas, no opals found… Heading back up to the reception area, we got to watch a video on opal formation and mining (which was really interesting but I couldn’t tell you anything I learnt except that the big dinosaur skeleton found in Coober Pedy is not in Coober Pedy!). Heading back into town, we stopped off at the bakery to get some lunch of meat pies – the label said beef however none of us have seen any cats in the town – coincidence?!? Just saying! We consume our ‘beef’ pies on the veranda of the bakery listening to the dulcet tones of the fighting aboriginals al. around us. Walked over to the Catholic Church of St Peter & St Paul which was Coober Pedy’s first church and still has a sweet appeal with its statue-filled nooks and hushed classical music. Back to the hostel to have some lunch before crossing the road to explore the underground museum in the Desert Cave Hotel. More information and photos rather than anything else, the display of photos showing how people fall down the deep shafts and how they are rescued was equal parts funny and disturbing – we can only hope that they are staged photos. 

Walking back along the Main Street, we tried to find the leftover spaceship prop from the film Pitch Black but couldn’t spot it, so headed instead to the Big Winch which has sweeping views over Coober Pedy. From the view point it is obvious that the surrounding desert is jaw-droppingly desolate, a fact not overlooked by international film-makers who’ve come here to shoot end of the world epics such as Mad Max III, Red Planet, Ground Zero and (the only one I’ve watched) Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The ‘if’ painted on the side of the big bucket is designed to sum up the towns spirit and from viewpoint we found the spaceship – we had walked straight past it! Heading back down the hill and with a couple of hours still to kill before our night bus to Adelaide, we decided to visit another museum mine – Old Timers Mine. It was an interesting warren of tunnels that was mined in 1916, and then hidden by the miners. The mine was rediscovered when excavations for a dugout home punched through into the labyrinth of tunnels. We started with a demonstration of the ‘blower’, a piece of mining equipment that is fundamentally a giant vacuum cleaner on the back of a ‘ute’ which, predictably, sucks up rocks from one place and blows them out of the other end. We each got to have a go feeding rocks and our arms into the machine – imagine a giant Dyson air dryer and you’ll understand what our hands looked like… Old ladies hands! Literally had to drag Jayne away from the noodling area at the end of our tour as the museum was closing and everyone wanted to go home, except us! We headed to our last stop of the day, Josephine’s Gallery and Kangaroo Sanctuary. A bizarre combination of art and kangaroos left us all feeling a little bit uncomfortable. Clearly not as well funded as Brolga’s sanctuary in Alice Springs, the kangaroos were feed with wasabi peas and banana chips by the tourists. It wasn’t all bad though – Jayne and I bought our Australia painting. An aboriginal night scene around a fire with native Australian animals in the background. 

Heading back to the hostel, we packed up our bags on the front veranda. Jayne and Tracey popped to Johns to get take away dinner to consume whilst we waited for the coach to turn up whilst I guarded the bags, listening to the continuing arguments that floated down the streets from the groups of aboriginals. Walking the five minutes down the road to the coach ‘station’ we ate our food before boarding the bus. Tracey was disgusted as Jayne and I tucked into our local speciality – a coat of arms pizza which is topped with kangaroo and emu meat. Maybe this explains the lack of red kangaroos in the area?!? Had to sit near the front but we all got a two person seat each so we could spread out a little bit. Clearly one of the older Greyhound buses, it was a little rough around the edges with no wifi or in seat USB outlets – not a huge issue except we had all run our iPhones down with the assumption that we would be able to charge them on the bus – fool on us! Jayne and I watched the only film uploaded onto our iPad (About a Boy) and Tracey watched the only film on her iPad (Sixteen Candles), before we all tried to get some sleep on the rather juddery coach. 

Wednesday 24th August 2016

Travelling – day 321/11

Pretty good nights sleep at the Alice Springs YHA. Possibly due to the fact that there may have been two bottles of wine drunk with dinner the night before, between two people. You do the math….

Got up, blah blah blah, toilet, blah blah blah shower, blah blah blah free pancake breakfast!

Note: If you put a dab of maple syrup on the plate first, it holds said free pancakes securely to your plate making it easier to scurry back to the table like you’d stolen the ring off Froddo… pancakes do that to travellers.Over free pancakes we laughed at the signs up at the YHA asking for anyone interested in being in YHA’s new photo’s for their advertising. You needed to be between 18-30….ummm nope. Photogenic……ummm nope. Turns out YHA only want photos of young good looking people not slightly older, chubby transgender females, their lesbo wife and a third wheel hobbit.

While laughing, but slightly sad that we aren’t young and gorgeous, the lady next to us said that she actually works for YHA and is running the photo shoot. Whoops, had just finished mercilessly taking the piss out of their photo shoot! We started chatting further and she said the age thing was just to stop old people her age from being a part of their advertising because they are too old and not their target clientele. This piqued my interest, how old was she? 48… How old am I? 45….. Insert the breaking of my heart, 45, chubby and irrelevant. Kill me now. Well on that note it was time to move on, quickly, so with full bellies and bags packed we made our way to the greyhound bus terminal to catch our coach to the beautiful town of Coober Pedy on what would be a fairly long travel day.
We’re on a road to no where….September 1985. David Byrne/Talking Heads
That’s exactly what it felt like, hour after hour of red earth and scrub vegetation.

 I spent the first couple of hours finishing off The Inbetweeners 2 movie and searching for the elusive big red kangaroo mobs of the outback. Still no luck. 

We did a quick drive through the Erldunda roadhouse to check for passengers and then it was back to assuming the position of staring out at the vast desolate outback landscape in search of those bloody kangaroos. I don’t think there are any. I’ve seen dingoes, cows, donkeys, camels, eagles and all manor of bird life but no Roos! What the locals should do is just put some timber cutouts in amongst the bushes so the tourists at least think that they see them, tell their friends and then more tourists will visit. You’re welcome Northern Territory Tourism!We arrived at Kulgera Roadhouse which was our lunch break from 1.30 to 2pm. Thank god they had coffee. I made Katherine, Jayne and a Dutch guy eat their apples so they didn’t take fruit across the border into South Australia as it’s illegal and contributes to the spread of fruit fly. Back on the bus and off we went again. There’s plenty of room on the bus, only Katherine, Jayne and myself, the Dutch guy and a couple of local indigenous people with their kids. Nice and relaxed.

The bit I love about travelling is that you never know who you will meet. The Dutch guy works for a swiss company that develops software and they sold it to a refrigerated transport company in Sydney so he was here to trouble shoot then do a little travelling before going back home. Patrick the bus driver was from Tasmania and after working up here for 15 years was moving home to Tassie.

We made it to the Sth Australian border at about 2.30pm of which has a sturts desert pea on the border crossing sign. I made Jayne take a photo of one of these a few days back so she can insert that here…

With the Greyhounds free wifi barely working, I started listening to the songs on my phone (I have a serious collection of 60’s and 70’s country music) Jayne was doing something computerish and Katherine was watching Everest (the movie) just filling in time until our 6.30pm arrival into Coober Pedy. 

Coober Pedy, a town of mystery, I’ve been told by 3 people that they felt unsafe here and about the same amount saying they have the best food…weird! What I do know is that the town is sometimes referred to as the “opal capital of the world” because of the quantity of precious opals that are mined there. Coober Pedy is renowned for its below-ground residences, called “dugouts”, which are built in this fashion due to the scorching daytime heat. The name “Coober Pedy” comes from the local Aboriginal term kupa-piti, which means boy and hole.

I then watched Everest (the movie) after Katherine to see what all the fuss was about, turns out not much. What I did learn is that some people who climb Everest (the mountain) are idiots who only think of themselves and don’t care that they are putting other people’s lives in danger. I also learnt that some movies go too long and that Kiera Knightly cannot do a New Zealand accent and sounded like Meryl Streep saying “a dingo ate my baby” in Evil Angels (also based on a true story).

Anyway, back to reality, one hour left to Coober Pedy, dusk was upon us and this is meant to be wildlife time where they are on the move but still no bloody kangaroos!!!

So we arrived in town right on time and walked to our accommodation with Dutch guy who was staying at the same place. 

What can I say about the Radeka Downunder…. Originally an Opal Mine from the 1960s, it was converted in the mid-1980s to a unique underground accommodation that is tunnelled out of the Sandstone surrounds.

The rooms range from 3.5m under a sandstone ridge to Rooms & Dorms that are 6.5 metres underground. 60% of those who live in Coober Pedy live underground to avoid the heat of summer. If it is 45°c outside, underground it is 26°c – 28°c. And when winter nights can be close to zero°, underground it is 20°c – 22°c. We stayed in a dorm 6.5 metres underground and after the initial fear of spiders, fire, earthquake and vampires we settled in pretty well!We headed out to John’s Pizza Place for dinner with the Dutch guy. It was the happening place to be with several people of all walks of life. We went back to Radeka and watched one of the movies said to be filmed in the area. It was the critically not acclaimed movie “Kangaroo Jack”. Well, it was never going to win any awards but it provided a good way to wind down before bed. 

We parted ways with Dutch guy and headed for our dorm in the depths of earth…..

Tuesday 23rd August 2016

Travelling & Alice Springs – day 320/10

Everyone else thought that someone else on the road trip had written today’s blog. It was only once catching up on blog photos and getting the remaining blogs from Tracey back in Melbourne that we realised the truth. Thus, it is with a great deal of pain and guilt that I am writing this blog a considerable amount of time after Monday the 22nd of August. It is however a fortunate circumstance that nothing happened on that day and there’s not much to remember (or write about). 
We left Kings Canyon with Tracey having seen a wild Dingo pass near by the motel rooms. Katherine and I weren’t so fortunate so we had our eyes peeled to the sides of the road on our way back to Alice Springs. The only ‘wild’life we saw were the emus at Erldunda Roadhouse. A family with two kids were entertaining themselves by teasing the birds and we considered frightening the dad the next time he swooped in to pinch an emu. Mum found it hilarious but we left without scaring dad or kids. 

Back at Alice Springs we didn’t have a trip to a kangaroo sanctuary planned, so we had to console ourselves with other plans for the evening. Firstly though, Tracey returned the car to the airport and found out we had done almost 3,000kms in the 10days driving. Well worth every kilometre. Secondly, we were all in desperate need of a few clean clothes. Well, a lot of clean clothes. 
So, after a few hours of chores and time spent reconnecting with the social network world we had… Pizza! 2x bottles of wine (for the 2 Ninjas), Dominoes (pizzas and cheesy garlic breads) and we were unwinding from days of driving, sore asses and not being able to hear each other (me) when in the car. Plus, we got to listen to and mock the trivialities of modern youths on the opposite table and watch one gentleman take 2hours, seriously no joke, to take chicken off a roast chicken and serve it, what for the drum roll, spaghetti and salad. It was painful watching him.

So, went to bed. But, no day or evening is truly complete without being an idiot. When I thought Tracey was returning to the room, I jumped out from behind the wall in the room to try and surprise her. Except it wasn’t her. It was our new Asian roommate. She totally grassed me out for scaring her, Katherine was in hysterics, I was mortified, Tracey wasn’t letting me live it down, but the poor girl I frightened said it was ok coz’ I was cute. So, I went to bed all embarrassed and blushing. 
Monday 22nd August 2016