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Australia Trip

Day 15 of 22

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Monday, October 23rd
Breakneck River, Rocky River, Remarkable Rocks, Cape du Couedic

The kangaroos didn't bother us during the night, though I did notice one of them bound away into the bushes close to us when I rolled over in the morning. It was the birds, of course, which woke us up at about 4:30am. They quieted later, and we woke up to a completely overcast, uniformly gray sky. Flies buzzed around the tent constantly, but never got inside. As I sat in the tent, I saw Kangaroos all around us, blissfully eating in the early morning.

It didn't get too cold at night. It got down to as low as 59 degrees inside the tent, even without the rain fly on. When I finally emerged from the tent, three or four kangaroos bounded away. We had a breakfast of oatmeal, pop tarts, and hot chocolate. Afterwards Jean decided to go back to sleep for a while before we started our day. While she was in the tent I walked beside it and hopped up and down, pretending I was a kangaroo. Jean didn't like that.

As we drove off to our hike, we noticed that they were starting to build fences around some of the camp sites. Kangaroos seem to be a problem with campers, and so they're building fences to keep them out of the sites. The fence posts are two-by-fours, and they're fenced off with thin rigid wires. Not as ugly as a chain-link fence, and probably effective enough. But they'd only finished it for a couple of the sixteen sites.

We stopped briefly at the visitor's center so Jean could get some coffee (which unfortunately spilled in the car), and then we went off on West Bay Road, a dirt 4-wheel drive road. We were definitely glad to have the SUV. We traveled on the bumpy road past Eucalyptus trees for about 13 kilometers before we reached the trailhead for the Breakneck River Hike.

After the hike, we decided to have a picnic at the trailhead. I took out the camping stove and we made some very good soup from packages. Jean had some noodle soup and I had a Dutch curry soup which was delicious.

We then headed back along the West Bay Road for about 4 kilometers before reaching the parking lot for Snake Lagoon, the start of our next hike. There were just two other cars in the parking lot. We were both tired so we decided to rest for 5 minutes before going off on our hike. Somehow, those 5 minutes turned into an hour. I don't think that's ever happened to me before. We stumbled out of the car and started off on our hike along the Rocky River.

After the hike we drove back to the visitor's center to get water for cooking that night. We hoped to get there before 5pm, which is when they closed. We did get there before 5pm, but unfortunately they were closed anyway. Fortunately, I remembered the ranger saying there was rain water in a reservoir behind the visitor's center, and I was able to get some water from the faucet in the back.

The skies definitely looked ominous, so before we headed off to Remarkable Rocks, we stopped by our tent and quickly put on the rain fly. We felt much better after we did. The road to Remarkable Rocks was newly paved, having been completed earlier in the year. This was a welcome change after driving on dirt roads for most of the day. We turned left and soon came upon a, well, remarkable view. The road undulated off into the distance, where Remarkable Rocks was clearly visible hovering over the stormy Southern Ocean.

Remarkable Rocks from afar

The rocks are large rocks gracefully carved by erosion, sitting on top of a granite dome, only the top of which is exposed above the dirt. It all lies some hundreds of feet above the ocean, on the edge of Kangaroo Island. I've never been to Scotland, but from what I've seen on television, this approach under a stormy sky completely made me think of Scotland. The view was breathtaking. We stopped at a lookout across the road to take some photographs. Unfortunately I should have taken the photographs from near the car, as that viewpoint was better than my pictures from the lookout. My newly acquired Brunton Sherpa barometer indicated that a storm was brewing, and it was quite evident from looking at the sky that rain wasn't far away. So we quickly got back in the car and drove down to the Rocks to try to beat the rain.

There was only one other car in the large parking lot. There are interpretive signs posted along the walk from the parking lot to the rocks. It exhorted people not to get too close to the edge. One person actually fell into the ocean sometime in the 1990's. Amazingly enough he lived to tell the tale, but he was extremely lucky. We were certain to be cautious.

Jean in front of Remarkable Rocks

The wind was picking up as we walked along the paved walkway to the rocks and I took a few photographs (not too close to the edge).

Jean in front of one of the Remarkable Rocks

Looking west from Remarkable Rocks

We packed up and walked back to our car along the wooden planks. Along the way signs described the geology behind the rocks. We made it back to the car and made the short drive to our next destination, Cape du Couedic. The wind was really blowing as we started down the walkway. We were the only ones out there, walking out toward the edge of nowhere. The wooden walkway descends toward the ocean. Remarkable Rocks is visible far off to the left.

Eventually the walkway reaches a viewing platform for Admiral's Arch, a natural arch formation. Nearby is a breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals. Unfortunately the light was fading and I still had 50 speed film, so I didn't take any pictures. We walked back up the stairs in the cold and wind. Back near the parking lot is a lighthouse and a few buildings. The lighthouse is now fully automated, so the former lighthouse staff buildings are now rented out to tourists.

I had a brilliant idea. Instead of trying to eat by our camp site, where the kangaroos would be sure to bother us, we'd eat near the visitor's center. As luck would have it, we drove around and discovered that there were about 8 picnic tables underneath a roof and fenced off to keep the kangaroos out. No one was using it, and there were even overhead lights that we could turn on. Which was good because the sun was just setting.

We happily used this picnic area to cook our dinner. Tonight it was garden herb rice, baby corn, carrots, and salmon. And hot chocolate and cookies to top it off. We also enjoyed a fruit juice cordial mix. And the kangaroos didn't bother us at all.

Afterwards we cleaned up in the nearby lighted bathroom. We then returned to our camp site. We had human company this time -- a group had set up their tent in a campsite a couple dozen yards away. But those were our only other neighbors besides the kangaroos. As it turned out, we only felt a few sprinkles fall that day, but we were still glad to have put the rain fly on earlier. We'd be even more thankful later.


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