Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Adelaide and Kangaroo Island

I started this post some two weeks ago as follows.

I am coming to the end of a very pleasant stay in Adelaide where I have been doing a little work at the University of South Australia and seeing many of the friends I have made at the University and in the City. The weather has been agreeably warm with temperatures in the low twenties Celsius (say 70's Fahrenheit) though the last day or two it has gone over 30 (say 85F).

This is my prize wildlife photo taken in the rolling country south of Adelaide at the weekend house of friends. It shows the Echidna, an Australian hedgehog like creature. You will have to look it up in Wikipedia for more information.

This the splendid view from the house towards the coast and Kangaroo Island some twenty miles away and of which more below.

I shall pick out to describe in more detail two splendid days on Kangaroo Island. Reference to your atlas and to Wikipedia will tell you that this an island some 65 miles long off the coast of S. Australia. It is a popular holiday resort with attractive scenery and lots of wild life.

Here is a coastal view:

A drive of some 50 miles from Adelaide takes one to Cape Jervis where a harbour has been constructed for the car ferry which takes some 45 minutes to coss to Penneshaw one of the two urban places - hardly towns - on the island. Cape Jervis sees the shipping of world pass on the way from Adelaide to the west towards Melbourne and Sydney.

Happily there are no pirates though the original inhabitants of Kangaroo Island at the beginning of the 19th C were by all accounts a desperate bunch of seal hunters, escaped convicts and other flotsam some of whom who had taken wives from the aborigines on the mainland. Ships called for water and supplies such as salt and to buy the sealskins. The seals were nearly wiped out but now conserved have recovered somewhat in numbers. There are sea-lions too.

My hosts in Adelaide, John and Allison Manefireld took me in their big 4wd vehicle to a rented house 'Blue Wren Cottage' in Penneshaw not far from the ferry. The spacious house like all the rented accommdation was very well equipped with the necessities of life from the dish-washer onwards. Here is the view from the house towards the mainland:

The Blue Wren is described in Wikipedia:

The Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus), also known as the Superb Blue-wren or colloquially as the Blue Wren, is a passerine bird of the Maluridae family, common and familiar across south-eastern Australia. The species is sedentary and territorial, also exhibiting a high degree of sexual dimorphism; the male in breeding plumage has a striking bright blue forehead, ear coverts, mantle, and tail, with a black mask and black or dark blue throat.

It is indeed a spectacular bird a pair of which on a previous visit I was fortunate enough close by in the Bush. None this time or perhaps they were among the many little birds that flitted rapidly through the undergrowth. Many Australian birds are colourful but I shall not attempt to describe them.

The wild life which most surprised me on Kangaroo Island was the wallabies. Driving (we ,not the wallabies) through the scrub around Penneshaw at night we saw innumerable wallabies by the road, across the road and in the undergrowth in the way we see rabbits but never in such numbers or of course of such size. Where do they all hide during the day? No burrows. There are kangaroos too but we saw only one. My other surprise was the size of the island which looks small on the map but has lots of agricultural land including a farm which produces eucalyptus oil once a big industry but now only a tourist visit.

But now I am home. I wrote an account of the tedious journey at the time so here it is.

I have decide that this this blog needs more spontaneity so here I am on an aircraft somewhere over Indonesia on the way to Bangkok and London. The passengers n BA10 – British Airways – have been given their dinner and the opportunity to stretch their legs and are now expected to settle down. Having left Sydney at 5.45 local time the plane is scheduled to arrive at Bangkok at about 2.30 a.m., two or three hours earlier by Bangkok time. The sunset has been long drawn out as the plane has chased the sun westward though not keeping up with it. With my meal – Pasta, not bad – I had a little bottle of white wine, quite undrinkable, definitely off. I did get a little something else to compensate and help me sleep.

Today has been a long day. Up at 6.30 a.m. Adelaide time, on to the plane for Sydney departing at 0930. I checked in my two big bags in the hope they would re-appear at Heathrow. It is amazing that in my experience almost they always have. So today they have I hope been transshipped at Sydney.

I arrived at Sydney having put my watch forward half an hour. The difference in time zone of half an hour hardly seems worthwhile but I suspect the independence of the Australian individual States, here South Australia and New South Wales, from one another. After all for a long time each State had its own railway gauge. The Irish still do – 5ft. as against what is the international standard now of 4ft 8 1/2 inches or whatever that is in millimetres. It is of course the distance between the wheels of a Roman chariot and that was determined by the width of back end of the horse in front.

I sat in the Qantas Lounge at Sydney and looked out out the big windows to the towers of the City some five or six miles away.

The tall office blocks cluster in a square miles where presumably the rents justify the expensive construction. Outside this small area heights rapidly diminish. It is strange that proximity still counts for so much in these times of easy communication. After all in the days when the merchants of the City of London communicated by all going to the Royal Exchange every morning and meeting one another for a cup of coffee having an office close to people with who one did business was clearly essential.

Now at home in Dorset with my computer I can communicate all over the world and see pictures of people too but the human face-to-face contact still adds enough to take me to London and Australia. Travel, certainly frequent business travel, is not a pleasure Anyway it is pleasant to talk with people and drink coffee together. We are gregarious, some of us more than others.

My flow is drying up as fatigue takes over and also the sleeping pill I have taken. I have four hours before Bangkok.At Bangkok we all had to get off the plane with our carry-on bags while it was re-fuelled, cleaned and a new crew took over. Meanwhile the passengers had to proceed from the far end of a quarter-mile long terminal building to the other. I used four travelators but still walked a long way. At the end where there were shops which there was not time to visit in a 45 minutes stop we had to go through Security, up an elevator and on an upper floot proceed all the way back to wait to board the plane again. I suspect that Thailand does not like BA so they get the end of the terminal while Thai Airlines no doubt are nice and handy. The exercise did me good though.

There was yet another dinner which I declined – the waste of food on planes is deplorable. Few eat a fraction of what they are given. Eventually there was a snack breakfast. Then after twelve hour at Heathrow incoming passengers were processed rapidly and bags appeared quickly. Outside in the chilly dawn I found a taxi and duly arrived at Long Lane Farm Ickenham near Uxbridge to be given tea and another and superior breakfast.

Two weeks later - where has the time gone? - my clock has been reset and I am used to the cold - happily it is warming up, 12C as I write. I was very fatigued and so it has taken some time to get up and runnig but I am think I am there or as close as I shall ever be. My trip is rapidly fading leaving memories of interesting and agreeable people, places, food and drink.

I also bring back some academic thoughts with which I must now engage. I actually did some work at the University of South Australia in Adelaide. To convince you here is a picture of the University:

Here I am in full flow giving a Seminar talk:

That seems enough for one post, dear readers.