Kangaroo Island Cycling Tour Holiday 26 Dec 2008 - 5 Jan 2009

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Day 0: Packing on Christmas Day

Connie beginning to assemble all the stuff... see the map next to the blue towel? The baggie also contained all my planning notes. I managed to forget all at home!! Good thing I did so much study, I could do it all from memory.

Why do I always leave essential stuff till the last possible minute? Reinforcement work on my Birdy's home-made front panniers.

Day 1: Driving to Cape Jervis (830km), ferry to Penneshaw, KI

All the stuff and the bikes loaded in the RAV4.

Jur making sure that he didn't forget the doohickey at home... shoulda checked the map and notes, dude!!

Mmmmmmmmm cheesecake and cherries on the bank of the Wimmera.

I'm already wearing the bike clothes and cycling sandals.

The Murray at Tailem Bend.

We have arrived at Cape Jervis. Kangaroo Island (KI) looms in the distance accross Backstairs Passage.

And there is our ferry. How's that for perfect timing after a 10-1/2-hour drive!

Quickly assembling the bikes with the touring stuff, just in time to board the ferry. If we didn't get the extra 30 minutes due to different time zones, we would have been late.

The bikes securely lashed in case of wild seas, but the ferry scarcely rolled in the gentle swells.

We're under way! Woohoo!!

Connie is letting the kids know we made it safely.

Me making sure the bikes are OK...

Couldn't care less about the tin cages though.

Connie snoozing, tired after the long day's drive.

Goodbye mainland...

... and hello Kangaroo Island!

KI isn't exactly over-populated.

We're nearing Penneshaw, first stop.

After a few 100m cycling we are already at the overnight stop, youth hostel in Penneshaw.

Jur wondering if he should pinch one of the engines to put on Connie's bike.

Apparently Connie isn't too impressed by the place. Harden up dear, we're camping from tomorrow!

That puts her in better mood.

The place has a great view.

Dinner at the local pub. For once Connie is also having a refreshing beer.

Making short work of the fish & chips, but struggling with the salad.

Leasurely stroll along the shore...

... where little penguins are nesting, then turn in for the night.

Day 2: Penneshaw to Flour Cask Bay (90km)

The bikes slept indoors, just outside our room. The place was OK.

Having breakfast of champions overlooking the bay.

Lip-smacking stuff, that breakfast of champions!

The table was a bit rickety, so leaving Connie sitting primly, I lounged at the railing.

The early morning ferry is just arriving.

We've got the bikes loaded up and are enjoying a final view of the Penneshaw marina. I hung the backpack (which was almost empty most of the time) over the handlebars soon after this.

At the top of a stiff climb out of Penneshaw, Jur discovers he forgot his towel at the hostel AND still has the room key in his pocket! D'oh!! Down I go...

... and back up again after dropping they keys and getting the towel.

That climb was 2km at 8% average, peaking at 13%.

Bottom gear, standing on the pedals all the way. Into a stiff breeze.

Made it! Twice!

Connie looking happy for the view, wearing Quadgod's arm sunprotectors.

We soon left the sealed road behind us and pedalled over corrugations. Sometimes very bad.

In some places the road was a hard packed solid surface, sometimes quite good, others badly pockmarked which was worse than corrugations.

On the steep downhill we spotted this black tiger snake, a monster of at least 1.5m. "VERY DANGEROUS" according to avru.org. It slithered away before I could get a nice close-up.

The first stop of the day, Cape Willoughby lighthouse.

Stunning view of the mainland this place has...

We were annoyed to learn the lighthouse only opens at 11:30am. So we just wandered around outside and then hit the road again.

The Birdy taking a break in the shade...

while we tucked into this platter...

and mud cake...

at a brand-new opened winery not far from the lighthouse at Chapmans River. Still needs some tidying up.

After the feed, we had to ascend this steep little tester...

and immediately turn right and descend again.

Connie put on the fly net to avoid breathing in flies which outnumber humans a billion to one in Australia. Or so it seems.

You just have to remember to lift the net to take a sip.

Back at the main sealed road. We've done about 60km by now, the bulk on dirt roads.

We're heading to Flour Cask Bay near American River.

The last 3km leg has arrived!

Pedalling down the last stretch...

The Birdy's back wheel suddenly broke through a hard surface crust into loose sand, almost pitching me off the bike.

Unpacking the bikes at the isolated camp site. There wasn't another soul for miles.

"Go and have a shower, dear, while I pitch the tent."

Freshly showered in this bush shower. The end of a hot day.

Just applying some cream to keep the skin supple...

Jur waiting for the fuel stove to boil the pot, placed inside the Weber.

Having a nice loaf after having dinner and a freshening shower. Only, the water stopped flowing with me covered in suds. Panic!

Decided to put on the fly sheet after all...

Connie spots a nice sunset. We were encamped on the edge of a salt pan.

Day 3: Flour Cask Bay to Vivonne Bay (75km)

Morning dawns at Camp Flour Cask Bay.

All packed, ready to go. Overnight, a cool front moved in with occasional drizzle and a persistent sou'-westerly.

The flies didn't relent, though.

Relaxing at Clifford's Honey Farm, first stop.

The place was crawling with pure Ligurian bees.

We both got burned despite the cloud cover.

A less pleasant stretch of dirt road. If it wasn't for the bikes' full suspension, it would have been a great deal less pleasant again.

Murray Lagoon from Bald Hill, a 600m walk. For us, a 600m ride. Not exactly a stunning view. Perhaps KI lacks scenery...?

Another view of the lagoon from the road.

Having lunch at Kaiwarra Food Barn, and jur dozing off after a hearty meal. It was a very tough day, fighting the bikes through loosely surfaced corrugated dirt roads against the wind.

Camp Vivonne Bay. I couldn't get any of the pegs into the hard ground, so I used the bungee cords to various fixing points instead. Those bungees were easily the most handy things we had. No showers here, so we sufficed with a bird bath.

After cooking the evening meal, we donned our cycling windproof jackets and headed for the beach, reportedly one of Australia's nicest.

Nice setting for a house, but what if every property owner next to the creek did that? - goodbye bushland.

Perhaps it looks better in sunshine?

Anyway, I found the wind bitterly cold and we headed back to the tent for the night.

Day 4: Vivonne Bay to Western KI Caravan Park (56km)

Next morning after breaking camp we first headed 9km back to Little Saharah to check out the sand dunes.

This is the highest dune. It looked bigger than it was so Connie decided she won't be climbing it.

Connie sipping my water after climbing the highest dune.

The sou-westerly was blowing the top of the dunes into sharp edges.

Jur wearing a hat against the sun and fly veil against flies, neither of which was necessary at Little Sahara.

Back at Vivonne Bay, we enjoy a nice cuppa.

Riding on, we find some mature grass trees. It's grass that makes like a tree, see?

Connie snaps a piccie of Jack of the Beanstalk's place...

and gets caught by a gum tree when trying to get back on the bike.

A grass tree that needs a haircut.

At Kelly Hill Caves there was no food (so we had an ice cream instead) and no active drips inside the caves, so the caves were static.

Only fairly minor examples of stalagsomethings. The tour guide went gaga over a single drip that was found a week earlier.

Riding on. This section was dubbed Sunshine Avenue.

Connie still defeating the flies, while jur keeps mouth firmly clamped to keep out those nasties.

Final stop for the day!

Making camp for the night...

and enjoying a beer while standing diagonally.

Local wildlife: Tammar wallabies (indigenous)...

koalas (introduced)...

Cape Barron geese (exotic)...

weirdo worm (very exotic)...

monster fly (possibly alien)...

bullant (straight from Aliens) which found its way into our tent. I wasn't touching that aggressive monster with giant jaws and painful sting so coaxed it into a ziplock bag for the night. These are an inch long!

Day 5: Rest day at Western KI Caravan Park (53km)

We stayed on for a "rest" day here to explore the Flinders Chase park.

Connie is exploring some wildflowers.

More wildflowers...

Jur pointing out to dearest that it's all very well staring at flowers but that he's not fixing anything if she tries to violate the laws of nature, see?

The park comprehensively burned down last summer. This is recent regrowth.

Connie decides the weather is OK for her to remove some layers.

Looking out over the burnt-out park. A green swathe was untouched.

These red plants were everywhere after recent good rains.

Connie deftly negotiating yet another hill...

A lookout to Remarkable Rocks.

A silly misunderstanding resulted in much grumpiness so I walked ahead to the rocks when we got there.

Connie snapping me trying to capture my dark face as I stalk about.

The granite was eroded from the bottom resulting in these hollow shells.

Quite remarkable.

This hollow one was resting on 3 points.

Apparently these were formed by a similar action that built Uluru (Ayers Rock).

Connie didn't get my grumpy face but I did a fine job of that myself.

There were seals at the bottom of the cliffs at the lighthouse.

Jur checking out the seals at Admirals Arch.

Most were lying on the couch.

This bull was kicking up a stink, bothering everybody...

In fact all the seals were stinking up the place something terrible.

So much so, that the timber's hair was curling.

The lighthouse from the bottom. In cold wind and occasional drizzle we headed back to the park center for a nice hot meal.

Day 6: Western KI Caravan Park to Stokes Bay (78km)

It's New Year's Eve and we're breaking camp to head to Stokes Bay.

On the way, and the burnt-out bush shows there is no regrowth - it all has to start from scratch again. 90% wildlife was also wiped out.

Trying to compensate the bush for the lack of rain...

Nice-looking plant I almost compensated there.

A deserted local sports club is pressed into service as a morning tea venue.

...complete with outdoor seating for smokers and bike parking.

Enjoying an apple before hitting the dirt road.

This guy also hit the dirt road and almost bought the farm, rolling his car after losing control on the so-called pea gravel. Imagine, ball-bearings for road surface! No injuries, though - here he declines an offered lift from Connie.

Fly veil duty at a place called Amen corner.

We crowd into the only shady spot for refuge at Amen corner.

A little further we arrive at an honesty egg point. Free range eggs.

No, dummy, that's free range eggs, not free range eggs! Leave $3 in the lock box!

Stokes Bay!

Connie's every wish is my command - including meticulously patting down any irregularities that might rob dearheart of any sleep.

Stokes Bay consists of a camping ground and a restaurant, plus some holiday shacks. This is the view we had from the restaurant.

To reach the beach, there is a unreal natural tunnel through huge boulders.

It used to be a big overhang which collapsed centuries ago and left a nice tunnel-path to the beach.

The beach is a gem - huge calm natural tidal pool suitable for kiddies, plus azure crashing surf on white beach. Perfect.

Jur trying to find the way back to camp...

This way, dear!

Camp Stokes bay, and jur preparing for our New Year's Eve celebration at the grill.

Connie's already ready.

The Stokes Grill's theme is spokes. Check out those nipples!

Nice view from our table. We were knackered after the big day and couldn't stay awake for midnight.

Day 7: Rest day at Stokes Bay, New Year's Day (15km)

It's 2009! Taking shelter from the usual freezing mid-summer wind, we boil our free range eggs.

Kitchen with a view.

After a breakfast of boiled free range eggs and tea, we headed to the Rare Breeds Farm. That's a fair bit of bacon over there.

Forgetting totally to snap more pics, we move on. My Birdy's chain fell off twice here.

Connie sez this is a fringe lily. "Yes whatever dear..."

We headed to Stokes Bush Garden, at the top of a very steep hill. This giant gum flower [Eucalyptus Macrocarpa] was amazing. Each flower as big as a rolled-up spare tube.

Connie hiding behind the fly veil for the bees which had claimed this bottle brush as their own.

Back at the camp ground cafe, this girl with baby wallaby was capturing all the attention.

Seems like the ideal pet for a girl to have. Scarcely bigger than a rolled-up spare tube.

Sheltering against the freezing mid-summer evening breeze, I boil the kettle for a cuppa.

Enjoying said cuppa. That's it for 1 Jan 2009!

Day 8: Stokes Bay to Kingscote (56km)

Yep we're sheltering again... that wind never let up and never warmed up either.

Final glimpse of the Rock Pool Cafe at the camp ground...

...and we're off to Bark Hut rd. One of the best gravel roads on the island.

Highest point and suddenly we have reception! After a week of nothing! Telstra are a bunch of lying... NextG coverage maps aren't real, they are a distant future dream.

Connie understandably glad for a long stream of TXTs from family all over the globe, wishing us well for the new year.

All those tin cages with their dust tails make scratchy throats. By and large, drivers were very considerate indeed, most slowing down to limit dust.

I'm headed for the undergrowth while Connie catches up on some bike piccies. Her bike carried about 10kg. Mostly underwear.

Mine carried about 20kg. Mostly camping gear. She thought my Birdy looked like a jumble sale.

Cygnet River, the biggest on the island. The place has severe water shortage and is not totally ideal for self-supported bike touring.

This family made the river bank their personal camp site. Common practice decades ago, this is now frowned upon.

Sorry dear, the next bus only comes when school starts in a month's time.

Yay! The end of the ball-bearing covered dirt road is in sight!

As there was limited space in Connie's panniers with all that underwear, we decided not to buy the farm.

25km to Kingscote, with the wind in our backs.

We'd hardly started down the highway when we met this German couple on stahl Aarios fahrrads, from Melbourne, on their way "to Pers agross ze Nuhl-are-bohr. Jaja!"

Leaving daydreams about cycling to Perth accross the Nullarbor behind us, we head instead to the Island Pure sheep dairy. "Ewes Welcome."

A shared sheep yoghurt revitalises us.

A few prunes for erm whatever... to keep flies at bay.

Well hello! There's elevenses!

This chap makes champion spirits in his kitchen. Our load and his income increased somewhat here. He was ready for 2 cyclists today, but not for the previous lot of 200 thirsty cyclists who happened by some months ago..

And there's lunch.

We got some very aromatic honey, "Coastal Flora," to sweeten our tea. The serving lady was very taken aback that as cyclists we didn't order coffee.

Kingscote! No camping today, and Connie looking quite satisfied with the lodgings after a week on a Thermarest.

The pelican feeding is a must see. The pelicans thought so too.

Patiently (yeah right!) awaiting their snack, the birds pose for some closeups.

And there's their meal. In the crate, not under the dumb hat...

First demo: giving the first fish to a gull and watching the pelicans drown the gull to get the fish. Really.

Only, the gulls were wise to the threat and with pelicans watching with a murderous glint to their eyes, the gull decided to leave the fish.

Showing mercy to the gulls, the fish guy heaves handfulls of fish in our direction. Check out the bird in the centre with brimming beak pouch, next to the bird with open beak. He got the lot.

The rest of the fish is hurled into the water for some water sports. A very interesting show that was. Free, too. If you ignore the $3 donation.

Dinner in the local pub, as usual the wind was freezing so we declined the al fresco dining location. Marron on the menu. (Google it.)

Day 9: Kingscote to American River (56km)

Next day. We have left Kingscote and its pelicans and make our way to American River. Via the Emu Ridge eucalyptus oil distillery.

They are distilling the oil in the same traditional way as their forebears - by having a few beers at sundown after work.

Connie pretending to smell the difference between refined and not-so-refined oil.

With half a litre of the oil weighing down my luggage, Connie has a few more prunes in the shade. She felt quite terrible that day.

The Birdy swapping lies with a local old-timer about hard work, heavy loads and gravel roads. I made the carriers for the bed-rolls on the front, from fluteboard. They worked very well indeed.

This is what cyclists have to deal with - pea gravel. Those little iron laterite balls are about 1cm in diameter and very high in iron content. Stone age ball bearings, see?

American River! There's no river here.

Only some steel pelicans...

plus some real ones.

They have a lagoon though. And it's called... wait for it... Pelican Lagoon!

I'm making breakfast, letting raw oats soak overnight in plain Yoghurt. Deliciously naturally sweet the next morning.

And I've got company while I'm cooking!

Before sundown we go for a bit of a stroll...

Connie takes some nice pics, doesn't she?

Day 10:American River to Penneshaw - final leg! (45km)

Next morning we break camp and make our way via the lagoon's edge back to the main highway.

As usual the dirt roads are having the final say about how fast we can go. Thanks for the full suspension, Birdy!

Immediately on the main road the island's only hill hoves in view. And hills are for climbing.

Prospect Hill. A whacking great sand dune.

Matthew Flinders climbed it 200 years ago to have a look at the island interior. He came from that lagoon on the left where his ship lay at anchor. American River lies on that headland away in the distance.

Only, the hill is located on the island's narrowest point, so to his great surprise, all he saw on the other side was the open ocean.

The place has 360 degree views. Lagoon to the left, ocean to the right, road to Penneshaw down the middle.

This pretty beach is right below Prospect hill, but hidden due to the cliffs at water's edge.

Brown Beach on the lagoon side. Perfect for windsurfing. We didn't see any though.

At Brown Beach we saw the only public tap on the island. Honeybees were forming a queue to have a drink from the pool underneath.

Connie labouring up a very steep climb between Brown Beach and Penneshaw. Stunning pic.

Made it!

After every uphill is a downhill. I had to go slow due to speed wobbles the front loaded Birdy developed at speed.

Penneshaw at last! We have come 500km to get here.

Quick check in at the local cemetery with interesting topiary...

Back at Penneshaw beach, the penguin centre spoils a nice view.

The French explorer Baudin landed here at this spot, remarkably called Frenchmans Rock. I wonder if he knew...

The place was littered with commemorative plaques from visiting French ships down the years.

The ferry departing for the final trip of the day. Tomorrow it's our turn.

Day 11:Back to Melbourne

All packed and ready for the ferry trip back to mainland.

Land ahoy!

Final look at the ferry and KI...

Crossing the Murray, on a cable pull ferry.

This cable runs between the banks and the ferry pulls itself along the cable. In the old days, people used to do the pulling.

The Murray looks OK from here but it is dying, condition critical.

That's it for another bike tour!