Saturday 11th October 2014
Last night a business man from Alice Springs joined us for two nights in the apartment. He filled in a bit more background, the aborigine shanty towns around Alice Springs had been replaced with something like our council housing. We understand that up to about half the population of some outback towns are aborigine but many do not work, living off fees related to tribal lands or the dole. There are some secondary education scholarships to schools in the towns, but this means students must board.
We took it very easy this morning and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before venturing out at 11.30am. We decided that a self-guided walking tour was in order, given that we were so well placed for access to North Terrace. Adelaide is a very compact city, retaining its original grid plan, based on an outer rectangle of four terraces, outside which lies parkland. At the northern edge of the city lies the Torrens river.
Having been someone else’s responsibility for much of the past two weeks it was a real novelty to be left to our own devices and we enjoyed the stroll along Rundle Mall, admiring the way in which modern retail developments had been integrated into the original architecture, including some interesting art deco buildings. The route to Holy Trinity church led us through the seedier end of Rundle and we were disappointed to find the church closed. From here we walked along North Terrace, past the railway station, old and new parliament buildings to King William Street. This led us down to Elder Park and the river where we had lunch close to the river boat jetty. After lunch we took advantage of a boat trip to enjoy views of the riverside en route for the jetty at the zoo, downstream of the Albert Bridge.
This enabled us to walk back towards the city through the Botanic gardens and we much enjoyed the variety plants on display in the warm sunshine. Rejoining North Terrace we visited Ayer’s House, an Australian National Trust property. Ayer’s was a self made man, with wealth gained from mining, and he turned a rented wooden cottage into a palatial 48 room dwelling complete with ballroom and state dining room, as well as many bedrooms.
Feeling we had done enough we returned to the apartment for a quiet evening. Adelaide is very British, even the people look like folks we know at home.
Sunday 12th October 2014 Day 34 Glenelg gallivanting
There were still a few things left to see so we left at 9.45am to continue our exploration of the sights of Adelaide. We dropped into the Scots’ church, open ahead of the morning service, then we made our way to the South Australia museum, spending an hour in the extensive Aborigine and Pacific cultures galleries, which carried a very rich and varied range of artefacts. We learned that the Aborigines had all been cleared out of the Adelaide area at early stage of the settlement, there still were noticeably very few around the town.
Next door was the art gallery and we wandered through the building enjoying the work of local and European artists, as well as sculpture, furniture, silverware, lace and other ornamental items. Some of the paintings we recognised from the Royal Academy ‘Australia’ exhibition.
Returning to the apartment for lunch we then set out for the seaside at Glenelg, taking the tram from Rundle Mall. A small beach frontage, with an extensive shopping street, it was an excellent way to spend the afternoon, paddling in the cool water, 21 C in the sunshine, and sitting watching the cormorants. After an ice cream and coffee we found our way to the community centre for the evening service of the City Light church. We were by far the oldest members of a large congregation, made up of enthusiastic young Christians. The worship was excellent and the Word thought provoking in terms of the importance of Christian humility and service, especially loving those who are difficult to love. The church was holding a ping pong marathon the following weekend, in support anti child sex trafficking in Thailand, where the boys are called ping pongs. They also had 30 church members going out to “schoolies” weekend, which is a sort of end of school rave. They will act as something like our street angels/pastors, to help anyone in distress.
The tram then delivered us back to Rundle Mall and we hurried home in the now chilly evening air to the warmth of the apartment.
Monday 13th October 2014 Day 35 Island of delights
We had booked a day tour to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide, which meant a 6.15am pick up from a hotel around the corner. The bus arrived at 6.25am and after a brief tour of north Adelaide hotels we headed south east towards the ferry terminal at Cape Jervis to catch the 9.00am ferry. We had been lulled into a false sense of summer weather, today the weather had turned colder and windier, with showers, and we needed extra layers as well as a waterproof.
The ferry crossing was only a little lively and we were soon landing on the island. Separated from the mainland for 10,000 years it had developed some distinctive local species and had lacked aboriginal occupancy for 2000 years prior to its discovery by Matthew Flinders in 1802. It was initially exploited for hunting seals and was actively settled during the late 19th century by farmers who cleared the natural vegetation. However the human impact was tempered by a recognition of the need for conservation and the western part of the island was designated as a National Park early in the 20th century, a period when concerns about koala extinction led to a community being established on the island, despite them not being indigenous. The lack of dingoes and many feral introduced species, apart from pigs and cats, has also been significant
Our tour took in the highlights of this fascinating island. Our first stop was Seal Bay where we were able to get close to a colony of Australian sea-lions basking on the sands. Their ability to use all four limbs to walk and their ears distinguish them from the true seals.
After this bracing beach visit in a frisky wind we repaired to a restaurant for a tasty lunch. This was followed by a visit to the Hanson Bay reserve. Here we were able to see our first koalas, albeit as balls of fur high above us in the eucalyptus trees. It is very obvious that the local wildlife do not follow the tourists’ timetable as these creatures were particularly catatonic, allowing little opportunity to view them properly. We were also privileged to catch a glimpse of the local version of the western grey kangaroo in somnolent posture beneath the shade of a distant bush.
Heading further west we entered the Flinders Chase National Park to visit the Remarkable Rocks, a granite tor, its boulders shaped by weathering into fantastic shapes. Further west we passed the Cape de Couedic lighthouse, built of shaped sandstone blocks quarried from the base of the nearby sea cliffs. Close by was the boardwalk to Admirals Arch with its colony of New Zealand fur seals. Once we had visited this, passing on the way a venomous Tiger snake sunning itself on the bare limestone rock making up the headland, we spent some time in the visitors centre for ice cream and more information on the island.
As we were virtually at the western tip of the island we had a long drive back to the ferry terminal at Penneshaw. Arriving in the village we had 30 minutes before the ferry loaded. Given that it took two minutes to walk around the village square this was perhaps a little too long.
We boarded the ferry at 7.15pm, with a magnificent rainbow over the narrow Backstairs passage separating the island from the mainland, and departed at 7.30pm. The wind had abated and the sea was calmer, but the ferry was affected by the tidal face that develops in the narrow straits, producing some rolling. On arrival at Cape Jervis we joined another coach for the two hour return trip to Adelaide.