Furry critters close-up, lunch at the Grosvenor, and tons of granite…
Saturday 21st March 2020. Travel Trolley had been busy overnight. We woke to an email suggesting alternative arrangements for our UK return. We were no longer looking at a route via Perth on Wednesday, but Melbourne next Friday. The television news here had intimated borders were likely to be closing soon, and that foreign nationals should look to make return arrangements as soon as possible. Our email response was therefore to ask if there might be an earlier flight, but otherwise we would be happy to take their offer. With the UK now asleep, we would have to be patient and wait for the next response.
There was plenty to occupy us in the meantime. Our evening at the Barringtons last night had concluded with plans made for the next three days, assuming that our stay in Australia was drawing to a close. Today, Linc and Lyn would be collecting us in their car and driving to Victor Harbor again. Sitting in the passenger seat was an opportunity I appreciated, and allowed me to spot something at the side of the road I felt needed an explanation: two microwave ovens mounted on poles near the entrances to adjoining properties. “Mail boxes,” said Linc. “Of course,” I acknowledged. “Good idea.” These Aussies…
Our first stop was the Urimbirra Wildlife Park, a small zoo on the outskirts of town that features only animals and birds native to Australia. And yes – that is a crocodile in the picture above, but it’s not real! Instead, have a look at a koala…
Now this one is real, and if you’ve never had a close encounter of the furred kind, let me assure you they really are cute. But as their keeper warned us, get between them and their lunch and you’ll look at them very differently. So watch your fingers, little girl…
I could fill this post with any number of stories from our morning at Urimbirra. I could tell you about the macaw that tried to chat up Elaine the moment we walked in, or how large are the kookaburras. There were some real crocs too, and a shy wombat snuggling undercover. We saw dingoes and ducks, snakes and lizards, and cockatoos and cassowaries. But most of all, we saw kangaroos.
I have to say that, for two Brits who struggled to catch sight of a single roo for a whole week after arriving in Australia, walking into an open space and being surrounded by the critters was a surreal experience. These guys are accustomed to humans, of course, and Linc wisely spent a dollar on a bag of feed that guaranteed the interest of a few teenagers. What you don’t see in these pictures is the sheer number of kangaroos spread around the whole park. I would estimate there were over a hundred in the immediate vicinity.
Everyone loves a Joey. Here’s one who dared to pop his head out of mum’s pouch at feeding time – although he seemed more interested in the ducks than us.
And finally, here’s one guy who gave us his impression of Beyonce…
That single morning wandering around a small park prompted so many photographs that I used up my camera batteries. As we parked up in Victor (Harbor) for lunch at the Grosvenor Hotel, I made a quick detour to a battery shop (“Not Just Batteries” said the tell-tale sign outside) and amazed the proprietor by telling him my camera took AA size. “Never come across that before” he said, disappointed he couldn’t sell me something more specialised – and expensive.
We noted that the town seemed a little quiet. News reports about “the virus” were starting to make an impact, and further restrictions on movement are expected on Monday. We needed to make the most of the freedom we currently enjoyed, starting with lunch. After our previous experience of dining at the Grosvenor (see Day Eight), we were again pleased to see plates dwarfed by their contents (a prawn salad and three chicken schnitzels).
Linc proclaimed he was not a walker. If the hotel toilets had been any further away he’d have gone by car. But we managed to persuade him to take a gentle stroll across the causeway to the Island. Perhaps he should have used this, but it was going in the wrong direction.
There’s a reason it’s called Granite Island, and Linc and I had a close look at some information boards before impressing our wives with a technical observation. “That’s a lot of granite, there, Linc. How many tons do you suppose that lot weighs?” “Oh, I’d say about 192,000, wouldn’t you?” “Give or take a boulder, yeah.”
On top of the Island there are several intriguing sculptures and wind-blasted rocks, but mindful of the heroic sacrifice in shoe-leather my friend had already made, we kept our visit short and headed back to civilisation.
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