Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Bec's Day 27. Neptune Islands

Better than I could of ever of imagined (Shark Dive Day 2)
Not a bad night’s sleep, I must have been tired. I was awake, dressed, and up on deck by 7am. Just excited I guess. TJ (Bait master extraordinaire) and Dan were busy setting up the bait and cages. TJ was told by Andrew if he got everything done by 7:30 we would move out from the islands (as they are currently being reviewed as a marine park) and he would get in a quick troll for tuna. Unfortunately, he wasn’t lucky this time, the tuna just weren’t biting.

By the time we finished brekkie, we found ourselves back in the bay and anchored with cages being dropped into the water. I was on the top deck when Dan called out to me he though he saw a shark at the back of the boat. We all eagerly searched the ocean for our first glimpse. It only took minutes and the first shark was spotted. I managed to fire off the only photo (it might be a grey and white blur under the water), but it was the first shark sighting and everybody’s adrenalin went into overdrive.

When I first got into the cage I must admit it wasn’t easy breathing with the regulator, and I did struggle with it. Within seconds, I had two sharks circling the cage; they were both male and looked about 4mtrs and 4.5mtrs. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen, they came so close to the cage I could have touched them. One gave a big display catching TJ off guard and getting the bait; his head launched out of the water and then splashed the back of the boat as he turned with his tail. For such a huge creature I was so surprised at how quick they came up from the deep out of nowhere. I was in total awe of these massive creatures, and had no fear at all. I was even putting my arm out of the cage to get photos, pulling it back in when they came past, even though they never showed any aggression at all. I was so impressed at how well my little underwater camera worked that Shane got me for Christmas. I will post up so pictures and short video with this post.

My first big shark

My second dive after lunch was a much more relaxed affair. I found breathing with the regulator more comfortable this time, as Patto gave me some good tips before I got back in the water. There were two more sharks now and they were slightly bigger than the first two. These two were nearly 5 metres in length and much bigger in weight. At one stage the bigger shark chasing the bait ran into the cage. I wasn’t able to get a photo as we were all knocked backwards off our feet.

Nearly got the bait
Another very exciting moment was when a shark came flying straight up from below us with gills flared and teeth fully extended. He then took the tuna in a half breech. This was so unbelievable and would have been an awesome sight from the deck, I doubt anyone would have caught it on camera as he came out of nowhere and was as fast as lightening. I did get a photo from below showing only the half a shark left underwater in the breach though. I was in the cage for about 45 – 50 minutes this time and it was so cold even with my wetsuit on, I then had to get out. It was a hot shower on deck in the suit and a cup of tea to then help me warm up.

I was in my wetsuit all day, and couldn’t wait for a shower. At 5pm I got in one more dive before tea. Thank god I held in there and did this last dive as it was insane. Unfortunately my camera’s batteries ran flat half way through, but I am sure I got some good shots before that. I struggled again with the regulator, and every breath was a real effort. I was constantly fighting the urge to ditch and get out. I had to go to the top a few times to take a breath of fresh air and clear my mask. If the sharks weren’t putting on such an amazing show, I know I wouldn’t have been able to stay in for so long. They were coming in eye to eye and breaking away at just the last minute, it’s like they are as curious with me as I am with them. We had at least 4 x very large sharks all feeding at the same time; they were dodging each other and darting all over the place. I wanted to stay in there forever, but it was getting late and they guys up top needed a break.
After the most amazing shower ever (I needed to wash my hair as it was full of berley) we sat around over a glass of red, and swapped our stories. I sat with Andrew as he went through all his photos of the sharks identifying and cataloguing them, word is so far, it was the biggest day in over 10 years. This expedition is the last of the season, usually by now the sharks have tapered off to 2 or 3 a day. Today it looks like we were visited by over 15 different sharks, and two were females that are not usually seen here until the winter months.

While waiting for dinner Jen showed us some footage she took while in the bottom cage on the sea floor today. You need to have a dive certificate for this cage. The surface cage has an air line straight from the ship, so even without a dive certificate you are able to still dive and view the sharks in their domain. There were a few more sharks on the bottom that didn’t come up, so it was great to see her footage. It showed at least 4 x big sharks circling the cage down there, huge rays, port Jackson sharks, wobbegongs, and millions of other fish. She also had some awesome footage of us in the top cage, as they returned to the surface from below. The footage showed us being circled by 4 x big sharks and it looked like a scene out of a horror movie.
Looking up at our cage from the bottom,
Photo courtesy of Andrew Fox
After dinner we were privileged to see an unfinished documentary Andrew and the crew are making on a shark named ‘Strappy’. He had swum through a ring of packing tape and it was caught around, and slowly cutting into his gills. The bigger he grew, the closer it was to killing him. Andrew and the team decided to try and help strappy and took a cage down to the bottom, and drew him in with bait. Andrew then jumped out of the cage as he passed by, and cut the strap free. It’s amazing that this shark let Andrew help him. Strappy’s amazing full story can be read on the Rodney Fox web site.

Bec's Day 26. Neptune Islands

Today is the day I start to fullfill a life long dream (Shark Dive Day 1)

I left Port Lincoln harbour on the ‘Princess II’ with Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions at around 2:30pm on Feb 25th. Scarlett and Shane were madly waving me off from the marina. There were only 12 passengers, and I was assigned a cabin with a lovely lady named Belinda from Perth. The 6 x crew led by Andrew Fox (Rodney Fox’s son) seem so great; they treat us like friends and can’t seem to do enough for us.

Princess II along side at Port Lincoln

We were only 40min into our 5 hour journey heading out to the Neptune Islands and a pod of Common Dolphins joined us, riding along the bow wave. They were so playful and fast, looking like it was no effort at all to keep up with us. We then headed below deck for a brief on ships safety and housekeeping, it was also explained that due to the fatal attack last week of an abalone diver close by, we wouldn’t be doing the seal swim this afternoon. I was totally ok with that!

Common Dolphin

\I was really excited but at a bit of a loose end without Shane and Scarlett, not quite knowing what to do I thought I might go below and read. Not long after doing so I started to feel a little sea sick, so I moved back outside up stairs, watching the land and breathing in the fresh air. It didn’t work! Thanks to Dan the deck hand/photographer he grabbed me a sea-sick tablet, and that helped heaps.

I was then able to sit with Andrew and Patto (the cook) for about an hour looking at their shark photos, and talking about the conservation work they do. It is so amazing to hear Rodney Fox’s legacy is still being carried on so passionately by his son Andrew.

At about 7:00pm we arrived at the Neptune Islands, and there was a beautiful sunset over the seal colony awaiting us. After dropping anchor and taking a million photo’s, we had a lovely dinner with Andrew getting up and doing a talk while showing photos from the last trip that went out. There was heaps of shark action, and I could only hope we would see the same.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 28. Port Lincoln

A relaxing day doing nothing

Scarlett finally woke at 9am this morning, and I found this out as she jumped on me in bed to let me know the sun was up.

Again we just veg'd for an hour or so, and watched DVD's in bed, before deciding on toast for breakfast.

The thing to do today was wash the Pajero! It has been weeks since it was last cleaned - and it is beginning to show! Scarlett and I found a car wash place and proceeded to scrub the bugs and grime off the vehicle from top to bottom. By the time we left we had succeeded in removing 90% of the splattered bugs, but I think I'll have fun getting rid of the last 10%. Maybe that's a job for tomorrow?

After the great help I got from Scarlett, it was off to McDonald's for lunch as a reward! We spent about an hour playing in the kids playground before heading back to the van so Scarlett could practice riding her bike again. She still has her training wheels on, but I've bent them up to about 45 degrees so that she has to start balancing more. It helps that she's found another little boy who has just been weened off his training wheels, so she's been riding around with him a fair bit.

We then proceeded back down to the marina to the indoor pool! Here we discovered that they had the slide, Tarzan rope and inflatable obstacle course up and running, so Scarlett had an absolute ball. After a couple of hours, we were forced to leave as it was closing time. No problem. On the way out, we grabbed a couple of ice blocks and walked around the marina for a little while.

When we returned to the van this time, we were invited up to our South African friends van as it was their mums birthday and they wanted to share the cake with Scarlett and me. Yummy!

After cake, it turned into a few drinks, and then dinner - as they had caught a very large amount of fish the day previous up at Baird Bay. Mmmm! We talked and we chatted while the kids played and before we knew it, it was time for bed.

So I've just tucked Scarlett into bed and have started writing this blog.

Bec should return from her trip of a lifetime in a few hours, so I might see her tonight if they don't get in to late - but if it is late, we'll pick her up in the morning as she has the option of sleeping on board tonight.

Just as a teaser, here is the website for Rodney Fox - the guy that Bec went swimming with Great White Sharks with!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 27. Port Lincoln

Just the two of us...

Scarlett and I slept in until about 8am this morning. I would of liked longer, but Scarlett was up and rearing to go. Although it was early compared to other mornings, we started off on a good note, as Scarlett came and laid down with me for a while and watched some TV before wanting to colour in and do some drawings.

While Scarlett was busy doing some craft work, I did a little maintenance on the van. I.E: fixed a crimped/bent drain pipe that Bec has been on me to fix for ages, and modified the privacy screen on the awning, as well as putting the new rego sticker on the Pajero - thanks Wendy for passing it on.

We the went for a drive into town where I bought some supplies, and Scarlett bought herself a new DVD - the Chipmunks! Her choice, and she loves it! Also, while out shopping Scarlett brought to my attention a beautiful little thing that she asked if she could buy for mummy - as a present. She was so sincere and adorable that I couldn't refuse! I have no doubt Bec will love it, but then she'll want to know what we will do with it as storage space is at a premium at the moment. It doesn't matter, as I couldn't refuse Scarlett's request. (I'll deal with that one when Bec returns).

Another family rocked up down the end of the lane way and Scarlett was onto them before they knew what hit them! They have 3 x boys and they all hit it off from the start - lucky me! I got talking to their mum and dad, and they are from South Africa and travelling around Australia for a year also. However they are travelling in the opposite direction and started their adventure from Perth, and we worked out that we will probably meet up somewhere in the Northern Territory in a few months time. We took down each others details and plan on keeping in touch.

That's one thing we have noticed since being on the road - the number of families doing the same thing as us - its amazing! Its great though as Scarlett really pines for playtime, and finding kids along the way and making new friends really keeps her not just occupied but really happy. We find having Scarlett along really breaks down barriers when it comes to meeting new people as she doesn't hold back and just introduces herself wherever she goes.

We bought some bait (Squid and Prawns) when we went out earlier, and we went down to the wharf to try some fishing as Scarlett has been pestering me non stop since we got here to take her fishing! Needless to say that she was bored after 30 minutes as the fish weren't biting. I didn't expect to catch anything anyway, as the tide etc was all wrong, but it was a good way to spend some time with her. She was very interested in the bait - not only on how to put it on the hook, but also how we could play games with it. Lets just say that Ken and Barbie have got nothing when it comes to the imagination of Scarlett Cheney. She can play with just about anything and make it interesting.

Not long after we started fishing, our friendly Australian Sea Lion turned up again to see if we had any fish. It was very funny and it kept Scarlett amused for ages. I think she fed it most of our squid bait - Oh well! The thing kept swimming under the pier and Scarlett turned it into a game of Hiding-Go-Seek. Like I said - I really didn't expect to catch anything anyway, and with the Sea Lion playing boo with Scarlett, I wasn't disappointed.

We finished off the day with spotlighting along the foreshore. Its a little breezy, but we did spot a new Gecko that we hadn't seen before. It turned out to be a Thick-Tailed Gecko, also known as a Barking Gecko. fairly common in these parts of Australia apparently.

Today was a good day - for both Scarlett and me. Bec was worried that we would be fighting the whole time she would be away - but honestly, we've had no tantrums, no fights, and only once have I had to warn Scarlett against doing something she's not suppose to. She keeps telling me that she made a 'pinky promise' with mum that she would be on her best behaviour - and she has. The only tears have been when she hurts herself playing or when she falls off her bike (as we are trying to move on from using the training wheels at the moment).

Lastly, Scarlett has a second loose tooth! I'm guessing this will be out by the time mum gets back or shortly afterwards! She sure will look funny with two front bottom teeth missing! :-)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 26. Port Lincoln

When the cats away...

Yep! That's right! When the cats away, the mice will play! Ummm, well.... only to a certain point in this case anyway. (My partner in crime is only 5 years old you know).

Today, Scarlett and I waved 'bye bye' to Bec as she disappeared over the horizon seeking her adventure with sharks! Hours earlier, we helped Rebecca with her assortment of bags (incl. her vodka) board the 'Princess II', to start her voyage out to the Neptune Islands to dive with Great White Sharks! She was so excited! I've never seen her look so 'alive'.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Scarlett. She was devastated to find out that she and I weren't going with mum. Scarlett kept reminding us that 'she is a good swimmer' and 'she like sharks too!' True, but not this time I'm afraid. She is my little princess! But we said farewell to Bec, and Scarlett was all tears and sobs - so I had to bribe her by immediately taking her to the local pool to 'try out' her snorkeling gear - and you know what - she bloody did a great job first go! She is a natural! She is already duck diving and coming up and clearing her snorkel without taking her head out of the water. That's my girl!

I'm taking her out to swim with the Southern Blue Fin Tuna (in the farming pens) on Monday, so we are trying to get in as much practice as possible before then. I'm not afraid, as Scarlett never ceases to amaze me. On that note, I don't think she will have any problems by the time we get to Exmouth in Western Australia to dive with the Whale sharks! This girl was born to swim!

Anyway - back to the story. About an hour into the swimming at the pool, I get a phone call from Bec informing me that she and the Rodney Fox crew and boat were leaving the wharf and heading out to sea. I quickly grabbed Scarlett, and we walked out of the pool and crossed the road to the Marina to wave a final farewell to Bec! There she was, up on the deck waving frantically to Scarlett and me back on the mainland. She looked so excited and in her realm that I couldn't help but smile. I hope she has the most amazing adventure ever! And I can't wait to hear about it when she gets back - or to see the photo's!

Oh yes! Umm photo's. You have probably noticed that there are no photo's in today's blog. I'm sorry to say that there will be no photo's in any blogs for the next few days as Bec has stolen our camera's to take with her. So you have to put up with my dribble until she returns. I'm sure she will come back and re-edit these next few days with photo's and her stories.


But its not to say that Scarlett and I will be sitting on our laurels either. Even today after Bec left, we got up to much mischief and mayhem!

After the pool, we went back down the Port Lincoln foreshore and played in the park a little, and then returned to the caravan park to play in our own playground a bit more too! I then cooked us a yummy BBQ dinner - sausages and veg (Scarlett isn't very adventurous when it comes to food).

We then went for a big walk around the bay, and went rock crawling around numerous headlands. We walked up to 5 x big pelicans that almost let us touch them before flying off! Just before sunset, we walked down to the pier to talk to some local fishermen when an Australian Sea Lion swam right up to the pier to check us out before swimming off to chase more fish! It was great, and Scarlett loved it - unfortunately there are no photo's, but we have our memories and stories....

During our walk we came across 5 x rabbits, 1 x big rat, and a couple of Pied Oystercatchers - not to mention the numerous seagulls, 'fifty ten' parrots, and the previously mentioned 5 x large pelicans and the Australian Sea Lion.

Not a bad afternoon if you ask me!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 25. Port Lincoln

A leap of faith!

Wow! What a morning. Bec and I slept in until 8:30am, and Scarlett didn't stir until almost 9am. Amazing! The seas this morning were as smooth as glass, and there wasn't a breeze to be felt. It was very surreal, but calming. I wish more mornings were like this.

After another fantastic cooked breakie, it was off into town to check out whats here and find out where the marina is that Scarlett and I will be 'farewelling' Bec at tomorrow as she heads off to sea on her Shark Dive. Dumm Dumm..., Dumm Dummm...., Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum!

We visited the foreshore park first, and marvelled at the Bronze 'Makybe Diva' sculpture that's been erected here. I never realised that this triple Melbourne Cup Winner's owners (Tony and Christine Santic), were from Port Lincoln. The horse won the cup in 2003, 2004, and 2005, and is still the highest stakes winner in Australian racing history - bringing in $14,526,685.00! And that was only up to 2006! I now understand why Scarlett loves horses........

Next we went searching for the marina, and found where we needed to take Bec tomorrow. She is really looking fwd to it! But I'm not to sure of her reasoning. Is it the excitement of cage diving with Great White Sharks? Or is it the peace and quiet from escaping Scarlett and me?

After an ice cream in the park, a walk out on the jetty, and another play in the playground (meaning both Scarlett and me), it was back to the caravan park to catch up on some mundane maintenance for me, while Scarlett dragged Bec down to the waterfront to play in the water.

I soon had a phone call from Bec telling me that my 5 year old daughter was jumping off the end off the jetty, and into the bay with no fear! I was told that she swam herself to the ladder, climbed up with no assistance, and jumped in again! Scarlett certainly has a sense of adventure (unless its an up close encounter with a very friendly swan!).

It was a BBQ dinner outside the van tonight, as Bec found some beautiful marinated lamb steaks that just melted in our mouths. Yummy!

We watched the sunset, while Scarlett played in the local playground with a group of kids she met earlier in the day while swimming at the jetty.

As it turns out, the kids she met are from 2 x other families that are also travelling around Australia like us! They are heading in the same direction, so with a bit of luck we might catch up with these guys along the road somewhere. It will be great for Scarlett to continue to play and swap stories with some like minded kids having a similar adventure!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 24. Arno Bay to Port Lincoln

Port of Call

The wind did die down a little last night, but the camp was however covered in sand when we awoke this morning. After brekkie Scarlett and Shane hit the sand dues to 'find clues', this is Scarlett's new favourite pass time. They found lots of dog tracks, and it wasn't long before they found two wild dogs. A black kelpie cross and blue healer, it looks like the follow the mouse trails and dig them up for food.

We didn't go far this morning stopping 5 minutes down the road at the Arno Bay salt marsh board walk. The boardwalk was about 2km's long and winded it's way through wetlands, salt marsh, and mangroves. We saw small fish breeding grounds, crabs on the mud flats, and heaps of birds. It was very well done, and great to see such a small town with such a lovely attraction.

Arno Bay Salt marsh Boardwalk

Lady Kinnard Anchor

Next stop Port Neill. Here we checked out a gallery that uses electroplating to make any organic matter, I.E: gum leaves, gum nuts and other small flora into jewelery and picture frames. they even electroplated small sea horses and star fish! This process coats the leaves etc in a solid metallic finish, they look like they have been turned into shiny metal. The leaves when framed were beautiful although a little pricey.

We went to a walk along the pier, and Scarlett checked out some fisherman's catch. Then it was chicken and salad rolls in the park, while Scarlett played on the playground equipment. There was a huge historic anchor here from the 'Lady Kinnard' that Shane and Scarlett had a great time posing on.

Port Lincoln awaits, so we were off and on our way. We have booked in there for six nights, the longest stay anywhere yet. We have been on a pretty tight schedule to get here, as I have booked in for a Great White Shark dive with Rodney Fox leaving this Friday. This was the last expedition being run of the season, and I booked and paid for it last year. After this, we are free as birds again to take as long and we like to get anywhere.

After a great risotto at the van, we went for a walk down to check out the caravan parks playground. Scarlett gave it the big tick and so did Shane.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 23. Port Augusta to Arno Bay

A night on the beach!

After a restless night listening to trains shunting across the inlet, we rose to a beautiful morning. By the time we decided to start moving and climb out of bed, most of the Grey Nomads had already left, and we found the park virtually deserted.

1st stop today was the 'Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden' situated on the Stuart Highway on the outskirts of Port Augusta. This was actually a very nice side visit, as the first thing Bec found as soon as we got out of the Pajero was a juvenile Perentie Monitor digging for and eating grubs. We were lucky to get a few photo's before he disappeared into the scrub. The plants and wild flowers were beautiful, and Scarlett loved searching for the metal 'cut out' animals hidden in the gardens along the path. It kept her busy while Bec and I enjoyed the scenery.

Next stop was Whyalla, where we stopped at the tourist information centre and loaded up on pamphlets on what to do and where to go for the next couple of weeks. We were surprised to see the old WWII corvette HMAS Whyalla sitting high and dry beside the car park and took full advantage with another photo or two during our lunch break here.

We decided to 'free camp' 5km just north of Arno Bay which is halfway between Whyalla and Port Lincoln. Bec and Scarlett enjoyed watching DVD's in the back on the way south, while I enjoyed some Alan Jackson in the front during the 2hr drive.

When we arrived we discovered that we had the camp ground all to ourselves! I think the wind might have had something to do with it - as its still blowing a gale! Anyway, we set up camp and Bec and Scarlett went for a walk along the beach to see what they could find. There's all sorts of fishing things washed up on the beach - as we can see the Tuna boats and Aquaculture pens out at sea from our camp site. They came back with an odd assortment of 'discoveries', and I have promised Scarlett that I will go out with her in the morning to see what 'clues' we might find!

Other than the wind it's a beautiful location, and if we survive the night and don't have to dig ourselves out in the morning, I'm sure that we will wake to a glorious day enjoy a hot BBQ breakfast on the beach while watching Scarlett swim in the ocean!

(well, that's the plan......)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 22. Claire to Port Augusta

Good weather at last

I enjoyed a really nice morning with Scarlett walking around the caravan park. It's a pretty park, and we checked out the playground and the emu's next door in the fauna park before dad came along with caravan in tow looking for us to move on.

First stop, and pity it was so early, was 'Annie's Lane' winery. This winery is in a beautiful old stone building and the grounds were immaculate, it would make a lovely wedding venue. I didn't taste or purchase any wines (much to my mothers disgust) but wandered around the cellar door and gardens. Scarlett stayed in the car watching her DVD, so I found it very peaceful indeed.

Annie's Lane

We drove on to Blyth next to check out a local artist's gallery 'Ian Roberts'. Ian specialises in native flora and fauna especially birds, his work was amazing. The gallery was in a beautiful old converted stone church, it must be over 100 years old. If we had the money I would have purchased a wonderful Kookaburra print, or maybe the Magpie print, nah the Splendid Wren's print, OMG they were all so good there was no way to pick just one, and that was the problem. We were lucky enough to see Ian actually painting, he was doing a piece on eucalyptus blossoms, soooo pretty.

Splendid Wrens on Eucalyptus

A Proud Dad

It was a big drive (Scarlett and I both had a sleep) on to Port Augusta (approx 2.5hrs). We stopped at the Wadlata Outback Centre once we reached our destination - where Scarlett and Shane went through the 'Outback's tunnel of time'. There was over 30 interactive exhibits exploring the discovery of the Flinders Ranges and the pioneering of South Australia. It was very informative and interesting. Scarlett had a good time trying out the morse code machine, the pedal generator so she could listen to the radio, sorting out the old telephone switch board, and driving simulator earth moving trucks. I spent the afternoon in Coles doing a much needed food shop, I know boring.

Scarlett organising the bush telegraph

We are at another Top Tourist Park tonight and it's on the shore of the Spencer Gulf. After a yummy BBQ dinner we went for a nice walk along the water. We checked out the sand dunes, with Scarlett following all the animal foot prints. It is a lovely evening, not too hot, not raining and not too cold, finally good weather at last.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 21. Mypolonga to Claire

A sad goodbye...

Today we had to say a sad goodbye to our new friends. The Walton's have been the most amazing hosts.

Scarlett had a sleep over in Reilly's room last night, and they were both still sleeping when Bec tippy toed in this morning to check on Scarlett. Later, when everyone was up and ready to face another day, we were treated to a fully cooked BBQ breakfast on the front deck overlooking the Murray River. It was a great start to the day, even though a light rain began to fall.

We eventually had to say goodbye, and Scarlett was heartbroken. She had made some new friends in the 3 boys, and really didn't want to leave. We promised to catch up again - at Bathurst in 2012! The date has been set and we look forward to seeing them all!. I think 2012 will be the year we introduce Scarlett to 'the race', as I'm sure she will want to see her new friends again.

We had plans on heading down to Victor Harbour this morning, and then up to Hahndorf for the afternoon - but again the weather had other ideas. Its beginning to feel like the rain just wont leave us alone, and will continue to follow us wherever we go. Hopefully our luck will change soon.

We decided to head north via the Clare Valley wine region, and we ended up staying at the Clare Caravan Park tonight. It's a great little 'Top Tourist' park, and due to having everything cleaned and 'topped up' after our stay at Mypolonga, we went for a non-powered site which was only $23.40 for the night. Bargain!

Scarlett had her 1st chance to speak with her best mate Connor today via 'Skype' and really enjoyed the experience. She was very disappointed when we had to end the call - but we'll make a point of doing a 'Skype' call fortnightly so they can both get their 'fix' of each other. It's great that they can still keep in contact with each other during this year.

Tonight, my little girl took another step closer to growing up. Scarlett lost her first baby tooth. Its a sad goodbye, but also a beautiful thing, as Bec is quite emotional over the whole thing. We wrapped up the tooth in a tissue and placed it under Scarlett's pillow. She is so excited! A tooth fairy is going to visit 'her' tonight - for the very first time! She even asked me how will the tooth fairy find her - as we are on holidays. So I ended up ringing Tinkerbell (who I know for a fact is a good friend of the tooth fairy), and asked her to let the tooth fairy know where Scarlett is tonight. Its so cute....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day 20. Mypolonga

See! I can do it mum!

A lovely sleep in today. After our big drive back yesterday from Kangaroo Island, we were all exhausted. Troy's brother in law Kym, sent the kids over to the van this morning with an offer to take Scarlett off our hands for a couple of hours to go with them to watch the boys play tennis, a huge YES from Scarlett! She had missed the kids over the couple of days we were away, and was keen to catch back up with them.

With Scarlett gone for a few hours we managed to do a few loads of washing, clean out and pack away all the camping gear and get ready to move on again tomorrow.
When they got back Kym asked if we were keen to come down to the river (they live across the road from the Murray River) and put his ski boat in for a few rounds. All three of Kym's boys are great on the wake board and knee board, having lived on the river all their lives.

It wasn't more than 20min in and Scarlett was asking for a turn. I must admit I wasn't very keen as I didn't think she would be able to hold onto the rope, not to mention she only just learnt to swim and it's a very big river right now. Kym assured me she would be ok, he would go slow and his eldest son Cooper would jump in on the other knee board to keep an eye on her. Well blow me down if the little bugger jumped straight into the river and pulled herself up on the knee board and managed to not only hold on through the take off, but lasted for at least a kilometre.

We were all so surprised, and totally amazed she pulled it off. When she got back into the boat she turned to me and said with attitude "See mum, I told you I could do it" nothing this kid does now will ever surprise me again.

Now Troy's sister and brother in law are both named Kym, slightly confusing but made our job easier remembering their names anyway. So when talking about Troy's sister Kym I will just refer to her as Troy's sister.

Troy's lovely sister (Kym) made us yummy roast pork for dinner and the kids played happily for hours. It was so nice to just sit out on their front balcony and watch the Murray River flow by over a couple of drinks. Later in the evening after we put the kids to bed Troy's sister casually walked past and commented "The table is on fire". OMG she was so calm, the outdoor table was very much alight. The kids had sparklers earlier so there were spent matches and we also had mozzie candles on the table and something somewhere had gone wrong.

The boys ran for the fire extinguisher, I can laugh now, but the extinguisher didn't quite work as well as they expected and after running then for water they finally got the table out. I felt bad for them. It was a beautiful table and some melted through onto the floorboards below, thank god they were all laughing about it later and discussing what we could use the new hole in the table for!

After a few too many Vodka's and Port's we watched a movie and I think we went to bed at about 2:00am, I honestly can't remember. I was pretty stressed when I did go back to the van, Shane realised I had accidentally deleted all the photos from the ski boat earlier. I couldn't believe it, I didn't have one photo left of Scarlett's big ride or anything. It is very disappointing. I will have to be more careful in the future.

Troy's sister Kym

Troy's brother-in-law Kym

Scarlett, Cooper, Mitchel and Reilly

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 19. Kangaroo Island to Mypolonga

A day for the birds...

It was a dark and wet morning. The rain drop were heavy, and the clouds looked as though they had set in for the day. (Bugger)

We had so many plans today, but it looked like none of them would eventuate. By the time we climbed out of bed and had the Pajero packed it was already after 10am.

The rain kept falling and it kept getting heavier and heavier.

Buy this stage, we thought it couldn't hurt to see if the Raptor Domain Free Flight show was still going ahead as we were driving past it anyway. We called in and I jumped out to find out what was the go - while Bec and Scarlett stayed nice and dry. As it turned out, they have an undercover area that they still do a slightly modified show in (with very little flying) - but at least it was up close and personal, with lots of hands on.

We all scampered under the cover out of the rain and patiently waited for the show to begin - wrapped under blankets provided by the raptor show people.

First to make an appearance was two orphaned birds - a Currarong and Magpie. These guys are still fairly young and they ended up being quite cheeky and mischievous doing the show. Scarlett wasn't impressed, and kept asking when are the big eagles coming out.....

Next was a cute little guy called "Chip", an Australian Kestrel. He was a beautiful little bird, and we soon discovered that we were lucky to see him - as during a show in the open flight arena the previous week, she was attacked by a wild Sparrow Hawk! She was last seen flying at a great rate of knots over the open fields with the Sparrow Hawk right on his tail. After a couple of hours, and after "Chip" had relaxed a little, he returned to the Raptor Domain a little worse for wear but uninjured.

We were then introduced to "Boo" next, a Boobook Owl (or Mopoke). This little fellow was very wet, and duly shook all the water off his feathers and onto the entranced visitors. Very funny. We were all given a chance to have "Boo" fly onto our hands and both Scarlett and I jumped at the chance.

Soon, "Casper" the Barn Owl made an appearance. He was a beautiful boy who walked around the visitors and jumped from person to person from knee to knee. Bec and Scarlett posed with him while I jumped up and took a photo or two. At the end of the show "Casper" was rewarded with his own form of chocolate - a mouse. It was great to see this little guy polish off the mouse and stand there for the next 5 minutes with a mouse tail hanging out of his mouth! (It reminded me of when we feed our pet Diamond Pythons Willow and Achilles).
Next was a surprise! We were the first group of visitors to be introduced to an orphaned Barn Owlet that still had its baby plumage and looked very cute. It still didn't have a name, so Scarlett raised her hand and suggested "Soren" from the movie 'Guardians of Ga'Hoole'. I think the name might stick, as the keepers were very impressed.
Lastly, we were introduced to "Alex" a 9 year old female Wedge tail Eagle. She was majestic! Unfortunately due to her size, we weren't able to touch or hold her, but we still had the chance to get up close and personal, and watched her finish off some yummy Kangaroo meat.

I found the Raptor Domain to be a very informative and hands on experience. These guys save injured or orphaned birds, and release what is viable back into the wild. I ended buying some 'Hot' Raptor Sauce, as proceeds go into bird rehabilitation.

Although it was a wet day, we were still able to salvage something with the Raptor Show. I can seriously recommend this place to anyone considering visiting Kangaroo Island.

The rest of our visit was cut short due to the rain - as it only got heavier. Bec rang the ferry people and changed our return ticket. It was now a 'controlled' mad dash back to Penneshaw to catch the ferry.

The say theferry ride itself was a 'little rough' is an understatement, as the seas were a little sloppy and all over the place. Bec and Scarlett were both feeling a 'little' seasick, and were very relieved to finally reach land again.

As it was still raining, we decided to head up to the southern outskirts of Adelaide and visit the Horndale Winery that had been highly recommended by John and Ann Palmer, the parents of our close friends Damion and Kristy who live on the Gold Coast. This was an excellent detour, as Bec 'enjoyed' tasting all the different ports available. Phil - our proprietor, was an expert on wine and port selection. When he found out that John and Ann had highly recommended them, he was very accommodating and a wealth of knowledge. we were going to buy a 'small' 5 ltr Baltic Barrel of Tawny Port (for caravanning of course), but he insisted we wait as the barrels on the shelf still had not been broken in or aged properly yet. So unfortunately we walked away without a barrel - but Bec still bought a bottle! We have their contact details and plan on ordering a barrel in the near future to be delivered somewhere down the track! Mmm...

Rain! It never stopped all day. We then headed back to Myopolonga to where we had left our caravan. ....And went to bed

(and it was still raining!).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 18. Kangaroo Island

 What a Remarkable day

Secret Passage to Beach

Our lovely tranquil sleep-in was cut short by of all things, the local garbage truck. See even out here in paradise, the daily grind still goes on.

We packed up camp as the clouds were rolling in, we were concerned that the tent was going to get wet. It ended up holding out, but we still headed out early and went for another walk down the beach for one last look and photo opportunity. It didn’t disappoint, this place is beautiful; Stokes Bay is by far the most beautiful of all the bays on Kangaroo Island. And the secret passage cave walk to get through to the beach, a real novelty.

As we began our drive around the island our first stop was King George Beach. This beach had the most amazing red lichen (similar to moss) all over the rocks, a photographer’s paradise. We explored the rock pools, and took a million photographs.

King George Beach

We then ventured onto Western River Cove, another picture perfect area and like the last stop we had the whole place to ourselves. To get to this cove we had to drive down into a very steep winding valley, totally worth the thrill ride and we could see why not many people ventured down here.

Western River Cove

Next stop was Flinders Chase National Park Visitor’s Centre to have some lunch, and purchase a national parks pass. This park is home to the famous Admirals Arch and Remarkable Rocks, both part of the reason (other than the wildlife) we came here.

Admirals Arch is home to hundreds of New Zealand fur seals, they are everywhere. There were mothers with pups; juveniles play fighting, huge older seals asleep everywhere in the sun, and more playing in the water. The actual arch was down a long stairway and is a huge natural wonder cut out of the side of th cliff by water erosion, providing a great sheltered breeding area for the seals.

Admirals Arch

While walking out to another lookout at the Arch, Scarlett nearly trod on a Tiger snake. I knew they were very common in this area, so walking along I was always keeping a lookout along the edge of the path. Poor little bugger I nearly broke her arm pulling her backwards in mid air just as her foot was about to come down on him. She quickly forgot the pain in her arm and turned from crying to excitement, and wanting to take a closer look at him. On the way back from the lookout, we were able to find him again not far from the path, slowly cruising for lunch.

Tiger Snake

The beautiful sculptures of the Remarkable Rocks did not disappoint either, they really are actually quite ‘remarkable’. They look so out of place, yet blend in beautifully. There are so many colours and shapes, and they seem to be poised so delicately here that a small wind might just blow them all off. We had a great time posing for photos and finding shapes in the rocks, we could have stayed here for hours. The rocks are so smooth, I don’t know if this is from natural erosion or the fact everyone who visits can’t help as they walk around running their hands all over them, I know we did.

The Remarkable Rocks

Next on the list today was a guided walk through the Kelly Hills Caves. On the way to the cave entrance we spotted an echidna, he was huge, and so busy digging for ants so we were able to walk right up to him. We were the only people on this tour so the ranger let Scarlett hold one of his torches, and pretty much let her walk us where ever she wanted to. These underground wonders were discovered in the 1920’s and there is still more paths being opened up and explored today. The photo’s here don’t do the experience justice, it was really beautiful inside.

Kelly Hill Caves

When we came out of the caves the clouds had really rolled in and rain drops were starting to fall, so we decided to ditch the tent and booked in at the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat, located at the entrance to the park and very eco-friendly. Scarlett purchased some kangaroo food and laid a path through the motel and right up onto our veranda. Within half an hour she had three small wallabies feeding out of her hand right at our door. All the overseas tourists wanted to take photos of her - too funny.

Mother and Baby Brushtail Possum

This evening Shane booked us in at Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary for a nocturnal tour. We saw heaps of wallabies, kangaroo’s, koala’s, and ringtail/brushtail possums. Most of the wildlife we have seen many
times before, but it was still entertaining for Scarlett and good support for the sanctuary. Scarlett was to tired from this huge day she was asleep before we even got out of the sanctuary’s drive way. A huge day for us all.