Trip 35 -- Kangaroo Island and Singapore Walks
Kangaroo Island day 7: Karatta to Vivonne Bay
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Yesterday: 46199 steps/36.21 km/22.50 mi/6h 38m
Total: 328511 steps/256.78 km/159.56 mi/46h 49m
It was the galahs that woke me yesterday, hissing as they chased each other across the Western KI Caravan Park. I stepped out onto my porch and emptied accumulated gravel from my shoes, startling a wallaby. It slunk over to the next campsite as if to say, "What'd you do that for?"
Kangaroo Island assigns its building numbers based on their positions on the roads on which they are situated, with increments of 100 for every kilometer. The caravan park's address was 7928 South Coast Road, and the Vivonne Bay General Store, where I could have lunch and pick up provisions for dinner, stood at 4417 South Coast Road. I didn't need Google Maps for this one; I just had to follow the road for 35.11 kilometers.
Once more a cool, overcast day. It was the first walking day that started with a descent, so I built up some momentum. The bare-branched trees in stark whites and blacks suggested winter, but it was the aftermath of the bushfires from 2019-2020. The bushes and shrubs were recovering nicely, and it was the last day of what Australians call summer.
I plodded along, following the road's gentle ups and downs and curves. For a coast road, it wasn't very near the coast; it was about five kilometers away. Rough tracks led from the South Coast Road to the shore, through private property; I wonder whether permission to use them is as easy to obtain now as when Father Kelly did so 50 years ago.
Except for the birds, this stretch was notably short on wildlife; I saw no kangaroos, and the few goannas were of the roadkill variety, sometimes making themselves known in advance via the aroma of decay. Maybe two-thirds of the way through the journey I caught a sheep staring at me from a distant paddock.
"Hi, there," I said, waving.
The Vivonne Bay General Store was busy; it's the only place around to buy anything. Its cafe is known for its whiting burgers. I ordered one and some fries and took a seat outside, where there were two seated parties including two slender dogs. As I waited for the food, they all departed, and I moved inside and claimed the last unoccupied table.
The sandwich was fantastic, but I wouldn't call it a burger, which I think implies some kind of patty. Someone once asked me what my favorite burger was, and I mentioned the Ethiopian dish called kitfo: raw ground beef marinated in clarified butter and served with a kind of feta-like cheese over spongy bread. It has all the main ingredients of a burger and you eat it all together. But she argued, "It's not in the spirit of a burger."
I don't think this whiting burger was, either. It had bread and fish, but it was a breaded fish fillet with sliced cucumber and tomato and greens inside a Turkish roll. Wonderfully tasty -- even the mayonnaise wasn't too offensive -- but no more a burger than a French dip is.
This general store didn't seem as well-stocked as the one at the caravan park, but I picked up pork chops, mushrooms, a sweet potato, a tomato, and a cucumber for dinner. The store was missing cheese -- that was the biggest issue. I had some left over, but cheese was one of those easy-to-carry, easy-to-snack-on foods that I didn't want to be left without.
I still had over a kilometer to go into Vivonne Bay proper, where I was booked into Kangastay, a rustic, well-appointed house with a lovely porch. It was still a few minutes' walk from the water, and I dropped my things off and continued...uphill.
Vivonne Bay is unusual in that the road that runs along the shore is higher than the neighborhood of streets just inland, so very few people have a view of the water unless they've built their homes upward a couple of stories. This gives the place a kind of end-of-the-earth feeling, and you feel like you have the place to yourself even though there's a whole community. I smelled and heard the shore long before I reached it. The waves rolled in five or six layers, like rice terraces, and at the western end of the beach's broad horseshoe were crayfish and abalone boats.
It was chilly after sunset, a good night for cooking pork chops and watching silly Australian television: first "Married at First Sight," a reality show that follows groups of newlyweds through their antics and gossip (sort of a "90-Day Fiancé" in which all the couples know each other), and then "The Hundred with Andy Lee," in which panelists try to guess how 100 Australians will answer questions about their behaviors.
And so I learned that, at least based on the 100 Zoom-participating representatives of the general Australian population, 92 percent of Australians think it's rude to snap one's fingers to get a server's attention, 46 percent think it's rude for guests to arrive 15 minutes early for dinner (one panelist doesn't mind, because she puts them to work making up the cheese plate), 17 percent of workers think they're smarter than their bosses (the panelists and I all thought it would be much higher), 3 percent have paid someone hush money, 35 percent have been drunk at work, and only 15 percent sleep through the night.
Maybe they just need to walk more along the South Coast Road. I was out by 10:30 and didn't wake up for nine hours.
Go on to Kangaroo Island day 8