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Trip 35 -- Kangaroo Island and Singapore Walks

Kangaroo Island day 3: American River to Kingscote
Thursday, February 23, 2023

Today: 46929 steps/36.75 km/22.84 mi/6h 48m
Total: 96204 steps/78.33 km/48.67 mi/13h 44m

This morning it was, presumably, a wallaby that woke me up. It was munching on leaves or grass just outside my bedroom, so close I wasn't sure at first that there wasn't somebody in the house. It wasn't very graceful; sometimes a falling tool or piece of glass increased my suspicion that I had an intruder. Occasionally it made a sighing sound reminiscent of a pan flute. Of course I couldn't see it from inside, and by the time I went outside, again just before sunrise, it was gone.

I looked back toward Strawbridge Point and then began the climb up Redbanks Road. Oystercatchers and magpies were scurrying about, squealing like happy puppies. And a row of birds I didn't recognize were perched on a wire, seeing me off for the day.

A fluffy dog approached me. "Hello!" I said.

Its owner was close behind. "Excuse me, I'm not from around here," I said. "Do you know what birds those are, with pink bellies, up on the telephone wire?"

"Galahs," she said. I still didn't recognize it.

"Can you spell it, please?"

She did. I realized I had encountered the word before; it's a kind of cockatoo.

"Oh, yes, I do know it. Thank you!"

When the galahs weren't looking down from their post, they were flying around rapidly and calling out a "zip-zip" pattern. The sunlight gave their pink chests a vivid, almost neon, quality.

The road leveled off after about 20 minutes, and then there were sheep and a pair of kangaroos. The kangaroos always traveled in pairs, it seemed.

I turned north from Redbanks Road onto Min-Oil Road, which was pleasantly breezy and lined with trees. I tried the radio again. The island's station was coming in fine, but the music was inconsistent. "Don't give up, don't give up, this isn't forever." Not bad for a long walk. "What a beautiful mess, what a beautiful mess I'm in." Catchy, and maybe appropriate. But then came "Are you strong enough to be my man?" with lyrics so predictable that I found myself singing along even though I didn't know the song, and I decided we had veered off course.

I switched to the Adelaide station, finding a new morning program meant to be "a new way to wake up." They were offering kids who register the chance to win a ride to school in a sports car. They called today's winner and his father answered.

His son Noah would be elated, he said. "One of the first books he learned to read was Car magazine."

"Well, that's not a book," Bec, one of the hosts, said.

They got Noah on the phone. Instead of riding the bus tomorrow, he'll be chauffeured in a McLaren.

I tried to think what my equivalent would have been. There was a rail station near my high school for commuter trains coming out of Boston. Let me drive the streetcar into town, or at least let me sit up front with the driver. Then let me accompany the engineer on the commuter train. That would have been exciting.

Min-Oil Road brought me to Nepean Bay and then veered left along the coast. Across the bay I could see Kingscote, Kangaroo Island's main town with a population of about 1800. I'd been walking for a little over two hours; it would take five more to get around the bay.

The sun was getting high, and the shade was gone, so I stopped at a boat launch and pulled out my sunscreen. A couple parked their car -- only about the sixth moving vehicle I'd seen this morning, plus a school bus and a John Deere tractor -- and brought out their large dog, perhaps a labrador, for a walk on the beach. I followed them down and would have been happy to walk along the shore for a while, but I couldn't tell whether there was a way up to the west. Back to the road I went.

If it had been blooming season, and if I could have reliably stayed along the shore, I might have seen delightful colors. Father Kelly's description of the flora reads more like a list of additives to a kind of processed food: "delightful scrub, melaleuca with cream flowers, graceful young sheoaks, banksia, white leucopogon, native bluebell, pink boronia, mauve thomasia, thryptomene, beautiful blue dampiera." But today I had to be satisfied with the greenery.

I rejoined Hog Bay Road, which was now a highway with fast, albeit light, traffic -- a few cars a minute. Wallabies must have been numerous in this area, judging from the roadkill. The walking shoulder wasn't as wide as it had been near Penneshaw, but it was sufficient.

My pace was slower today, each kilometer taking about 11 minutes instead of 10 -- the minutes added up. But I couldn't sustain yesterday's pace two days in a row.

I arrived at the Kangaroo Island Seaside Inn (I kept confusing it with the Kangaroo Island Seafront back in Penneshaw) at about 2:30 -- nearly the same amount of walking time as yesterday, though today's segment was almost three miles shorter. I rested a bit and then checked out the town.

"You'd decided long ago that you'd like to walk around the Island," Father Kelly's guide begins. "So you went over the hill at Reeves Point, just north of Kingscote, a suitable starting point for your walk, since it was a place bristling with historical firsts."

Reeves Point, at the town's extreme north, was where the island's continuous history began. Matthew Flinders may have landed in 1802, but it was the South Australian Company's endeavor to settle a town devoted to whaling and fishing that resulted in the first European settlement on the island -- or anywhere in South Australia -- in 1836.

The industry failed due to bad soil and insufficient water, but structures at Reeves Point remain to remind us of the history: a wooden cross marking the prayer meeting of the original settlers; a tiny brick replica of the 1836 post office; and a mulberry tree planted in 1886 and still healthy and bearing fruit, although its limbs are propped up with support cables.

Up and over Flagstaff Hill is Hope, one of three stone cottages built by the Calnan brothers in the 1850s. It's now a museum of 1860s life and technological developments since; as for the other two cottages, Faith is long gone and Charity is private.

I never got around to a meal until the late afternoon. Kangaroo Island Fresh Seafoods is attached to a gas station, but perhaps that adds to its charm. Among other fried foods, I tried a chiko roll -- sort of like an Australian egg roll but with a thicker filling of cabbage, beans, beef, and other starches -- and crumbed garfish, balancing them with a large garden salad.

It dawned on me that, apart from lunch tomorrow and Saturday, I'll find no restaurants or anywhere to buy food until Monday afternoon, so I stocked up at the Drakes supermarket. I challenged myself to find items that I wouldn't mind carrying for large distances; the best candidates were just-add-water soups, cheese slices, and protein bars, but I threw in a red sports drink as well.

Tomorrow will be an especially long day; whether it's my own body or the wallabies that get me out of bed, it'll have to happen early.

Go on to Kangaroo Island day 4