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Trip 35 -- Kangaroo Island and Singapore Walks

Kangaroo Island day 11: Cape Willoughby to Penneshaw Jetty
Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Yesterday: 33136 steps/26.08 km/16.21 mi/4h 53m
Grand total for Kangaroo Island: 500731 steps/393.18 km/244.31 mi/71h 13m

Before leaving Cape Willoughby, I walked down to the site of the old landing, where a cluster of buildings once supported the infrequent arrival of goods for the lighthouse and its staff. Down here were the original lighthouse keepers' quarters, a hilly ten minutes on foot. A jetty was built sometime later, but there is no trace now even of that.

As I climbed back uphill, there was a wind ensemble of birds, like flutists warming up, a melodic morass of random pitches. Perhaps they weren't random to those for whom they were intended. It was a lovely sound, and I'd heard it all around the island but never matched it to the species. Now I caught the musicians in action, as they sang out from atop branches and rocks.

"Oh, it's you!" I cried out. "My friends the magpies!"

They flew off, only to welcome me back up at the lighthouse as I began the walk back to Penneshaw. "I'm gonna miss you guys," I said. "I'm gonna miss you."

Then there were the ravens: "Cah, cah...aaah."

"I'll miss you too, even though I thought you were mad at me the first day."

A pair of galahs were chasing each other. "Zoop-zoop! Ssss-ssss!"

"Oh, and you're my favorite." Such silly birds with their pink chests, frolicking about in frivolity. If I were a bird, I think I'd want to be a galah.

The black worms were on the road in large numbers, perhaps brought out by the recent rain. But the ones crawling were not as numerous as those fossilized into the gravel by the tires of passing cars. Those could have been a designer's pattern. And the fat, green slugs -- much less abundant but giving little specks of color to those who looked down. And I was frequently looking down, aiming to find the smoothest patch of gravel on which to walk.

There was a steep climb up from Cape Willoughby, and then another one by Antechamber Bay, ten kilometers in. Gray clouds had been some distance away, but they had crept toward me. They teased me for a few minutes, giving me hope, and then they unleashed a windblown rain that pelted me from the side.

But rain never seemed to linger on Kangaroo Island, and in five minutes it had stopped. The winds remained fierce, though.

"You'd better calm down by tonight," I said sternly. The guide who had seen me out from Cape Willoughby had reported a rough ferry crossing the previous night.

Dudley Wines had its vineyards back to the south, but its restaurant and showroom lay just ahead. I arrived just as someone was placing an easel announcing that the kitchen couldn't accommodate any walk-ins. Then she took the sign away. I entered.

She placed the sign again, but I was already in. I inquired about having lunch.

"We've always got our grazing board available," she said. That was an assortment of cheeses, pickles, olives, crackers, and the like. It would have been enough, but she went on. "Officially, the kitchen is fully booked, but for just one person they might be able to sneak in a pizza order if you're interested."

Their prawn-and-salmon pizza caught my eye, and she confirmed that they could make me one. "You can take any table without a number on it," she said.

The main area was reserved, but below was high-top seating at barrel tables, all of which were unoccupied. The view was clear all the way across the Backstairs Passage to the mainland, about 20 kilometers away. In front of me, steep hills converged at the shore, forming a perfect "V." When people weren't eating or drinking, they were hitting golf balls down and across the hill, trying to land them in rowboats placed at intervals.

While I waited for my pizza, the rain came and went again.

I resumed my route along Cape Willoughby Road, eventually taking a shortcut along a rough woodsy track. There were tire marks, but the grass was high, and it would have been difficult passage in a vehicle. I took care not to step on the cow patties. Then I saw the brown cows, maybe 30 or 40 of them, staring me down from across a fence. All at once they took off away from me rapidly in a single file.

A tree was blocking the path. I didn't have to do too much work to go around it, but a notice at the lighthouse had mentioned something about pygmy copperheads and black tiger snakes, so I paid extra attention here.

The path ended at Binneys Track, a proper dirt road, where I turned right. It curved around to the left to follow the coastline. A SeaLink ferry was docked at the jetty: my destination in view!

I passed Bates' Landing, which had served as a departure and arrival point before the jetty was built, and then Frenchman's Rock -- what was the story about the rock, and what had two other visitors told me when I'd been there almost two weeks before? No time to remember now; finish the journey.

Four gulls were marching on the beach, and I followed them toward the jetty. The ferry was just departing (I was booked three hours later, one of only two ferries daily with a coach connection to Adelaide), and I waited for them to raise the vehicle gate before I took the final few steps to my starting point.

I stopped into the Penneshaw supermarket -- how glorious to see food on display again in such abundance! -- and sat outside it with some apple-currant juice, watching 50 or 60 white birds swirl around before landing on a tree across the street. A man told me they were cockatoos, but I have trouble believing it. He also said their sound was annoying, but it was music I knew I wouldn't hear again for a long time.

The winds didn't die down, and the rain started up again. Before we boarded, they prepared us for a choppy crossing, discouraging the consumption of milk and urging people to sit astern if they had delicate stomachs. I've never gotten seasick, but I have an aversion to being thrown around at seas' and winds' whim, so I found a seat in the last row. They had prepared the seat pockets with dozens of vomit bags. Except for a few bumps, however, the crossing wasn't nearly as arduous as I expected. The winding bus ride back to Adelaide wasn't much more comfortable.

Arriving in Adelaide at 10:30, I needed dinner, and what better choice was there than that quintessential late-night plate described to me by my companions at the Enchanted Fig Tree, the AB? Two neighboring places claim to have invented it: the Blue and White Cafe and the North Adelaide Burger Bar (once known as the Red and White). The choice was made for me, with the former having already closed for the night.

"Garlic, tomato, and chilli?" he asked.

"Yes, please." Have to have the full experience, with a combination of lamb and chicken gyro meat.

Rarely have colors in a dish stood out to me so vividly. For all I knew, they had splattered it with the same paint used to cover the walls. Red and white sauces glistened even under a dark sky, mottling the shaved meat below, which was, in turn, oozing its juices onto the blanket of fries. This thing was going to become mushy really fast, and I forked it into my mouth rapidly.

It was the culinary equivalent of power-clashing. Tangy red sauce, goopy white sauce, fatty meat, and potatoes that struggled to support all that weight -- my mouth didn't know what it was supposed to focus on or how to sum everything up. It occurred to me that I might have been the first person to try an AB sober.

The sauce was what overwhelmed it, but without being overdressed in those frightening hues, the dish wouldn't have gotten its name. The genteel explanation is "atomic bomb"; I invite you to research the others.

Go on to Singapore day 1