Australia Tour 2013/14
No Escape from Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island. Beloved of Sir Ian Botham and Posh Margaret - not staying together, of course - and an obvious choice for a day out for Walt, Christine, Thomas and myself on our return to Adelaide.
Disaster has never been far away on this tour and this trip would prove to be no exception.
At first, there were no signs of the privations and horrors in store for us. Together with a large coach load of international tourists, we took the hour long Sealink ferry journey from Cape Jervis and traversed the island, seeing koalas, kangaroos, sea lions and the like.
The previous night had been extremely hot - in the order of 43% - and none of us had slept too well. In preparation for another day in the baking sun we had travelled light , without any warm clothing, and in my case without my wallet, credit card and phone - as mobile reception on the island is virtually non-existent unless with Telstra network.
We had our first foretaste of doom when the wind picked up during the middle of the afternoon, the temperature dropped by thirty degrees, and our driver casually announced over the intercom that:
" By the way folks, the return ferry might not be sailing tonight due to the weather conditions."
Well you know what? The driver proved to be dead right.
After hanging around in our coach at the airstrip for an eternity we saw a small aircraft getting ready to take off, and as the weather worsened this began to resemble the last German plane out of Stalingrad. A party of Italians, who had flights to catch out of Adelaide next morning, begged and haggled to be allowed to fly off the island, but were told this would cost them an additional $300 - each! Cue lots of Italian swearwords, and others such as 'infamia', which I knew.
Our very helpful Sealink driver was joined by another very helpful Sealink driver from a different coach who boarded our vehicle to deal with the troublesome, complaining Italians.
He had a great line in customer service:
" Well thats not our problem. Thats your problem."
We had assumed that Sealink would make sure that we were all safely accommodated for the night and by golly, what a great job they made of this.
After all, the whole world knows how sympathetic the Australians are in dealing with boat refugees!
At seven-thirty, our coach pulled up in a desolate and deserted village called Kingscote, which resembled a settlement on Antarctica, and we were all dropped off outside the Island Resort motel.
We were then informed that we would have to stand the cost of our unscheduled stay ourselves - an eye watering $120 per room, or in our case $175 for a family room for the four of us. Needless to say these rates were about double what the experience was worth.
More good news was provided by Sealink in that they would pick us up at 3.50am in the morning even though there was no certainty that the ferry would sail then either.
The motel manager seemed pleased to see an extra 30 guests at short notice, and as he rubbed his hands and processed credit card payments using an old Access card slide processor he told us he had only been there for five weeks. Previously to this, the motel had been subject to a foreclosure by the bank, and the owners had raped it of anything movable before the bailiffs arrived.
Clearly, we were going to have an enjoyable and comfortable night on Kangaroo Island.
After reluctantly paying up and checking the facilities in our room - which didn't take long - we wandered out through downtown Kingscote to try and find something to eat. A garage, an amusement arcade a la Rhyl circa 1970, and finally - a fish and chip shop, where we all 'dined'. No pub or bar anywhere. What a dump!
Quickly we returned to our room and as the wind rattled the roof and windows like a scene from 'Key Largo' we turned on the TV. Our feelings of isolation and captivity were greatly eased by the Friday film on Channel 9 - 'The Shawshank Redemption'.
Given our early start the next morning, the TV was switched off at ten and we tried to get some sleep. Christine had set the alarm at 3am to allow her 'time to get ready' in the morning - ready for just what was never made clear - but she need not have worried. We had a very conscientious clock alarm which insisted on making three high-pitched bleeping noises every ten seconds so as to ensure no sleep would be possible. How we resisted pulverising this clock alarm, I will never know.
We rose at 3am, Christine and Thomas with 'Oor Wullie' hairstyles - sometimes a shaven head does come in handy - and ventured out into the wind and lashing rain for our coach pick up, which mercifully, was on time. The Italians were quiet and subdued, having now surrendered to the inevitabity of our collective fate,
A five-thirty am ferry departure followed and whilst Thomas ate a hearty breakfast of jelly beans, Walt and myself went to the ship's bar for coffee, which we obtained free of charge after teaching the Sealink lady behind the counter some choice words of northern English industrial language.
Our pickup was waiting at Cape Jervis and thankfully the driver must have had other things to do on Saturday, as he drove us like a maniac possessed back to Adelaide.
What is the worst day trip you have ever been on?