Welcome to the final part in my Australian Adventure. I hope you're sitting comfortably.
In case you missed them, part one and part two are there if you want them.
We both loved Adelaide. It’s built around a river, rather than a port, like Melbourne and Sydney are. It’s also much more planned than the other two large cities we’d visited. There was a shopping area – Rundle Mall – which I loved, as Muriel’s mum mentions it in Muriel’s wedding. (I know this is, odd and a bit sad, but it made me happy, so I went with it) There was an area of boutique shops and cafes that sold amazing cakes and iced chocolates. There was a bars and clubs area. And there was a restaurants area too. All neatly laid out, in a grid pattern, with loads and loads of park and green space between it. It was like a cross between those towns you see in western films, the Victorian architecture seemed to have remained largely untouched, unlike in Sydney and Melbourne where quite a bit of it had been pulled down to make way for larger glitzier tower blocks, and a new town in England planned in the 1920s. Adelaide didn’t really have any high rise buildings. I ‘discovered’ Target and they had a sale on, so bought some shirts and T shirts for very little.
The botanical gardens were so interesting, and a welcome respite from the heat. I sat in 30C in the shade and the sweat poured off me. Coming from a country where a day of sun and temperatures above 27C results in traffic jams as everyone clamours to get to the beach, I think it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Much above 32C and it becomes hard to do anything really. And at 42C it’s dangerous to be outside. The guided tour of the botanical gardens was cancelled as always when it gets above 35C.
This is an island off the coast from Adelaide. A 21/2 hour coach trip to the coast, then a 40min ferry ride and you’re on Kangaroo Island (KI as it’s called). The total population of the island is 4200, there’s no public transport or taxis on the island, and many of the roads aren’t sealed, so they’re basically dirt tracks. We weren’t picking up the hire car until the day after we arrived, we thought walking the suitcases the 0.8 miles from the ferry terminal to the house would be fine. Big mistake. Huge. After dragging our bags for a while the BF left his bag and tried to scout ahead to find our rental house. I slowly wheeled our bags until a car stopped alongside and offered me a lift. ‘It’s really hot for you to be doing that, come on, put your stuff in and we’ll give you a lift,’ said the smiling Australian woman, her husband driving next to her, and their son in the back staring at a Gameboy/whatever they’re called nowadays. My London safety antenna pricked up, thinking, is this going to be like that film, Wrong Turn, where they drive me to a log cabin in the woods and that’s the last anyone ever hears of me? I said I’d be fine, but she was very persuasive, and friendly. I thought if they are psychopaths, they’re a family of them, including the little boy, so that’s probably quite unlikely.
They drove me to the house, where we met the BF, unloaded the bags, wished us luck, and said, ‘Kangaroo Island is the sort of place that reveals itself to you slowly. Hope you enjoy it,’ And they were gone, in their big 4x4 car.
The house had a sea view balcony, the sea was 200 yards away. Having been in small hotel rooms for the last few nights, it was wonderful to have a three bedroom house all to ourselves. And more importantly to have a washing machine to wash our clothes in, having been managing by washing things in the sink and drying them over a chair since Sydney.
On the BF’s birthday we drove to Seal Bay where we saw camels...no, of course we didn’t, we saw sea lions on a protected beach they return to year after year. Their dexterity on the land was amazing to see from such close quarters. We drove into Flinders chase national park to see the Remarkable Rocks which are just what their name suggests. Then onto Admiral’s Arch, where a large colony of New Zealand fur seals makes their home. They were 100 yards from us, doing their thing, swimming, basking in the sun, fighting, playing. We stopped at a wildlife sanctuary and saw kangaroos very close and koalas with their babies sleeping in the trees. It wasn’t a zoo, the animals were free to leave, they just generally chose to stay as the trees and fields were just what the koalas and kangaroos wanted. We also saw an echidna on the floor of the forest. An echidna is one of only 3 mammals that lays eggs. It’s like a hedgehog, with a beak and claws. Pretty amazing.
The hire car’s insurance wasn’t valid after sunset and before sunrise, because of the large amount of wildlife on the roads at night it’s not advised to drive then. We drove slowly on the un-sealed roads as per their advice, but I did wonder if perhaps a Ford Fiesta automatic wasn’t quite the best car to have for hire on an island with those roads. But hey ho.
The ferry back to the mainland was very rough. I just about kept a lid on it all, by staring resolutely at the horizon and sipping my hot sweet tea. No reading occurred on that crossing.
Adelaide has one main train station called Adelaide Railway Station, which shows how much smaller it is than Sydney or Melbourne. I liked this country town charm to Adelaide. Imagine London having a ‘London Railway Station’!
The final day of the holiday was spent in Semaphore, a seaside bit of Adelaide with a long pier with two very greedy pelicans who kept stealing fish from the people who were fishing. It didn’t have any developments or shops along the seafront, which gave it a rural unspoilt feel. The shops and restaurants were on Semaphore road which ran from the train station to the beach. It had a laid back charm. We ate in a Swedish cafe (meatballs, mashed potatoes, lingunberry jam and gravy, what else) and read at the end of the long pier.
Had a look around Port Adelaide, which had the city been built around the sea, not the river, would have been the city centre, rather than a quiet suburb.
And then it was time to pack, eat and book a taxi for the airport.
Too tired to write much. However, I came home with 87 hand written A5 pages of my current story – The Other Man which I’m pleased with. That’s about 20,000 words in old money.
I savagely read one of my guilty pleasure doorstopper glitzy books, which suitably distracted me from the horror of flying. I also, unlike the journey to Oz, managed to sleep a bit, since we’d been up all day before flying.
38C in a city is not fun. I sat in the shade of the botanic gardens in Adelaide with sweat pouring off me.
The hottest it got was 42C in the outback. I managed a few minutes of that, with a hat on, before running back to the air conditioned car to continue our drive.
I think you can have too much of a good thing, but that’s just me.
If you’re not into cars, feel free to scroll on past this bit. If not, then fasten your seatbelt for a drive through car geekery (see what I did there...)
Because I am a car geek, I enjoy ‘getting to know’, the cars in a country I travel to. For me it’s an integral part of the holiday. Like, how in Morocco they have Renault Clio saloons and Fiat Unos which were made until pretty recently. Anyway, I digress, I like to look at how they differ from in the UK, if they’re the same. What the most popular ones are. I think the cars a country buys in great numbers usually reflects the country itself – the people’s cars if you will. The Citroen 2CV6 for French peasants to drive a basket of eggs over a ploughed field, while a VW Beetle was designed to speed along their autobahns to the state arranged holiday camps, and in the UK we had the Austin Mini.
They seem to have more of a fondness for automatic cars. No idea why, similar to in America. Both countries have much cheaper fuel costs than in the UK, and automatic cars tend to have worse fuel consumption than manual cars. *shrugs*
Lots of Fords and Holdens, and Japanese cars, but very few French, Italian cars and some German cars.
A Holden Barina is sometimes a Vauxhall Corsa, and sometimes it’s a Hyundai.
They didn’t have Ford Fiestas, instead they had Festivas which is a Mazda with a Ford badge on.
They didn’t have Ford Escorts (from 1980 onwards) instead they had the Ford Laser, which is essentially a Mazda 323 with a Ford badge and wheel trims. Who knew Ford owned 25% of Mazda at one point? I didn’t, and I’d have thought if anyone was going to know that, it would have been me. I’m quite disappointed with myself about not knowing this...
They have a lot of Ford Falcons – which are about as big as an average sized studio flat in London. Imagine a Ford Granada from the eighties and nineties then double it. Apparently they were built and designed to withstand the Australian climate and conditions – rough unsealed roads, high temperatures, sudden storms.
Holdens were sometimes Vauxhalls (the Astra, Omega and Vectra) sometimes huge like the Commodore which was their version of the Ford Falcon, Australian made and designed and a definite force to be reckoned with, and sometimes they were a whole different kettle of fish – Holden Nova which was a Toyata Corolla with a different badge
The cost of things
Eating out was cheaper than in London. A revolving restaurant three course meal in the tallest building in Sydney was $70 which is £35. You can easily pay that for a decidedly mediocre two course meal in London, nowhere near a revolving restaurant or a tower.
Cars, used and new were more expensive. A 2001 Holden Barina (this one really was a Vauxhall Corsa) was $3800 (£1900) which in the UK would be less than £500. New cars are about 20% more expensive than in the UK too.
Petrol was between $1.10 a litre to $2.00 a litre (more expensive in the outback than in cities.) Which is about 55p to £1 a litre, so about half price of UK petrol.
Coffees and iced chocolates – my new favourite drink – were $4
So that was my Australian adventure, and sad as it was for it to end, it was lovely to come home, to be back to familiar surroundings. It made me realise how much I like living in the UK.
Have any of you been to Australia? What is your dream holiday destination?
Until next time,
Liam Livings xx