Monday, December 17, 2007

DAY 73: Apollo Bay to Kennett River

Mon 17th December 2007
23 km @ 16.8 km/hr
Cloudy and warm
Distance to date 4831 km (3019 miles)

Lazy start, but not far to go today - 2 people have recommended
Kennett River and I like the sound of it. Before leaving AB I did an
hour on the internet over latte and cherry chocolate slice, then to KB
by lunchtime. It was a beautiful but short ride along the winding
coastal road, with the surf pounding in my ears much of the time. Lots
of little white sandy beaches, all deserted.
The CP looked nice too - until I learnt it was $24! "Is that a lot?"
said the caretaker manager. Yes I replied, having paid only 10
yesterday "I'll give you a discount then" saith he. Good said I, but
it was only 10% so still $21.50, then he also threw in a packet of
food to feed the birds, $1.50, so it cost me $20 in effect - still
dear. I liked the look of the place though and it did prove to be a
very interesting location. And they also had free WiFi which was cool.
After setting up I went for a walk along the beach, stepping carefully
barefoot across the hot sand and rocks, then had some lunch at the Koala Cove cafe adjacent to the CP. One reason this place was
recommended is due to the large number of wild koalas here, and I
could see one right away in a tree near to the main road. Then another
one was scampering across the CP faster than I thought they could
move, and this one was some size.
I had an amusing encounter just after this at the shower block. I came
out of the gents and there was a young lady outside pulling up her
jeans just as I came around the corner - there was no way I could
avoid getting an eyeful of her evident posterior charms! I said "oops,
didn't know you were there!" And she laughed it off saying "Sorry!! -
and me with me arse stuck up in the air too! To which I replied, "oh,
that's quite OK!" or something! He he....
After lunch I set off along a path up the Kennett River with
binoculars and camera, and sure enough I saw quite a few koalas once I
"got my eye in".
The secret is to find the right tree, because they only like certain
types of eucalyptus leaf - the Manna Gum as it is known here is a
favourite. These can be recognised by longish silvery leaves that
twinkle when you look up at them in sunlight, and the tree usually has
no bark. Also, you can often see where the little beggars have
stripped quite a few trees of most of their leaves. It was good to see
that the locals are planting new Manna Gums, presumably to attract
more KB's.
The path wound around the river through dense greenery while the river
tinkled and burbled along over the stones. You'll gather that this
area is not as dry as many of the places I've passed through up to
now. A lone Kookaburra stopped his hyena-like laughter to quietly
observe my passage, and two families of (Pacific) Black Ducks made
sure I didn't get too close to their young families - one had 9
ducklings all zig-zagging along on their tiny legs. Shoals of small
fish shot away as I approached the river. I scanned the trees for
little furry balls of bear - and for the most part the koalas I saw
were at siesta in the warmth of the afternoon, propped into a fork in
the tree. All was tranquil except for the odd Kookaburra or parrot
cackling. I stopped frequently to listen and watch, knowing there was
no hurry, I have all day. The path ended after about 2km but I carried
on for a while, scrambling along the river's smoother scattered
boulders. I was told by the caretaker later that the path is the work
of one old man in the community who keeps it in good order as a labour
of love; what would happen if he didn't do this, who knows. It's a
shame it's not used more, I didn't see anyone else there.
When I got back to the tent I gave the bird food a try, and lo and
behold within minutes this gorgeous bird was eating out of my hand! I
was told this is a King Parrot, a beautiful green, red and blue (see
pic), and it was not at all afraid, except when I gently tried to get
hold of it whereby it rightfully asserted itself and gently pecked me,
but it still didn't fly away. It was sat on my wrist eating the food
out of the paper bag. I supposed you could say it is becoming tame by
being fed - is that a good thing or not?
I spent some of the evening using the free wireless internet - well, it's free!