Friday, 29 December 2017
Today we had to steel ourselves for more driving as we needed to visit the bits we missed the day before, plus some beaches and run an errand, starting with a drop-off at the Kingscote Tip!
We pushed on from there to Stokes Bay - it starts out at a nondescript rocky bay. Then you spy a crack in the rocks where you walk through nooks and crannies to get to a lovely hidden beach with a big rock pool..
There were no milkshakes to be had at the café (booo) so we headed south, all the way from the north coast to the south, then stopped at Vivonne Bay for lunch. There were lovely limestone rock features and delicious sandwiches.
After lunch we finally got to Little Sahara dunes which we missed yesterday. Like so many other facilities, it's been upgraded a lot since we were last there - instead of nothing but a car park and a board hire place operating out of a couple of shipping containers, there was a whole building with toilets and waiver forms to sign when you hired your sandboard. It's funny how it seemed like like the island didn't change at all in the previous ten years, with the exception of the Penneshaw shops which have changed owners and menus every time we visit. Then in the last two years so much has happened. We noticed that the Honey Farm and the Island Dairy had also fancied themselves up with new cafes and nicer surroundings since we last visited.
The sandboarding was fun, and delivered the usual sand-shower as you zipped down the giant dunes.
It was hard to get good photos as there was so much sand blowing around but I got a couple.
Then it was time to head home - the weather wasn't quite hot enough to entice us to stop at a beach on the way to wash off all the sand so the shower at home had to suffer all the sand!
Tomorrow we're heading back to the mainland but not before devonshire tea at the local Art Craft and Produce shop - Granny Stirlings.
And one last note - we're driving Jon's mum's Magna sedan around the island (which we are grateful to be able to use), but it is amazing how much petrol it is churning through! We are used to our new Peugeot which got us all the way from Hobart to Adelaide with 150kms worth of diesel left in the tank. In contrast, we've filled up the Magna twice in two days from just driving around the island! Of course this magna is even more efficient than our old magna, it's just that we're used to our new economic vehicle!
We always do a least one long day out when we are here, and today the day wasn't actually long enough to fit in everything we wanted to.
Firstly, we headed down to Flinders Chase National Park -about an hour's drive away. It's been a while since we visited and the visitor centre and everything else around it has been upgraded.
We did a 5k walk to some platypus waterholes but we didn't see any (platypuses, we saw lots of waterholes), possibly due to the fact that Zali had a bad case of the sneeze-burp-hiccups which were so loud, any platypus within a 10k radius would have packed up their things and taken the next ferry back to the mainland for some peace and quiet.
Along the way there were heaps of signboards with information about the regenration of the bush that has happened since the big bushfire in 2007. Perhaps there was too much information as by the time Jon had read them all and we'd completed the hike, it was lunchtime.
After a picnic lunch we headed down to Admirals Arch - I hadn't been there since I was pregnant with Zali, and once again the facilities had been upgraded. The arch was ok - but the big attraction was the hundreds of seals sitting just below the pathway We watched them for ages - big ones and little ones lazing around, arguing, playing in the surf - it was really cool.
Then we headed off to Remarkable Rocks. I must admit that although I saw them back in 2003 I've been poo-pooing them as I didn't think they could really compare to anything the East Coaast of Tassie had to offer, but in fact I must have just forgotten as they were quite remarkable - and the kids were pretty impressed too.
With the rocks done, we had planned to do the Hanson Bay hike together but we didn't have time so Jon dropped me off at the start and I ran the 9k to the end. We walked it last time we were here and I'd been looking forward to doing it again since then.
The start of the Hanson Bay Hike at Kelly Hill Caves has actually become the official end of the new Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail - a 5 day hike that starts at the Flinders Chase visitor's centre.
I love all the xanthorrheas and the way the trail starts in scrubby bush and passes through a whole range of vegetation and terrain before ending up at the beach.
which is where I found these layabouts..
By the time I'd had a swim and we'd packed up it was 5.30 so we had to skip everything else on our to-do list and head home for well deserved fish and chips.
Wednesday, 27 December 2017
On Christmas Eve we went to see the latest Star Wars movie. I wasn't planning to go but I couldn't find an alternative movie that was on at a similar time so in the end I decided to just suffer it rather than stay at home.
We took the precaution of booking in advance as we thought it was likely to be sold out (it was Star Wars afterall) - but it turns out we must be the last people in Adelaide to see this movie..
Not only was the theatre amazingly empty, but the tickets were only $12 - go figure!
And in a final feat of amazement, it turned out that I really enjoyed the movie - yay!
We arrived around lunchtime so there was plenty of time in the afternoon to visit one of the wild beaches on the south side - Pennington Bay...
Then we went to have a swim on the calmer north side on our way home. A lovely start to our 4 nights on K.I.
After a few days in Adelaide for the Christmas feast we're now down on Kangaroo Island relaxing and enjoying the sights. This afternoon I went out for a stroll around the local township - I always enjoy this - I have a regular route which takes in the tiny shopping area - each time we visit nearly all the shops have changed owners or products, there's also the beachfront area to explore, and of course the penguin rookeries.
The weather looks very cold and overcast but it was actually about 29 degrees as I wandered around! One of the beachfront shack owners has this super-fun looking inflatable floating trampoline which I'd never seen the likes of before but it turns out you can get your hands on one for a cool $1000 or so..
It reminds me of the time that someone put a regular backyard trampoline on one of the council pontoons at Sandy Bay Beach.
When I first started coming to the island over15 years ago, Penneshaw had a huge colony of Little penguins which tourists would come from everywhere to see. You could do penguin tours but they could also be spotted almost everywhere and Jon's mum even had a pair setting up home in her front garden one year. Now, largely due to the NZ fur seals, the colony has been decimated and is down to just 6 breeding pairs. I wandered through the old rookery area today and it was a bit like an abandonned country town - with lots of overgrown penguin houses and all the little trails up from the water had been covered in new foliage. The viewing platforms and signage was also in rusted and in a state of disrepair - rather like Jurassic Park would be now..
It was a bit sad but I'm sure there's still hope for the colony.
Earlier in the day (after some bush mechanics involving a damaged muffler and some empty tins of tomatos) we went to get some amazing honey icecream from the honey farm then visited D'Estrees Bay on a southern part of the island we've never been to before. Once again it looks cold but it was really hot!
Jon claims he trained for the swedish orienteering terrain in 1990 by running over seaweed piles like this - so the kids got a head start on their training
As always, it's nice to be back on K.I.
Friday, 22 December 2017
I also grossed them out with severed fingers and eyeballs, On the last day I put in all the remaining the body parts as well as lots of other good stuff and big bag of popcorn to share with their friends.
and so the semester has ended and yet another era has concluded. As the Waimea motto says.. Ever Onwards.
This was Jett and his cousins on his first day at Sandy Bay infant school - when every grade (from Kinder to Grade 2) featured a Fleming/McComb. Look how cute they all were..
And this was Jett yesterday, his last day at Waimea Heights. He’s heading off to Taroona High next year to complete the McComb/Fleming saturation of the grades.
It's also worth mentioning that Jett was so shy he almost didn't say a word in class for the first few years. Nowadays he's outgoing and confident and loves performing on stage. This was his get-up at the end of year class performance - he seems strangely suited to that wig! Denny and I were there to watch him and all the other classes do their Christmas things - making it 3 assemblies in 10 days for me by the time we got to the end of the Leavers Assembly yesterday. Phew.
Sunday, 10 December 2017
While the kids were hiking, Jon and I checked out the upgrades to the trail to Cape Raoul. It's going to be part of the 3 Capes Walk so it is being re-routed and upgraded.
It was really nice. Instead of going straight up and down the lower part of Mt Raoul, there were gentle switchbacks and there were also lots of boarded sections which I always enjoy. The work is obvously still in progress..
but it's looking good. My favourite improvement is the new lookout just near the very end, which allows you to look back at the dolomite columns poking straight out of the water and rising 200metres. Very cool.
On the way back Jon left me to walk up the big hill while he ran ahead to do an extra loop taking in Shipstern Bluff..
and Tunnel Bay..
Then he followed an unmarked track (on the map at least) which wound around some private property and led back to the carpark where I'd been having a nice time waiting on the grass in the sun for an hour or so.
It was a great trip out. My out-and-back was about 15k and Jon's longer circuit was around 23k.
This weekend was the much anticipated kids hiking trip that Zali, Jett, Toby and Miley had been planning and looking forward to for months.
Sending the kids off unsupervised was something Jon and I had taken seriously.
So back in October I ran the proposed route and visited the campground to make sure there was mobile phone reception and access to water. I also checked the vehicle access and I found a place for Jon and I to stay that was just a 20 minute drive away. At home we got the kids to set up & pack up the tents & equipment, and I taught Zali and Miley how to use the cooking stove, then supervised them using it safely to cook noodles and make hot chocolates. We'd gone through basic first aid and snake bite treatments, and what to do in case of emergency. Of course, even with their experience and the training I didn't think they'd have a mistake free trip. In fact I was kind of hoping they'd make some small mistakes they could learn from - like leaving food out for the possums, or leaving their clothes out in the rain - things we would no longer have to nag them about when we hiked together! Unfortunately the lesson they learnt was a much bigger one.
More on that later. Here they are at the start of the hike.
Zali and Jett were carrying fully loaded large packs for the first time ever . Miley was also carrying a serious looking pack while Toby, the only one who hadn’t done an overnight hike before was carrying Jett’s smaller pack. They were both nervous and excited.
The rest of the photos were taken by Zali.
The route wasn’t sign posted, and there is a bit of a network of tracks so Zali told me they had some navigational problems early but after a while were able to relocate confidently and proceed along the planned route. With snack stops of course..
They saw a snake along the way which isn't surprising given the nice weather and terrain.
Arriving at the campsite by the beach they were shocked to discover they were supposed to pay for camping. When I visited I hadn't noticed this at all - thinking back it's because I ran in along the tracks, not along the road which has all the signs. After a flurry of text messages I managed to convince them that no-one would kick them out (there wasn't an on-site ranger anyway) and that they didn't need to worry.
From Zali's photos it looks like they spent a lovely afternoon playing by the beach. It's a super-safe beach as you'd have to walk about 500m out to sea before you got deeper than your waist!
Putting on sunscreen - I"m so proud!!
Their camp setup looked really good..
It was after the card game that they decided to start on dinner. It's also where the photos stop and my worst case scenario came to reality.
From what I've been told, they started up the stove and firstly boiled a few loads of water and poured it into their empty water bottles, so it would be good to drink the next day during their hike out.
Then they boiled more water and poured it into Toby's noodle cup thing. Then, in the act of putting two minute noodles into the next lot of boiling water Zali and Jett overbalanced the cooker (the exact details are a bit hazy but I think Jett was putting noodles into the water while Zali was trying to stabalise the cooker with the tongs she had in her hand) and it tipped up, pouring boiling water onto Miley's nearby sock-clad feet. Unfortunatly at this exact moment, Miley wasn't looking, so the first thing he knew was that his feet felt like they were on fire. He immediately took of his socks and the rest of them poured what cold water they had left onto his feet. Them Miley raced down to the beach and stood in the water.
This is when Jon and I received the phone call from Jett. We'd recently returned to our accomodation after our long run/hike, and I was moments away from starting dinner. We quickly jumped in the cars (we needed to take two so we could get all 4 kids to the hike), and drove out to assess the situation. It was immediately obvious that Miley needed to go to hospital - the skin peeling off both his burnt feet and it looked pretty bad. Miley was really calm while he stood in the ankle deep water but it was incredibly painful if he came out. The others were distraught and quite shaken up so we set about packing up the camp while Jon talked on the phone to various health professionals to get advice on how to transport Miley. We could get him into the car easily enough, but once his feet were out of the water he was suffering a lot. After being advised to wrap his feet in a wet towel Jon headed off to RHH with Miley and Toby, while Zali, Jett and I returned to our accommodaiton at Nubeena to pack up the rest of our stuff then follow them home to Kingston.
Jon tells me that the towel wasn't helping Miley much, and the nurafen I'd given him before he left wasn't making much of a dent in the pain, but luckily Denny had called ahead and somehow convinced the Dunalley Hotel to provide them with a bucket that Jon could pick up on his way past about 30 minutes into the 80 minute journey. Filled with water it made a huge difference for Miley.
Jon met Robin at the Royal Hobart Hospital where he was eventually treated and was able to go home at about midnight. We were all hugely relieved to hear that the burns weren't the worst, and he's going to recover just fine. He won't be able to wear shoes for a while. Thank goodness.
My three biggest concerns for this trip were always a snake-bite, tree-fall, or a cooking accident. In fact earlier in the day I said to Jon that I was looking forward to it being later in the evening as then I wouldn't have to worry about them having any cooking accidents anymore as they were planning on just having cereal for breakfast. We couldn't do anything about a tree-fall (except keep them inside forever), and a snakebite was pretty unlikely. So getting the phonecall from Jett about a completely avoidable accident was the worst. It certainly wasn't the lesson I was hoping they'd learn from this but there's absolutely no doubt that they've learnt from it.
Small decisions lead to big outcomes.
We've talked since about how often it's not one single decision that leads to bad outcomes, it's the combination of small ones. and in this case I'd say it was the combination of the slopey ground (I had told them to cook on FLAT ground), the inherently tippy cooker - it's tall rather than wide, the careless handling - I suspect that as they hadn't had any troubles up until that point, they were perhaps getting a bit blase - as evidenced by the fact that two people were attempting to doing something with it at once (Zali and Jett both feel terrible about what happened), the closeness of Miley's un-shoed feet and of course general inattentiveness all around.
On the other hand I'm thankful for the small decisions I made before they did their hike. If they hadn't had mobile coverage, or we hadn't had a way to get them out without having to walk, or even if we'd camped for free at Fortescue Bay which would have been more than 50 minutes away rather than paying for accommodation much closer, the whole situation would have been much worse.
On the bright side, Miley is going to be ok (giant relief), and I'm confident I no longer need to worry about this as they will never again make the same mistakes when it comes to using that stove. It's still such as shame that trip ended this way as from all accounts (and the photos) they were having a fantastic time up until that point. Jett described it as a rollercoaster ride from having a blast, to feeling very very bad. Despite the trauma they are keen to do another hike which I am happy about.
Hopefully Miley feels the same. :)
Saturday, 18 November 2017
There was something hilarious about the guinea pig judging that we happened across. Maybe it was how the animals were all lined up and pointed towards the judge, quietly waiting their turn to be poked and prodded..
Quite unlike the attitudes of the alpacas who were also being judged as we came past.
The woodchopping was good, and the 'animals made from vegetables' category is always amusing..
Zali and Jett are old enough to drive their own dodgem car now..
and of course the dog highjump was a highlight. Although it was roastingly hot sitting in the sun.
All up it was a good morning out. The only sad part is that it's the first show we've gone to without Jon, as he's in SA for a few more days. Still there's always next year :)
Zali and Jett finishing off their entry into the Novice decorating section of the show..
And this is their reward..
Friday, 17 November 2017
On the hunt for a larger imprint thing I scoured the entire internet and found just one option - there was someone in the Netherlands who made their own imprint mat and sold them. In euros. Via international bank transfer only (no PayPal). Sigh. With no other options I went ahead with a 16 euro purchase and we won’t talk about the shipping. Having said that, I must add that the seller was actually really nice and helpful thoughout the transaction.
To make my knitted-positive I cut the ugly basket up into rows, trimmed them, and lined them up on some wood.
The size of the stitches actually changed from the top of the basket to the bottom, so I tried to adjust for that as I stuck them down. Then I used a silicon-cornflour mixture to make the mat, pressed it down as hard as I could, and left it to dry. The first go wasn’t great (below left), but the second attempt went really well (right). Yay! After many purchases and many months I finally had my knitted-imprint mat - yay me!
Then it was time to test the concept of using it with actual icing to make a jumper pattern and I quickly found out that it was very hard to any sort of pattern, in fact it was going to be impossible to do what I had originally planned. dang.
So I put the whole lot back into the stupid ugly half cut up basket and pushed it to the back of my cake shelves.
It was only last week (some six months later) that I had the strength to pull it all out again and try to create something. Originally it was in order to justify at least some of the hard work (and expense!) that had gone before it - but in the end it was simply quite fun to create something using my hard-won knitting imprint mat.
The funny thing is that there's absolutely no way anyone will look at that cake tomorrow and guess its complicated past!
Thursday, 16 November 2017
I had some extra gingerbread dough and lollies after the gingerbread house, so I suggested to the kids that they make some gingerbread men for themselves and their friends. I was expecting nice happy gingerbread men like this..
but they called him Boring-Man, and went on to make:
Harry Potter Man Gandalf? (I'm not a lord of the rings person)
Angry Paleontologist Man Fat Subway Man
Ski-Jumper Man Stabbed In The Heart and Eyeballs Man
Two Faced Man Contageous Disease Man
Sad Business Man.
I have referred them to child phycologists.
Wednesday, 15 November 2017
This big pile of stationary is not normally how I'd start a baking project. I do occasionally make a sketch, or maybe even grab a reference photo from the internet, but creating reams of recyling isn't a normal thing - but this project has been a bit different. Let me explain..
While perusing the baked goods display at the 2015 Huon Show I thought to myself that it would be fun to enter the gingerbread house competition with a gingerbread house that looked like something in Hobart. And having not entered anything at the show that year I promised myself that I'd create this house and enter it in the 2016 show. Just a few weeks later I came up with the perfect idea - Hobart's Cascade Brewery:
So with the idea in place, and alnost a full year to execute it, I did absolutely nothing further. I arrived at the 2016 Huon Show empty handed.
This year I've had a lot of unexpected free-time, so it seemed like 2017 was a good time to revive my plan. Duly armed with some photos from the internet I started by trying to sketch the front of the brewery onto some graph paper so I would have the basis for the model. This went terribly, and after a few attempts I was ready to shelve the plan for another year. Luckily for me though, after I had abandoned my sketches on the kitchen bench and left the house to do something else, Zali came along and immediately saw the 'pattern' of the building's architecture - she said it was something about thirds. Anyway she drew up a perfectly scaled version for me.
With this hurdle overcome, and my enthusiasm rekindled, I took Zali's template and turned it into a cardboard proof-of-concept..
This helped me iron out some of the structural problems. The Cascade Brewery is really just a massive sandstone facade, with lots of tin-shed looking bits stuck onto the back and sides. I had to simplify the details of the real building and make sure it would be strong enough to stand.
With the overall design sorted out, I decided to draw it up on Sketch-Up, so I could print out accurate guides for cutting the gingerbread. This involved teaching myself how to use the 3d drawing tool - I'd tried it before but given up immediately, but once I got the hang of it it was quite fun..
By the end of that task I had a nice set of printed templates that I stuck onto cardboard and used to cut out the gingerbread. Along the way I also made a new metal cutter to do the windows, and I also like to think that I invented a new technique of doing windows - cutting them out and replacing them with thinner gingerbread - so they are inset. I added on the thin strips of gingerbread to imitate some of the other features of the building. Here's the front of it before it went into the oven. Oh - I also invested in s $3 piece of plastic for pressing in the brickwork - which saved a lot of time and made it quite neat.
I did have a few attempts at cooking the parts as I experimented with other ways of doing things, but by the third time I was ready to commit to baking all the bits..and they turned out well.
The next step was assembling the building, using the time honoured method of tins to hold the sides up while they dried!
I didn't end up using most of the roof bits, as the thickness of the gingerbread (as opposed to paper) made it look and fit a bit funny. It turned out the liquorice straps made much better looking corrugated iron roof anyway. Zali came up with a method for making it look aged.
With the stucture built, it was time to do the funnest stuff - decorate with lollies. It took me a while to settle on a method for doing the road out the front - in the end I sliced up liquorice bullets and laid it like cobblestone..
Then it was time for the finishing details - I came up with a good way to do trees if I do say so myself. Zali invented the mixed lolly hedges. The rest is pretty standard gingerbread house fodder with a few extra details:
like the drunk man out the back..
I hope my efforts are enjoyed by punters on Saturday when Zali and I enter it in the 2017 Huon Show. Regardless of the outcome, it's been a fun if rather frivolous project!
The other day I went for a run on the pipeline track. My favourite spot on the pipeline track is here, where the trail narrows, and this big slab of rock on the right radiates heat and the views suddenly open up all the way to the water:
This particular time it was especially nice as these flowers smelt so strongly it was almost overwhelming. It was lovely.