The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Thursday, November 12, 2015

South Australia and the Outback

It has been harder and harder to find internet as Jessica and I drove through the state called South Australia and on up into the "Outback".  There is a huge difference between the coast line of south Australia and the dry interior. Along the coast, the waves have eroded out beautiful sea caves, arches and stacks.

South Australia is a marvelous area for motorcycle riders. I have seen hundreds out on the highway. I am a little jealous that I passed up riding David's BMW K75 on this trip, but the rain and all the gear we have with us would have made it difficult.

The towns are very motorcycle friendly, and I have seen all makes and models, including my beloved Suzuki VStrom.

This is a marvelous opportunity for a biologists like me to see the Australian wildlife up close and personal. Jessica is proving herself very adept at spotting creatures, including these wild koalas up in the trees along a mountain road.

And many varieties of kangaroo: red, grey, white, black, swamp, tree --- They come in all different sizes and colors, and this time of the year many of them have their baby "Joeys" filling mama's pouch almost to bursting. Time to get out and be on your own youngster!

A fence or a steep cliff does not bother an adult kangaroo. They jump right over high fences in a single bound -- Look, it's superkangaroo! Talking about super animals, check out these giant emus. At six foot tall and able to run as fast as a horse, a fence is not much of an obstacle to them either.

We started seeing the emus as we left the coast and headed up into the grassy interior. There were a lot of them. It is the daddy emu who takes care of the babies in the flock. I think he must have his hands full when there are 6 or 7 chicks, but they do seem well behaved.

Jessica, my tour guide, has us going to far and out-of-the-way places. One of these places was to look at aboriginal art work. The site was far off the highway, and, arriving just before dark, we decided to camp. We were the only ones in the area, It was eerie and quiet. Not long after it was fully dark we started hearing strange noises all around us. Our flashlights showed us that we were surrounded by cute Australian Opossums.

Not at all shy, the opossums wanted into our picnic basket in the worst way. You could walk right up to them while they tried to eat our food.

The aboriginal art we came to see was not very impressive, but I think it was not meant to be. Instead, it told stories about men and women, and it counted the young people who had come to the ceremony to be initiated into adulthood.

In many cases, the aboriginal people did their ceremonies up narrow canyons.

Sometimes there were waterfalls and streams in the canyons.

Often, in our drives through the Outback, the road was very bad, and sometimes it would go through streams.

But more often than not the roads in the Outback were hot and dry.

There are a lot of feral goats back in them thar hills. Large and robust, they seem to thrive on the scanty grass and thorny shrubs.

There are also many, many lizards. Many I don't recognize, but I do know these small skinks. There are some just about like this one living in my woodpile at home in Illinois.

We have to be careful driving in the outback. The towns are  tiny and few and far between, and it would be very easy to run out of gas before you got to the next filling station.

Mostly, the roads we have been traveling have been paved. We normally stay at the town's hotel, often sleeping up over the noisy bar where Road Train drivers and local people meet and celebrate long into the night. Last night, for example, our hotel did not have potable water and the lights were powered by a generator. They laughed when we asked if they had internet. Still, the people have been friendly and outgoing and altogether great representatives of this marvelous country. Our trip is almost over. We will be back in Brisbane in a day or so, and we fly home a couple of days later. It has been a great little vacation, one I am glad I got to enjoy with my daughter.ex

Next spring, I ride my motorcycle again, going to Portugal, Morocco and Spain. Jessica might go along and ride double on my VStrom. I hope you will come join me in April.


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