Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Category: Little Adventures (Page 1 of 4)

Little Adventures #21: March 2024 – THE SKYDIVE.

It’s not often that I get excited when I hit a goal. Usually, I’m already focusing on the next one. Stupid, I know. But this one was a little different. It was a long time coming.

I first heard about skydiving when I was a kid. Instantly, I knew that one day, I’d do it. Heights don’t particularly bother me, and I’ve always had a bit of a thirst for the unknown. Jumping out of a plane was a big tick off my list of Things To Do.

Then, of course, life happened. I had to put my individual goals to the side to focus on bringing up my children and giving them the best start in life I could. Being a single parent to 4 kids is a busy life.

(To be fair, I sneaked in a little bit of travel, with the whole family going to Bali and Thailand, and David15 and I having a quickk junket to Singapore the first Christmas he didn’t stay with the kids’ father. I sent the music kids to the US when they were in secondary school, as well as the trips the school made to The Red Centre and Tassie. I wanted the travel bug to get them.)

Now – it’s finally MY TIME.

I achieved Financial Independence three years ago and retired. I have no ties other than the dogs, as my kids are all independent. I’m so lucky that Georgia29 still lives at home and is likely to stay here for the next 3 years while she finishes her course.

I have 3 years to travel. Georgia29 looks after the dogs and the garden when I’m gone, which saves me thousands of dollars. I’m free to explore.

But not every goal is travel, unless you count jumping from a plane and plummeting to Earth as travel. I asked the kids to club together for my birthday and get me something I really want. Something that wouldn’t clutter up the place and just be forgotten.

I wanted to skydive for my 60th.

Here I am with all the gear on. We’d just finished watching a safety video and I had to race to take my rings off and put them in the locker with my bag. These rings are precious to me… I bought the emerald in Phuket and the sapphires were a 21st present from my parents. Imagine if they whipped off and fell away during the dive? I’d be crying, “Nooooooo!”

People were asking if I was nervous. I can honestly say that there wasn’t an ounce of nervousness in me. I was calm. I was going to do this and I knew I’d enjoy it. I wasn’t excited or jumping around. I was still and certain. I didn’t start to get a bubble of excitement in my stomach until we were driving into the airport.

We drove from Elwood to Moorabbin airport. I’ve driven past here probably thousands of times and never been inside before. We all got into an impossibly small plane and the instructors strapped themselves to us. There were 7 of us doing the jump.

Then up we flew. Up, up, past the clouds and over the top. We were high. Melbourne and the bay were stretched out below us. Then, the instructor closest to the door swung it open, nodded to his passenger and then they almost rolled out the door.

The other couples closest to the door shuffled along and Out! Out! Out!

It was so quick. They definitely don’t give people time to chicken out.

The plane swung around to regain its position. Then it was our turn. I smiled and shuffled toward the open door. I grabbed hold of the loops in front of the harness, as we were told to do.

Then we were out.

And flying.

I couldn’t keep the goofy grin from my face while we were freefalling.

We had around a minute of freefall.

That minute lasted a long time. It was beautiful up there.

The was a peace and serenity that I can’t describe. The wind was whipping past us, but along with the sound of the wind was a high note, just at the edge of my hearing.

The city and the bay were below and there we were, arms outstretched and flying so free. It was only a minute but I feel that it changed something inside me. There’s a pocket of peace and happiness in me that wasn’t there before.

Then there was a tap on my shoulder to tell me to grasp the loops at the front again. Then with a whoosh, we went upwards as the parachute was opened.

The instructor operated the parachute so we whirled and swooped, allowing us to see everything as we slowly descended.

Down there, my friend Alice from work was in her backyard filming one of us coming down. Of course, we’re convinced it was me that she caught!

I was so happy up there. It’s the best feeling.

Then, sadly, we were heading into land on Elwood foreshore. Look at my expression. I wanted it to last for longer, even though it lasted far longer than I expected.

I’ll carry this experience in a small part of me forever.

Look at me with my feet held firmly out. We’re told to land on our bum, and not to lower our ankles or they could be broken. I’m going to Canada and Alaska in 6 weeks. No way I was going to risk ruining that trip!

Deana from England gave me some pink socks and I told her they’d be jumping out of a plane today. Here they are, gracefully making their way back to earth.

The landing.

Hair bedraggled from the wind but so happy – there I was. I’m not sure I have a Bucket List, but if I do, this was one important item ticked off.

If I hadn’t achieved Financial Independence, I would’ve been in a classroom, looking out of the window when the kids were working and dreaming of where else I could be. Most days of my retirement are mundane and contented, just ambling along doing the day-to-day tasks that I need or want to get done. Just days of simple little things.

And then there are days like this.

Dad joke of the day:

Little Adventure #20: March 2024 – The Walking Group.

I have a friend affectionately known as ‘Blogless Sandy.’ She and her husband retired roughly the same time I did, and 3 years ago she did an interview for this blog when they were 2 years in.

Blogless Sandy prefers a more structured retirement timetable than I do. Mondays she walks large dogs for a shelter, she has embraced yoga in a big way, she looks after grandchildren a few times a week, and on Thursdays she has a walking group.

I decided to try it out. I’m motivated to get fit, especially after I heard about the hike that I’m going to be doing in Kings Canyon, which begins with a set of 400 steps known affectionately as ‘Heart Attack Hill.’

These walks are held every Thursday by the Peninsula branch of U3A. This organisation is run by and for retired people. Once you join a branch, you have access to a huge range of classes and activities. Mum and Dad were members of different U3A branches for years. Mum did all of her art, painting and craft things, while Dad learned about all sorts of things, ranging from astronomy to all sorts of different histories, world events and I don’t know what else. They loved it!

Personally, I feel a bit weird joining up. I’m not OLD! Plus I used to do the cleaning for the Mordialloc U3A after every term. (This link is only a month after I started the frogblog. It was interesting going down memory lane, when I was living with Evan11 etc.)

Anyway, this walk was classed as an easy one. It was in Mt Martha, and we wended our way around some housing developments and bushland, with only two hills to deal with.

It was nice. There were 28 people all up on the walk, and everyone was nattering to friends and enjoying the outlooks.

When I was getting dressed to go, I realised that this was the first time I’d worn these runners since London last year. It was also the first time I’d worn ‘proper’ shoes and socks since I had the mole cut from my ankle in January. This will be important info soon…

The walk itself was 8 km.

YES! I WALKED 8 KMS. Amazing.

This shot was taken at an outlook over what is usually a lake. I have no idea what sort of bird this is.

I’ve decided to join the Peninsula U3A branch for a year, for a few reasons.

First of all, it’ll be nice to see Sandy every week and do an activity that’ll make me fitter.

I also want to know more about what’s around the Mornington Peninsula. I’ve lived here at the gateway to the peninsula for 8 years and I’m still clueless about what’s pretty much on my doorstep. When my overseas friends come to stay, I want to be able to take them to beautiful places.

Finally – it might be ok to have some structure in my retirement weeks. If I know that I have to switch the alarm on every Thursday morning (ugh) and I know I’ll be walking for 3 hours or so, THAT’S Thursday taken care of.

The rest of my time can be fluid.

Just the way I like it.

Afterwards, we all sat at a café, where they drank coffee and I drank water from my trusty Antarctica Pee Bottle. I was wanting to be a little bit frugal because of where I was going next…

Mum’s had 3 falls since October, all at home. My sister and I decided that she needs an indoor walker. One light and manoeuverable enough to allow her to move easily around the house and not fall over.

I got her into the car before I told her where and why we were going. She wasn’t all that happy, because I think she doesn’t see herself as the sort of person who needs access to a walker all the time. It’s funny how people see themselves sometimes, isn’t it?

Long story short, she test-drove some walkers and there was only one that she could manage to put the brake on with her arthritic hands. So the choice ended up being easy. My sister’s friend works there so we got 15% off, which was lovely. I bought it, whacked it in the back of the car and delivered Mum and her new steed home.

To be honest, I was expecting a little pushback from Dad, but he was very thankful that I’d bought it. Mum began grumbling a little, but he silenced her by saying, “I would’ve thought you were getting a little tired of lying on the floor, Jill!”

Working for Financial Independence for all those years, I never once thought of how nice it would be to do such a simple thing – buying a walker for Mum. It was just under $400, so it wasn’t going to move the needle at all for me. Yet I think it’ll make a huge difference to her.

As I’m learning how to live a life free from day-to-day money concerns, I’m finding that to be generous is a wonderful thing. I’ve given myself the ability to do this, not only with money but also with my time.

So Thursday was all about getting people walking.

I’m writing this on Saturday. I had to go to the doctor today to get antibiotics as the shoe I was wearing rubbed on the place where I had a mole removed in January. It hurts. Ironic that when I finally decide to look after myself and get a bit fitter, I’m probably going to have to miss the next walk. All because I was looking after myself by getting my moles mapped.

Ah well.

Little Adventures #19: March 2024 – The Gardens of Ripponlea.

Although I grew up in a suburb not too far away from Ripponlea, I’ve never been there. I know…!

The National Trust runs it, and as I’m a member because of my England/Ireland trip, I decided to take advantage of the free entry and get myself over there. It was a beautiful sunny morning and I wanted to get out.

Here’s the information page. It’s worth a quick read as it gives the history of the house. It’s worth it to see how many servants (and children) the family had!

Parking was as hellish as I feared it would be. I was only able to grab a 1 hour park, so I figured I’d just have a wander through some of the gardens, (there are 14 acres, apparently), and I’d do a tour of the house another time.

After going through the gatehouse, triumphantly waving my National Trust card at the woman behind the counter, I set off along the gravel driveway towards the house.

It’s lined by Narnia lamp posts!

After what seemed like a fair trudge, I got to the house. I could just imagine horses and carriages turning in front of the house, and ladies with elegant long dresses stepping out.

Here’s the front entrance. Ornate, isn’t it? I got closer to look at the statues on either side of the door and look!

The one on the right is reading a book. I definitely have to come back on another day and inspect this house.

Looks like there’s a conservatory tacked onto the side of the house.

When viewed from the side, it’s disappointingly small.

I walked around the back of the house, had a quick chat with a gardener, who said, “The dahlia patch is in fine bloom.”

I suppose it was. But gee – all of that staking of the flowers!

They’re undeniably pretty, but too much upkeep for me.

Behind the dahlias, I saw one of the things I was keen to see – the fernery. Alice, one of my friends from work, was proposed to here a few years ago.

I set off towards it, though my hopes of getting a proposal in there were very low.

Then, just before I left the back of the house, I turned around to see this:

Simple, but very pretty. Imagine living here and seeing this out of the window every day?

The fernery was a place where I could have stayed longer. It was lovely.

It has lots of winding paths, with the lush green of the ferns and other plants all around. I chose the left path and set off.

This massive bird’s nest fern made me feel guilty about the poor little one that I’ve got at home. I planted it under a tree fern, thinking it’d get enough shade, but it’s struggling. This one looks really happy.

The reason for all the lush greenery is that they’ve got a little creek running through the place. This is where there’s a bridge to let the water run under the path.


The roof is open. It’s just slats, which I wouldn’t have thought would give enough shade, especially in summer.

But the ferns were proving me wrong.

After a look at the time on my phone, I decided to exit and found myself near the lake. There were lots of happy ducks, along with some VERY happy arum lilies. Again, I thought guiltily about the patch of arums I have at home.

I made a mental note to give them water more often.

Pretty, isn’t it? I waited for two groups of people to finish taking photos of themselves on the bridge.

Huh. Such a touristy thing to do!

You’d never see ME doing any such thing in my home town!

Anyway, here’s what I was looking at.

The ducks were busily feeding.

I absolutely love it when they duck-dive!

Look at his little legs all splayed out.

I walked to the left of the lake, towards a lookout tower I could see.

I have a goal to do more exercise every day, before I get to ‘Heart Attack Hill’ on the Ghan tour I’m doing in September. This was it for today.

Getting closer!

There we go! The stairs!

I thought of all the stairs I had to climb in Blarney Castle, back when I was in Ireland. Compared to that, this was a piece of cake!

It was a nice view, up among the trees.

I also saw some train tracks. I didn’t realise that the train was so close here. Maybe next time I could come by train – using my Senior’s card = cheap – and stay here for as long as I want?

With another glance at the time, I knew I had to get back to the car.

The walk back to the gatehouse reminded me of all the walks I’ve done in stately gardens in England with Scott, Deana and Kathleen.

It easily equals them. And to think I grew up only a few suburbs away!

I strolled past the lake.

I saw an enormous aspidistra.

Actually, one of these would look great in the Man Cave. I must track one down.

If you peer between the trees you can see the fence.

I’m nearly there.

And here it is. There’s a small nursery behind here, along with a little café.

I bought myself a little rubber plant as a souvenir and I got 10% off for being a National Trust member.

I saved a whole dollar on that plant. Bargain.

What with England and now here, I’ve more than made up the purchase price of the membership. I’ll be renewing next year.

I thoroughly enjoyed my gallop around Ripponlea. I’ll be coming back one day to spend longer here. Next time, I’ll see the interior of the house.

Dad joke of the day:

Little Adventure #19: January 2024 – Kangaroo Island. (Episode 7.)

After seeing the Kangaroo silo painting, I stopped in at a little café for a coffee. Before I knew it, it was nearly time for my gin-tasting class at the distillery. Wouldn’t want to be late for that!

Originally, I was interested in doing the gin mixing class, but they wouldn’t run it for only one person. Participants end up taking home a bottle of the gin that they designed themselves. What a perfect souvenir! So the gin tasting class was the next-best thing for a single girl to do.

My friends Helen and Rick, who I went to North Korea and China with, love trying new gins. This place is tailor-made for them. I can just see Helen mixing flavours together like a mad scientist.

Look at this… only ONE CHAIR. The gifts that retirement brings keep coming and coming. I had a private masterclass, just for me!

A Spanish girl called Mar was my teacher for this class and she had 9 different drinks for me to try.

I’ve trained all my life for this moment.

As I settled myself on the chair, I could see that there were a few different aromatics for me to try with the different varieties I was going to taste. Some of these were from the extensive herb garden that surrounded the public café. I walked around and had a sticky-beak before the class started.

I had such a good time. The gin-tasting was amazing. There are such delicate flavours between them.

Here are the six that were on the original tasting. I had my mind blown by the very first one, which I ended up buying – the O Gin. As I went further down the line the gins kept tasting better and better. By the time we got to the 3 extra-special drinks at the end, I was having a VERY good time.

So I would’ve bought most of them, but you know I am but one woman with only one liver. I walked away with three bottles and one of them was vodka. I’m definitely not a vodka drinker, but this one was flavoured with such beautiful aromatics that I had to take one with me. I can see it being used sparingly, just a little bit poured over an ice cube…

The other type I bought was the First Harvest Juniper Gin, which is made with juniper and herbs from their garden and it was absolutely delicious.

They’re also in the process of making whiskey. Due to our climate, 3-year-old Australian whiskey tastes like 9-year-old Scotch/Irish whiskey. Interesting – this is something to keep our eyes peeled for.

I would imagine their Mixing class would be excellent, so if you’re ever on Kangaroo Island then definitely do the gin mixing class if you’re a couple or are with a group of friends.

After the class finished, I headed back to the car. Where to go now?

I decided to head off to the lavender farm for lunch.

After driving 20 minutes over rocky, corrugated unmade roads, I arrived at a big shed, and a café surrounded by rows of lavender bushes. Every row was labelled with the name of the variety of lavender.

I went into the shop, where one of the first things I saw was Lavender Gin. I backed away… I’d definitely had enough gin purchases and tipples for one day. I bought some foot moisturiser and a tub of something called ‘sleep balm’ – you put a smidge on each temple and you drift off to sleep like a baby. I can’t report as to how effective it is because I keep forgetting to use it.

I decided to sit here for lunch. I bought a lavender scone with strawberry jam, lavender jelly and cream.

The scone was about as big as my head.

I sat there, people-watching and also enjoying the sparrows and blue wrens that were darting in and out, picking up crumbs. It was cool in the shade.

I was looking around at all the lavender and I thought, ‘This can’t be the lavender farm. It’s too small. They must have another lavender farm or they buy their lavender oil from somewhere else.’

Before I’d ordered lunch, I’d given my phone to them to plug in because I was running low on battery. When I went to collect it, I happened to strike the owner of the place, so I asked her, “Where’s your main farm?”

She said, “This is it!”

I looked at her and said, ” It doesn’t seem to be big enough.”

She laughed and said, “Have you been to Tasmania?” and when I said that I’d just seen pictures of the massive farms there, she went on, “We cut our lavender by hand not by machine like they do. When you upscale and start using machines then you need the massive great amounts of plants.

“We don’t sell anywhere else. Because KI is such a huge tourist place, we don’t need to expand. We harvest our lavender by hand and we make all our products here”, gesturing behind her, “in this kitchen.”

Well of course this is music to my ears! I went back into the shop and bought some more things. I’m happy to support a business like this.

After lunch, I decided to have a look at the Eucalyptus Oil distillery, but to be honest, this was a bit underwhelming. I think I was a bit distilleried out, after Ireland and now here. I bought a cake of dog soap for the little woofs, then decided to make my way home.

Come to think of it – I’d had a very early start to the day. Coupled with the day drinking – I needed a nap.

The next day was an early morning ferry ride back to the mainland and then a full day’s driving. I took the 8:30 ferry and I didn’t get home till 9 PM. Thank goodness for podcasts and audiobooks.

Along the way, I saw a couple of very pretty houses in the same town in South Australia.

I stopped to take these shots, just like when Scott and I were in England.

Hours later, I was driving through Nhill when I saw a sign outside a shop saying “PATCHWORK.” I needed a break anyway, so I stopped the car and went inside.

I selected some fabric to buy – I was running low on reds and purples – and I ended up having the most fantastic conversation with the woman behind the counter. She was like ME! We talked for almost 20 minutes about all the travelling that we’ve done. We swapped recommendations and travel tips. It was fantastic.

Then, on the outskirts of the next town, I came across this.

The Pink Lake.

My friend Helen, you know, the gin-tippler, (haha!) – talked about this place to me a couple of years ago, saying that we should go up there. The pink that you see is SALT. You can harvest the salt.

I didn’t realise that the Pink Lake was on the way to Adelaide because when I went there a couple of years ago, I went via the Great Ocean Road where I met Loretta. A blogmeet is always a good thing.

So if I’d known I was going to be driving straight past here, I would have brought something substantial to scoop the salt into.

But all I had was my faithful coffee mug.

I brought the salt home, spread it out on a dinner plate and let the water evaporate away. It’s now in an empty Vegemite jar in my pantry, as a little reminder of this Little Adventure.

Look at the salt glistening in the sun.

That’s it for this Little Adventure. I had an excellent time on Kangaroo Island and can highly recommend it. It has a lovely blend of beaches, nature, foodie experiences and pure beauty.

It’s nice to find great places so close to home.

Dad joke of the day:

Little Adventure #19: January 2024 – Kangaroo Island. (Episode 6.)

This picture was taken at Stokes Bay at 8:01 in the morning. I woke up that morning at 5:30 and remembered what the guy in the Sculpture Walk told me about the beach. I needed to be at a gin distillery at 11 – no way I was going to miss that! – so I had plenty of time to spare for a drive.

Besides, I thought it might be nice to be on a beach soon after sunrise. I can’t do this at home. The little woofs bark so much as they’re getting ready for a walk that I’d wake the neighbours.

The drive was a little over an hour and I was a bit worried I’d skittle a wallaby, but that didn’t happen. Though I DID see one bounding beside the road as I was coming out of American River, so that was exciting.

The top photo is of the beach that the Sculpture Park guy said that people assume is the real beach. It’s pretty enough, but over to the right, just in front of the cliffs, I saw a yellow sign.

When I got out of the car I met a man coming back from that way. I asked if that was the way to the beach.

“Yeah, yeah,” he said, ” you gotta go over there through the tunnel. It’s a bit hard to know where to go at the moment because there’s no one here . Normally it’s swarming with tourists.”

“Ah, tourists. Hate those guys!” I said.

Then, like the tourist I am, I set off towards the tunnel.

I thought you might like to come through the tunnel with me, so I snapped shots as I went along.

Here was where I took off my sandals.

I’m short.

It was fun squeezing through and under the rocks.

This walk went on for a while…

… but could it be???


This is what I saw as I emerged from the rocks. A secluded stretch of beach.

And not a soul in sight.

I began walking. Slowly, just drinking it all in.

Look at the colours!

I looked back at where I’d emerged from the rocks. Just as I did, the clouds parted and the sun shone.

All I could hear was the waves rolling in.

It suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t know what time it was, so I grabbed my phone and saw that it was 8:01.

If I was still at work, I would be driving along the freeway. I would have been aiming at that time to be at the end of the freeway, ready to turn right onto Warrigal Road. My car wouls be surrounded by hundreds of other cars, their drivers all intent on gettig to work as fast as possible.

Instead, I’m on this beach. By myself, in total peace and quiet.

It’s glorious.

I’m the only one on this beach. It’s crazy. People are driving to work right now, and then there are other people doing things like this.

To be fair, I suppose I couldn’t have been here if I didn’t drive all those years to work. But walking along the sand, watching the waves roll in and the clouds floating along the sky, it made all the frugal sacrifices I made in years gone by absolutely worth it.

I’m glad I played the long game of delayed gratification.

This is a real treat. It’s something really special. I’m really glad I stopped to talk to that guy in the sculpture park otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered coming here. As you know, I can go to the beach near me anytime I want.

I’m glad I came.

I created a memory.

As I was driving back to town towards the gin distillery, I saw a sign and turned off the main drag. Kangaroo Island as its own painted silo!

This angle shows the Glossy Black Cockatoo

… while this fearsome-looking bloke is wholly appropriate to the island.

Next stop – GIN.

Dad joke of the day:

Little Adventure #19: January 2024 – Kangaroo Island. (Episode 5.)

Ok, we’re back on my Little Adventure to Kangaroo Island.

For those who may be new here and are wondering my I’ve used capital letters for ‘Little Adventure’… I decided that after I retired I was going to go somewhere new or do something new every month. When I go on big trips like Antarctica, North Korea or England, then obviously it’s a bigger adventure and they don’t count. But 4 nights in Kangaroo Island?

Little Adventure.

So where was I?

Oh yeah! I jumped in the car, rattled my way along over 20 km of dirt roads and got back on the main road to Penneshaw, which is where the ferry comes in. My goal was to see the sculpture walk, whatever that is.

I forgot to post this photo yesterday. It was on the toilet doors at the Honey Farm. Not exactly the sort of thing that makes you feel warm and fuzzy – tiger snakes are one of the most venomous snakes in the world.

I vowed to walk loudly along the trail in case any of them were hanging around.

As you can see, it’s set out in loops, with a ravine running right through the centre. I picked the left-hand path and set off.

The paths were lined with white rocks that made it easy to see which way you were meant to be going. The sculptures were arranged alongside the paths.

The sculptures range between your traditional types and haikus like this one. Some are made by professional artists and others are by the Kangaroo Island community.

Here’s one where passers-by are encouraged to add something to the nest.

There was no one else around, though I could hear a saw working somewhere in the middle of the area. Other than that, all I could hear were birdsounds.

My footsteps crunched on the path as I walked, casting my eyes around for the next sculpture or poem.

There was a section along the top of the sculpture walk called ‘The Orchid Garden.’ This is only part of it. One of the founding families on the island donated the money for it.

This was my favourite sculpture. It’s a Boobook owl made from forks and spoons. I didn’t take a great photo of it, so I’ve changed it to black and white so you can get a better idea of what it looked like.

He was just up in a tree by the path. If you were looking the wrong way you’d miss him.

I was walking around and I could hear somebody working. As I came around the corner there was a guy there putting together what was obviously going to be the base for another sculpture, so I stopped and talked with him.

And it turns out that the town has clubbed together to raise $35,000 for a 5-metre-tall sculpture representing the island’s pioneering women, the strong women of Kangaroo Island. It’s going to have big skirts that as the wind blows, they will move. It sounds amazing.

They put all this together in grief because one of the women who organised the sculpture park had died in a car smash a couple of years ago. This woman was his wife.

She was instrumental in setting up this whole park.

“I don’t know how many ute-loads of rocks she dragged up here to line the paths,” he said.

This made me blink. I’d never thought of how the rocks would come to be here… I’d just walked along the paths, oblivious. It’s a shame I was too early to see her memorial sculpture. It sounds amazing.

After a while, I asked if there was anything else that I MUST do while I was here.

He told me about a beach at the top of the island called Stokes Bay. I’ve seen it on the maps, but I wasn’t going to go because… well… a beach is a beach is a beach, yes?

“It’s always on the top list of best beaches in Australia,” he said, “and a lot of people drive there. They see a little beach and go, “Ok that’s it,” and then they drive away, but they’re missing out on the actual beach. You’ve gotta go through a tunnel of rocks,” he went on, ” and then you see the beach.”

A beach that you have to go through a tunnel to reach? That sounds intriguing. I thought I might do that tomorrow. Anyway let’s see if I do or not, but it sounded interesting.

This is the first suspension bridge to be built in South Australia for over 100 years. It goes over the ravine that slices the sculpture walk in two. I tell you what – they’ve done a good job with this bridge. It’s sturdy as.

This is the view I could see on the other side of the bridge. Kangaroo Island is a pretty place. But then I had a bit of a thrill…

I was walking quietly along a track, completely forgetting about tiger snakes, when suddenly there was a noise to my right. I turned to see a wallaby crashing through a little tunnel under some shrubs.

Yay! I saw a live kangaroo (or wallaby) on Kangaroo Island.

The same thing happened to me when I went to the Aussie Botanical Gardens at Cranbourne on another Little Adventure. It’s crazy that we can be so close to wild animals and we’d never know it if they didn’t move.

The Sculpture Walk is only 6 years old, so over time it’ll fill up with more artwork. It was a lovely way to kill some time without having to pay for a tour.

Then I decided to take a look at the town. I found a lovely shop where I bought some linen clothing and a wind chime. It sounded beautiful, but when I got home and unpacked it I realised that it was big. Too big to hang from one of the fruit trees. It’s now waiting for Tom32 to come over and drill a screw into the front verandah so I can hang it. I may have been carried away when I bought it…

Anyway, that was all well and good. I had a lovely time buying the clothes and had a great chat with the woman who runs the shop.

After this, I decided to set out to see the other lighthouse on the island, because why not?

I drove for miles, again on unmade roads. After a while I felt like I should turn back, but I then thought, ‘You’ve come this far, Frogdancer! You might as well see it through to the end!’

I finally reached the car park. The lighthouse was poking out from the top of some buildings. I felt a bit thirsty, so I reached over to grab my faithful Antarctica Pee Bottle. The one I had to buy in case I needed to pee when I was out on the ice. I never used it as a receptacle for urine, so when I got home it became my water bottle.

I’ve taken the Antarctica Pee Bottle every day to work, to England, to Ireland. I left it in a shop in England and the woman came running to hand it to me just as I realised I didn’t have it. I left it hanging from a toilet door at Tullamarine airport, was nearly out of the terminal before I noticed I didn’t have it and I retraced my steps for nearly 20 minutes to retrieve it.

That Antarctica Pee Bottle and I have been through a lot together. How could I have been so stupid as to leave it in the shop???

Here it is in happier times, when Jenna’s parents and I were having lunch a few days before in Adelaide.

I grabbed my phone to look for the number of the shop. I tried to call, but there was no reception for calls in this isolated spot. I walked up to the buildings in front of the lighthouse, hoping that there might be a landline or something. It was getting close to 4 PM, when I assumed she’d be shutting up shop for the day.

The very bored man behind the counter said, “You’ve missed the last tour. Feel free to look around at the exhibits, but if you go out the back door there’s a $5.50 charge.”

“What’s out the back door?” I asked.

“You can walk around the base of the lighthouse,” he said.

Well, you and I both know that I wasn’t going to waste that money. I walked around the base of the other lighthouse in the national park only the day before!

I looked at the (dull) photos and decided that my time would be better spent racing back to see if the shop was open. I needed to be reunited with that Pee Bottle. It has so much history attached to it.

I drove. And drove. That road seemed never-ending.

When I got back the shop was shut. Of course it was. I peered through the window at the little table in front of the cash register where I knew I’d left my precious. There was nothing there.

There was a phone call and an email on the front window. I called and left a voice message, then left an email as well. I was really annoyed at myself. I wanted to look at an entirely different part of the island on Wednesday, and instead, I’d have to backtrack to come and get my Antarctica Pee Bottle. Assuming the shop owner hadn’t piffed it in the bin.

I was leaving on Thursday morning…

Then, just as I was trying to find something to write on so I could shove my phone number under the door, a car pulled up next to mine. In it was a Great Dane, a chihuahua and the woman from the shop.


She got out of the car with a dozen eggs in her hand, saying, “Well, its lucky I needed to buy eggs for the dop!”

Ten seconds later my beloved and I were reunited.

Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again!

Before I finish this post, I thought I’d talk about how I’ve been keeping my food and laundry costs down on this holiday. As a Valuist – a person who ruthlessly cuts down on expenses that aren’t important to me in order to be extravagant with the things I truly value – food and laundry is waaaay down the list of things I want to spend money on when I’m on holiday.

Usually, when I travel in Australia I use my holiday club, where every place has a kitchenette at the bare minimum. I’m used to taking a box of groceries with me to save on having to buy expensive meals. With a stovetop and microwave, it’s easy to whip up food when I’m back in the room.

Clearly, I’m not a foodie. I don’t travel specifically to try exotic food… I’m more into the sights and the wildlife a place has to offer. Obviously, you don’t come to a place like Kangaroo Island without trying the seafood, but basically… all I care about is keeping my stomach full without going overboard on price.

I figure that if I buy myself a nice lunch, then who really cares what I eat for the other two meals?

This room I was staying in, even though I used timeshare points, is not part of the timeshare properties. All I had to work with was a mini fridge, 2 teaspoons, 2 cups and a kettle.

I decided I’d have Vita-Weets and vegemite for breakfast, without buying butter. I didn’t want to have to buy 25g of butter to use for 4 breakfasts and then have to throw it away because it wouldn’t keep in the car on the long drive back.

One thing I forgot to think about was cutlery. I didn’t have a knife to spread the vegemite on the crackers. A little quick thinking and the spoon handle became my ‘knife.’

I did bring a plate (because I left for this holiday so early in the morning I ate breakfast as I was driving) and a big coffee mug that fits my Aeropress. A proper coffee first thing in the morning is a must. I brought my Aeropress with me and my morning brew was assured. All in all – the breakfast of champions.

Though I prefer to have butter with my crackers and Vegemite. Still, I can live without it for 4 days.

But what about dinner?

Sandyg from Simple Savings came up with the answer. She and her husband take a jaffle maker with them when they go on holidays. If you’ve had a lovely lunch, you don’t need something spectacular for dinner. A jaffle fills you up, can be cooked in a motel room and is yum.

What’s not to love? All I had to buy was a loaf of bread and a couple of tins to fill the jaffles with. And the amazing thing? I had a brand-new jaffle maker stored in the top shelf of my kitchen.

I was set!

And it worked like a charm. I used to like egg and cheese jaffles, but I couldn’t risk the eggs overflowing and causing a mess. I bought a tin of baked beans and a tin of braised steak and onion (as an experiment. Never had it before.)

The baked beans lasted me three nights. I actually enjoyed eating the jaffles at night while I was watching Australian Survivor. Felt like I was roughing it with the cast.

On the fourth night I used the braised steak and onions. This was NOT a pleasurable experience. Most of them got flushed down the loo. Definitely can not recommend.

One brilliant thing about my room was that I could open a window to let the sea breeze in. I brought three wire coat hangers with me and I was able to manoeuvre them to hang over the curtain rod. I’m so pleased I thought of this, as most places have the type of clothes hangers that can’t be removed from the wardrobe.

Pictured here are my blue linen trousers drying in the breeze. I washed shirts and underwear too, just making sure that I only hung things in the window when the pool area was empty at the end of the day.

Things to include next time I’m staying in a non-holiday club place:

  1. Some basic cutlery and a couple of plates.
  2. Some pegs to make sure things are held securely on the clothes hangers. I was worried things might fall off the hangers and out the window.
  3. An appetising filler for jaffles that isn’t just baked beans. I may not be a foodie but it’s still nice to mix meals up a bit!
  4. My portable battery for my phone. I always forget one thing when I pack, it seems, and this trip was spent keeping an eye on my phone battery.

I have one more day on Kangaroo Island… this holiday is going so fast!

Dad joke of the day:

Little Adventure #19: January 2024 – Kangaroo Island. (Episode 4.)

Today’s first stop was just a few metres from my door. I went to the oyster farm.

I didn’t realise, but the bay that my hotel is on is also where they farm the oysters on the island. When I saw how close it was, of course this was the first stop for the day. There are big advantages to being retired. The only people on my tour were a Danish tourist family and me. Everyone else is back at school/work.

The first stop, after meeting at the oyster café, was to walk across the road to the bay and feed the pelicans. We weren’t given the chance to have a go, and I could see why when one of them tried to swallow our guide’s entire hand in his eagerness to snare the oyster.

Look at those weird eyes! It doesn’t seem that there’s a lot going on behind them…

While we were here, we were directed to look out to the mouth of the bay. There was a dark line along half of the bay opening. These were the oyster cages.

You can’t get fresher oysters. They bring them in from the bay, sort them in the shed directly on the beach, and then bring them across the road to the café.

On our way into the shed, we passed these scrappy-looking trees called She-Oaks. The seeds are a staple food for the island’s endangered Glossy Black Cockies, and the oyster farm also uses them to smoke their oysters.

 This is an intertidal bag which will be filled with baby oysters. They roll around with the tides. A baby oyster takes around 2.5 years to grow big enough to harvest.

They start off with hundreds of tiny baby oysters in bags like this, with small holes, enough to let the sea water in and keep the oysters from falling through. Around twice a year, the bags are hauled up and the growing oysters are decanted into bigger crates with larger holes. as of course the oysters need ready access to seawater to thrive.

Each time, fewer and fewer oysters are put into each crate to allow them enough room to grow. If they’re too crowded, the poor things grow into each other, which would probably feel horrible.

Interestingly, spawning baby oysters swap genders throughout their lives.

There are two types of cages – the deep sea ones which lie on the sea bed and get very little disturbance, and the intertidal ones that get buffeted by the tides every day.

The deep sea oysters develop thin shells and have to be manually graded.

The intertidal oysters, on the other hand, have developed massive thick shells and so can be graded by machine to save time.

Normal oysters can stay in the fridge for 7 – 10 days.

The indigenous variety – the Angasi – only lasts 3 – 5 days. The fridges are run at warmer temperatures than we’re used to, at around 9C. This is because the oysters are still alive and if the temperature is too low they’ll die.

Any that aren’t sold by the end of this time are put back into the sea again.

The Angasi oysters used to be plentiful along the coastal regions of Australia, but of course the white settlers nearly foraged them out of existence. They’re slowly making a comeback, but they’re more delicate than the usual oysters farmed here.

After this, we walked back across the road to the café, where we had a tasting.

The shell on the right is an Angasi shell. It’s a milder taste than the oysters we usually have.

She shucked those oysters right in front of us and we dived in.

Seriously, the best oysters I’ve ever had.

It was almost lunchtime and I saw that the café had marron on the menu. When I was in Adelaide, Jenna’s uncles told me to be sure to try the Kangaroo Island marron. It’s between the size of a crayfish and a yabby and it’s freshwater.

I decided to try one for lunch.

 So good. It was served on a bed of coleslaw, with a slice of garlic bread. The marron was the perfect size for lunch. I enjoyed every bite.

Then I had to decide where to go. The girl behind the counter recommended Clifford’s Honey Farm. There was a different honey farm that allowed you to get all suited up and harvest honey from the bee hives and I definitely would’ve been up for this, but unfortunately they weren’t open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which were all the days I had left.

So Cliffords it was!

This was where I discovered that Kangaroo Island has many, many roads that are completely unmade. You certainly don’t want to be precious about your clean car when coming here! After a sometimes jaw-rattling ride in my trusty Golf, I arrived at the farm.

Apparently, their claim to fame is their Honey ice cream. I decided that dessert for a lunch on holiday is almost obligatory, so I grabbed a sample. It was ok, but seeing as I’m a person who doesn’t like milk or cream, it was a bit too creamy for me. I’m guessing most other people would love it.

They had three different types of honey to try and surprise, surprise! They had all three in a pack to buy.

Which I did.

I don’t use a whole heap of honey in my kitchen but hey. It’s never going to go off, is it? I also bought a bottle of Honey Mead. I have no idea what it tastes like but I figured thousands of Vikings can’t be wrong.

At the back of the shop they had a working hive, with the queen bee marked with a white dot. I looked for ages but couldn’t find her. The hive was open to the outside and it was interesting to see all the bees flying back into the hive.

The following paragraphs are from the Clifford’s Honey Farm leaflet.

Before the 1880’s there were no honeybees on Kangaroo Island. When importations were made between 1881 – 1885, the intention was for them to breed up and provide a future source of purebred queen bees for the beekeeping industry. These bees originated from Italy in the province of Liguria, and are known as Ligurian bees.

In 1885 the South Australian government proclaimed Kangaroo Island to be a bee sanctuary for these bees and no more importations have been made. So today we are believed to have the purest strain of these bees left in the world. The island is out of range of bee flight from the mainland.

There are big signs at the ferry terminus telling people that they can’t bring any honey products onto the island. This is obviously to protect this pure strain of bees.

Here are some handy hints and tips for you. Never say I don’t give you anything.

Fortified by the honey icecream, I decided to take a look at something that I read about on the ferry coming into Kangaroo Island: The Sculpture Walk.

More on this tomorrow…

Dad joke of the day:

Little Adventure #19: January 2024 – Kangaroo Island. (Episode 3.)

The Remarkable Rocks!

Here’s the first time I caught sight of them, as I was walking along the boardwalk from the car park. You can see the people all around them… these babies are HUGE. Even from this far away, they looked interesting.

I’ve lived in Australia all my life and have never heard of these rocks, so I was going in cold. What can I say?

Going to Kangaroo Island is worth it for these rocks alone.

Halfway along the boardwalk I snapped this shot…

… and soon I was scrambling up onto the hilltop and walking around these incredible shapes.

Whoever named these rocks, the “remarkable” rocks knew what they were doing. They’re amazing. Surreal. Stunningly beautiful.

I think it was good that I came without knowing anything about them because they surprised the hell out of me.

Oh! By the way, there are no filters on these photos. These are the actual colours.

The Remarkable Rocks are all the result of erosion. They had these granite lumps on top of the cliff, covered by a whole dome of soft rock. Over aeons, the wind and rain have gradually worn away the soft rock, leaving the granite rocks exposed.

I tried not to include many people in these shots, but here’s one to give you an idea of how big these things are.

Enjoy the rest of the photos!

Just to prove that I was really here.

This was the end of Day 1 of Kangaroo Island.

Already I felt like I’d got my money’s worth!

Dad joke of the day:

Little Adventure #19: January 2024 – Kangaroo Island. (Episode 2.)


My first full day on Kangaroo Island started slowly. I read a few chapters of my book, did some laundry, wrote a blog post and left my room at 11AM, which was far later than I envisaged.

Anyway, I decided to stick with my original plan, which was to go to the farthest end of the island to the National Park and see what there was to see. So I set off in my trusty little Golf.

Turns out that the National Park was a 2-hour drive from where I was staying, so I settled into some lengthy podcast listening. This wasn’t a problem… I let all the episodes of Trevor Noah’s ‘What’s Next?’ bank up and I’ve been listening to them for most of the trip. The conversations are so interesting – I can highly recommend.

As I was driving, mostly on unmade roads with quite a few bumps and potholes in them, I saw a sign for ‘Seal Bay.‘ On a whim, I turned left and drove 10 km or so to reach it. Why not?

They have 2 types of tours. There’s a self-guided one for around $20 that lets you observe the beach from up on a boardwalk, as well as a guided tour for around $40 where you get to go down on the beach for 30 minutes or so.

I nearly cheaped out but I’m really glad I didn’t.

(I included this board below because it has a lot of information on it. I didn’t realise how rare the Australian sealions are.)

Our guide had a couple of rules for us before we set off for the beach. 

  1. Stick together! Seal ions have bad eyesight, so if we stick in a group we look like a big blob, which they’re unlikely to attack.
  2. If the guide says “Move!”, then there’s no hanging around for just one more picture. The sea lions can run much faster on the sand than we can, so a strategic retreat is definitely the way to go.

I was really pleased that I arrived so late, as I saw some groups from a tour bus come back from the beach before we went down, and the groups were huge. Ours was only 8 people.

As we walked down towards the beach, the guide showed us the little rooms that the sea lions make under all of the scrub. 

“They swim out to the Continental Shelf, which is anywhere from 70 – 100 kms away, they stay for a day to hunt, then swim back, avoiding sharks along the way. They’re 3 days away on average, and they’re exhausted when they get back. Unlike seals, which have a double coat, sea lions have a thin coating of hair, like us, so they can get cold. They move up on land to find shelter from the wind.”

They’d need to. It was a beautiful day but the wind was definitely blowing!

“Sometimes, if the weather is really bad, we find them up in the car park!” said the guide.

When the mothers leave the babies to go hunting, the babies are left alone. They’re vulnerable to predators. If a female comes back from hunting and her baby is gone, she won’t adopt an orphaned pup. Instead, she’ll call for her pup from the previous breeding season, who would now be 18 months old. She then feeds that pup again.

“The babies that are fed for 3 years are HUGE!” said the guide.

Predators aren’t the only things that the babies are vulnerable to. The females are fertile for only 24 hours every 18 months – which is usually around a week after they give birth. Pups are sometimes crushed by adults in the throes of passion, particularly the males, who don’t care anything for a random baby that might be in their way.

The path snaked down to the beach. It was a glorious day.

We were headed to a flat platform with two staircases down to the beach, but first we had to walk over a see-through bridge.

“Sometimes some of the pups crawl under the bridge for a snooze,” said the guide. “If you see one, please don’t stand right over the top of it… they’ll get a fright.”

If you look just above the yellow line, you’ll see that a sea lion is blissfully sleeping on the step.

Suddenly the reason why there are TWO sets of steps was obvious!

We walked down to the beach. There were sea lions scattered all over the place.

This video starts on its side but quickly reverts to high-quality viewing.

How lucky are we in this country that we get to experience being in the same place as these animals?

Halfway through, you’ll have to tip the screen to its side. But it’s worth it – this follows the sleeping staircase sea lion as she comes down to the beach. 🙂

This colony has around 800 sea lions, with around 200 pups born each season. There’s a 12% mortality rate, which means I don’t know how many pups survive because Maths.

The Australian sea lion is endangered, with numbers gradually decreasing as time goes on. This species stays close to its colony spot all year round, so if something awful happens to the colony, it’s basically wiped out forever.

98% of this colony are microchipped.

The tour lasts for 45 minutes, which was over in the blink of an eye. It was very special to be on the white sand, just a few metres away from these gorgeous animals.

Though the girls sound as if they’re much nicer than the boys. Just saying…

Anyway, once I finished the tour, I jumped back in the car and drove to the National Park, which was the original plan for today.

I was a little bit worried that I might have left my run too late, but I was hopeful I’d be able to see everything that I wanted to and still get home before dusk. There are so many signs on the island, warning about travelling at dawn and dusk and skittling wildlife. Honestly, I have seen more dead kangaroos or wallabies beside the road than I have seen live ones so it’s clearly a problem, and I’m in a little car so I really didn’t want to have a wallaby suddenly landing on my bonnet. That would not be a good holiday!

It took me an hour, I’d say, to get from Seal Bay to the national park.

There were 3 things I wanted to see here. This was one of them.

The lighthouse has some groovy red steps, which, considering it was built in 1909 was very hip and happening of them. It’s still in use today, though now no one lives there… it’s all solar and LED lights.

I walked around here for a bit, then drove down to the Admirals Arch.

There’s an extensive boardwalk leading from the car park down to the cliffs. Look at the colour here! I wasn’t expecting this.

As I reached the cliff face, I saw an enormous sea lion, scratching himself like a dog. I watched him for a while, then realised that there was another one in the swirling waters around the rocks:

He was just being tossed around and leaping around, having a lovely time.

Then, as my eyes became attuned to the rocks, I realised that the place was practically seething with them! They were sunning themselves, bathing in the rock pools, which were probably warmed by the sun, and ducking in and out of the sea as if they were popping out to the shops to get a snack.

I stayed there for ages, just watching them. I freaking loved it.

I took photos, but unfortunately, the sea lions blend in with the colours of the rocks. Not worth showing you.

The stairs were still under construction at the very end. It was funny to see the sea lions so unconcerned about the noisy drills, saws and loud music playing.

Though this was a sobering sight. In 2020 most of the National Park was burnt out by ferocious bushfires. Sheltering here would be pretty terrifying…

The next stop was the Remarkable Rocks. I’ll save this for tomorrow, as it’ll be a very photo-heavy post.

Dad joke of the day:


Little Adventure #19: January 2024 – Kangaroo Island. (Episode 1.)

Nothing like starting off the new year with a Little Adventure – especially when I’ll be jumping on a ferry to go to an actual island on the first day back at school for teachers.

Kangaroo Island is a large blob at the bottom of South Australia and is well-known for its foodie crops like cheese and honey, along with a seal colony and lots of nature walks. Cafés and wine bars are of course a staple. When I had a Little Adventure in South Australia back in April 2021 I drove down to where the ferry docked and thought, “One day I’ll go over there and see Kangaroo Island.”

Soon, I’ll be there.

I left home at 6:20 AM to drive to Adelaide, where I’ll be staying for a few days with Jenna’s family. I drove all day, only stopping once for lunch at a little place called Kaniva.

It has wheat silo art, which is what made me get out of the car. Then the other art on the main drag persuaded me to stop for lunch.

I love the brown kelpie sitting at the back.

Sheep and pigs were dotted up and down the main street. It’s a smart move by the locals. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one to stop for a break here.

In the afternoon the rain came down. I could hardly see the road at times, but honestly, if you’re going to have a driving day on a holiday, you may as well let the bad weather use itself upon that day. Hopefully by the time I get to the island, the rain will have moved on and I’ll be left with nothing but sunshine!

Two days later Jenna’s parents gave me a quick tour of Adelaide, ending up at Semaphore, a trendy beachside town. We popped into a local bakery for lunch, then wandered out along the jetty.

It was a stunning day.

The local lifesavers were out doing something-or-other on the beach, while on the other side of the jetty…

… there was a spot of beach cricket going on.

There are a lot of impressive homes along the foreshore. I liked the look of this one.

We were just about to head off back to the car when Andrew, Jenna’s dad, called us back. He’s found a pet lizard, sunning itself on the base of a statue.

When I was last in Adelaide in 2021, Jenna’s parents took me to a winery where they bought me this very expensive bottle of wine. I told them that I’d save it until I was 60, then we’d open it together.

I’m a woman of my word. On my last night with them, we enjoyed it.

I had a lovely few days with them. It’s a lucky thing when you get on with your in-laws.

Then it was time to leave Adelaide and get onto Kangaroo Island. It’s a 2 hour drive down to the Jervis Bay ferry.

I tell you… they sting you on the ferry! I remember years ago when I was in the Barefoot Investor’s investment club, one of the recommendations he gave was Sealink. The reasoning was that they were the only option for people to get cars etc to various islands that they service.

To bring my car to Kangaroo Island and back was in the high 300’s.


I picked up a brochure at the ferry place, and while I was waiting to board I read through it and circled the things I thought might be interesting to see. I dd my research! Better late than never,

Here’s the road leading out of the first town and on towards the rest of the island. Apparently the place is quite big. As Jenna’s Dad said, “You could fit 10 Malta’s in there!”

And here’s the view from my window. Both a pool AND a sea view.

From the little I’ve seen so far, this place looks stunning. The weather is terrific and I have 3 full days to explore.

Dad joke of the day:

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