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  • chania

#2 // Eleven symptoms, a possum and 2 kangaroos

SO, you're here to hear the sorry tale of my Eleven Symptoms (if you haven't already) and our second week in Australia. To continue where I last finished... I got quite ill at the very beginning of the trip (and I didn't need to be a drama queen about it - I was ACTUALLY quite ill) and would've had a thoroughly miserable time if I had not had the new company of Bev, Cindy, Kindy and Leo (a mixture of humans, possum and kangaroos alike). I will quickly explain how we managed to find such great company -

Nat and I had planned to take a trip to Kangaroo Island, a small island south of mainland Australia with lots of (you guessed it) kangaroos. Because we're both on a very scrappy, threadbare shoestring we decided to try and find accommodation and board in return for voluntary work. We found Bev and Larry's business Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery on the website Workaway and arranged to work for them.

After a couple of nights in Adelaide we head to the city bus station to catch our shuttle to the coast so that we can catch the ferry across to KI. Time ticks by (as it does) and our shuttle bus does not appear. After quite a lot of stress and poor phone signal we finally manage to get hold of the company we booked with and they realise that there's been a minor glitch in the booking system and our shuttle bus booking didn't register. We get passed on to the company's CEO on the phone and she's very apologetic and [...] we're invited to stay the night at her and her husband's house in Port Adelaide! We're pretty chuffed with this turn of events when we turn up and see that we're staying in an absolute CORKER of a house. It's a converted warehouse with a lot of cool features and we even have our own private bathroom (a suite discovery I can tell you).

To top it all off, Jane and David are absolute legends who zip about in their own private plane (unless they fancy a sail in one of their yachts... I KNOW - how did this happen) and are lovely people with great advice on how to live life. They prepare a BEAUTIFUL meal for us on a very fancy table with soft jazz music playing in the background (that's when you know it's going to be a good dinner), pitchers of cold water, a bottle of red wine from their winery, big ceramic bowls brimming with different foods to help ourselves to and - I vomit right in the middle of it.

I hope that took you by surprise. It certainly did me. This is the beginning of the curse of the Eleven Symptoms.

Luckily I did actually make it to the toilet in the nick of time, but I quite literally had to run from the table in the middle of polite conversation, chucking my napkin behind my shoulder, to throw up half of the gourmet supper. In retrospect - I should have returned to the table, explained that I was feeling ill, excused myself from the meal and gone to bed. Did I? I did not.

I returned to the table, smiled with big teeth at everybody, and tucked right back into the meal which had made me sick. Like a champion. I even took part in the red wine and port tasting. If you're thinking that perhaps I was feeling better by this point, I can firmly say that my GCSE in Drama has never been put to better use. I was sweating profusely, shuffling whenever my stomach made a questionable noise (a grim sign of things to come), and double swallowing everything to make sure none of it reappeared at the table. Longest dinner of my life.

(If you've seen the film 'Bridesmaids' I'm pretty sure I looked exactly like Kristen Wiig trying to swallow an almond whilst suffering from severe food poisoning)

The next evening we arrive on Kangaroo Island after a day of sickness, self pity and tears - oh, and Nat's birthday. (In my defence - there was a long, winding car journey and a turbulent ferry trip which added nearly double digits to the total vomit count for the day). We postpone Nat's bday celebrations and I am still sick for another 7 days (contracting 9 more symptoms) but I'll stop with the sickness tales of woe as I have milked them enough and we are now brought up to speed with the introduction of Bev and her bevy of furry friends.

Nat and I worked at Emu Eucalyptus Ridge for a week and lived in Kingscote which is the main town of the island. Nat acted as groundsman (like Hagrid), feeding emus and doing other physical jobs around the premises. Because of my tendency to cough for ten minutes at a time/run to the loo I was a pretty useless duster/cleaner/handy-woman. The farm is a big tourist attraction on Kangaroo Island and is the only Eucalyptus Oil Distillery in South Australia. Bev and Larry deserve all of the praise their business gets - they're incredibly hard-working and the place is wonderful.

Bev has a hobby of rescuing little animal orphans - unfortunately there is a lot of roadkill around KI, the majority are kangaroos but there are sometimes possums and koalas. Bev told us that if the animal is dead then the first thing to do is to check if it has a pouch; sometimes there is a baby still alive in there. This is how Bev came to care for her two joeys, Kindy and Leo, and her little baby possum Cindy. Once they're fully grown they hop back into the wild. They were all INCREDIBLY cute and luckily my other main job for the week was to help care for them (dream job. Wish there was more of a market for this in London, it would make job-hunting a lot easier).

To sum up - Kangaroo Island is really beautiful and so worth visiting if you're in the area, but to fully enjoy it you must be able to drive (something Nat and I sadly cannot legally do - not for lack of trying).

Our lack of driving did mean that we spent the day with Stevie, a crazy New Zealander who literally never stopped talking. Bev arranged for us to travel around with Stevie so that we could see a bit more of the island, and so we got into the car with Stevie's two small children strapped in the back (who had clearly been munching on spaghetti and/or chocolate for the past day) and the endless barrage of conversation began, punctured only with very small intermittant breaks so that Stevie could drag on her joint. (Slightly alarming? Yes). Stevie told us all about her intimate relationship, how she never wanted children, and once worked in a bar in Ireland.

Emu Bay and Hanson Bay were a couple of our favourite beaches and the Remarkable Rocks were pretty remarkable. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to Bev, our small pals and Kangaroo Island, but we had to get back to Adelaide to begin the Great Ocean Road trip with Nat's uncle Stuie (another thing the ownership of a driving license is useful for). Cue blog post number three...

P.S. If you're curious about the Eleven Symptoms, here is a complete list below:

1. Nausea

2. Vomit

3. Fever

4. Achey muscles

5. Dry cough

6. Wet cough

7. Runny nose

8. Headache

9. Earache

10. Blocked nose

11. Sore throat/ I lost my voice - I couldn't even tell people how sick I was! The eleventh symptom robbed me of telling people of the Eleven Symptoms! A cruel twist of fate.