Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Hills Are Alive (With The Sound Of Nudies...)!

Pictured: Not Nudies
Those who have had the good taste to read The BS Report lately may have noticed more than a few references to "Nudie Beach", which of course is right down the hill from the house I am currently living in. You will probably not be aware that I have recently been watching Sound Of Music with my old lady's 4 year old daughter, who is also my boss. That is where the title comes from, and from here we depart.

Ever since my old lady had to sack her only full time server at the pub, I have been going in and helping her get the furniture set up for each day. Today was no exception, and when I was finished and enjoying my coffee and an internet session, I was conscripted by the child to water flowers. Then I was told that we were supposed to go into the office and do some important work for her mum. I can only remember one instance of her trying to get me to eat a chalk covered piece of blu-tack. Soon her Nan arrived and they left to inspect the 8 Barbies her Granddad bought her on E-Bay. I decided it was time to go home, but we needed petrol, and The Missus foolishly gave me her bank card...

Now you know I love the beach, but the truth is I have been stuck at the house for weeks. I know what is there, exhibit one being a stupid ill-mannered puppy whose sole positive attribute is her cuteness. It was not a great draw. So I filled up BlueBell (the vehicle) and reluctantly turned towards home. At this point I decided to do something rash. I was going to Kangarilla! Since The Missus was stuck at work and my phone was dead, I was essentially a free man!

So I wheeled Bluebell down Kangarilla road, and out through the small town of McLaren Flats. The vineyards stretched on either side, and soon the wide gum trees were stretching their light green leaves nearly all the way across the road. Once I cleared McLaren Flats, the land was mostly occupied by various farms and vineyards. A citrus orchard, a camel farm, a group of recently shorn Alpacas. It was not long until I was right up against the foothills, the road curving to the left. The houses are old out there, one storey stone and brick, with wrap around porches and galvanized water tanks to stay wet during the dry season.

In about 15 minutes I had reached the town of Kangarila, and there was not much there. A petrol station, a primary school and a post office, and the end of Kangarilla road. I decided to take a right, which lead me into a deep valley between the steeply sloped hills. The old houses were mostly on the left side of the road, hidden in a lush fold of land behind various trees and flowering bushes. It was clear that there was at least a seasonal stream running through it which made it so green. On the right hand side the round hills were a mixture of gum trees and grass. The cloudy sky grey behind the green and yellow color field. Then I rounded a curve and saw a small pine stand, and as I passed noticed a parking lot and a gate. Since I had no plans beyond shirking my duties, I turned around and parked. I was the only one there, it was a good day for a hike.

Starting up the path I hoped it would not start raining, but soon I was in under the trees and that was forgotten. The pine stand was planted, the trees in neat rows, but they were tall and I could hear many different bird calls, so it was clear it was inhabited. The pine grew to my right up the steeply sloping hill. To my left grew a mix of gums and pines, with various paths leading off into the forest. A bird called and I glanced up to see what looked like a small hawk flying back away from the opening made by the path. Ahead I saw magpies and some sort of crow with white tips on the wings. The crows made a much more bearable sound than the ones I am used to, perhaps it is their Australian accent. On the path I saw what I figured were Kangaroo droppings. I was watching the trees for any sign of movement.

The sounds of birds were constant and varied. From short chirps to croaks and coos. Some I could see, but most stayed invisible. I saw a path of grass open up to the left and the gums, so I followed it up, until it looped back to the main path, right up between the split forest. I was hiking hard. I wanted to be sure I got to the top, and I had no idea how far I would have to go. I took off my tee-shirt and continued on in my undershirt, which was wet with sweat. It seemed like mosquito country, so I listened for the tell-tale whine, but hearing nothing kept heading up the steep grade.

A path intersected mine from the pine grove, but I was not deterred. I could see what looked like the top of the ridge through the trees. First through the gums because they did not grow so close together. It was not long before I saw that the pines were not stretching up so steeply, and then I saw sky. In a couple of minutes I was at the end of the track I was on. I had reached the top of the ridge, and at this point the path became a T, on the left leading back up into what I knew to be more hills, the right leading to a viewpoint over the valley. I turned to the right to see where I was at.

It was probably only 100 meters before I came to a gate with a sign that read "Authorized Personnel Only" it was open. It was a huge dilemma for me. I knew I was not authorized, but I wanted to see the view. Ad the gate was open. So I snuck through far enough to see the view of the Onkaparinga Valley below. It was amazing how much elevation I had gained, far below me the vineyards in their pale green rows stretched diagonally from the road. I could see the farms and the snakelike form of Kangarilla road. But I was worried about not being authorized, so I walked back through the gate and turned left, keeping the neat rows of pine to my right. To my left was a barb wire cattle fence. On the ground I saw a large turd that looked bovine in nature (a bovine which had been eating bad Mexican food judging by consistency). There were no cows to be seen but I was on alert. Suddenly I heard something to my left, and looking over I saw a pair of adult Kangaroos moving in the fenced in planting between the field and the pine grove. They had probably been eating the young plants which had been carefully fenced off from the cattle.

Sort of like these two, except they were both adults and jumping away from me!
The bigger of the two 'roos took a couple of bounds, turned left and cleared the fence in a single bound. The smaller one was slower, and perhaps unsure. Instead of clearing the fence, he somehow managed to jump through the middle strands of barbwire, and they both bounded out of sight down into the pasture land. What struck me most aside from their grace and beauty, was the obvious power in their tails. They used them when they jumped, and when the big one cleared the fence I could see the large brown tail flex as it sprung. They are strange and beautiful animals, and I felt oddly honored to have finally seen on in the wild. I continued my trek, hoping to see more, but knowing that the chances were slim, as the pines seemed ill fitting to the grazing habits of kangaroos, and I soon came abreast of the cattle herd.

The path swung right up to the steep edge of the hill leading down to the road, and then swept in under the pines. I saw a few jumps constructed by mountain bikers much braver than I, but no more 'roos. Soon I was back at the car, sweaty, hungry, and very happy I had not gone home. I made my way back to the pub, where I told The Missus about it all. And now I am telling you (all 4 of my readers). Sincerely, The Kangaroo Hunter

No comments:

Post a Comment