Spears, Cheers, Jeers...and Tears
Kangaroo Island Travel Blog› entry 7 of 11 › view all entries
June 26th, 2006 – by: bdstans
We arrived at Western River Cove, a beach on the north coast of Kangaroo Island, gently opened the door, and fell out onto the ground with a collective groan of relief. Looking around we could see one camping site at the end of the road next to the foot bridge and...that's all. One site. And it's not even close to the beach, which is where we all want to camp. The only way to get to the beach is to cross the foot bridge over the river and make your way through the sand dunes.
So, three trips each and some very sore arms later, all of our gear is in the middle of the dunes and we are quite satisfied with ourselves. Cue the rain. YES! We quickly set up camp just in time for it to stop raining. It's getting on 4pm and the sun will set in a couple hours so Mary and i decide going spear fishing while Rachel and Anthony laugh at us is the greatest idea ever. Anthony draws a fish in the sand, gives me some quick spearing instructions, and i put on my ridiculously small "3/4" length wetsuit that they've so graciously let me borrow (everyone else has their own full length wetsuit.
After a quick photo-op Mary and i walk down to the rocks, jump in, paddle around the bay, and catch nothing. My first spearing attempt is a failure, but at least i'm absolutely freezing. If you're ever up for a challenge, try this: go paddling around in the Southern Australian ocean in the middle of winter, wearing half a wetsuit, for 45 minutes and then try to get out of said wetsuit and into dry clothes, shivering enough to start a small earthquake and completely unable to feel your feet or hands. It's the best!
In all honesty though, i loved stalking a fish through the water with a 7-foot spear.
That night we ate extremely fresh sheep chops (delicious!) and everyone froze except for me because i have a fleece sleeping bag and they don't. Saturday morning the others went rod fishing while i chainsawed a dead tree (didn't i tell you we brought everything?), made a fire, and explored the rocky coast. After a bit of breakfast cooked over my fantastic fire, we all suited up for spear fishing--Rachel, Mary and Anthony in their full length wetsuits, hoods, gloves, and booties, and me in my.
Somehow the water feels even colder than it did the evening before even though the sun is shining. Everything that shouldn't be shriveled, is, but i paddle away with high hopes anyway, looking for my first victim. Anthony calls me over and points out a large blue fish that he thinks i should have a go at. The water is shallow enough that i don't have to duck-dive for it so i give a few kicks of my rinky-dink swim fins and float slowly toward it. Grabbing the rubber loop at the base of my spear i stretch the spear back to its loaded position.
I take a deep breath, swim stealthily down to the fish, ears screaming from the pressure of the deep water, load...aim.
The swim back to the shore to put the fish in the bucket was long and cold. I took a few moments to thaw out and, very wisely i thought, decided not to go back in. After all, i had speared my fish; i had proved myself; and i had put my poor frozen extremeties through quite enough for the day.
Tim, Rachel's dad, arrived with his boat about lunch time and the others did more spearing while Tim and i scurried back and forth between them in the boat, collecting their fish. Anthony thought he had surely won with his good sized Blue Grouper, but late in the day Rachel bagged a pretty large Silver Drummer (i'm naming the fish as if any of you care what they caught) that was not to be beaten. Anthony admitted defeat, but we're pretty sure he was crying on the inside.
That night we played 'hide and seek but never find because it's way too dark and there's too many places to hide' in the dunes and the following day we explored the rocky coast on foot, packed up, and went home.
It was a great weekend and all made possible by the generous locals who have taken it upon themselves to rescue me from the farm whenever they can. I am eternally grateful.
For any of you who may be wondering if this sort of work exchange traveling is the way to go, consider this: I've seen numerous beautiful beaches, toured a good bit of Kangaroo Island, dab-netted squid in a flat-bottom boat, hunted wallabies on the back of a pickup truck, shook hands with (and even smooched) a kangaroo, chased cows, photographed seals and crazy rocks, and speared a fish with my own hands--and i've spent maybe $50 in the process, half of which was used to buy a battery charger for my camera.
By the way, thanks to everyone for your great comments! knowing that you're enjoying my dribble makes it well worth all the time i spend putting these entries together.
catch ya later
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