Animal Overdose - Kangaroo Island

Trip Start Dec 29, 2010
Trip End Dec 05, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Sunday, April 3, 2011

We had over 400km and 2 ferry rides to get to Kangaroo Island so we woke up at 5.30 am and left the camp site at 6am for a wonderful drive along the coast on the Princes highway through Coorong National Park with the sun rising behind us. 

The last 100km we drove due West along the Fleurieu Peninsula on a beautiful blue sky day. The Fleurieu Peninsula was stunning, substantial rolling hills, beautifully kept farms and magnificent trees sitting in green pasture land, and all largely untouched by any development other than that of the sporadic farms.

Kangaroo Island is a short 45 minute ferry ride across the water from Cape Jervis. The ferry, which is substantial, comes flying into the little port and then throws a rope around the peer and swings a full 180 degrees before reversing into the car loading port. All very impressive! Less so though when I learnt that one of the two ferries that services the route has only just returned to service after major repairs following a collision with the wharf and holing event when performing this manoeuvre.

Kangaroo Island was magnificent, the island is beautiful and very untouched, there are something like only 5000 residents on an Island which is third largest of Australia's Islands and about 180 kms long and about 60kms wide. Its has many uniquie species or subspecies and as its name suggests is populated by over 1 million Kangaroos and well in excess of a million Tamar Wallabies.

On our first afternoon we attended the daily Pelican feeding session at 5pm which enabled everyone to get very close, too close for comfort for Mum, with the large beautiful birds and the impressive smell they emit. Pelicans really are huge and beautiful, I have always loved watching them fly and fish when ever we comes across them around the world, but seeing them up close was very special.

Later that night I headed on out with Jamie and Zach for the 8.30pm penguin spotting session leaving Benji asleep in the camper van with Mum. By this time i was very cold with the wind whipping through. The Fairy Penguins - Australia's only Penguin, is the smallest of all the Penguins at only 30cm high and very cute. But they were rather tough to spot and very shy do disappeared speedily in to their cubby holes when we did spot them. After 30 minutes or so the boys had had their fill and at 9pm were cold and tired, but we still had 30 minutes of the walk to complete so I ended up with Zach on my shoulders and Jamie trying to hold on to my leg for any warmth and comfort he could gain.

We hired a 4x4 for our first full day on "KI" as its affectionately known. This enabled us to speed around what is a very large Island and see some of the wilder beaches down the dirt tracks. Our first main port of call with the Flinders Chase national Park in the west of the island which had a great cafe complete with a sand pit with fossils at the bottom which kept the kids amused for ages.

We headed on into the park towards Admirals Arch, home to some fantastic rock formations but more importantly also to home to a colony of New Zealand fur Seals. Again Australia does it well and the network of board walks and steps down the cliff and along above the seal colony was impressive, affording great views and a fairly close up experience with these wonderful animals. The whole family was so enchanted by the Seals that we almost missed Admiral's Arch, a magnificent rock formation that we almost walked into with out noticing it.

In the afternoon we we headed East along the South Coast of the island to Vivonne Bay - one of Australia best beaches, which might have been if it had been summer and not 15 degrees. But the bay did provide for our next nature experience, a quad bike tour of the wild Kangaroos. I headed off on my own quad bike and the boys were guided in a Polaris quad car by one of the drivers. I thought they might be a bit disappointed by this, we had billed it as one of Zach' birthday treats, but nothing could have been further from the truth as she (the driver was a through and through Aussie sheila) hurtles off at such a pace that I struggled to keep up on my quad bike.   Again the scenery was magnificent with large grass plain like fields with literally tens and tens if not hundreds of Kangaroos all having their sunset tea, a magnificent sight and an almost Africanesque experience. Poor old Mum did not experience it however, having to follow Benjamin around the shed where they keep the quads. All in all we had done about 350km driving around KI today!

A new day and we woke to blue skies for our last day on KI, where after an early morning playing we set off for the 11.15 Raptors show at the bird rescue centre. This was a popular tourist attraction and deservedly so as both adults and kids were entralled by the birds that were brought out to show. The boys loved the South Australian Kestrel that flew on to their out stretched arms and Benji was somewhat bemused by a charming Kookaburra  that landed on the bar at the front of his pram. Naturally they saved the biggest for last bringing out a magnificent Wedge Tailed Eagle, Australia's largest bird of prey with a wingspan of over 2.5 metres and a bird that we had only just seen by the road a few days previously. 

On to Seal Bay and another park where the cost of entry and guided tour was a whopping AUD 75 or 50 for a 45 minute bought of family entertainment. Pretty steep and enough to leave me mumbling about value for money in a grumpy old english man kind of may. Jamie and Zach were already somewhat nervous of the upcoming experience as the word lion in the name Sea Lion had them worried, however the guide we had further scared the living daylights out of them by telling them that Sea Lions were very dangerous animals, had very big teeth and ate little boys heads for breakfast! So we had to drag the boys down to the beach resorting to putting Zach on my shoulders again. 

The experience was however, one of the most "David Attenborough" things I - let alone the kids - have ever done. The Sea Lions were magnificent and we really were able to walk right amongst them, at least to within a safe 10 metres, as they can be somewhat protective of the young seal pups and they really did have big sharp teeth. The colony was one of 14 around Australia and home to over 1,000 of these wonderful animals. Being late summer there were loads of seal pups around basking in the afternoon sun. An other trip highlight and a fantastic end to Kangaroo Island, well worth a visit for anyone down this way. 

We left to catch the penultimate ferry. The boys needed some tea so both Katherine and I took turns cooking their tea in the camper van while parked in the car park and then on the ferry like some true gypo family - how far we have come! I had to reverse the van on to the ferry - no mean feat, while Katherine and the kids boarded as foot passengers, only she was so busy talking to some elderly amateur pilots that she almost missed the ferry. 

On to Adelaide, friends and a cheeky night in the 5 star intercontinental just to scrub up and catch some beauty sleep before some wonderfully extravagant hospitality. However, trying to navigate around Adelaide's one way systems and park a oversized gypo van outside the convention centre and main casino in town was easier said than done.

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Zhenie Ivanova on

What an adventure! Going to the zoo won't be so much fun anymore for those boys! Lots and lots of kisses!

laterallife on

Hiya Brad and K - just catching up on your blogs - K island looked great fun. Off to Kwa Zulu Natal on Sunday for a bit of "lateral" exploration so lets chat when you get to perth. Cheers Nick

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