Day 11: On Kangaroo Island

We started off early this morning in Penneshaw, as we intended to go to Flinders Chase National Park, which unfortunately is all the way on the other side of the island! And at 150kms it is not a small island at all. The lady at the front desk of our hotel told us that, in spite of what we thought, the journey to Flinders Chase would take us only 90 minutes as the roads are good. We figured, with NZ in our minds as a reference, that driving the distance would take us at least 3 hours if not more, but the lady proved right: in slightly under an hour and a half we found ourselves at the visitors information centre of the National Park to pay the entrance fees.

The drive over has been great by the way, the weather has cleared quite a bit, yet we encountered many smaller rainstorms along the way which all passed us by on the left and right without hitting us. This produced very pretty rainbows all around, and combined with the scenic views of the island itself it was lovely all around.

One of the first things we saw on the way over to the NP was a Kangaroo Island Kangaroo, a slightly smaller and really brown coloured subspecies of the Western Grey Kangaroo found on the mainland. We even encountered some more on our way to Remarkable Rocks, a really odd formation of stones sitting on top of a granite dome right on the edge of the ocean inside The National Park. Halfway down the walking trail towards the Rocks, we saw that we would need to hurry to stay ahead of the rainstorm fast approaching form the sea, so it was a mad dash to get to the rocks. Luckily we found shelter inside one of them, which was only a good thing as the rain really came pouring down on us. Yes, we sheltered in a rock.

The other main attraction of the National Park is the Admirals Arch, a limestone arch where a colony of New Zealand Fur Seals has found its home. It’s really cool to be able to view these Seals as close by as we are, looking from the boardwalk created there. After all this, we decided to go back to the Visitors Centre, as they have a few short walks we can do. One of them is towards Platypus Waterholes, where a Platypus is rumoured to live. The walk is great, but we failed to find the Platypus. We did however spot a bunch of Koalas and even a Tammer Wallaby, which also is a subspecies of the ones found on the other side of the channel.

On the way back, we stopped at a place called Seal Bay, where we found not Seals, but Australian Sea Lions! They were in breeding season, so lots of babies lying around and suckling on their moms. Here, we also were able to get pretty close to them, so that is really cool. They also ignored us completely, and just kept doing what they normally do, which is great.

Tonight, we sleep in Kingscote, and tomorrow we’ll catch the ferry back to Cape Jervis. In fact, I’m typing this on the ferry itself! Yay for free WiFi!

Day 10: To Kangaroo Island

Waking up in Robe means, once again, an overcast sky with lots of wind and the chance of showers. But today, it doesn’t matter much, as we have a big day of driving in front of us, about 400km. While we are quite unfamiliar with these kinds of distances, it is not a strange occurrence over here as this country is just too big!

Along the way, about 100km in, we drove alongside the Coorong National Park, a very long (150km) stretch of coast where the dunes shelter off a thin strip of brackish lagune from the rough ocean. This NP is home for a large variety of wildlife, mostly water birds. We had some time to spare today, and so we visited some of the highlights of this park, specifically the ones you can drive to and don’t have to spend hours to see anything. 🙂

One of these is called Chinamans Well, and it tells the gruesome story of the Chinese migrants traveling along these coasts back in the 1850s to get to the goldfields in Victoria. Their story is a harsh one, where the weak wouldn’t make it to their destination or wouldn’t make it at all. This Chinamans Well is a water well constructed by the Chinese to provide water along the way, and is an interesting part of the local history over here. For the brief period of time we were out of the car and enjoying the scenery it was dry, only to start pouring down again the moment we sat back in the car. Lucky us!

Due to this weather, we arrived a little early at Cape Jervis where the ferry for Penneshaw leaves from, so we had a (terrible!) coffee at the local sports bar. We wouldn’t have visited it if it weren’t the only place open in this town. But it was, and so we spent the time there until it was time for us to board. The boat trip itself is only 45 minutes, but as the weather still was quite rough, the crossing was rather choppy which gave a few green faces on board. The funny thing was, that this wasn’t our first ferry today, as we unexpectedly found ourselves on a road leading towards a much smaller ferry to cross a river. Our GPS lead us to this ferry, as it reportedly were faster, and it probably was. It also gave us a nice interruption from driving, so all is well.

On Kangaroo Island we hope to visit Flinders Chase National Park, which unfortunately is on the other side of this 150km island, so we’ll probably drive quite a bit tomorrow as well!