Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island after Tasmania and Melville and is only 9 miles away from the mainland of South Australia across the Investigator Strait. It is 93 miles long and 35 miles wide. Without the tourists, the island has a population of about 4,500 people, mostly in the largest town of Kingscote on the northeast part of the island. While it was inhabited by the Aborigines for at least 11,000 years, in 1802 British explorer Matthew Flinders “discovered” and named the island.
Our ship was anchored off the second largest town – Penneshaw (on the Dudley Peninsula) with a population of about 300 people, so it was a tender port. While Penneshaw is a delightful town where people leave their keys in their car in case a neighbor needs to borrow it to only having three police for the entire island, most visitors come to this island for the opportunity to see the native wildlife.
Doug and I took a ship’s tour called “Kangaroo Island 4WD Safari” which was a 9 hour tour. Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours was the company HAL contracted for this tour and our guide was Greg. There were 6 of us in a Land Rover and we were happy that Barb & Charlie were part of our six!
Our first stop was Seal Bay, after having passed Prospect Hill (Flinders’ outlook point from which he knew this was an island). This bay is where an Australian seal lion colony. We spent almost an hour here watching the seals as they played in the water or just warmed themselves on the sandy beach. Between us, Doug and I have over a hundred pictures of just this one spot! Here are just a few! The first one is a young seal nursing.
It was hard to leave these playful seals, but our next stop was just as interesting. It was Kelly Hill Conservation Park where the paved roads turned into sandy, dirt ones. It was a huge expanse of land where kangaroo roam freely and where we were able to see more than half a dozen in their natural environment. Once again, after about one hundred pictures, here are a few. The last picture shows some teeth and bones of baby kangaroos who died probably due to a lack of food. We actually saw several areas where there were a group of bones – I gathered enough so that each grandchild can have a kangaroo bone! Better than another postcard!!
As we were leaving this conservation area, our guide spotted a koala bear in a eucalyptus tree. They have the cutest little faces! And down the road a little bit, we spotted a wallaby on the ground. He looks almost like a small kangaroo.
We had been driving west along the southern part of the island. We now were reaching the western part of the island which is almost all national park. It is called Flinders Chase Wilderness Area. We had a gourmet picnic lunch here that a couple from Wilderness Tours had prepared for us. It was delicious – steak, carmalized onions, potato salad, and a green salad – all served with white or red wine from this island. [We later stopped and bought a bottle of Kangaroo Island wine – mainly for the label since it’s the only place you can buy it – or so we were told!] Dessert was a poached pear topped with yogurt that had honey (made on this island) in it. This is a different kind of bee than the ones that produce the Manuka honey. This is a sweeter honey. This is where the four Land Rovers in our group met up – we rarely saw them otherwise – it felt almost like a private tour for six. Another little Wallaby was just a few feet from us enjoying his lunch as well.
After lunch, we drove a bit farther in this wilderness area to see natural rock formations that were really incredible. This road was amazing and worth a picture. We almost hit this amazing reptile as he crossed the road, but fortunately he made it and we were able to get a picture of him – very stunning! I don’t know what kind he is, but when I saw him I knew Chris and Cindy would have loved to have seen him. I’m hoping they may know what kind he is!
We passed a lighthouse that was built in 1909 because the area we were approaching was at the tip of this end of the island called Cape Couedic, where the waters were rough and resulted in many shipwrecks. It was a beautiful old lighthouse – no longer manned by people, but now computerized.
We now arrived at the fur seal colony which was another delightful treat to watch all these seals (fur seals have a thicker coat than the seals we saw earlier) swimming in the water and sunning on the rocky cliffs. The water was so rough, I didn’t know how these seals weren’t bashed to death against the rocks as they played in the water. Look closely to see these seals both on the rock and in the water above and below the rock. And here is one that looks like he is getting ready to get into the water.
As we rounded the corner continuing our way down the rocky cliff, we were totally amazed at the sight before us. This is called Admiral’s Arch and only a picture can describe how beautiful it is. We know anyone from the ship who saw this natural wonder will be taking many pictures of it to enter in the next photo contest. Not only is the formation beautiful, but the scene that it frames as well. When you zoom in, this is what it looks like through the opening with the seals swimming in the water on the other side. Truly spectacular.
But we were to see another amazing rock formation next. This is called Remarkable Rocks. Our guide said that the rocks are formed due to erosion around them and this is what remains, so they are merely “remarkable” rather than like a miracle! This is what they look like from a distance. And now closer. We could walk all around them, but there were warnings about being careful not to walk on anything wet or get too close to an edge since people have fallen off and into the water below. One of my favorites was this rock formation that I think looks like the profile of an elephant with his trunk. And, of course, the honeymoon rock that our guide had us climb into to take this photo with what looks like a bird of prey in the background. There were many, many other interesting rock formations that we took pictures of, but too many for this Blog.
This was our last stop before heading back to the ship after a full day of seeing this interesting island. It was what I had always imagined the Australian outback to look like for the most part, especially the beginning of our day. It was such a wonderful day out in the nature in this incredibly diverse country. We have seen big cities, small towns, and now this unique island.
Kangaroo Island only gets two or three cruise ships a year, but gets many visitors who ferry over from Adelaide. I would highly recommend visiting this island if you like nature and wildlife. I’d like to be able to return some day.