"" Writer's Wanderings: Australia - Kangaroo Island

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Australia - Kangaroo Island

We began the last week of our Australian adventure with a visit to Kangaroo Island. It was a twenty minute flight between Adelaide and Kingscote on the island. Ferries also run between the mainland and Penneshaw and take 40 minutes but it was more convenient and I believe just as costly to take the plane since we were not driving. We were greeted at the Kingscote airport by our hostess, Dale, who stood there with a placard that read “Robbins,” already making us feel special. The drive between the airport and the Sea Dragon Lodge at Pink Bay was about 45 minutes ending with a detour through a field to see the kangaroos that were our welcoming committee.

Dale was excited to see an echidna and stopped the SUV so we could get out and get a better look. I thought it was a porcupine at first since it has spiky coat but it is actually an egg-laying mammal that uses its tough long nose and long sticky tongue to forage for ants.

After a quick look at our wonderful accommodations which included a bedroom, a sitting room and private bath, and an appreciative look at the beautiful sunset, we met with another couple staying at the lodge and had a wonderful dinner of roast lamb, salad, and vegetables. Quentin, Dale’s husband, was our cook for the evening and to my delight, we discovered he is also a writer (Australia’s Wild Islands).

We slept well in a nice comfortable bed that didn’t bounce like a pickup truck all night (see our Ghan Train experience) and awoke to a sky colored in pinks as the sun rose. Dale and Quentin had only been managers of Sea Dragon Lodge since December and Dale was still working on getting her tour guide license for the island so they arranged with a friend, Malcolm who is licensed and runs a B&B on the island (The Lookout), to be our tour guide for our two days on the island.

Kangaroo Island is an absolute delight for any visitor. It was much larger than we imagined it—155 km long. Our first stop was at Baudin Conservation Park where we strolled among the trees called Drooping Sheoak and encountered all sorts of wallabies as well as the Glossy Black Cockatoo. Four of them were in a tree feasting on the nuts of the Sheoak there. The wallabies were curious enough to stop and watch us. They subscribe to the same theory as deer—if I don’t move, they won’t know I’m here. Makes picture taking a little easier.

From there we drove through the little town of Penneshaw where Malcolm stopped for a few moments to vote. It was election day in Australia and voting is mandatory or you are fined.

For our morning tea, Malcolm took us to a lagoon area where we strolled along a path lined with eucalyptus trees and found a few koalas looking down on us. There are over 400 species of eucalyptus trees but the koalas only feed off of a few species. Bob and I watched water fowl in the lagoon as our guide spread out a morning snack on a small checkered tablecloth on a picnic bench.

Seal Bay was our next stop. It is home to Australian sea-lions. These amazing creatures were all sprawled out in the warm sunshine on the beach (reminded me of a few resort beaches I’ve seen). A few were surfing and some of the little ones were snuggling up to mom for lunch. We watched one little guy as he lumbered along the beach calling for his mother who finally came in from the water to satisfy him. Even a seal mom can’t get a few minutes to herself.

Lunch, packed earlier by Quentin, was served at a picnic shelter in Vivonne Bay. Malcolm again sent us off to explore the river and beach area as he prepared our meal. The coast line of the island was dramatic from every vantage point we stopped at or passed. Vivonne Bay had a huge sandy beach.

As we neared the end of our first day of touring, we stopped at Little Sahara which is a huge sand dune that for some reason does not get covered with plant life. Malcolm challenged us to climb it but we preferred to watch from below as the younger generation went sand surfing. It reminded me of snow sledding back home.

We had quite a long ride back to the lodge. Many of the roads on the island are not sealed meaning they are hard packed gravel and sand. We passed lots of sheep and cattle farms. Little did I know that a cattle farm would be one of the highlights of our next day’s outing.

Our dinner featured King George Whiting, a fish from the area. It was light tasting and deliciously prepared. The evening passed quickly with good conversation around the table as Quentin and Dale joined the four of us and talked of the island and its treasures.

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