Friday, February 22, 2008
Kangaroo Island Highlights
We have come to the conclusion that there are not very many people on this lovely continent. We drove for hours passing farmland, sheep and cows grazing and yes, even real kangaroos. We ask ourselves, "Where are the people?".
After driving off of the ferry and out of the small town of Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island (K.I.) Karin commented, "I feel like we are the only ones here". Once again we met up with the potential driving hazards of hitting roos at dusk but unfortunately, many of these were roadkill. It was very sad to see so many animals on the roadside instead of happily hopping around. I know Aussies think roos are boring, but we think they are gentle and sweet.
The cool ocean wind from the Victoria and GOR coast turned to a baking hot, dry 37C heat. the sun was so hot we could not even consider going to the beach until late afternoon. Our first morning started with a visit to the Seal Bay Australian seal colony, a seal species that was almost wiped out by man in the sealing hunts in the last century. This colony is passionately protected by the K.I. wildlife foundation.
We had a guided small group tour on the beach and were able to observe them closely in their natural habitat - no walls, no gates, no fences. This was their home. There are only about 600 in this particular colony at this moment. There were many pups nursing with their moms, playful young ones but mostly they seem to have a pretty lazy life. They fish out in sea for up to 3 days and then return to this colony or beach to rest for 3 days. We enjoyed watching them waddle out of the water, take several steps on the beach and then flop down onto the beach for a rest! We could have watched them for hours....
Because it was such a hot day, we tried to chose some 'indoor activities'. We went to a eucalyptus distillery which uses old fashioned methods to produce this popular medicinal and household oil. Yes, we bought some! How could we resist. Our favourite part was their 9 month old 'pet' kangaroo who was resting on the floor shop trying to get out of the heat.
We visited the Cliffords honey farm which uses the rare Liguiran bee from Italy. These bees were brought to the island in the 1800's and no other bee has been introduced or is allowed to come onto K.I. It is the only true pure honey from these bees known today. Yes, we bought some of the honey too but the highlight was the home made Liguiran honey ice cream made by the owner. It was so damn good, we had 2! It was worth the sugar crash that followed an hour later.
To wake up from our 'sugar crash', we went for a late afternoon swim at Vivionne Bay which has been voted the 'Best Beach in Australia'. We are not too sure how it attained this esteemed honour or title because every beach in Australia to date has been beautiful. We tried to speculate what criteria was used and came to the conclusion that without the grass hut bar serving cold beer and rum drinks decorated with little umbrellas that are served by scantily clad cabana boys, it just cannot awarded with this honour. We will continue to keep looking for that "Best Beach in Australia" and promise to post it here on this blog.
The following day, we started at the stunning sand dunes Little Sahara. We drove to the western side of the island where most of the destruction of the bush fires was quite evident. There is a glimmer of hope because we could see some new growth poking through the burned trees. Part of the park is closed due to danger from falling debris.
Fortunately, we were able to see the main sites we wanted to - The Remarkable Rocks and the New Zealand fur sea colony at Admiral's arch. We had fun taking some pictures of these unusual rock formations. They lived up to their name!
There were 2 highlights to this day. Firstly, observing the colony of seals in their natural habitat on the rocks. We were completely awestruck by witnessing a little pup calling out for his mother and the mother calling out for her baby but they were on different rocks with a stretch of ocean separating them. They could not see each other but eventually moved towards each other and were reunited after jumping in the ocean. It was a joy to witness this slice of nature.
The 2nd highlight was a Koala walk on Hanson's reserve. We were able to observe them very closely and soon became familiar with the mating call - a big loud grunt kind of like a fog horn or an angry bull. The female was not too interested in this poor male and they both came down from the tree and ran up another tree - right in front of us. We knew it was a male because a fellow Aussie observer commented, "That's a male - I could see his little bits". We felt like a voyeur but it was entertaining and enjoyable nonetheless. And for those of you wondering: No, she did not give in!
Our last day was spent feeding kangaroos and wallabies at the Pardana wildlife park. It may sound ketchy but we loved it. We even saw a mother with her joey peaking out of the pouch. Sometimes, the joey was head first in her pouch with his little feet sticking out.
We ended our KI journey on a Lavender farm tasting lavender tea, lavender tea and of course, homemade lavender ice cream (our 2nd favourite).
Off to the mainland for a wine tasting journey and more adventures in the land of Oz.