AUSTRALIAN BUCKET LIST: KANGAROO ISLAND IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Kangaroo Island, off the coast of South Australia, is an exceptionally beautiful island. Isolated and protected, it is often referred to as a ‘zoo without fences’. However I fondly describe it as the indie version of Tasmania. I recently went on a five day tour with AAT Kings exploring South Australia. Part of that tour was spent exploring the pristine wilderness of Kangaroo Island. Offering a sanctuary to many Australian animals, we explored the world famous Flinders Chase National Park, met some cute seals at Seal Bay, hiked around Admirals Arch and Remarkable Rocks, enjoyed locally caught marron for lunch, and more…
Flinders Chase National Park I was pretty excited when I found out the AAT Kings tour would include a visit to Admirals Arch, the Remarkable Rocks and Seal Bay as I’ve long had these destinations on my bucket list. So with a skip in my step, we started the day off early by jumping on our gorgeously comfortable bus (and I mean gorgeous – brand new, plush seats, lots of space) as the sun was starting to rise. With fresh dew resting on the canola crops and the faint glow of the morning run, we drove over rolling hillls towards our first destination of the day - Flinders Chase National Park. Known for its striking coastal landscapes, immense areas of wilderness and a multiplicity of wildlife, Flinders Chase National Park is a protected area located at the west end of the island. Our first stop was the Visitors Centre and here we explored the centre, enjoyed the sweet smell of gum trees, got acquainted with the park map (one of my favourite parts of travelling is collecting maps) and sipped on hot chocolate before jumping back on the bus in the direction of Admirals Arch.
Admirals Arch Meandering through the National Park down somewhat hilarious winding roads, we arrived at Admirals Arch, which is located at Cape du Couedic. Marked by a very, very tall lighthouse, we made our way down the timber boardwalk and stopped at various viewing platforms along the way, which offered panoramic views of Casurina Islets and the Remarkable Rocks in the distance. A perfect curve of rock under which the surf batters in all types of weather, Admirals Arch is home to a colony of wild and belching New Zealand dark brown Fur Seals. I’ve never seen a wild seal before and couldn’t help but marvel at their size and gait. With Fur Seal pups playing mischievously in the nearby rock pools and adult seals leisurely sleeping under the warm sun, the seals were a little difficult to see as their colour of their fur blends perfectly with the rock formations. However by walking further down the boardwalk, which stops at the incredible view of Admirals Arch, you really do come close to these amusingly gorgeous and very large seals. I could have spent all morning here but we soon had to jump back on the bus and make our way over to Remarkable Rocks.
Remarkable Rocks Turning off Cape Du Couedic Road and onto Boxer Drive, we soon found ourselves going for a short hike through native bush land and after about five or so minutes, Remarkable Rocks materialised in front of us – and stopped us in our tracks. The Remarkable Rocks are exactly that, remarkable. Wind-sculpted rock formations that balance precariously on top of a smooth granite dome, Remarkable Rocks are perched on the cliff edge with the Southern Ocean roaring dangerously underneath. There are many signs warning visitors to be careful, as some accidents have occurred with people slipping on the rocks. This stunning rock formation has been shaped by rough wind, harsh sea spray and rain over some 500 million years, resulting in the unique shape it is today. The golden auburn lichen, unglamorously known as a variety a fungus, covers a fair portion of the rocks. The lichen looks absolutely brilliant and bright in rain, hail or shine. Here we walked around the rocks, walked underneath the rocks and walked over the rocks taking photos and soaking in this natural wonder.
Andermel Marron Farm Following our explorations, we jumped back on the bus and made our way over to Andermel Marron Farm for lunch. Here we were enjoyed a tour of the five acre property which houses 52 marron ponds and enjoyed lunch of various Two Wheeler Creek Wines, native bush tucker and marron, the island’s famous freshwater crayfish. Needless to say, it was just what we needed after an adventurous morning exploring the coast of Kangaroo Island.
Seal Bay With full tummies and a slight case of food coma, we jumped back on the bus and made our way over to Seal Bay. Seal Bay is the only place in the world where you can see the Australian Sea Lion up close. A 45-minute drive from the Marron Farm, the only way you can see the seals is by booking a walking tour with one of the official guides. It is therefore best to book ahead as the walking tours can fill up fast! As our guide walked us down the path, she was also making sure we didn’t meander from the path, as the area is well inhabited by jet black Tiger snakes. Having absolutely no interest in meeting said snakes, I maintained a solid grounding in the middle of the path. Upon reaching the viewing platform, we were affronted with a beautiful vista of the beach – crisp white sand, low lying silver native bush tress, light coloured rock formations, turquoise waters and the cutest caramel coloured Sea Lions dotted up and down the beach. Walking down the wooden steps, we immediately saw a pup resting only a couple of metres from us. Laws prevent visitors coming within 10 metres of the seals, so being super close to this pup was a very rare experience. We spent about 30 minutes on the beach, learning about the seals, the environment and breeding, as well as taking lots and lots and lots photos.
TRIP NOTES What: Tour with AAT Kings 'South Australian Harvest' Where: Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Australia How: It's a two hour drive from Adelaide to Cape Jervis where the ferry departs. Can take cars, motorhomes and trucks onto ferry with SeaLink. When: All year round! Contact: AAT Kings on 1300 228 546 within Australia. Or +61 2 9028 5182 outside Australia.