Australian Island Holiday
Travel to Australian Island a great tour
Kangaroo Island is a laid back and out of the way island retreat. This is where real people really live! Yes, there are a lot of tourists about, but the atmosphere is very different from the east coast Australian resort cities, like Cairns in Queensland. Kangaroo Island is easy to spot on a map of Australia.
Find Adelaide, roughly the middle of the southern Australia coast, and go further south: Kangaroo Island is just off the west coast. Matthew Flinders discovered the island in 1802, and used its abundant kangaroo population for fresh meat for his crew. Now much of this island is park land, and home to native animal species (see Kangaroo Island wildlife pictures) and the Remarkable Rocks.
Australia's Remarkable Kangaroo Island ~ Laid back and Lovely!
No light, no sound, no smell, no movement of air -- All senses but touch are completely useless. Just a smothering blackness that your eyes will never get used to.
Less than a minute into this sensory deprivation, we break: Murmurs begin punctuating the silence as we dozen or so visitors at Kelly Hill Caves (photos) seek reassurance that we do, indeed, still exist.
As the lights come back on, the Parks Interpretative Officer -- a blonde, fit looking young man, as Aussie males of a certain age tend to be -- leads us out of these compact caverns shot through with thrusting and hanging limestone icicles and back to the morning light.
On earlier trips to Australia . . .
And peaceful the island surely is, especially when guide turns off the lights and the caves go dark. Peaceful, too, since this was the shoulder season, and the only crowding came at dinner time, when we visitors all come home to roost.
Hot Desert Winds . . .
. . . The week before, desert winds had sent temperatures here into the high 30s (90F), but this week, the sun stays hidden behind clouds darkly pregnant with rain. Cool coastal breezes hurry us along winding paths through scrubby dunes dusted with blossoms towards the fantastic erosions dubbed Remarkable Rocks. One rock looks like the maw of a sea monster; another, a giant's vertebrae. Their grays and beiges are streaked with rust, to match the red granite dome they perch upon.
Our driver-guide points to the Danger signs, saying, "Don't go beyond those signs. Just two weeks ago, a tourist from Germany went too close and got hit by a rogue wave." Peering over the sloping edge, we see rolling waves crashing into forbidding rocks far below. He continues. "The guide and another tourist went into the water to save him. He was fine, the other tourist was fine, but the driver drowned. The German government just awarded [driver] a bravery medal."
At Seal's Bay, yet another handsome park interpretative chap leads us in close formation along a beach that's lumpy with dozing Australian sea lions. Some 600 sea lions inhabit this breeding colony, Australia's second largest. At any given time, he says, about half of the seals are resting on shore and the others are out past the reef, looking for food while dodging sharks.
Cautioning us to stick together so as to appear as one large mass to any combative male seals, he asks us to speak softly so as not to upset them, and to get no closer than 20 feet. Then, facing into the wind and the roiling waves, he flings open his arms to embrace the Southern Ocean and says, "Just think. From here, there's nothing but water for nearly 5,000 kilometres (3100 miles)."
I checked: We were indeed that distance nearly due north of Antarctica. To the west, the first stop is Argentina, nearly three times as far.
At the Parndana Wildlife Park, Days pass pleasantly . . .
. . . with easy stints of climbing, walking, eating and driving around the island as we learn about island life and meet the people. Breakfasts and lunches are buffet style, a mix of English and local dishes -- King George whiting (fish), vegemite, kidneys in sauce, and marron, a local freshwater crayfish.
For the more adventurous, there's kangaroo. Generally, the fare is tasty and ample, though sometimes the coffee is an egregious crime against the bean. Burger patties are usually topped with that great Aussie favourite, a slice of beet root. And once, in a beef stroganoff, the mystery vegetable proved to be a large slices of dill pickles.
But all in all, Sydney's perfect hotel storm proved a blessing. Those first silent, black moments in the caves had stopped the world, letting us off to listen to Kangaroo Island's laid-back song. Played at a much slower tempo than Sydney's, and in a lower key than Cairn's, it's simply perfect for this waltz back in time. A great Australian island holiday!
Kangaroo Island Sights and Souvenirs * Bring some home!Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery is a marvel of self-sufficient eco-friendliness, powered by steam, wind and sun. It's South Australia's last remaining commercial distillery and the only one in the world distilling the Kangaroo Island Narrow Leaf Mallee, a renewable resource free from chemical sprays. The gift shop has a great variety of products from candies to creams.
Island Pure Sheep Dairy demonstrates cheese making from start (when ewes file into the high-tech milking shed) to finish, when you sample the excellent cheeses, including feta, kefalotiri, manchego, haloumi and brie.
Bee Sanctuay Kangaroo Island is the world's oldest sanctuary for Ligurian bees as well as the world's last pure strain of these docile and productive Italian natives. The queens are exported around the world. Hives are moved every 6-8 weeks to catch eucalyptus, tea tree, banksias, canola and more in bloom.
Clifford's Honey Farm, Jenny's Honey Ice Cream is a must-taste treat.
If You Go Air, car, bus or camper tours or a combination can be booked through travel agents here or in Australia. The two-hour morning drive from Adelaide to the ferry at Cape Jervis is a scenic treat.
Tours usually end around 5 p.m. so consider flying back to Adelaide as there's not much sightseeing to be done in the dark. Bus passengers take their luggage on to the ferry then after the 45 minute crossing, board an island bus to continue the tour. The crossing can be a 'rolling' adventure at times, especially in the middle of the channel. There is seating in the cabin and on deck.