Saturday 22 August Kangeroo Island

When we booked The Kangaroo Island trip at home, having been rejected by the first tour company we tried because I was over 64 (harrumph – I try not to dwell on this, but do not fail to miss an opportunity to be outraged all over again!!) we had no idea what was involved. We had just heard that Kangaroo Island was a ‘must’ so we booked it.

Standing outside our apartment building, having left the majority of our luggage for safekeeping at the accommodation where we were to return on Sunday night, we were still no wiser, except that we were aware of standing outside on a dark wintry morning hoping that some sort of conveyance would arrive to carry us off. And it did!

Sure enough just after 6.30 a large coach rolls up and we were swallowed up by it, together with about 50 plus people already on the coach. Did they know any more than us? I doubt it.  Nevertheless, having picked up several more stray people loitering outside hotels and on street corners (or so it seemed), we headed for the Back Stairs Passage (?!) ferry route to Kangaroo iIsland.

Here several other buses were tipping their passengers on to the quay side where a large Sealink catamaran type ferry patiently waited while we all trundled on board. It was another collection of nations with a large showing of Chinese and, rather oddly we thought, Italian honeymoon couples! When you have Sorrento, Tuscany or Rome why would you trundle to an Island just one stop up from the Antarctic for your honeymoon?!?!

Anyways up, we cast off and after 45 minutes of very pleasant journeying, we arrived at the island where we were delighted to learn that we were two of the three passengers booked onto the two day tour of the Kangaroo Island. Our trio was completed by a very nice young lady – perfectly made up (she must have been up for hours!) – called Louise who worked in fashion retail. Our driver was Glen Wilson who we were later to learn was the great, great, great grandson of one of the pioneers of Kangaroo Island back in the 1830’s. So it was that a small, but beautifully formed group left the dockside for a two day jaunt together. It was fantastic as we had more or less a tailor made tour or would have if we had known what to tailor make, if you get my meaning. Luckily Glen knew exactly what to show us, having been born and grown up on the island, so off we went out of the harbour town of Penneshaw for the hinterland.

Talking all the time and sometimes (rather worryingly I thought) turning round to make sure we had got the point he was making, Glen steered minibus towards David Clifford, the honey mans place. Kangaroo Island is 167 Kms long and 75kms wide. It is home to 4,500 people. There are beaches all the way round and 50% of the island it is covered by native vegetation which, believe me, is quite thick!

As we drove along there were a number of dead kangaroos and wallabies along the way. They obviously frequently come to grief on the road. There are 1,300 kms of road, most of which are dirt track. Sheep farming is the main enterprise on the island. There are only three main settlements on the island although there are houses outside these but these have no mains water.

The bee factory was run commercially and the gentleman who owned it was quite a character. He has 200 hives on the island – his honey ice cream was great even though it was a bit early to try it! Next stop was to visit a seal colony, of a variety known only to Kangaroo Island who are on the endangered species list.  Seals were were almost wiped out by the Americans looking for seal skins in the past. Apparently they only breed every 18 monthsWhich makes replenishing stocks quite challenging.  They lay like large slugs on the beach recovering from their three day fishing trips in the ocean – they apparently have three days swimming and three days snoozing to recover – then it’s back swimming again. It is a bit of a seals life……..

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Next stop was to a family that take in injured or abandoned birds of pray. Incredibly there were only four of us to see them perform so we were very close to the action. All the birds were indigenous to the island. Keith was in his element as he has done a couple of falconry sessions at home and loves birds. We sat wrapped up in our blankets while the birds were put through their paces. The young man described himself as a ‘bird nerd’ and obviously loved them. He seemed to get a bit too close to those beaks for my liking!

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On the way to see the Pelicans being fed, we visited the site where the first settlers to the island lived and had – of all things – a post office. Like Adelaide, the island prides itself on being host to the first free immigrants who came to the island to make a new life. I cannot imagine how hard it might have been – just clearing the ground for a start!! ApparentlyGlen, our driver’s great plus plus plus grandfather had booked his wife and two children on the trip knowing his Wilfred was pregnant with their third child and was likely to give birth en route! Excuse me, but I fear I am not made of the same stuff! All that and have to drag around in all those long dresses – I think not!

Anyway – on to the Pelicans who were fed by a chap who feeds them every night with a lot of theatricality. The Pelicans were fascinating. It is obviously an event that happens every evening – even the seagulls know their part – joining in at the appropriate places and even sitting on the chaps hat – worn for protection against such a happening!

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After this amusing interlude it was back to our motel right at the other end of the island for supper at the local hotel and then home to bed – yes you have it – another 7.09 am start tomorrow. I have never seen so many sun rises!!!

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