We had a whole week for our trip to Adelaide so we decided to spend two of the days on a trip to Kangaroo Island – I’m so glad we did as it was the highlight of our trip!
We wanted to make the most of our time so we booked to go with Adventure Tours Australia. My sister had been on a tour with them in Western Australia and had an excellent experience so we booked on the 2 day Kangaroo Island Explorer trip which cost just over $400 – and was worth every cent!
Starting bright and early on day 1 we were picked up from our hotel by a mini-bus and then transferred at the bus interchange onto a large coach to Jervis Cove where we would get the ferry to Kangaroo Island. We were a bit confused as the driver told us everyone else on the bus was doing a 1 day tour and he was going to transfer us to another group at the ferry – we didn’t have much more information then that, but it all worked out. When we got off the ferry after a 45 minute trip across the Fleurieu Peninsula to Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island, we found a small minibus and our tour guide, Kate, waiting for us.
Kate was a brilliant tour guide, she was cheery, upbeat, and a great storyteller with a wonderful sense of humour.
We had a full bus, so about 12 of us from all walks of life though mostly in the 20s-40s age group.
Our first stop was Rob’s Shearing and Sheepdogs, a family operated sheep farm.
This was a great experience as Rob himself spent an hour or so with us showcasing the work he and his sheepdogs do to get the sheep shorn.
Rob is a real salt-of-the-earth guy, friendly, humble and good natured, he was very engaging and entertaining. His sheepdogs were also all of the above!
They quivered with anticipation ready to jump at their master’s command. One was an older more experienced dog, the other was younger, more enthusiastic and a bit more easily distracted. It was interesting to watch the dynamics between the dogs and Rob, and how he made sure to be firm and show them who’s boss but also give them positive attention and affection when they did a good job. The pecking order was very obvious and as entertaining as they were to us, we could see they worked as a well oiled machine to get the job done.
We watched Rob give a shearing demonstration with just one of the sheep and it looked like bloody hard work! Impressive that he chatted to us through the whole process, efficiently working over the sheep, explaining the tools and the sling to protect the shearer’s back and telling us all about what happens to the wool. He passed around samples of freshly shorn wool which looks really dirty and matted on the outside and is soft and pure on the inside. Really fascinating!
Next we hopped back in the bus to keep on track with the day’s schedule. There was always plenty to see out the window and time to pull over to admire the gorgeous coastal views and Summer’s day.
We continued on to Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery – which produces and distributes eucalyptus products around the world. I recognized the label from some beauty products I have been gifted from a friend, it was nice to see the actual place it came from.
Mostly there was a big store with all the products, plus a small theatre showing an info-video about the distillery. It was very dated, the video is in need of a revamp I think (it was a bit comical) but the theatre has a tractor that you can sit in to watch the video so I guess that’s a novelty for kids.
Most exciting was that this stop was where we had lunch, which was organized by Kate – she brought out lots of containers of salad ingredients, bread, meats and veggie patties and fruit. It was a great spread of fresh healthy ingredients, fuss free but filling, I was impressed (as a vego I have learnt to not expect too much from tour group food, I was pleasantly surprised on this tour!)
We sat on the back patio at picnic tables, kept company by an emu who was watching us from the other side of a wire fence bordering the property and a sweet Joey who was in residence after being rescued (I believe her mother was killed on the road). She was quite tame and used to humans so let us carefully approach to say hi – I couldn’t help getting some pics and a kangaroo selfie (I’ll save that gem til the end of the post!)
We went to visit the Seal Bay Conservation Park, where a wild breeding colony of Australian sea lions live.
This excerpt from the Seal Bay website explains why the colony is so important and in need of protection:
Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea) are part of a group known as ‘eared’ seals. They use their front flippers to prop themselves up and their back flippers to help them to ‘walk’ on land. In the water their back flippers act as a rudder.
These fascinating creatures are one of the rarest species in the world. The entire population is estimated at around 14,700. Of these, 85 percent live in South Australia and the other 15 percent in Western Australia.
Seal Bay supports the third largest colony of Australian sea lions with a population of around 1,000. This is about five percent of the world’s total. The Australian sea lion was nearly hunted to extinction in the 19th century. We can count ourselves lucky that places like Seal Bay exist today.
We entered through the information Centre which has displays to learn about the sea lions, then were taken as a group down to the beach by a park ranger guide.
We walked on raised wooden boardwalks which gave a great vantage point of the seals down on the beach.
We headed down the stairs and stood on the beach keeping well back from the sea lions. They can be aggressive in self defense and when you realize the size and weight of them you really just want to keep them feeling very safe and secure!
It was a joy to watch them riding the waves, rolling in the surf and coming up to shore. They are so graceful in the water, such a contrast to when they are on land.
We called into the sand dunes of the Little Sahara, where some in our group went sand boarding. I was tempted for a few minutes but it was just so hot and I was enjoying watching everyone else stacking it down the dune. Some were really good and had a good ride down, but most got stuck every few meters or were toppling head over heels – very funny!
On our drive to our accommodation for the night we stopped to see these iconic Australian mailboxes along the side of the road. Each are numbered for different properties in the area. There are multiple fridges, microwaves, crates, oil drums and other strange ‘mail vessels’ where the mailman/mailwoman leaves the mail!
We stopped at yet another jaw dropping lookout to take in the view, just look at it!
We arrived at our accommodation , Vivonne Bay Lodge, in the late afternoon.
The tour description had indicated so many activity options to enjoy here but we actually didn’t arrive til about 4pm so we didn’t really have time. We could have kayaked on the Harriet River (free kayaks available), gone walking along the property’s marked tracks, or taken out the trail bikes. Instead we went for a walk, following the bush track to Vivonne Bay Beach with a group of other girls on the tour.
On the way there we stopped to watch a mama and baby kangaroo, then on the way back we spotted koalas in the trees.
We walked through the scrub toward the beach and more kangaroos skipped across our path as we surprised them in their dusk-time grazing.
The ocean was perfect for a body surf, and the sun was just right to relax on the beach for awhile. As the sun prepared to set we walked back and took turns using the showers to get ready for dinner.
That night it was New Years Eve, but it was very low key. We had our BBQ dinner out on the back verandah as the sun set, most had brought along some wine or treats (Jo and I had a nice sparkling from our winery tour). We sat and talked with others until midnight approached and we went into the Rec room and watched the Sydney firework on TV. So even though we escaped our home town for NY, we still ended up celebrating with it – that’s because it really is a spectacular show :-)
As mentioned above, I’ll leave you with this. My Kangaroo Selfie, which is apparently a thing!