Thoughts on Location No 47
Kangaroo Island, South Australia
We didn’t have any intentions of visiting Kangaroo Island, but we ended up there all the same. With a combination of families getting away during the school holidays and a public holiday making a long weekend for everyone else to get away, caravan park vacancies were at an all-time low. Actually, caravan park occupancy was at an all-time high, and the only park we could book into was on Kangaroo Island.
We gave this some serious consideration, really serious consideration, due to the cost of the ferry. But ultimately, we decided that we should spend the money and visit the island, and we chose to stay at the Western Kangaroo Island (KI) Caravan Park and Wildlife Reserve, just a short drive from the Flinders Chase National Park.
Kangaroo Island is 150 kilometres in length, and 90 kilometres wide (93 x 56 miles). It is the third largest island off the coast of Australia. Tasmania is the largest, and Melville Island in the Northern Territory is the second largest. Driving from Penneshaw where we disembarked the ferry to the caravan park at the other end of the island took almost two hours. By the time we arrived, it was hard to believe we were on an island. We settled in and planned to explore the national park the following day.
With an area covering 326.61 square kilometres (126.1 square miles), it is impossible to see everything the Flinders Chase National Park has to offer – in the space of two days* anyway, but Dean and I managed to see as much as possible starting with Remarkable Rocks. Able to be seen, perched atop a huge granite outcrop, the rocks stick out and can be seen from quite a distance away, making for an amazing sight approaching them. Once you reach the rocks, the enormity of them really grabs you.
We were thrilled that we arrived early and were able to get photos devoid of other tourists. From Remarkable Rocks, we followed the road to Admirals Arch at Cape du Couedic where we observed a colony of New Zealand fur seals.
We also had a good look at the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse and took a short drive to the ruins at Weirs Cove, a storehouse and structure that was integral to receiving materials and goods for the lighthouse and its keepers until the late 1950s when the lighthouse became automated.
To round out our first day, we took a two-hour self-guided walk near the park Visitor Information Centre.
Our second day saw us head out with plans to do several short walks throughout the park, starting with the Snake Lagoon Hike, a popular walk that winds through Sugar Gums (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) and mallee before descending into the Rocky River valley. After crossing the river, the trail then meanders along the river bank to its mouth. Along this part of the hike, there are spectacular views of the Southern Ocean.
By this stage, it was hot, really hot, so I removed my shoes and dipped my toes in the water. I’m not ashamed to say my toes got wet and not much else. As hot as I was, the water was equally as cold, and I had my shoes back on soon enough. Just a short walk back from the beach was a deep pool, and Dean, being more adventurous than I was (am, and ever will be), took a dip. I laughed at his antics and echoed yells of complaint at the water temperature. It was freezing and he was not in the water for long.
Leaving the pool behind, we commenced our trek back to the car, the temperature increasing with each step out of the valley. Reaching the car at 11:30 am, it was 34°C (93.2°F) and we called it quits, knowing it was too hot to be out bushwalking. It was too hot to be out doing anything and it was hours before we enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the lagoon back at the caravan park.
As hot as it was on Monday, Tuesday struggled to reach half that temperature. It was cold, overcast, and miserable all day. Almost a welcome relief.
We visited a few other areas on the island, each within easy reach of where we were staying, but with fuel prices 50% higher than prices on the mainland, placing fuel in the tank once was expensive enough, without having to do it a second time and the roads were less than ideal. The only road infrastructure is on the two major roads, every other road is unsealed, congregated, and for the most part, would be a no go for a hire car. Even with our 4WD, the roads gave the car one hell of a shake-up. This put a stop to us driving too far. (Yes, it is an island in a remote location.)
Our stay at the Western KI Caravan Park and Wildlife Reserve was lovely. The park is situated on 17 hectares (42.3 acres) of natural bush and grassland. It was peaceful and quiet and the managers were very friendly. Wildlife is everywhere throughout the park and there are two short bushwalks, both ideal for close-up encounters with koalas, wallabies and kangaroos. Apparently, possums can be spotted at night but I didn’t see any. What I did see though was an echidna.
We had no TV reception, internet only when it wasn’t windy, and for the first time in a very long time (Dean tells me ‘ever’), we missed the NRL Grand Final, a sad day because Dean’s team was playing. (We’ve seen it now.)
We arrived in Adelaide yesterday and are off to walk around the city centre this morning.
Final Thought on Kangaroo Island
I said earlier that we gave visiting the island a lot of consideration. The ferry was not cheap. A trip for two adults (during school holidays) was almost twice the normal price. It cost as much again for the car, and our mini home cost more than the adult fares and the cost of the car added together. And that was only one way.
Once on the island, all activities are tourist attractions that have you placing your hand in your pocket for more money. I don’t begrudge local industry, I’m just putting it out there that Kangaroo Island is a tourist destination and visiting the island is not an inexpensive activity.
Flinders Chase National Park
* There is a park entry fee – $11 per adult per day, or $16 per adult for two consecutive days. We opted to pay for two days with the intention of seeing as much as we could.