OZ and Tassie travel blog

Hansen Bay, Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island

19 November

Up with the sun again, bloody corellas! There is a large flock or should I say cacophony, of these very pretty but extremely noisy birds. Sulphur- crested cockatoos and crimson corellas all added to the noise! A kangaroo bounded across the field below our site and a couple of emus tried to find a way over/past the fence surrounding the site. Great view of Kangaroo Island in the early morning sun. Strong winds, but now from the north - hot and dry, and cloud was building, as forecast.

Breakfasted, eating the last of the fruit salad Ruth had put together, using mangoes, pawpaw and banana. It is full on mango season and we’d eaten them every day; gorgeous! The navel oranges and the pink grapefruit were so juicy and refreshing. So much fruit!

Joined the queue at the ferry dock and we were soon boarded and on our way. The crossing was uneventful and we landed and drove on to Kingscote. We passed through dry and brown farmland, and this is late spring! On from Kingscote we drove the central road, part of the Southern Ocean Drive (the Australians seem to like to put together routes and name them) all the way to Flinders Chase National Park at the far southwest corner of the island, too at least two hours. Pretty boring driving really, farmland became open scrub or bush and we saw very little in the way of wildlife despite the publicity for the island claiming it was teeming with wildlife!

Eventually found the park; there was a distressed koala clinging to a tree in the car park with lots of people coming close to it taking photos with their phones, in spite of a notice put up by the Rangers to keep away. Apparently the koala wouldn’t climb the tree because there was another male higher up and he couldn’t go to another tree because of all the people around. Not sure why the Rangers didn’t sort that out.

Bought our day pass and drove on to our campsite. Tonight we are going to stay in a cabin! The cabin, a log cabin, was delightful, clean and well equipped and overlooking a large grassy area. But, first things first, the laundry beckoned. Clothes washed, they were dry within an hour; during which Ruth enjoyed a siesta and I went to explore the ‘Koala Walk’. Didn’t spot any koala but on returning to the campsite, there was one, fast asleep, in a tree on the campsite. Just outside the site, on the adjacent station’s field, was what I though was an emu with five chicks, they were at a distance, but when I checked the photos I could see they were bustards.

So, clothing duly collected from the line, we set off to explore the National Park. We drove out to the Cape de Couedic along a very boring road, dense foliage and Mallee trees lined the road so there was no view and no animal sightings, but on arrival the scrub became lower and we could see the Southern Ocean and the waves crashing on the rocks. A boardwalk led us to views of the rocky coast and the New Zealand fur seal colony. Only a few bull seals in residence, they had claimed their territory and were awaiting the females, due any day now to give birth to their pups and a day or so later be ready for mating. We could hear the bulls roaring, to put off challengers to their spot. Fortunately there was a strong breeze, so the smell wasn’t too bad. The boardwalk carried on to Admirals Arch, a huge arch carved out by the waves.

Just as we’d finished our viewing the rain came down, luckily we were on the edge of the clouds and didn’t get too wet, but we beat a retreat to the car sharpish. The shower passed and we drove on to see the Remarkable Rocks, as you might suspect, Ruth was not interested, but I walked down to see them. fascinating weathering of ancient granite rocks. By now the weather looked more threatening so we headed back to the camp, but on the way we saw a sign for Snake Lagoon, and intrigued we turned off the tarmac and onto a gravel road to see it.

The corrugations were bearable, for the most part, and after 15km we arrived at the Lagoon. The info board advised the lagoon was often dry, and today it was! Saw three Kangaroo Island kangaroos (a sub-species of the Eastern Grey), these were darker and browner than those we had seen on the mainland. But, at last, we had seen kangaroos close up. The light was really fading by now, so back to the cabin for some dinner, a Bunderberg and bed. Discovered Rosemary had posted a weather warning on my Facebook page - a severe weather system was approaching, a mixture of Antarctic air and warm air from the north and barrelling towards the whole of south east Australia with the potential of very high winds, high waves, hail and possible snow! We didn’t sign up for this! Will check with Sealink tomorrow.

20 November

Whoa, we slept in! No noisy birds! The log cabin kept all the noise out, plus the bed was very comfortable. Ruth was feeling a bit under the weather so we took our time to get sorted and on the road. We took a slow drive around the campsite, it was lovely, spacious and well kept. Saw several pink-footed geese browsing on the grass and some rainbow lorikeets feeding on the blossom of one of the eucalypts, and the local koala, asleep, as usual! A beautiful clear sunny morning, warm in the sunshine but the wind, now having swung into the south was cool. It was a relief from the very hot northerly winds of yesterday.

Just along the road is the turnoff for Hansen Bay, a gravel/dirt road which wasn’t too uncomfortable, we kept a sharp eye out for echidna and goanna, but we arrived at the Bay before seeing either of these. From the car park, above the beach, Hansen Bay is beautiful, white sand curving round the bay of beautiful blue ocean. We walked around the Bay and across a narrow neck of land to the second part of the Bay, much larger and the waves were crashing in. It was just so beautiful and hardly anyone else there. A German family were standing on a low cliff looking out over the ocean, obviously staring at something. It was a pod of dolphin, riding the breakers, looking for a meal. Fabulous.

Back to the South Coast Road (Southern Ocean Drive), again driving slowly, certainly slowly by the locals’ standards, looking for any wildlife. Lots of road kill, mostly kangaroo or wallaby, in various states of decomposition, from fresh kill to small scattered piles of sun-bleached bones.

Our next turnoff was to Vivonne Bay; another gravel/dirt road, but this road was mostly white rock - and white dust! The Bay was wider than Hansen and the beach was covered in dried seaweed, not very attractive. So back to the main road, a nice drive, lots of tall eucalypt and various flowering shrubs. We stopped at Seal Bay Cafe for a delicious lunch; the man at the desk looked totally out of place, he was very tall and wore jeans, shirt and a cowboy hat, seemed more suited to station life. This proved to be true, they had only been at the Cafe for five weeks and were still finding their feet.

About 10 km further on the South Coast Road became a gravel road, the black-topped road swung north to Kingscote. We decided to stick with the South Coast Road so that we could visit d’Estrees Bay. The track wound through the hills, not an unpleasant drive and the corrugations were quite gentle. Ruth suddenly shouted STOP! Eagle-eyed Ruth had seen sand being flicked up at the roadside and when we walked back there was a large goanna digging under a rock. What an excellent spot! The goanna carried on for a short while before heading off into the bush. Nice to see a live goanna, it was about a metre long. We had seen a couple amongst the road kill along the main roads.

A convoluted route, we eventually arrived at d’Estrees Bay but just then a bustard walked across the road in front of us. Quick photo before it walked into the bush. By now the wind was getting up and the clouds were rolling in, as forecast, so we didn’t hang around for too long. No walk along the beach. Did notice some interesting grasses at the back of the beach.

Time was marching on and we wanted to speak to the ferry people. The forecast of the huge storm had been cancelled, the storm didn’t develop as anticipated and anyway it moved further north. However we though we would try to get booked on to an earlier ferry so that we could drive up to Paul and Rosemary’s in daylight. The ferry terminal is in Penneshaw. Very friendly woman was able to offer an earlier crossing so ‘all good’.

We drove back down the road to Baudin Beach for our accommodation for the next two nights. Very comfortable room, complete with the makings of breakfast. Beautiful birds in the flowering shrubs outside the french doors of our room. Our host warned us of very strong winds tomorrow. Cooked some dinner. Bed. Still no echidna!

21 November.

What a windy night with heavy rain squalls, so glad we are not in our little camper trailer. The storm lasted all day and into the night, very strong gusts and more rain. No ferries today and the ferry company will make a decision in the morning about crossings for Thursday.

During a break in the rain we popped out and looked at American River, quite pretty but everything was shut down. The bay here is very sheltered and it seems all the black swans gathered here; there must have been well over 50 of them plus a few pelicans. A wallaby braved the rain and hopped across the road in front of us. Beautiful rainbow at one point, didn’t stay for long.

Ruth is not well with a stomach bug, so just as well we were stuck inside due to the weather, and that we were in a cabin, not the tent.

22 November

Another windy night, but didn’t disturb us in the cabin! Although windy the clouds were much smaller, puffy and scudding along so we drove out,, first to the ferry terminal to check all was well, it was, then drove on to Cape Willoughby, the furthest point east of the Island.

The road started out black-topped but a few k changed to gravel/dirt but again the corrugations were not too bad. The gravel roads on the Island generally were in good condition. Not sure what they would be like after the ‘high season’ - over the Christmas break. The road was pretty straight but wound past some wet low lying areas and inlets from the ocean. Lots of trees, a lovely drive.

We arrived at the Cape to see the lighthouse, but when we got out of the car the wind was howling across. Great views along the coast with lots of white caps and waves crashing onto the rocky shoreline. Not much in the way of wildlife, just a few flocks of sheep hunkered down to shelter from the wind.

So, back to catch the ferry. A smooth ride across to the mainland only encountering a fairly large swell for the last kilometre or so.

We collected the trailer and headed north, up through McLaren Vale; all those wineries! And on to Mount Barker, a lovely drive through mixed farming country, to finally arrive at Paul and Rosemary’s.

A long catchup,, dinner then bed.

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