Day 67 – McLaren Vale – Kangaroo Island – Back to bush

Last night we played four games of S’Head with Nanna and Grandpa along with some spectacular bottles of wine. After winning three of the four games, we said our farewells to Nanna and Grandpa and continued packing the van to ensure we could leave the caravan park at 7am.

Having to set an alarm for the first time on holidays, too afraid to dare I say it ‘over sleep’, we were packed and ready to leave just before 7am. Nanna and Grandpa stumbled over, waking early to say farewell to the girls, Caroline and I. We really had a fantastic time with Grandpa and Nanna. It was so special discovering together some truly amazing things – particularly vineyards, as we all have a little passion for good wine and gain so much pleasure from conversing with passionate winemakers.

Caroline was driving today from McLaren Vale to Kangaroo Island (KI) and did a fantastic job of getting us to Cape Jervis to board the ferry on the windy, hilly roads (reminded Caroline of the alps). I took the girls on board, while Caroline was instructed to REVERSE the car and caravan onto the ferry. Yes, you heard correctly! Smaller vehicles drove forward, while the larger vehicles were instructed to reverse in, to allow for an expedient arrival at KI. To book your trip on the ferry, they require the dimensions and make of your vehicle, using all available space to park as many vehicles as they possibly can. Caroline texted me, unsure whether she would be able to park the caravan on the ferry quickly, as we were one of the last vehicles to board the ferry. While I supported her in reversing the caravan, she suggested another option. A friendly ferry attendant said they were happy to park the van – Caroline accepted the offer and we were in! Watch out KI!

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We left the ferry and headed to our campsite, on the South West corner of the Island, remarkably close to Southern Ocean Lodge. Our road trip on the island was close to 150kms and seemed to take considerably longer than previous trips we have endured. Along the way Caroline and I noticed a significant number of deceased possums, a little slow for road crossings (the first possums we have seen whilst being on the road) and an enormous alive koala, that was also looking for an opportunity to cross the road. It felt like we encountered less cars on this stretch of the road than we had on the Nullarbor. I know it is an island, but it was eerily quiet on the road!

Arriving at Western KI Caravan Park, I already felt more at ease. Barossa and McLaren Vale were lovely (and it was fantastic seeing mum and dad), but arriving at the caravan park, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders – a sensation derived from what was lacking at KI. Less crowds, less cars, less worries. I immediately felt relaxed. We unpacked the van, had some lunch and decided to make the most of the lovely sunny day – beach here we come.

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We decided to go to a nearby beach, Hanson Bay. A lovely beach in a protected bay, sheltered by a natural reef which afforded the girls the opportunity for a carefree splash in the cool waters. Caroline sunned herself while the girls and I played some beach boules and some bat and ball. There was even some time for a little exploring of the rock pools. Similar to our experience of navigating through KI, there were only a handful of people on the beach – it felt like we were the only people there. The beach and waters were similar to those near Esperance – white sand contrasted with clear turquoise waters.

Heading back to the caravan park, we went to the information centre within the campsite and learnt about the history of KI and some interesting facts of the koala and Ligurian Bee. After hearing some of the interesting facts on KI courtesy of Grandpa of the Ligurian Bee and thriving koala population, I was curious why the island was named after kangaroos, particularly when koalas seemed to be the predominant marsupial inhabitant.

KI separated from mainland Australia around 10,000 years ago due to rising sea levels. In 1800 the British Government commissioned Captain Flinders (possibly a descendant of Captain Greybeard??) to explore and map the southern coastline of Australia. It was in 1802 that he first recorded European sighting of the Island and named it Kangaroo Island after the abundant supply of kangaroos and the role their meat played in feeding the soldiers and replenishing the ships meat stocks.

The koalas population on KI is a different story indeed, being regarded as a feral pest responsible for the destruction of much of the native flora and fauna on the island. In the 1920’s, 18 koalas were introduced to KI as a precautionary measure to stop the extinction of this Australian iconic marsupial. Today, the koala population has multiplied to a staggering 27,000. To counteract this population outburst and the dramatic impact it has on all inhabitants of KI, the government has undergone a capture, sterilisation and relocation project for koalas at an estimated cost of one million dollars a year.

Another species introduced to KI is the Ligurian Bee imported from the Italian province of Ligurian in the early 1880’s. Twelve bee hives were introduced and to this day no other bees have been introduced. Due to the isolation of the island, all present day honey bees are descendants of those from the 12 original hives, resulting in a pure source of Ligurian honey on the island.

After trying to digest much of the information from these boards, we went on the ‘koala walk’ at the caravan park – an area outside of the caravan park surrounded by large gum trees. Recalling a conversation from earlier in our holiday on the subject of ‘drop bears’, Audrey instigated the following conversation:

Audrey: “Are these the Koala’s that drop out of the tree?”
Caroline: “No there aren’t any drop bears around here”.

I chuckled to myself, whilst looking upwards at the top of the tall gum trees. Long live the folklore of the ‘drop bear’. May it continue to scare unassuming tourists venturing into the wild and wiry Australian scrub!

On our journey along the koala walk we spotted a few KI kangaroos, darker and smaller than their mainland cousins and some of the pesky koalas. They were relatively easy to spot on the branches, their presence made known by their pungent aroma. It was also quite clear how they have received their pest status, seeing the damage they had caused to the foliage of the gum trees. We returned from our lovely walk to a veritable feast of pizzas cooked on the weber. Well done Caroline.

With the sun getting lower, Caroline sitting outside with the girls reading “Where’s Stripey?” with any luck the girls will go down quicker than the sun does tonight. Once the girls are asleep we will work out our plan for the next few days – I hope we get a chance to spend some days on the beach, a bit of swimming and some more fishing ‘practice’!

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Final note for the evening, Caroline on her way to the bathroom came back a little earlier than what I would have anticipated, requesting the camera. No need for alarm, or any inappropriate thoughts, she had spotted some beautiful birds with fluorescent green on their beaks. Returning to the caravan in an appropriate amount of time (anticipated) she took some photos of the unknown bird, with the identification of Cape Barren geese.

3 responses to “Day 67 – McLaren Vale – Kangaroo Island – Back to bush

  1. What a wonderful week we,had with Lachlan, Caroline, Ava and Audrey. We did so much, shared so much, had our first experiences in caravan parks, the one in Tanunda was exceptional with us having a brand new three bedroom home, the one in Port Wiluna was more basic but comfortable, air conditioned and adequate. We tasted many wines, visited many wineries and learnt to play S’Head spending quality time together at nights.
    Do hope that you enjoy KI as we certainly did and have many happy memories of our visit there just two years ago.
    Not sure of the mention of an accident that Audrey had, read the post again and still not sure what happened other than the comment by Nonna.
    Thank you all for sharing the very special week of your 3 Momths in a Caravan, we loved every minute of our experience and are feeling a lot more rested, let’s hope it remains that way!
    Love Mum, Nanna, Rosie xxxx

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  2. Blimey Caroline, to even think you had to reverse onto the ferry is scary, somehow don’t think Lachie would have wanted that challenge either (not with someone else’s caravan). The crew must be used to it.
    Didn’t realise that KI is so large or that koala’s are pests, one learns so much every day – keep the facts coming. Lots more animals for the girls to spot I’m sure, hopefully not all dead ones.
    Sheltered beach sounds fantastic, enjoy the r & r after visiting all those vineyards – but somehow I don’t believe you will be giving up the wine as well. You may catch different varieties of fish though for you to enjoy with the wine!!
    By the way forgot to mention that whilst you will be travelling the Great Ocean Road, Bob & Jenny may well be travelling in the opposite direction at the same time. Small world…

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