Day 71 – Kangaroo Island – Port Elliot – Back to Civilisation

An early night to retire into the caravan, as it was so cold. We were discussing what clothing we should have bought with us last night – a beanie was on the list! Having done an afternoon of jobs, we could relax and read and post the blog (which took forever!), we didn’t even plan the day today, apart from wanting it to be a relaxing one and one that involved going to Seal Bay – the only major tourist attraction we hadn’t done yet.

The morning was overcast but we had a faint hope that it would clear up for the afternoon on the beach. So we headed to Seal Bay to see the sea lions and their pups lying on the beach in the wild wind. We could have done the guided tour along the beach front, or a self guided walk along the board walk for half the price. So we opted for the self guided as the wind was very strong and the lady at the desk mentioned that due to the wind there may not be that many along the beach. The boardwalk took us within the sand dunes and we definitely saw a lot of sea lions both in amongst the dunes and on the beach itself. There was even a skeleton in its entirety, lying in the dunes, of a Humped Back Whale which was washed ashore and likely stranded from its mother during its winter migration in a storm in 1984. Once we made our way to the beach viewing platform there were plenty of females and their pups on the beach. The females and pups are distinguished by their colour as they are lighter grey with a white tummy – they grow to be about 100kg, whereas the males are darker, and grow to 350kg and when they reach the age of 9 years they get a blond mane on their back, which is how they got their name “the lion of the sea”. The females look after their pups by leaving them on the shore for up to 3 days whilst they go and get food. When they come ashore the females uses a unique call so they can find their pups, so that the pups get a nutritious feed of milk. The pups learn to swim in the shallows when they are 2-3months old, and will venture out to the inner reef with their mothers to learn to swim between 3-6months. It isn’t until they are 17months old that they are independent and go off on their own. Sea lions venture offshore up to 100kms south of Kangaroo Island right up to the continental shelf, by the time they get back to shore they then spend 2-3 days recovering from all the swimming. Females are permanent residents at Seal Bay as they always come back to where they were born – this makes it a closed sea lion community. Males are more transient and move between colonies, which ensures genetic diversity in the greater population. Seal Bay is the third largest Australian sea lion breeding colony and has a population of about 1000 sea lions out of a population of 14,500. Its also believed that the Seal Bay numbers are declining, which is why its so important that this area is conserved. The girls really enjoyed this experience, helped by the fact that they had their binoculars out to spot the animals.

Luckily we wore our rain coats to stop the wind coming through and it helped, we were all a little wind swept by the time we got back to the top with hair everywhere. The weather was still overcast and not beach weather so we decided to head into Kingscote for a food shop and lunch at a cafe. Before we stopped for lunch we went to Bay of Shoals vineyard for Lach to taste some more wines from KI – however the wines were “not to our palette” despite winning numerous awards at the Cairns Wine Show. The girls were excited about going food shopping after lunch – its still a novelty for them as at home we do it all online – they love sitting in the trolley. After lunch and shopping we headed back to the bottle shop to buy some more HazyBlur and then back to the caravan park. On the way back to the caravan park it was clear that the afternoon weather was going to be the same as this morning so we would just be hanging out at the caravan park. We did all of our jobs yesterday and so the random thought came out of my mouth as a suggestion to Lach “Why don’t we see if we can change our Ferry from tomorrow morning to late this afternoon?”, within 15mins we had changed the ferry to the 530pm ferry and had a new plan for the next 24 hours. However this did involve doing a speedy pack up back at the caravan park, which was still 1 hours journey away. In record time – 35mins – we had the van packed and attached to the car. The girls understood and were great and we were back on the road heading along the same road we had already done twice this morning. We could have made the 430pm ferry if we had been 1m shorter, so we hung around and got the 530pm. I made the girls a sandwich picnic for their dinner to eat on the ferry, whilst I typed the blog. Lach had to reverse onto the ferry, but we discussed it and decided it was better to just ask them to do it – valet service as he said to the guy – less stress.

We were off the ferry quickly being the second vehicle off, and we only had a 45min drive to Port Elliot (next town up from Victor Harbor). The drive was easy apart from the questions which Ava was asking. She wanted to understand why my ‘big’ family was only Auntie Nicki and that Daddy’s ‘big’ family was much bigger – this involved me drawing a family tree of the Chicks and one of the Beatties – this made her happier, but then Audrey wanted one too, and they both wanted all the children circled. We arrived at Port Elliot Holiday Park and picked up our boom gate code from a secret box (the office was closed). The park was PACKED…. (more people in this caravan park than we saw the whole time we were on Kangaroo Island)…the roads were narrow with tents and caravans squashed in, with cars parked on the curbs. We arrived at our spot to find an abandoned ute with keys, the neighbours on all sides were accomodating and ran around trying to find the owners – in the mean time I was trying to work out how I was going to park the caravan with zero manoeuvrability. I was chatting to the neighbours through the window as were the girls. The gentleman who was trying to cook his dinner (has stayed here for 3 weeks every year for 24 years) helped out by taking the girls to sit with him and his girls (older teenagers) whilst we worked out what to do. After running around the park looking for the owners of the car with no luck, Lach and I decided that we would move the car (they must have left the keys in it for a reason) so that we could park – it was already 730pm, and I was already thanking someone that we didn’t arrive later. The street was a one-way street, but the people opposite suggested that we drive out and come back the wrong way down the street and he will move his car so that we can park – PHEW…. I went around the block and came back and parked first time with about 20 people watching. Wasn’t my normal perfectly straight park which i like to do, but I was happy to be parked and considering we are here for 1 night – it’s ok.

The guys behind us commented to Lach that we had a great ‘rig’ and were impressed with the speed of which it all came together. A lot of the caravans here are of the older variety and I could hear people commenting on the van whilst doing the circuit.

After we set the van up for girls to go to bed, I collected them from the neighbours – apparently they hadn’t stopped talking the whole time – and got them ready for bed. Lach and I had a wonderful dinner planned of steak and corn on the BBQ, but to be honest getting the BBQ out at this time, all seems too hard, so we will just have a naughty dinner of wine, chips and cheese.

2 responses to “Day 71 – Kangaroo Island – Port Elliot – Back to Civilisation

  1. So pleased,that you have all been able to see the animals so closely and especially for Ava and Audrey who certainly will not forget this experience. It’s such a shame that the weather has not been kind to you but a wonderful time to look back on as it would all be so boring if every day was the same, just proves we have no control over the weather.
    Ava and Audrey will always remember seeing the sea lions on the beach as you can get so close to them while walking to the beach. It’s amazing how they just lie there oblivious to what is going on around them basking in the sun or covered in the sand with not a care in the world. All of a sudden a fight breaks out and they become quite aggressive.
    Hope the main land gives you lots of happy adventures and more sunshine on you leg home. Safe travels.
    Love to you all
    Mum, Rosie, Nanna xxxx


  2. Busy, busy, busy. Don’t recall you have been so cramped in any previous park. Sounds as though lots of friendly helpful people around.
    Family tree an interesting concept for one so young, an historian in the making (or maybe not)…
    KI – even more wildlife – obviously more animals than people by a country mile.
    Presumably it’s the Great Ocean Road next; different views than the Nullabor. Safe travels.


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