First up in our vacation with Cathy and Dave was a trip to Kangaroo Island.  Off the southern coast of Australia (outside the city of Adelaide), Kangaroo Island is a place with less than 200 permanent (human) residents and an abundance of wildlife.

After a brief drive down the coast from Adelaide, we boarded the ferry for Kangaroo Island.  Landing on the island, we visited the cellar door of one of the local wineries right off the ferry dock.  We paused to admire the beautiful rugged coastline, and saw a school of dolphins just off the coast, breaching the surface and feeding on a school of fish below.  It was then we could tell that we were in for a quite a treat on this island.

We made our way to Seal Bay, a conservation park for a local fur seal colony.  Here you can walk among literally hundreds of seals, resting on the beach sands.

It was amazing!  I’d never been so close to seals in my life, much less seen the complex network of relationships that exist in a colony.  The mothers closely guard pups up to a year and a half in age, then carefully watch adolescent seals ranging in ages from 2 to 5.  The seals also lie in “snuggles” on the beach and huddle together (and cover their wet bodies with sand) for warmth.

As a seal approaches a “snuggle” to try and keep warm, it must ask permission to join… often, permission was denied by a gruff series of grunts and, occasionally, a snap or two at the approaching (wet and cold) seal!  We took dozens of photos, click the link here.

From Seal Bay, we set out to find our house in Vivonne Bay before it got too dark (streets were often dirt and unmarked!)  Before leaving the conservation park, I asked one of the rangers the best places on the island to find an echidna – the elusive porcupine like Australian monotreme.  It was mating season, so I had hoped that our chances would be better.  5% he said, and wished us good luck.

Driving down the side of the road from Seal Bay, Steve suddenly pulled over on the side of the road and leaped out of the car.  He had spotted an echidna bumbling along the side of the road!  The baby echidna, no bigger than a large grapefruit (covered in sharp golden spines), largely ignored us and continued on its path through the brush alongside the road, giving us ample opportunity to observe it.

We settled into our quaint house, complete with wood fire stove, which overlooked the river feeding into the bay.

Day 2:

On Day 2 at Kangaroo Island, we journeyed to the western end of the island to Flinders Chase National Park. Dusk and dawn are the best times to spot Australian animals, especially kangaroos. We passed many wallaby and kangaroos in fields just off the road, and leaping in front of our car.  Just outside the park, ANOTHER echidna crossing the road!  This one was quite large, a full-grown adult. With a 5% predicted chance of seeing only one, I was ecstatic at the second sighting!

At Flinders Chase National Park, we set out first for a walk through Snake Lagoon, along a winding creek bed to the open ocean.

 

It was great to stretch our legs, and see some of the hillside.  Dozens of little sparrows played in the creek waters, and sweeping vistas surrounded us everywhere.

After our walk, we headed to Admiral’s Arch, the southern-most point of the island where another seal colony – of New Zealand fur seals – makes its home.

This colony was even more interesting than the first, as we got to see them sunning themselves on treacherous rock cliffs and jumping and playing in the waters below.

Day 3:

On (what was to be) our last day in Kangaroo Island, we woke up to some startling news.  Sealink–the only ferry on and off the island–had broken down and we had no way off the island, back to Adelaide, to make our flights to Hamilton Island for the next leg of our journey!! $2,000 and a day later, we did manage to find our way off the island.  (Chartered flights, extra night on KI, rebooking fees for our flights to Hamilton Island…)

Always one to make lemons, we tried to enjoy an extra day on Kangaroo Island, including a trip to a great winery and marron farm (freshwater lobster), a sheep dairy, and the northside of the island where the rugged windy coast of the south changed into green rolling hills of farmland.

See more pictures from Kangaroo Island on the photos page.