Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Kangaroo Island – stunning place – Nov 2011

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on December 5, 2011

Wind turbine blades

Pink salt lake near Snowtown

Kids on the tank at Two Wells

Hi Everyone,

We left Port Augusta and headed south towards Adelaide with more stormy weather looming.  We stopped for a break at Snowtown and read about the wind farms we had seen on our way in.  They have one of the actual blades at the rest area and they are huge!  The town is very quaint and has lots of beautiful murals painted on the sides of buildings.  I talked to the kids about the murders that happened here years ago and they were trying to see the bank where the bodies were stored; but I don’t imagine it to be a huge tourist draw card!  We travelled on down the highway amazed at all the wheat

Funky lighthouse at Cape Jarvis

Bit blowy on way over

Coming into Penneshaw

and wind farms; it must be pretty windy here most of the time.  We stopped a bit further down the track at Two Wells for lunch and Wade found a great old tank in the memorial park so the boys managed to get rid of some excess energy here! The rain has set in again and we managed to traverse Adelaide city along the western side to the expressway through lots of road works and down to Wirrina Cove Resort.  It is a resort and caravan park and we can leave our van here, hooked up to power, while we check out Kangaroo Island for a few days.  The countryside is very green and hilly on one side and the roaring coast is on the other; it’s a

On the ferry

Cape Willoughby Lighthouse

Wade inside old lens

View from top of lighthouse

beautiful mix.  We spent the next day packing for KI and took a drive down to Cape Jarvis as that is where we will catch the ferry tomorrow.  Even though it is sunny it is very windy and cold and we nearly got blown off the lighthouse lookout! We jumped back in the car and admired the view from behind some glass then stopped at Secret Valley for a hot chocolate and muffin and whilst the chocolate was warming the weather is still freezing!!

Next day we locked up our home and headed back to Cape Jarvis to catch the ferry to KI.  It was still quite windy but the whole ferry trip only took 45mins, unlike the 9 hours coming back from Tassie, and we were disembarking in Penneshaw before we knew it. It was a beautiful, sunny day but the wind was bitterly cold so jumpers were the go!  We (and all the other ferry passengers) made our way to the Tourist Information Centre where we armed ourselves with as much info as we could and got a family National Park Pass ($174) which lasts for 12 months but will still save

Vivid orange lichen

Boardwalk on the rocks

Views of lake and ocean

us $$$$. We drove straight down to Cape Willoughby and made the 1pm guided tour of the lighthouse.  There was only one other family and us and the ranger was very lovely and informative.  The original glass lens used was so huge Wade could crawl in and stand up in it.  Having so many individual lenses would have been a mongrel to keep clean but then again it’s not like there would be much else to do out there! The tour takes you up into the lighthouse itself and the view from the top is amazing and chilly.  The arctic winds blow straight onto the Cape and it is freezing.  After the tour ended we walked around the grounds and there are several

Steps to Prospect Hill

4WD quad bikes

Raring to go

Wade speed demon

old cottages that have been restored and are available as accommodation stays now.  We drove back to Penneshaw and had lunch at the pub whilst overlooking the ocean.  We had lots of time to admire the view as our lunch took over an hour to come by which time the kids were just about chewing on the furniture!  We wandered around the park at Penneshaw foreshore and marvelled at the vibrancy of the algae/lichen growth on the rocks.  It was a vivid orange colour. We decided to head west across the island and stopped at Prospect Hill, where we climbed up lots of steps to get to the top for lovely views of the bay and the southern ocean.  We turned off and took the gravel, road-less-travelled towards Vivonne bay.  The weather is still sunny but very cold so we went to look for our holiday house, which will be our home-base for the next few days. The place is huge and the kids are so excited, as they get a room with a Queen-sized bed each! Vivonne Bay is a particularly good surfing beach and there is a surf festival here in the next week or so.

Waiting to go

Inside Kelly Cave

Amazing formations

The only unfortunate thing about Vivonne Bay is that there is a general store and that’s it.  We thought there would be places to eat all over the island but we are slowly coming to realise that it’s not the case.  We did bring a few supplies with us but I was looking forward to a few nights off cooking! Not to worry, the Parndana Pub is 30km away and serves good meals so after showers we headed off and found they do indeed serve good, pub meals.  We got back home, turned on the heater, figured out the TV and DVD player and watched a family movie.  Next morning we enquired about some 4WD quad bike tours, at Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action, and we could go this morning if we wanted. The boys are so excited as most places don’t allow anyone under 16 to ride on their own but these

More amazement

Small blue wren

Vivonne Bay

guys set up the kids on their own bikes. Luckily they are just around the corner from where we are staying so before we knew it we were paid up, geared up, safety briefing done, few practice laps and away we went.  We followed the guide along some great tracks and stopped to get a few photos as well.  Wade was up front on a little 50cc, Daniel on a 90cc and Joel and I both on 125cc bikes.  It was great fun and we all agreed it was one of the best things we have done on the trip.  We went back to the house for lunch then off to Kelly’s Caves.  We did the normal cave tour, learning about the history of the cave, etc and then we decided to do the adventure cave tour, with a guide and another father and son.  It’s pretty tight in here and quite dirty so I opted not to take my camera in there. We geared up with a helmet and headlamp and it was an hour-long tour, with a guide and had us climbing through some unusual and some very small openings in the cave system.  It was really interesting, even the boys thought so, and there was only one small spot where I thought I was going to get stuck as the others were all boys/men and we had to commando crawl through a very slim hole, turning our heads to the side to get through and luckily I managed to get through as there was no other way out.  There was an archaeological dig area that was screened off, but as we crawled through the small space and around the other side we could see down into the pit where they have found lots of animal skeletons, etc.  Joel and I agreed that it was probably better than the 4WD biking this morning but the boys didn’t agree!  We

Cold at Seal bay

Beautiful creatures

Family Siesta

did get pretty filthy but most of it was limestone dust so it brushed out fairly easily.  The ranger who took the tour often helps out the PhD students doing the archaeological digs so he was full of interesting facts and stories.  On the way back to the car we saw a very friendly echidna that came right up to us and didn’t appear scared at all.  The ranger said he was very used to people and often came out to put on a show – lucky us. We also saw a blue wren and it is only this blue when it is mating season. We went back to chill out at the house, with the heater on again, then back to Parndana Pub for tea once again.  The next day was overcast and still windy

Just laying around

Seal Bay Lookout

NZ fur seals home pad

but not raining so we went to Seal Bay.  It is home to a colony of Australian Sea Lions that spend their whole life here.  It is breeding season at the moment so there are lots of pups around and they are very cute.  We paid to do the tour down onto the beach with a guide, who was really enthusiastic and great.  There is only one other colony of Australian Sea Lions and that is in SA at Point Labatt so they are trying very hard to increase the numbers of this endangered species.  There were heaps of sea lions on the beach, some younger males frolicking in the waters and some were half-way up the dunes, sleeping in amongst the scrub.  They can get back up

Admirals Arches

Seal love

Cape de Couedic Lighthouse

to a km inland from the sea for protection from the wind.  It was a surreal place and they are amazingly beautiful creatures.  I loved this place.  There is a huge boardwalk that you can walk along and still get some great views of the sea-lion for free.  It was still quite cold and we made sure to rug up well with jackets and scarves.  We lunched back at the house before heading further west across the island to the Flinders Chase National Park. First stop was the Admiral Arches, so-called for the arch of rock that has formed from the weathering of the rocks to form an archway.  The walk down is all on a boardwalk with information boards telling of the history of seal hunting and the early pioneers.  There are heaps of New Zealand fur seals here, a bit on the pongy side too, depending on which way the wind is blowing but they are just beautiful.  We

Flying fox for transportation

Weir Cove

Remarkable Rocks

witnessed a bit of a fight between two males but for the most part they just played in the water or sun bathed on the rocks.  We did the short loop-walk from the car park to the

Kids enjoying the climb

Cape de Couedic lighthouse and read about the early lighthouse keeper and their families.  Life would have been pretty lonely and harsh out here I reckon. Next stop was Weir Cove, which was where the lighthouse keeper had supplies delivered by ship, every three months, then hauled back to the lighthouse by horses.  There was a storage area at the Cove and they used an industrial strength flying fox to haul up cargo and even people from the boats below.  We drove around the look at Remarkable Rocks, a set of granite boulders and domes that have weathered at different rates to form some amazing sculpture-like rocks.  The kids had a ball climbing over and

More orange lichen

hidey-hole

Interesting Weathering

around here for ages.  The orange-red lichen grows on these rocks and makes for some remarkable photography.  The day is still pretty overcast and windy and the coastline is very rugged but still beautiful. After all this ‘fresh’ air we were ready for some food and hot showers.  We headed back to the house, turned on the heater and had a great feed of pasta, followed by another movie. We are all starting to feel the effects of the cold and sore throats are cropping up.  We packed up the next morning and had intended to traverse the island clockwise but I have an eye infection that needs some medical help so we choofed off to Kingscote hospital,

Quite a climb

Mick firing the cannon

Cape Bourda Lighthouse

then a GP for a script for some eye drops.  We decided we could still make the Cape Bourda Lighthouse tour if we stepped on it, which is on the most north-western side of the island (Kingscote is on the east coast) and we did make it with 10mins to spare.  Mick, the ranger/lighthouse keeper was quite a character.  A not-so-young ranger he was amazingly knowledgeable about the lighthouse and its history.  He also talked like a horse-race commentator at about 1000 words a minute.  OMG he was hilarious. We actually videoed some of his speech ‘cos he was so entertaining.  We were told that the cannon is fired at everyday at 1pm and he didn’t disappoint.  He fired off the canon, which was another way for ships to navigate past as Cape Bourda always fired a canon at 1pm.  Mick was very forthcoming with

Dwarf emu

Mouth of Western River Cove

Western River Cove

tall tales of the lighthouse, its keepers and the early pioneers of the time.  Initially the kids were like “not another lighthouse” but were laughing and joking and said it was the best one so far, no doubt due to Mick’s humour. The lighthouse is unusual in another sense as it is a square-built lighthouse and not cylindrical like most others. In the history room there was a picture and skeleton of a dwarf emu too!  We lunched at the Cape then drove the roads-definitely-less-travelled along the north coast starting at Western

WRC rocks and lichen

Through the rocks to Stokes Bay

Stokes Bay

Snelling Beach

River Cove.  There was a school camp at the cove and the waters and beach were pristine.  A lot of the road follows the coast along so we were spoilt with fantastic views of the beaches and coastline along the way.  We stopped at Snelling Beach for a walk along the beach but it’s definitely too cold for swimming.  We drove to Stokes Bay and stopped to check out the beach as it is a local favourite apparently.  After you climb over and through the rocks you step out onto a

Emu Bay panorama

magnificent beach, Stokes Beach.  It has a great swimming area and a low rock wall and the water is so clear and greeny-blue; it’s a gorgeous place.  The sun is out and we took a walk along the

Jetty at Emu Bay

View of Emu Bay from our balcony

beach which is fairly protected from the wind but still not warm enough for these ducks to swim I’m afraid.  We drove to

Pelicans at Emu Bay Jetty

Emu Bay where we are to stay for the next 2 nights.  It’s another holiday town, with not even a general store this time, but the views from the balcony of this place were incredible.  It’s a beautiful place, with wide, white beaches and clear blue waters.  The sun is out and the place looks like a holiday paradise.  The house is smaller than the last one but has more of a beach and holiday feel to it.  The big upside is that Kingscote is only 18km away so we all showered and headed off for a meal in town.  We went to the Aurora Ozone Hotel where we had an excellent dinner, with Daniel ordering a huge mixed grill with black pudding.  To his credit, he still tried it even when I told him what it was but he didn’t like it that much.  The hotel is right along the foreshore and has some excellent views of the bay.  Back to the house for some dessert and a movie again.  Next day was a quiet day, starting with a good sleep

American River

Sea Lion in "distress"

in and a walk around Emu Bay.  There were a few pelicans down on the jetty and the weather was just lovely.  We spent the day just chillin’.  We ventured back to Kingscote to the Queenscliffe Hotel this time. More of a family pub with great meals and a price to match.  We have seen the kangaroos mostly at night as we are driving and tend to take it a bit slower, especially on dusk.  We had brekky and packed up but we don’t have to be out until 10:30 am so the kids watched a bit of foxtel and we savoured the views outside.  We headed into Kingscote and took a drive out to Reeves Point.  I saw something in the water and upon closer inspection saw it was a sea-lion.  It was lying in the shallow part of the bay and looked like it was caught in a net or something under the water, popping its head/snout up for a breath every so often.  We hopped back into the car and stopped at a local shop/tourist centre who informed us that they do that quite often and he was just playing in the bay, but they thanked us for our concern.  We travelled down to American River where there is a camping ground

Island Beach

Rainbow at Wirrina Cove

on the foreshore for $10/night for a powered site.  There aren’t many sites and it’s definitely first-in-best-dressed but looked great.  More pelicans and a protected harbour make this a lovely place.  We stopped in at Island Beach, which sits opposite American River and walked along the beautiful beach here.  It was just gorgeous with more white beaches and sparkling azure water. We drove back to Penneshaw for lunch and grabbed some take-aways to eat at the park.  We walked around the rocks and then decided to laze in the sun, reading our books and making some phone calls while we waited to catch the ferry at 4:30pm.  The ferry crossing was over before we knew it and we were back on the mainland, heading back to our van at Wirrina Cove.  We unpacked the car and then packed up the van ready for heading out tomorrow.  We had some more rain but the sun came out and we got the most magnificent rainbow over the car and van.  It was a pretty awesome sight.

Till Next time

Ciao`

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