Kangaroo Island

Friday 8th March 27 fearless adventurers left Tasmania for a tour of Kangaroo Island and Adelaide. We were met at the airport by Gavin Rufus who greeted us with a huge welcoming smile. His knowledge of the local environment and history of South Australia was just amazing. The first night was spent at Wirrina Cove at Cape Jarvis, the only hotel known to have two keys to the same hotel room! We were a bit late and hungry so the delicious Chinese Buffet was hastily demolished.

Saturday boarding the SeaLink 300 ferry to Kangaroo Island was easy on calm flat water and after 45 mins we disembarked at Penneshaw.  Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery was our first tour with a bbq lunch followed by a visit to Clifford’s Honey farm. The word was to have the honey ice cream after looking for the queen bee in a working glass section at the window. Getting out of the bus to view the Emu Lavender Farm, we found the temperature rather warm and it was no surprise when Gavin informed us it was 40 degrees.

When we arrived at Aurora Ozone Hotel at Kingscote two courageous people made a bee line for a swim in the sea, while others used the outdoor pool at the back of the hotel. Dinner that night was at two long tables overlooking the beautiful red sunset on the water.

Sunday we were welcomed by the ranger at Seal Bay who explained there were two walks, one to the sea-lions on the beach and the other a graded board walk to several viewing platforms. On no account was anyone allowed to go near the seals and at the other end of the beach rangers were very bravely counting the new sea lion pups in a cave. The mature males can weigh up to 350 kilograms so an encounter could be catastrophic to say the least. The sea breeze there kept the temperature to a bearable level but at the Raptor Domain where we saw the birds of prey it reached 39+. We saw owls, a kestrel and a wedge tailed eagle brought out by the keepers. Quite a few people were invited to hold the birds on their arm which was protected by a long leather glove. Every so often the keeper would give the birds bits of defrosted mice to encourage their performance. The only one who slept through the entire show was a koala asleep up a nearby gum tree.

Cape du Couedic lighthouse was interesting, built of 2,000 pieces of local stone in 1906 Finished in 1909 as there had been many shipwrecks in that area. A stone building nearby was used to store provisions which was hauled up a flying fox by horses and later replaced by a winch. A comment was made that no one could have survived a shipwreck in the Weirs Cove as the height and severity of the jagged cliffs would have made any ascent impossible. Also nearby, a popular tourist attraction, was the Admirals Arch which was undertaken by fearless walkers, who said the many steps down to see it was worth the risk for the view at the bottom. A short distance away were the Remarkable Rocks an easy walk on a sophisticated flat walkway. They are a cluster of small and very large smooth and angular rock formations, some covered with gold red lichen. Seen from a distance it creates some very interesting sculptures.

Monday Gavin drove the coach to Cape Willoughby Lighthouse but because we were held up at roadworks for quite a while, we missed our appointment with our guide for a tour of the lighthouse. It was very windy but looking inside the cottage was memorabilia that was interesting to look at. A group photo was taken outside by the gate. After a quick lunch at Penneshaw we boarded the ferry for our return trip to the mainland. Stopping for a quick ice cream and toilet break at Victor Harbour, we watched the bathers swimming in the ocean – it was so hot outside the coach. Driving onto Hahndorf village where some of us swam in the covered pool or had a cold shower before getting changed for dinner at Haus Restaurant which was over the main road.

Tuesday after breakfast we boarded Captain Proud Paddle Steamer for a scone jam and cream morning tea and a one hours cruise up the Murray River.  In the afternoon we visited The Cedars (purchased in 1912) which was the historic home of the famous painter Sir Hans Heysen OBE, known for his landscapes, gum trees and still life.  His studio was nearby where his paints, charcoal sketches and watercolour paintings are on display to the public. Photos could be taken but not in the house as there are many priceless items and art pictures on the walls – also for security reasons. He and his wife Sally loved entertaining and many famous and well known celebrities came to his home. He loved gardening and certainly the garden was a picture. Returning to Hahndorf again, a number of us sat in the swimming pool to cool off, while others went to the Beerenberg Strawberry Jam farm and got rewarded with a gift pack of jams. Before dinner Jill and Mike gave a rendition of our trip to Kangaroo Island sung to the tune of Galway Bay, which was most entertaining. Still very hot but weather forecast was for cooler days to follow.

Wednesday we had a last look at the Adelaide skyline from Mount Lofty Summit, visited a market then a drive around Adelaide city streets before our flight back to Tasmania in the afternoon. Sad to say goodbye to Gavin our bus driver as he made our holiday so special. Exceptional as a guide with his knowledge, skill as a driver and a great guy, always happy to help, articulate and a professional approach to his job. We could not have had anyone better.

Many happy memories for 2024.

See some of the pictures