Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published March 29th 2017
Hitting the Highlights on Kangaroo Island
Nature rich Kangaroo Island is a favourite holiday destination for both Aussies and international visitors. On offer are geological wonders, wildlife in their natural habitats, pristine bushland, and magnificent ocean vistas. What is little known is that Kangaroo Island is Australian's third largest island. With so much ground to cover The Sealink 1 Day Kangaroo Island Experience Tour is an ideal opportunity to hit the highlights, particularly if your time is limited.
Remarkable Rocks and only one of the natural wonders on Kangaroo Island (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
See magnificent landscapes and native wildlife with stops at Seal Bay, Hansons Wildlife Sanctuary Koala Walk, Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch and Fur Seal Breeding Grounds, and the Flinders Chase National Park. See below for more details on these stunning locations.
The tour which covers up to 300kms on the island is available in a number of formats. It departs from Adelaide, the Fleurieu Peninsula, Cape Jervis and from a number of pickup points on Kangaroo Island. Travel from Adelaide has coach/ferry and fly/ferry options or a combination of these.
A bit itchy at Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
When: Daily excluding Christmas Day. Departure times vary depending on the pick-up point but for those travelling from Adelaide this is a 16 hour day.
Telephone: Sealink 13 13 01
Where: Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Departing from Adelaide, Cape Jervis, the Fleurieu Peninsula or a Kangaroo Island location. For visitors wishing to stay over, Kangaroo Island is accessed via Sealink Ferryhttps://www.sealink.com.au/ from Cape Jervis which is around 115kms and an hour and a half's drive from the Adelaide CBD.
Cost: (March 2017) From Kangaroo Island: Adult $163.00, Child $113.00. Coach from Adelaide with the Return Ferry: Adult $275.00, Child $176.00. From Fleurieu Peninsula with return ferry: Adult $299.00, Child $200.00. From Cape Jervis with return ferry: Adult $231.00, Child $152.00. From Adelaide with fly over and ferry/coach back: Adult $476.00, Child $404.00. From Adelaide by coach/ferry and fly back: Adult $454.00 Child $382.00. From Adelaide Fly/Fly: Adult $655.00, Child $610.00.
Once all the pickups are complete visitors leave the transit buses and join a larger more comfortable coach. We are staying on the island and wait for the coach at the Emu Ridge Eucalyptus and Oil Distillery. We watch a short video about the business and sampleEucalyptus products.
Everywhere we looked there were sea lions on the beach at Seal bay (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Now the tour is off in earnest and headed for Seal Bay, possibly the Island's most popular attraction. Seal Bay is home to a colony of sea-lions, thought to number more than 1,000. It is the third largest colony of these sea-lions in the world. A ranger joins the group and hosts the walk through sand dunes to the beach where the sea-lions rest and play freely. There are no barriers on the beach between the visitors and the animals but visitors must keep a respectful distance.
Seal Bay has the third largest colony of these type of sea lions in the world. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Watch as the sea-lions lounge on the beach, frolic in the water, suckle their young, play or fight. While you watch the Ranger will explain how the animals live, fish, surf, rest, interact with their young and defend their territory.
The sea lions seemed to like rolling about in the shallow water. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The walk to the beach is moderately steep and whilst most will be comfortable with it others choose to use the boardwalk and view the animals from above. This option has no commentary but is our choice. We are rewarded with a sighting of a whale skeleton high on the beach. The sea-lions are present all along the beach. The views on the sand dunes and the expansive beach vista are spectacular.
An interpretive centre displays information about the sea-lions and has a gift and souvenir shop.
After our visit to Seal Bay we are off to Vivonne Bay Bistro for a tasty two course lunch. While we travel our driver shares Kangaroo Island facts and talks about the vegetation. At Vivonne Bay we take what he describes as "the shortest bush walk we will ever go on." A gravel path winds through natural bushland and we get an up close look at the vegetation.
A Kangaroo Island Grass Tree or Yacca (Photo by DiverDave (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
Of particular interest were the young grass trees called Yaccas. We had been seeing these growing at the roadside as we travelled.
Lunch was well organised and very tasty. Coffee and tea are included but other drinks could be purchased.
Hansons Bay Wildlife Sanctuary Koala Walk
With lunch over we continue on the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Recognised as one of the most biodiverse ecosystems left in Australia the sanctuary is home to abundant native birds, animals and flora.
Look for koalas in the forks of trees. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Ours is a short stop which focusses on the koala walk, a favourite with the international visitors. This wide path is lined with eucalypt trees and our eyes are turned to the tree tops longing for a glimpse of koalas in the wild.
Those claws are made to grip tree branches (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
We are quickly rewarded with many koalas spotted along the strip. It is early afternoon and a warm day and the koalas are lounging in the forks of the trees. Many are sleeping. Towards the end of the walk we spot two sitting together. Everybody is thrilled with their discoveries and our group is abuzz with excitement.
The next stop is Remarkable Rocks in the Flinders Chase National Park. These huge granite boulders have been sculpted by rain, wind and waves over a period of 500 years. Orange lichen growing on the rocks adds vibrant colour to this natural landscape. This is truly nature's art gallery.
Remarkable Rocks, perched on a cliff edge are reached by a boardwalk (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
A winding boardwalk provides easy access to the rocks. It passes through a stunted vegetation which stretches as far as the eye can see. From there it is an easy stroll onto the rocks, although caution should be exercised on a wet day as they can become slippery.
Remarkable Rocks have been eroded to interesting shapes. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
One rock is hollowed as if it is a hobbit house with a large window and visitors are climbing inside for photos. Another appears like a shallow cave. The most popular is shaped like a giant beak. The point of the beak can be reached at a stretch or on tip toes. I suspect this is one of the most photographed poses on the island. Narrow chasms have been formed between some boulders and others are carved like modern sculptures.
The boardwalk and steps to Admirals Arch accord spectacular views of the coastline. Take in rugged cliffs, geometric rock formations, sweeping ocean views, and small offshore islands. Watch the waves crashing against the rocks and admire the colours of the flowing pigface on the cliff tops.
Admirals Arch, once a cave, now a rock bridge. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Admirals Arch is now a rock bridge but was once a cave. Indeed as you stand on the viewing platform you can easily imagine you are peeping out for a cave. Stalactites, remnants from that bygone era still hang from the edges like dripping water frozen in time.
New Zealand fur seals in their breeding grounds at Admirals Arch (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
This is a breeding area for New Zealand fur seals and these were sighted in abundance lounging on the jagged coastal rocks. We watched a pair of noisy bull seals inside Admirals Arch lunge at each other. They were bluffing and eventually went their separate ways having provided us with quite a show.
Flinders Chase National Park and Visitor Centre
We travel through Flinders Chase National Park and our driver stops at a vantage point. We look across a vast area where the trees are so dense the land below is not even visible. This treetop quilt belies a rugged terrain beneath. It stretches as far as the eye can see and yet is only a small part of this 327 square kilometre wilderness.
The treetops of Flinders Chase National Park. (Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
We slow as a Rosenberg's goanna crosses the road and disappears into the vegetation. These goannas are now uncommon on the Australian mainland. We see glossy black cockatoos fly past. Kangaroo Island is now the only place in South Australia these birds can be found.
A Rosenberg's goanna (Photo by Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
Our afternoon tea stop is at the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre where other visitors have spotted a koala in a tree bordering the car park. If its wildlife you want to see Kangaroo Island is just the ticket.
Pig face flowering on Kangaroo Island's south-west coast in Flinders Chase National Park (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Our return trip follows the Kangaroo Island tourist loop road. So large is the Flinders Chase National Park that we drive along its borders for another 35kms. It has been a long day, especially for those who departed Adelaide before seven this morning. The tour group is quiet and rested as we listen to our driver's interesting narrative. Much of this trip passes rural land. In a couple of areas where creeks flow red gums grow. There are a number of Blue Gum plantations along the route and yet there is no saw mill on the island. We are just beginning to understand Kangaroo Island is much more than it seems.
Where:Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Departing from Adelaide, Cape Jervis, the Fleurieu Peninsula or a Kangaroo Island location. For visitors wishing to stay over, Kangaroo Island is accessed via Sealink Ferry https://www.sealink.com.au/ from Cape Jervi
Cost:(March 2017) From Kangaroo Island: Adult $163.00, Child $113.00. Coach from Adelaide with the Return Ferry: Adult $275.00, Child $176.00. From Fleurieu Peninsula with return ferry: Adult $299.00, Child $200.00. From Cape Jervis with return ferry: Adu