Another early start in the dark. We had to meet our bus down the street at around 6.15am in front of a hotel we were NOT staying at. This had been intricately arranged over the phone with my mum – but at the time all we knew was the street number. We left Fiona and Sue a few minutes behind to make it to the bus in time and were walking down the street past a hotel when we saw a bus stop in front of it. Finally we see a street number larger than where were meant to be and realised we had to be back at the hotel we just passed. The bus driver was inside trying to find us when Auntie Sue and Fiona rocked up. The driver came out and told us we’d nearly have to walk as we weren’t even registered at the hotel. I thought he was kidding, but later I realised that he really did mean it. Who cared, we just got on the bus that would take us to Kangaroo Island.
The bus drove down the street, picked up another passenger, turned some corners, stopped and we were told we all had to get out to verify our bookings and take our belongings with us as he couldn’t confirm we’d still have a seat when we got back on. That’s when we realised there was a sea of people waiting to get on the bus who had already booked in and the real killer….The bus had dropped us off around the corner from where we were staying. We could have frigging walked and we would have had any of the people told us! I’ve made a map of the experience in Google Maps to give you some idea of what was involved.
So we head in, line up, get served only to be told we were in the wrong line and we had to see the lady in the other line. Except we didn’t see any other line, just a lady behind the counter. Who cared, just give us our tickets. She duly informed us that the tickets weren’t assigned to anyone in particular, they’d all work. Outside again and the bus is getting so full it looks like there isn’t room for the 8 of us. The bus driver gruffly informs us another bus is coming and then gets really, really annoyed when we ask how long. Fuck you bus driver, do you mean in one hour or do you mean in seconds? Either way, I’m not getting on your blasted bus if you are going to be that happy for the next 2 hours.
Our bus turns up minutes later, he yells at her that he’s full, he’s got clearance to go and he’s going. She looks like she gives not one iota of a fuck, cheerfully greets us and then tries to match those tickets that weren’t assigned to anyone up to the names on her sheet. Everyone left over gets on the bus happy that the original bus driver has gone. By now the sun is up, it’s almost 7am and we can leave for Kangaroo Island.
Our journey takes us out of the city and down to through the Fleurieu Peninsula to Cape Jervis where we would transfer to the ferry that would take us to the island. Our happy lady bus driver was chatty and pointed out sites such as the Mitsubishi Factory (where Pauline’s car probably came from), the cool tidal flow motorway that was operating in our favor thanks to it being a public holiday and the alpaca farm in Yankalilla. We also got a great description about the pies and danishes she had to pick up fresh from the bakery for the ferry canteen on our way through Yankallila – excellent product placement if I’ve ever seen it since that was all anyone bought when they got on board. Most of my traveling companions slept the way down while I gawked out the window listening to my ipod.
At the ferry terminal our hypnotic bus trip lull was dropped in to a pool of action. Luggage was being transferred, passengers were walking incorrectly around the bus and we headed up the gang plank to the modern ship. The inside of the ferry was the usual aircraft seaing on one side and tables and chairs on the other. We were lucky enough to secure a table where we could drink our coffee and eat our pies with relative stability. As the ferry left the terminal the wind turbines on the hills we’d passed looked quite magnificent even if they are controversial. The trip to the island took about 40 minutes but it seemed like it longer to get off the ferry than it did to cross the water.
Off the ferry and on to another bus, we ended up in the back seat since we were one of the last to get off the ferry. It was a big bus that was pretty much full so we knew that a large part of the day would be spent waiting for everyone else to get off. Note to self for future, make sure you get off the ferry first. Mal the white haired proper speaking bus driver made the final arrangements with the office and then off we went.
Our destination was Seal Bay where Australian Fur Seals rested on the beach. It was almost 40 minutes away from the ferry and although Mal was educating us about Mallee trees and fauna his voice almost became a lullaby to our weary heads. Each one of us dropped off to sleep at various times during this part of the trip which was ok because the scenery didn’t change much. The route went through thick bushland which looked pretty much the same to my eyes. I was laughing when Mal said that this area looked different thanks to a fire 10 years ago because to me it didn’t look any different. It was only when he pointed out that the top of all the trees were bereft of leaves that I understood his point.
Seal Bay had obviously been set up for tourism with the requisite trinket shop to buy knickknacks and guided beach tours. One of the benefits of being on a tour bus is that you don’t have to wait since they know you are coming so within minutes we were walking down towards the beach. The guide informed us that the seals were beached quite high so we would have to smash ourselves up against the dunes to conform to the distance limits that we have to keep between us and the seals.
The seals lay on the beach because they essentially have a three day cycle, three days in the water hunting for food and three days resting. If only human being had that kind of lifestyle. There was a baby seal making a lot of noise harassing the older seals and we found out that it’s mum was getting on a bit in life and could only do a one day out food/rest cycle. It was the most active thing on the beach so it kept us amused for quite sometime. Pauline and I had experienced wild seals in California but these guys didn’t smell as bad as the american ones. Maybe it’s the cleaner waters? We spent about 30 minutes down there photographing the seals and observing their behaviour and they didn’t seem too perturbed by us. They were more interested in sleeping and yelling at the baby seal. It was great.
On the bus again, back to sleep again and it was nearing lunch time. Our next stop was a caravan park that would feed us but it also had a koala walk and resident kangaroo. The lunch was served in a wooden shed with benches and we were served in the no frills Adelaide way we were becoming accustomed to. It surprised us in the way they spoke to us as they don’t try to hide their exasperation with people who aren’t listening or do something wrong. It’s quite refreshing to not have that mask that tourism tends to make people put on but at the same time it almost seems quite rude. I guess that’s one of the disadvantages of being on a big tour bus, you are treated a little like cattle. In the end we got used to the South Australian way of doing things and embraced it.
Lunch was soup then sausages, kebabs and salad – standard aussie noontime grub. I wondered if that seemed novel to any of the international tourists on the trip but I couldn’t ask any of them as we had to sit outside because there were no tables left. We were harassed by some butcher birds and then we headed off to meet the koalas. Out where the campers were was a koala with a baby and we were fortunate enough to watch her eating since they normally only feed at night and sleep during the day. The kangaroo was lazing around nearby as well so by the time I’d taken photos of both of them there was only a few minutes to do the koala walk. I’d ended up with the hiccups so I stopped to go to the loo first and ended up making horrible noises while another lady was in there. While we were washing our hands I pointed out to her that they were hiccups just so she didn’t think it was something else. In a thick european accent she told me to hold my breath for ever and that would stop it. 🙂
Our saunder through the koala walk was much cooler than I expected, there was a low lying koala that allowed us to take up close and personal photos – maybe it was too drunk on eucalyptus leaves to climb any higher. A pig also let me take photos of it resting and we also saw some tammar wallabies hanging around in the brush. Mal alerted us that our time had come to an end with some big barps of the buses horn. Thankfully we weren’t privvy to those evil looks from the passengers you get when you are the last person to arrive.
Remarkable Rocks was the next destination and something I didn’t expect much from. Surprisingly it gave us the most laughs on the trip – who knew rocks could be so much fun? I had Pauline, Fiona, Kelly, Mum and Auntie Sue jumping up and down, holding up rocks and Kelly doing porn star poses all for photos. The shapes were just so amazing especially as they seemed to appear in the middle of nowhere and were just so smooth. Good fun.
Nearby to the rocks was Admiralty Arch where all the New Zealand fur seals lived (guess they don’t like to mix with the aussie ones). I thought the Arch was the most beautiful thing I saw on the trip thanks to the stalactites hanging from it’s roof. It was the first time I really wished that there wasn’t 30 other people around so that I could experience it in peace. I could have stayed there a lot longer then we did. Nearby there is a lighthouse and also a bunch of cottages which you could hire out. I suspect it would be an excellent place to stay if you wanted to experience raw nature.
Making the turn back to head for the ferry we stopped of at a tourist center in Flinders Chase National Park to have something to eat and look at the displays. Back on the bus we stopped at various points to let an echidna pass as well as a tiger snake. I don’t think I’d experienced as much wild nature in such a short period of time and I understood the appeal of the island and the fact that it is so protected. We made a final stop at the airport to drop off those flying back to Adelaide and then got off back in Penneshaw.
We tried to order dinner at the pub in the fifteen minutes before we had to catch the ferry but they stuffed up the orders so only Pauline and I got to eat. I don’t know how you can miss 6 people’s orders but lucky they did because I’m almost certain we wouldn’t have finished in time. We walked back to the ferry, got on board, waved goodbye to the island and as the sun set in the distance I waved to the silloutte of Kangaroo Island.
For me it wasn’t a life changing experience but I’m not sure you can get that from the confines of a tour bus. But if you only have a limited amount of time and need a taste then that is all you have to choose from. I was surpised at how big the island was and unprepared for the amount of time you spend on the bus. I totally see why Kangaroo Island is so popular however and think it is better served by people who spend a few days there than the one day trippers. The island has the best beach in Australia but we didn’t get to see it. If I ever go again I will be there a lot longer than the 8 hours we spent.
We slept the whole way back to the hotel, got home and slept some more.
For more photos, check out the Day 2 Photo Gallery.