17 May 2017
On Kangaroo Island we experience sheep shearing, Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery, a sea lion breeding colony, sand boarding at Little Sahara and a night at Vivonne Bay Lodge.
I very nearly don’t make the next leg of my journey: I booked my trip as a 5 day tour but it is actually made up of 2 separate parts. My trip notes simply say that we depart from the bus station at 6.45am. With nothing to indicate anything to the contrary, I assume it is the same as the pickup in Melbourne and aim to be outside the bus station (where I am told tour buses pick up from) 5-10 minutes before that time. As I reach the bus station I am greeted by a very flustered looking man asking if I was Susan – he was very worried about me. I was somewhat perplexed, asking ‘I’m not late am I?’; to which he replied ‘yes you were supposed to check in at 6.15 and the bus is about to depart’. (My name had apparently been called several times over the loud speaker system and they were about to give up on me). But I did get on the bus and we departed (early) at 6.42am!
The bus is a large coach put on by SeaLink to transport everyone who is going from Adelaide and across on the ferry to Kangaroo Island. I am lucky to sit at the front, next to Kate who I discover later is on the same tour as me. It is a 1.5 hour journey down to Cape Jervis where the ferry departs, getting us there about half an hour beforehand: enough time to load our packs onto the luggage van, find the toilets, board, find a seat and get some breakfast from the cafe before we depart. Kate and I sit up front and manage to demolish our cinnamon scrolls and most of our hot drinks before we set off on a very rough and rolly crossing (both thankful for sea legs tablets).
At the other side we disembark and retrieve our packs from the luggage van and stand around looking for our new guide and fellow passengers (a very young group thankfully weren’t with us). Guide Greg meets us and takes us to our bus. There are 6 single women on this tour: Kate (UK), Nousha (Canada), Erin (Canada), Annalie (Sweden) and Monica (Germany). I thought I might be the oldest on the trip again but discover later that Greg is 2 weeks older than me and Monica not much younger.
First stop on our travels is Rob’s Shearing & Sheepdogs. Rob greets us and introduces us to his dogs: an older experienced sheepdog, a young apprentice dog and a yard dog. They demonstrate how to round up flock of (very woolly) sheep and bring them into the shearing shed. Rob selects his sheep and brings it in for shearing, then tells us that shearing is traditionally done wearing a singlet and proudly strips off his shirt ready for action (although he is well past his prime). After removing the fleece he demonstrates how it is graded and how it is spun.
Next stop is Pencarrow Bay where we see dolphins playing in the surf and then onto Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery for an explanation of all their different products and uses. We all partook in some retail therapy, coming out with oils, hand creams, emu oil and eucalyptus and honey sweets. Then we drive to Seal Bay for our encounter with Australian sea lions; we have a park ranger guide who keeps us all together for our safety as we pass very close to the sea lions. We could have watched for hours as mothers taught their babies to swim in the surf, males defended their patches and fought with invaders, and groups of females and pups sunbathed in the afternoon sun. We were provided with great entertainment by a teenage male who systematically worked his way along the beach deliberately annoying every peaceful group and even trying his luck with the adult males until he was chased away … on to the next group!
To round off our afternoon we head out to Little Sahara to try our hand at sand-boarding. Erin has done snowboarding before so she is confident but the rest of us are somewhat nervous but keen to give it a go (once at least) – we have toboggans rather than stand-up boards. I am surprised by the size of the sand dunes that loom in front of us – and of course we have to climb to the top before we can come down (and my Grampian-weary legs are not so sure about this exercise). Greg brings the wax that we need to coat the bottoms of our boards with to get a good slide down and gives us each a demonstration of how we need to sit on the board with our hands out behind us, making sure the board can slide easily and then to act as rudders in the sand to keep us straight as we go downhill. I also use my hands as brakes to slow my progress but I have a great run right down to the bottom; others stop halfway down the hill and can’t get going again. It was enough fun that I challenged my calves to make another climb to the top for a second run down. Then I amused myself taking photos and videos of the others as they each had a few more runs.
Our accommodation for the night is at Vivonne Bay Lodge which started off life as a youth camp but has more recently been very nicely renovated as a lodge. There are bunk rooms and nicely appointed private rooms – all have to use the separate toilet and shower blocks. We have a quick look around but it is getting dark quickly so we retire out on the expansive covered deck area to enjoy a beverage and get to know each other better. Salads have already been prepared and Greg prepares a great barbeque dinner for us (whilst doubling as barman). A few stay up talking but most opt for an early night.
The Great Ocean Road and Kangaroo Island Adventure:
Day 1: The Great Ocean Road
Day 2: The Grampians
Day 3: The Grampians to Adelaide
Day 4: Adelaide to Kangaroo Island
Day 5: Kangaroo Island to Adelaide
For this and other similar trips see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort and independent tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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