I’ve always been drawn to the sea, perhaps because I’ve never lived anywhere near it (though that is going to change soon!). I’m a sucker for a beautiful coastline, white sandy beach, seafood platter and swimming in the sea. Kangaroo Island has combined all of the above with some wonderful remoteness and wildlife; no wonder I’ve adored it!
My trusty van has got me off the beaten track – and onto some “interesting” roads. I knew much of the Flinders Chase National Park was unsealed, but wasn’t prepared for the last 30km of the main East-West highway on the north side to be a corrugated, bumpy dirt track. At the end of a long (albeit wonderful) day yesterday, navigating that took all the concentration I could muster. I spent the night at Harvey’s Return, in a nearly-deserted and admittedly quite basic campsite close to the NW tip, and was elated this morning when I got as far as the bitumen road on the journey back east!
I spent pretty much all of yesterday in the Flinders Chase park and suffice to say I was impressed (other than the quality of some of the roads). There were loads of walking trails, clearly explained and signed, the visitor centre people were super helpful (and sold me good coffee, which is equally important!), the coastline was stunning, and my national park fee was all of $11 plus the camping charge. That and the coffee were, I think, all I spent on a full day’s entertainment – full as in ending after 8pm with a lovely sunset at Cape Borda lighthouse. Delightfully, in my 90-minute drive there from the south east I came across no other cars at all, in either direction, and the only other people at Cape Borda were a couple staying in a holiday cottage and a ranger/owner type who cheerfully enquired whether I was aware I wasn’t allowed to camp there. Clearly campervanners arriving for sunset and then scuttling off 4km to Harvey’s Return campsite are not the norm. They’re missing out.
In the national park, I saw plenty of the wildlife that KI is famous for – koalas, lizards, New Zealand fur seals, many kinds of birds, wallabies, and many of the eponymous kangaroos. I spotted a few by the side of – and indeed in – the road last night and this morning, and heard at least one sniffing and hopping around very close to the van after I went to bed last night.
Today I drove back from the far west to the far east of the island, ending up in Penneshaw in a campsite 200m from the ferry terminal. Handy when I have an 8.30 sailing tomorrow! I stopped for a while in Stokes Bay, on the north coast, which is known for calmer seas and safer swimming than the south. So of course I took the opportunity for a dip, once I’d navigated the rock tunnel to the beach. Still morning so a bit bracing, but lovely once in, and I had the ocean to myself with only a few others on the beach. I then splashed out on my one meal out during my stay, a seafood platter lunch, which was every bit as delicious as I’d hoped. After a quick stop at a honey farm for ice cream (and in Kingscote, the island’s commercial centre, which was a disappointment – though perhaps unfair to judge a place on a Sunday afternoon), I made my final pilgrimage before setting up camp. This was the Dudley wines cellar door, where I enjoyed a glass of local Riesling overlooking the sea and the view to the mainland. A bargain at $7.50/£4.50 too!
I’m currently sitting in the van with a glass of McLaren Vale red, listening to the sea, and all is well with the world. I’m sad to be leaving in the morning, but I’ve squeezed a fair bit out of three days! I’ll miss my trusty green and purple van – I’ve loved the freedom it’s given me, and having everything with me. Yesterday evening at Cape Borda, I was hungry and had half an hour to kill before sunset, so I whipped out the stove and cooked dinner. And I was cold so I dug around in my bag for another layer of clothes. There have been frustrations, like running out of gas last night so I had a not-quite-hot-enough cup of tea and no hot water bottle, and I’ve eaten a lot of the same foods in an attempt to be thrifty (tortilla wrap for lunch, pasta for dinner has become the staple), but that was my choice to balance some of the extravagances of my travels. I’ve enjoyed the actual driving too, which is a relief as there’s been quite a lot of it.
One more night in the penthouse awaits, then a ferry ride and a two-hour drive back up the peninsula and a flight to Sydney, where I’ll remain for less than 48 hours before the next flight to Auckland. I haven’t changed….