Kangaroo Island – Part 3

Where Are The Kangaroos?

It was the afternoon of our last full day on Kangaroo Island and, incredibly, we still hadn’t seen any kangaroos.

That’s not strictly true. When we arrived a couple of days earlier it was dark. We had a bit of a drive to our accommodation and I did see one dicing with death at the side of the road. As I was the driver I was the only one in the car who saw it. It no doubt got run over a few minutes later. There were of course several examples of the (almost obligatory) road kill – which probably numbered about 6 or more dead roos.

Anyway, the point is that we hadn’t seen a live kangaroo. Now for me, just seeing a roo with his/her head popping up in the grass does not qualify as a real sighting. Call me old fashioned but I think you need to see them in full flight to fully appreciate them – and truly say that you have seen them. Hopping, bouncing along, using the full strength of those odd back legs. After all this is why they are so famous right?

None of Dani’s other relatives who had visited us had seen a kangaroo in full jumping mode. But his grandmother and auntie – who also had yet to see any – were about to break that unlucky streak.

As is often the case with these things it kind of happened by chance. We had to go and buy something from one of the few real towns on the island and were actually heading back to our accommodation when Dani decided to moan (as kids cooped up in a car tend to do). At that point his mum spotted a sign for a vineyard with wine tasting so we turned off and followed the signs. While Dani’s mum and auntie were sampling some wines we had a chat with the lady who was serving. She told us of a place not far from where she lived where there were “plenty of kangaroos, and wallabies too”. That seemed like a ready made plan. But first….

Koala Bonus

The wine cellar lady also told us about a koala she had spotted that morning in a nearby tree. Another great tip that proved correct. The koala – hardly the most active of creatures – was still there, very high up in a tree (full zoom needed).

Another koala. The second of three sightings on the island

Hitting the Kangaroo Jackpot. With a Wallaby Bonanza.

Following the wine tasting and koala gazing we followed the lady’s directions heading up towards the Emu Bay area. We were not disappointed. After seeing a few in fields we ventured onto a dirt road and found it. This was kangaroo dreamland. We had hit the kangaroo jackpot – with a wallaby bonanza for good measure.

A family of three wallabies with the Joey in the pouch

Soon the animals were appearing from all directions jumping across the dirt road (that had now become more of a track). Some sat motionless watching us from a (relatively) safe distance, only to dart off when we got too close. Many had youngsters and would bounce across our path as a family; mother, father and Joey Roo too.

This is the real way to see kangaroos close up
A large male
“real” kangaroo spotting LOL

The Kangaroo island kangaroo is brown and smaller than the grey kangaroos we had been used to seeing. They also seem to be far more cautious and don’t allow you to get too close. The smaller wallabies are even more nervous and generally scatter  just when you think you are close enough to get  good photo. unfortunately these photos do not do this place justice. There really were lots more just out of range or jumping across the track as I drove along.

We even spotted another koala – our second in less than an hour.

So a chance encounter at a vineyard wine tasting shop led to a great bit of wildlife spotting. As always with these things; if you know where to look….

Yet another koala bonus. Can you spot it?
Zoom in on classic koala tree hugging pose

You can read parts one and two of the Kangaroo Island posts here and here.

Kangaroo Island – Part 2

The Flinders Chase National Park and Remarkable Rocks

We stayed in an AirBnB house in a place called American River. You could barely call it a village really – more a hamlet. But it was a good base from which to explore the island.

American River village on the East coast of the island

The house itself had a lot of retro features too…

A yellow plastic sink? Yes. A first for me.

On one of our days out from here we visited the Flinders Chase National Park. To get there we passed through the village of Parndana which is pretty much smack in the centre of the island. A good place to stop for a break and fill the car up with fuel.

Parndana Post Office

One of only a few places to refuel outside of the main towns in the east of the island

Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island, after Tasmania and Melville Island so remembering to fill up in these places is important.

Flinders Chase NP covers the west of the island. The area is mostly wild bushland but is home to several protected species and some odd geological sights. Most people come here to visit Admiral’s Arch and the Remarkable Rocks.

Admirals Arch is located close to the Cape Du Couedic lighthouse, a classic round, brick built structure that just shouts “heritage listed”. This is also a popular area for a large fur seal population.

Admirals Arch

Some of the many fur seals seen relaxing on the rocks in this part of the island…

The Casuarina Islets, also known as The Brothers

Daniel at the Arch

Remarkable Rocks

About 6km east, along the coastline you come across one of those places that actually live up to their name. The Remarkable Rocks. Remarkable indeed. The rock formations are a result of erosion over thousands of years. The rocks are the remains of the top layer of a huge granite clifftop rock.

Remarkable Rocks visible from Admirals Arch area

Definitely one of the more impressive sights we have seen. Not unlike Uluru in some ways – smaller of course but the drop off to the sea on one side is every bit as impressive. One good thing is that in this place visitors are still allowed to climb all over the natural structures.

There were bodies all over the rocks but it does give a sense of scale.

You could spend all day here just trying to capture the rocks from every angle and still never quite obtain the desired result. But enough of that, just take a look at the shots I managed to get.

By the end of the second day on Kangaroo Island and we still hadn’t seen any kangaroos. Incredible eh? There was always tomorrow… Stay tuned for part 3.

Blue Mountain Beer

A quick visit to the Blue Mountains gave me the chance to stop off at one of the two craft beer brewers in the mountains, called Brew Mountains Brewery. These places are always worth recording for posterity, so here goes…

Brew Mountains Brewery

“Brew” being a play on the obvious name for a craft ale producer in this part of the world – “Blue”. Not convinced on that one personally but hey… Let’s just sample the ales eh?

This place set just off the main Great Western Highway in Valley Heights, was smaller than many we had visited. They still manage to have quite a few of their own brews on tap as well as a couple of guest beers.

I went for a tasting paddle of the first four beers on the board. Nice and simple.

I am a firm believer that people should keep an eye out for these places and give them your support. This one was definitely a good spot to pull in for a beer or two. They have food trucks on site for the two days a week they open so that was useful to soak up the ale. Remembering that I had to drive back!!

Dani borrowed some of their merch for a photo opp…
…and thought the toilet paper they used was funny

We even bought a Growler of ale to take home. Let’s hope the weather pick up. Always more enjoyable when the sun is shining……

For those outside of Australia a “Growler” holds about 2 litres

Too Early. Pleeeeaaase!

And finally: This from last week. I took this one day, maybe mid-week. It is definitely too early for Christmas decorations. Come on people! Why are they doing this? It is still almost two weeks before Halloween. Clearly the shopping centre does not intend doing anything for Halloween this year… What the heck are they playing at?

Kangaroo Island – Part 1

Bees, Sea Lions & Koalas

During the school holidays we flew over to Adelaide in South Australia and drove down the coast to take a ferry over to Kangaroo Island with Dani’s grandmother and his auntie in tow…

Kangaroo Island has been called ‘the Australian Galpágos’. I actually read that somewhere recently and took it with the pinch of salt it deserved. However, there is some great and rare wildlife on Kangaroo Island. The very name suggests so right? Well, we were about to find out…

First we had to get there on a ferry from Cape Jervis.

The odd shaped Cape Jervis lighthouse
The original Cape Jervis lighthouse was built in the traditional circular shape
For some reason the new was built slightly inland of the old

The Big Bee?

The island is small in comparison to the country but in its own right it is large. It is bigger than the Spanish island of Mallorca and half the size of Cyprus. There are strict controls on what you can take over there. You cannot even take honey across as the island is home to the only pure breed of Ligurian bees on the planet. Apparently there could be some bacteria in the honey from other bees that may affect the island bees. I am still not fully sure about that but those are the rules.

At the Island Beehive, just outside the town of Kingscote, you can see these pure bred Ligurian bees and buy their honey. We bought some and it was OK. I would not say much better or worse than any other great honey we have eaten in Australia but who am I to pass judgement?

The only pure Ligurian bees are found on Kangaroo Island

You can also see The Big Bee – yet another of “The ‘Bigs’ of Australia”. Not huge but it does appear on some “Big Thing” lists you find online.

The Big Bee

Curiously there are a lot of these signs around the island. I have no idea why. Are there people from right hand driving countries flying directly onto the island then hiring cars? If anyone knows please tell us.

  Sea Lions

What is the difference between a seal and a sea lion? They are different animals. Yet at Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island you can see plenty Sea Lions. Another odd thing about this place, but still a great spot to visit.

This is a protected area with access to much of it strictly controlled but they do take you down onto the beach where you can get up very close to the sea lions. There’s not much more to say really as I think the photos tell the story…

Don’t be fooled. These creatures are faster than you might think. They have teeth like a dog and the adults are big. You definitely would not want to get int an argument with one.

The skeleton of a young humpback whale in the heart of the sea lion colony
The youngest pup – about 2 months old
The same pup feeding from its mother.

Dani took this last photo of two gulls copulating. He spotted them and shouted “Look, that one is having a piggy-back!” – which I thought was both funny and innocent.

Koalas

Koalas are not natives of Kangaroo Island. They were introduced in the 1920s as part of a protection programme. We were lucky enough to see a few. this one on the way out of Seal Bay.

There he is – just. (Assuming it is a “he”)
That’s a better shot

Cliff Diving World Series Final – Sydney

Sydney harbour was the venue for the Red Bull Cliff Diving 2022 World Series finals. Although there are plenty of (real) cliffs along the coastline here, the harbour was set up with an artificial “cliff” tower. Personally I think it would have been much better off the real cliffs plunging in to the Pacific ocean but there is no doubt why they chose the harbour setting.

It reminds me of those famous photographs of the high diving board at the Barcelona Olympics way back in 1992 with the city as the backdrop. Today, with the diving tower set up at Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair on the harbour. So the backdrop was that postcard classic of the Opera House sitting in front of the Harbour Bridge.

Made for TV setting. With plenty of water based spectators too.
Large crowd for the free event…

The event was free to enter but to see it properly meant walking through the entrance gates with the crowds. Anything like this is going to be busy when it’s free. Also, it seems that spring has finally arrived and the sun was shining – another thing guaranteed to bring out the crowds. We managed to make our way to the front. We watched a few then left. Simple.

Classic backdrop for the diving tower


One of the male competitors doing a seemingly impossible dive.

A diver approaches the edge of the 27m tall diving board.

In case you are wondering, the water depth the are diving into is only 5.5m (about 18 feet)

Cliff Diving

Cliff diving is said to have started in Acapulco, Mexico at the famous La Quebrada cliffs, in the 1930s. It became world famous in 1963 when the Elvis Presley movie ‘Fun in Acapulco’ was released. Elvis played a cliff diver who performed at the the El Mirador Hotel at La Quebrada. Following that film cliff diving competitions at La Quebrada were regularly shown on sports programmes on US and British TV during the 1960s and 1970s.

Interesting fact: Elvis never travelled to Mexico and all his footage in the movie was filmed in the USA. Checkout that movie and you can clearly see that is the case. He is never really there. There are two stories. One tale is that during showing of earlier Elvis movies caused riots in Mexico City. The other story is that Elvis apparently said some disparaging things about Mexico. Either way it seems that he became “persona non grata”.

All that aside, the cliff divers at La Quebrada cliffs near Acapulco are an absolute must-see if you are anywhere near there. Dani’s mum and myself went to a show at the El Mirador Hotel some years ago when we were in Mexico. I would definitely go again, it really is an amazing sight and a great show.


One of the female divers. Using the slightly lower level

Views from the other side of the inlet…

The Big Rocking Horse

In the world of the ‘Bigs’ of Australia this one was probably the biggest and most unusual one we have seen to date. This is the Big Rocking Horse of Gumeracha, South Australia…

Mostly the ‘Bigs’ have some context to the area they were made and erected. Like the Big Trout in the Snowy Mountains’ fish farming area, or the Big Oyster in the oyster harvesting town of Taree. This one exists for no other reason than it sits alongside a toy factory and shop. I am sure you will agree, that is reason enough. It can be visited on a day trip to the Adelaide Hills not far from the city. About 40 minutes drive.

The World’s Biggest Rocking Horse

The Big Rocking Horse

In 1973, after opening a wooden toy factory in Gumeracha, the owner decided to build a large roadside attraction on the site in order to attract passing traffic. The firstly he used a large wooden giraffe (about 5m tall). Then there were a series of rocking horses. One three metres tall then a five metre version. Eventually the Big Rocking Horse was built. The 18.3 metre tall structure was designed by David McIntosh and John Twopenny, and it was opened in 1981. It took eight months to construct and cost about $100,000. The rest as they say, is history. The Big Rocking Horse now sits proudly in the lists of Big Australian things you might find on the internet or guide books…

Dani on the normal sized rocking horse

Viewing Platforms

The rocking horse has three viewing platforms. The upper two only accessible via steel industrial style ladders hidden inside the horse. There is a charge of $2 to climb to the top of the horse but they do give you a certificate to verify that you made the climb to the top.

The site also has a great toy shop – which includes plenty of old style wooden toys – and a cafe/restaurant.

The details are on display…

This was a small part of our trip to Adelaide and surrounding area. Our first visit to South Australia. There will be more to come…

Dani In The Doghouse

In the doghouse

Dani is definitely in the doghouse after being pulled into the school principal’s office on the last afternoon of last term. Right before the spring school holidays. In the final hour of that final day of term, he received 2 ‘demerits’ from the school principal, along with several other boys in his class/year.

I do not want to downplay the ‘infringements’. Some were fairly serious sounding although I do want to get to the bottom of it.

His mum is livid and I fully understand that. But it is always boys who seem to get into these ridiculous situations eh? Whether drawn in by peer pressure or instigating it. None of that is an excuse however and he will be punished. Starting with a total ban on screen time – which is the children’s modern day equivalent of the 5 years of solitary confinement dished out to Papillon on Devil’s Island.

He does not like being punished but he takes it on the chin. But I would prefer that he talks openly about what went on and any other things that go on in school. He doesn’t seem to want to do that. We still need the serious talk however, so we shall see…

We could not have that chat during most of his school holidays as Dani’s abuela (Spanish grandmother) has been here visiting. Thankfully she has just returned to Spain – not a day too soon I might add; although that is another story entirely. So, we will be having the chat very soon. Right before the start of term 4.

Meanwhile, he remains in the doghouse until further notice…