I’m falling more and more in love with my home country – it’s the most gratifying feeling. How so? If you’ve noticed on my Instagram, I recently returned from a ‘self-drive holiday’ (aka roooad trip!) through Kangaroo Island, South Australia. This is why you need to head over there.
One of the pleasures (and pride) of residing in Down Under is we have an abundance of natural beauty waiting to be discovered, and sometimes we just don’t realise its utter brilliance until we leave our big familiar towns and embark on a long and dusty drive instead of habitually choosing to head overseas.
And utter brilliance comes in the form of Kangaroo Island. Dad and I spent time 4WDing and camping here when I was wee little and over a decade later upon my return, not much has changed – in all the good ways. The South Australian tourism boards have done a fantastic job at improving facilities while preserving the island’s unspoilt nature, resulting in an easy-to-navigate adventure where every few kilometres is a lovely resting spot, look out or world-class beach. Giving us what? An ultimate Aussie road trip.
It’s subtly romantic yet at the same time dramatically jaw-dropping. The way the golden fields sway with the southerly cool winds, the way the white sandy beaches exist untouched. How looking out across the hills of sprawling shrubbery that seemingly stretch for miles end at soaring cliffs and how entering this soil we are careful to tread because we remember it belongs to wildlife that walk the earth too. Here, we get back to nature. We relax, reflect and regenerate on all the more important things in life.
So, it is without doubt I had to feature this magical place in pictures. Enjoy – and let me know what you think below!
This is Part 1. See Part 2.
Part 1: Prospect Hill, Seal Bay, The Little Sahara, Bald Hill & Temple Creek, Remarkable Rocks & Admirals Arch, Hanson Bay
1. A sign on the way up to Prospect Hill. On our first stop, we immediately learned we’d soon become acquainted with the real locals. A sign atop the hill read “At home on the hill…” with a list of wildlife we may be lucky to see. For us, connecting with nature started here.
2. The view from the Hill after 512 steps. Nearly 1,600 kilometres of good conditioned roads connect the main towns Penneshaw, American River, Parndana, Flinders Chase and Kingscote. Kangaroos may skip past in the evening and lizards love to lie on the warm roads during the day so we needed to drive carefully to protect the wildlife.
3. Solar panels at the Seal Bay Conservation Park. The eco-friendly visitor centre runs on natural energy and rainwater.
4. The lovely Suzanne, our guide, sharing her passion and expertise on Australian sea lions, one of the rarest species in the world. “Welcome to their bedroom – where they sleep and breed!” We got up close and watched pups playfully chase birds on the shore, calling out for their mothers after a surf and bending their heads backward like they were practicing seal yoga. Super adorable.
5. Sea lions resting. “Not lazy, just really tired.” explains one information board. I’m sure a lot of us would like to get away with this excuse too. Check out my Instagram shot.
6. The Don Dixon Boardwalk through Seal Bay. A self-guided tour through limestone cliffs and dunes will also give you a glimpse of sea lions in their natural habitat.
7. The Little Sahara. People arrived atop a large hill at this natural sand dune only to quickly turn around and focus on sliding back down on toboggans and boards. I think I like this view on the opposite side better.
8. L sandboarding. He misses the snowy slopes at home in Europe but this would have to do.
9 & 10. Bald Hill. An Alice in Wonderland tunnel of greenery led us up a sunny hill to the serene Murray Lagoon, home to many species of waterbirds. The empty fields are somewhere I imagine I’d run wild with my arms flung high and my eyes closed with gratifying liberation. I felt like I was in a feel-good film or a romance novel – where’s Noah in his wooden paddleboat?
11, 12 & 13. Timber Creek Walk. “Um, this is just a swamp. An empty wasteland.” complained my travel buddy. Through narrow paths, neighbouring Timber Creek Walk gives you a different view of the lagoon: a unique grey palette of what looks more of a salt bed with shrubs yearning for the sun’s energy, swans floating on glistening water and a flock of birds circling the air. The flora is greener the further you walk, the grass interestingly appearing like sea coral when you take a closer look. There was tranquility on this non-coastal walk, with nothing but the sound of my rustling backpack. See, life is much more rewarding when you learn to see beauty in every destination.
14. Obligatory profound-looking-out-at-ocean-shot at Vivonne Bay. With its long white sandy beach and turquoise water, it’s no wonder this was once considered one of the best beaches in the world. Check out my Instagram shot.
15. Experiencing crystal clear. “Oh yeah, I’m definitely getting in that!”
16. Coastal drive toward Remarkable Rocks. The slithering roads reminded me of something like today’s modern mark of the Rainbow Serpent from the Aboriginal Dreamtime story.
17. In-between the Rocks. These unique granite boulders formed over 500 million years are incredibly impressive. There is no doubt that through centuries we – even the earliest humans of Earth – have always been intrigued by Mother Nature’s blessings and have been moved by its mystery and wonder.
18. A 127 Hours moment. We thought it was funny.
19. Life on the edge! Actually, this is quite dangerous. Don’t do this, an unexpected big wave or strong wind might sweep you away.
20. Admirals Arch. A short drive from the Rocks is this powerful display of the result of weathering. It’s home to long-nosed fur seals (different to sea lions), where you could watch a colony of them sunbathing on rock platforms.
21. Hanson Bay. Doesn’t it look like a giant pool? We learned that any destination that ends in “_____ Bay” on the island is a hidden gem of a paradise. I challenge you to randomly pick a spot on the map or take a spontaneous detour when you see a tiny road sign that points you to an unsealed road leading you who-knows-where-but-just-go. Let nature sooth your soul in these quiet havens.
22. A fisherman shed at Kingscote. Just thought it was a pretty shot.
23. Kangaroo Island nostalgia. Typical scenery on the island of contrasting yellows and blues, where painters dream of painting. By night on a clear day, you’ll also witness one of the most beautiful starry nights in your life.
This is just the beginning. Check out Part 2 to see how we literally drove away from rain to royal blue skies, stumbled across a Greek Islands-esque paradise and finished the journey with a bang – a wine tasting, of course.
What’s your idea of a great road trip? Write me a comment below.
This experience was independently paid for.
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HOW TO GET HERE
SeaLink operates frequent ferry services from Cape Jervis (the mainland) and Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, 45 minutes one way. Alternatively, REX serves daily 30 minute flights from Adelaide Airport to Kingscote KI Airport.
top 5 travel TIPS
- Hire a suitable car to explore as much as you can. A hatchback will do the job but you’ll need to drive slow on unsealed roads. We hired a sedan from Budget Rent a Car for just roughly $45/day.
- Fill up your petrol tank before you enter the island. Petrol on the island is pricey so it helps if you start with a full tank.
- Stock up on groceries on the mainland. As the island isn’t abundant with dining options, it’s best to prepare your own meals most of the time. Supplies here aren’t cheap so pack as much as you can beforehand – extra bonus if you’ve got a solid esky!
- Explore unsealed roads to destinations further off main roads. You’ll find hidden paradises like Hanson Bay, Flour Cask Bay and Western River Cove.
- Lastly, be prepared for limited WiFi. Connectivity drops in and out while driving around. I think this is a wonderful thing! Get offline and connect with what’s/who’s in front of you.