I recently returned from a trip to South Australia, a truly brilliant blend of arid landscapes, delicious wines, incredible wildlife, and friendly people. We began our trip to the “driest state in the driest continent” with a lovely day spent in Adelaide, a large-scale country town (also known as “The City of Churches”), that was recently determined to be “Australia’s most livable city” by the Property Council of Australia.
Thomas and I found it to be beyond livable, and in fact we found Adelaide to be quite enjoyable, as we stopped by the famous Central Market to pick up the makings of a picnic lunch.
After perusing the many stalls…
…we were ready for lunch!
We took our lunch to Adelaide’s botanic gardens, a beautiful spot in the middle of the city.
In the midst of sprawling lawns, bright flowers, and magnificent trees, my favorite part of the gardens was the Victoria House, a glasshouse designed for the cultivation of the Victoria water lily, Victoria amazonica.
I loved these spiky water lilies…
…in addition to the story behind them. According to an Amazonian legend, there was once a young girl who fell in love with the moon. One night, she noticed the moon’s reflection in the waters of a pond, and the girl jumped in to be with her lover. The girl was never seen again, and in recognition of her sacrifice, the moon transformed her into a “star of the waters”, the water lily that only blooms at night when the moon is watching her.
We ended our day in Adelaide with a trip to the seaside suburb of Glenelg, where we escaped the raw heat of the afternoon with a quick swim.
Look at that hot Australian sun!
Thomas even joined in on some local teenage antics.
We awoke early the next morning for the second stage of our adventure….a trip to Kangaroo Island! Kangaroo Island is Australia’s 3rd largest island, and it is located just off the coast of Adelaide.
Kangaroo Island was the first official settlement of South Australia, although today it boasts a population of only ~ 4,200 people. Needless to say, the island was amazingly isolated, and we enjoyed 4 days of island explorations. I will try to be brief in my description of our travels, and here is a day-by-day account of our trip.
Day 1: Kingscote and surrounds
1. Prospect Hill + Pennington Bay
After a rocky morning ferry trip to Kangaroo Island, we began our day with a walk up Prospect Hill. Prospect Hill is highest point on the island, and like the early explorer Matthew Flinders (who first explored KI), we used the view from the top to get our bearings. Check out these 360 degree views- we could see the whole island!
And look, here’s the next stop on our trip- Pennington Bay!
We headed back down the hill to take a quick nap on the beach at Pennington Bay…
Kangaroo Island is well known for its local food production, so we had to check out some local farms!
First, we made our way to the Gifford Honey Farm, where we sampled fresh honey, drank sparkling honey, and ate fresh honeycomb.
Kangaroo Island is the oldest bee sanctuary in the world, and it is home to the only pure genetic strain of Ligurian Bee. Imported from Italy in the 1880s, the Ligurian bees on isolated Kangaroo Island remain free of bee diseases.
We also visited a lavendar farm,
a dairy farm,
and even a boutique distillery for some fresh spirits!
3. Night out with the Kingscote locals
We joined our hostel proprietor, Bob, for a rowdy raffle night at the local pub. I didn’t take pictures, but it was definitely a different taste of KI culture.
Day 2: North Coast + Wild West
1. Stokes Bay
We took a morning jaunt out to Stokes Bay, sight of an apparently “safe” (no sharks, no rips?) beach. However, when we got there we had trouble locating the beach!
Oh wait, there it is!
2. Flinders Chase National Park
We soon headed out to the “wild” west end of the island, site of Flinders Chase National Park. Here we enjoyed the Remarkable Rocks…
….and right up close!
We also took a walk down to the Admiral’s Arch, and went on a hike to Snake Lagoon.
The views from the walk down to the arch were incredible,
and we even spotted some New Zealand fur seals!
And of course, there was the arch, itself-
The hike to Snake Lagoon was equally beautiful, and luckily we didn’t spot any snakes!
Beach at the end of the hike!
3. Flinders Chase Farm
We spent the night at Flinders Chase Farm on the edge of the national park. We had a lovely dinner before sitting on our stoop to watch some kangaroos (what else would you do on Kangaroo Island, really?).
We even got fresh eggs from the farm’s chickens to have with dinner!
Kangaroo watching….haha, watch the dog in this video.
Day 3: South Coast
1. Hanson Bay + Kelly Hill Caves
After a quick stop by Hanson Bay,
we made our way to Kelly Hill caves for a quick cave walk. Beautiful!
Can you see the ballet slipper in this photo?
2. Vivonne Bay
Rated the best beach in Australia by Sydney University professor Andrew Short, this beach did live up to its name. Check it out!
Of course we had to go for a swim!
3. Seal Bay
Our next stop was Seal Bay Conservation Park, where we watched adult seals relax in the sun, and seal pups play in the waves.
Seal pups at play!
Day 4: Eastern Peninsula
1. Little Sahara
On our way back east, we stopped by the Little Sahara, a mini desert on the southern coast of the island.
Got sand in your shoes, Tom?
2. Murray Lagoon
We went on a quick walk through Murray Lagoon, a bird sanctuary off the backroads of Kangaroo Island. What an amazing landscape!
Thomas may have gotten lost in some bushes along the way…
…and here’s someone else who was hiding in the bushes!
3. Cape Willoughby Lighthouse
Our last stop of the day was at the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse on the Dudley Peninsula. Here we enjoyed a quick walk, and as usual, great views of the lighthouse and surrounding area.
Our trip to Kangaroo Island came to an end and we headed back to Adelaide for a couple of hours before our flight back to Sydney. We enjoyed lunch in Chinatown, a South Australian Migration Museum, and, upon Thomas’s request, a quick trip to the Adelaide Casino. Overall, we had a wonderful and relaxing trip full of good food, exciting wildlife, and the exploration of some beautiful landscapes. What more can you ask for?