We set off from Sydney at 630pm and drove through the night stopping in Wagga Wagga for a quick bite to eat (unfortunately McDonalds was the only place open at midnight) and then again at the small outback town of Hay. We got to Hay at 3am and decided it was time to have a couple of hours kip. We had quite a big hire car, so managed to rearrange the boot into a makeshift bed settled down to a few hours sleep. Bright and early at 6am we set off again and arrived in Handorf just outside Adelaide just in time for lunch. As you can guess from the name Hahndorf has it’s origins in Germany. Founded by German settlers around 1839, it’s Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. The town is a popular tourist spot and the streets were teeming with them this Good Friday morning. We had a wander around and drank in the German architecture before drinking in the German beer (and bratwurst).
We then pushed on to our camp site in Brighton, it was right on the beach, a really beautiful spot but very windy when we arrived! We got the last spot on the site as it was Easter weekend, the wind made it difficult to pitch the tent but we just about managed! We walked along the beach to watch sunset at Brighton pier, we miss calculated slightly and missed sunset right at the pier but had a nice spot on the beach. As it was Good Friday we didn’t have the pick of places to eat but we had a pleasant dinner and ice cream on the walk back.
The next morning as we had such a short time to see everything we went on a scenic drive into the Adelaide Hills area. We hoped there would be an obvious place to stop and go for a walk. The drive ended at the Gorge Wildlife Park. We decided not to go in as we’ve been to quite a few wildlife parks and we were keen to go into Adelaide city. The train station was a short walk from the camp site which was perfect and we headed into the centre. We walked along the river to the botanic gardens. We perused the different gardens and spent some time at the beautiful lily pond.
After the gardens we went to the docks for a walk about and in search of a pub Jon had found. We miss calculated slightly and the walk didn’t take us anywhere near the pub (much to Jon’s disappointment) and places were pretty deserted for the long weekend so we caught the train back to the centre and went for dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Zapata’s. Once we were thoroughly stuffed we went for a couple of drinks at a bar and there was live music which rounded off a great day.
The next day we had an early ferry crossing to Kanagroo Island. We arrived at the terminal around 10ish. After a short crossing we were greeted by an Easter market which was the perfect place to grab breakfast before heading off to the other side of the island. We had decided to stay on a camp site close to the Flinders Chase national park as we would be spending most of our time in the national park. Along the way we stopped at Kingscote to get fuel and Vivonnie Bay for a look at their camp ground and the beach. It was a bit of a scramble through the bush to get to the beach but we made it and the sea was wild, there were a few surfers further down the beach and the guide book claimed this beach had once been voted the best in Australia but we’ve definitely seen better!
After that stop we continued on, set up camp and then went to Seal Bay conservation park to see the Australian fur seal colony. We were too late to take the guided tour right onto the beach up close to the seals so we went on to the board walk and actually the seals were very close to the board walk so we got plenty close enough. It was great to sea the seals up close, mothers and their pups. They were really sweet and looked very cuddly.
There aren’t many options for dinner in that part of the island so we had an early supper at Seal Bay Cafe before heading home. It was almost twilight when we arrived back at the camp site. We were getting things out of the boot of the car when something rustled by my feet, I jumped out of my skin thinking it was a snake coming to get me! It was actually a very bold koala striding though our pitch on his way up a tree, where he would remain above us for the rest of the evening. It was a truly special moment.
The next morning we went into Flinders Chase National Park first to the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch and then for a short hike. Remarkable Rocks are huge naturally formed granite sculptures resting precariously on a cliff edge. They look like something Henry Moore might have dreamt up. After leaving the rocks it’s a short drive to Admirals Arch. Another natural rock formation under the cliff. On our way down we were a little surprised to see lots of seals, relaxing just out of reach of the water.
The Cape du Couedic Lighthouse stands on the cliff above Admirals Arch so we had a quick look around before heading to the start of our walk. We chose the Snake Lagoon track as this fairly short trail winds through Sugar Gums and mallee before descending into the Rocky River valley. The trail crosses Rocky River and becomes more tricky as it meanders along the river bank to the mouth, ending with views across the Southern Ocean. The beach was empty and foreboding, large waves crashing on the shore and an ominous sign warning of large freak waves! Needless to stay I didn’t want to hang around too long and after Jon took some photos we headed back along the winding river path.
We drove a long way down a dirt road to get to Cape Borda Lighthouse we hoped to make better progress when we got to the main road that travels along the northern coast however when we got there the road was tarmac to the east but more gravel to the west toward the lighthouse. The road surface was anything but smooth and we decided to leave seeing the lighthouse and move on to explore the northern coastline. Our next stop was at Stokes Bay. After reading the guidebook we were expecting to drive under an stone arch to get to the beach so we were a bit surprised to get to the beach without driving under a low arch. Were we in the wrong place? We got out the car and walked on to the beach to see a path into the rocks, we followed it to find the guidebook had been wrong, you had to walk through what felt like a secret path under the cliff. It’s a small tunnel (Jon had to crouch but that’s not unusual!) to a beach that was beautiful and quiet and we relaxed on the sand in the sun for while. We drove on to American River as we’d been told it was a nice place for sunset. It didn’t quite work out as we couldn’t find the beach that was good for sunset and we missed the best part in the process.
After being lucky enough to see a lot of wildlife in Australia we are still waiting to see the elusive Platypus. There are some ponds in the national park where platypus are known to inhabit. Platypus are more likely seen at dawn and dusk, there are some viewing platforms at the ponds so we decided to get up early and try our luck. The visitors centre said the last sighting had been recently at 7am so we were hopeful. We arrived a bit later than we had planned and the sun was almost up but we were the only people there and being as still and as quiet as possible we waited for ages but no luck this time! We then returned to the campsite to pack up. On the way to the ferry we walked up the 500ish steps to the top of Prospect Hill (formerly Mount Thisby) made of sand it gives 360 views of the island. From there it was back on a gravel road to Cape Willoughby Lighthouse. There were hundreds of white butterflies fluttering about the lavender.
After the delights of Kangaroo Island our next stop back on the mainland was the Barossa Valley. We arrived in Tanunda early evening and pitched the tent before having a deliciously indulgent meal at 1918 Bistro. The next morning after too much wine the night before we had a late breakfast and then I was designated driver when we went to a few wineries, Jon had a difficult task of taster!
On our last afternoon in the Barossa before beginning the long drive back to Sydney we took a short drive to the Barossa Reservoir which is known for it’s ‘Whispering Wall’. The wall is the face of the dam itself, and as the name suggests it displays some bizarre acoustic phenomena. The shape of the dam face causes a parabola effect and voices from one side of the 140 metre wide dam can be heard clearly from the other. We decided this was enough excitement from one day, so headed back to our camp site to rest up for the journey ahead with a relaxing glass of wine.
Unlike on the way out we decided to do the return journey in a single (day long) stint. It actually made for a really interesting albeit slightly tiring day, and it was great to see a bit more of the outback that we had mainly passed through during night a week earlier. Plus our first glimpse of wild Emus. As we made our way back towards Sydney our trip was closed out by a beautiful sunset, which seemed like a fitting way to bring to a close another great trip.