Winter on Kangaroo Island – we settle into our new home at Wilderness Valley

Celebrating our new home, at last!

As our first winter on Kangaroo Island draws to a close, it seems a good time to report on our early experiences as ‘Islanders’.  The weather today is wild, with clouds whipping across the sky, raining one minute, bright sunshine the next.  And that is quite appropriate given that winter-long the weather has been changeable and dramatic.  Melbourne prides itself on delivering four seasons in one day, but I think it has nothing on KI.  One of the first lessons we learnt was that a cloudless sky and bright sunshine did not mean you could go exploring across the property without a rain-jacket.  In the blink of an eye, the clouds roar up, you’re blasted by driving rain, then it clears just as quickly to make you wonder how it was that your clothes had become drenched.


Kangaroo Island revisited – February 2012

Stokes Bay at sunset
Well, we made it back to Kangaroo Island.  Our first visit to Kangaroo Island, in 2011, was all too brief and had left us longing for more, and after several memorable months on some of the AWC’s inland sanctuaries, we thought some quality time on the coast was in order…and surely there’s no more beautiful coastline than KI’s.

On this occasion we spent five weeks on the island, long enough to revisit places we loved during our first visit, explore many of the areas we missed out on the first time around, and even buy some real estate (more about that later).


Buckaringa Sanctuary – rock wallabies, the Flinders Ranges & a cozy cottage – January 2012

Yellow-Footed Rock Wallaby in Buckaringa Gorge.  Beautiful, extremely well-camouflaged creatures that seem to disappear into the rock-faces.
We recently enjoyed a three week stay as volunteer rangers at the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC) Buckaringa Sanctuary, set amongst the Flinders Ranges.  The sanctuary and its surroundings are breathtaking, encompassing rolling hills, rugged escarpments and gorges, sweeping valleys, creek beds lined with River Red Gums, and an ever-changing vista of colour and light …and, of course, plenty of wildlife, including the rare and beautiful Yellow-Footed Rock Wallaby.


Kalamurina Sanctuary – Under the Shade of a Coolibah Tree

Warburton Creek on Kalamurina, late afternoon.

We had planned to visit the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Kalamurina Sanctuary earlier in 2011, but were thwarted by the weather and other commitments.  So when we were offered to act as caretakers on the sanctuary for five weeks over the Christmas/New Year period, we jumped at the opportunity.


Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary – mammal trapping and other adventures

Close-up of a Boodie joey.

Our first stint as volunteers at Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary was last summer, in often stifling conditions.  How’s 46.6 degrees sound?  Despite those conditions, and maybe even partly because of them, we loved our first stay there.

We are happy to report that our second visit, in altogether cooler conditions (in fact, often cold), was just as interesting, rewarding and enjoyable.  The main reason for this visit was for us to assist with the night-time mammal trapping, one of the many survey techniques employed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) to estimate the populations of re-introduced native mammals on the sanctuary.


Kangaroo Island

Wild coastline near Admiral's Arch, Flinders Chase National Park

At long last we visited Kangaroo Island (KI).  In short, we absolutely loved it.  Forget what you might have heard about the expensive ferry ride to the island (which is reputedly the most expensive ferry ride per kilometre in the world) and cost of travelling around and staying on the island (which isn’t so bad), it is well worth all the effort and expense.  Our only complaint was that we weren’t there for long enough.  We stayed just over a week, giving us enough time to sample most of what the island has to offer, but leaving us wanting more and vowing to return.

We were blessed with near perfect weather during our stay, allowing us to fully appreciate the beauty of the Kangaroo Island coastline, from the wild south which bears the brunt of the Southern Ocean, to the more sheltered and serene north.


Innes National Park – stunning coastal scenery on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula

Stunning coastline on Stenhouse Bay lookout walk

We had never previously visited South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.  We had always driven past the peninsula– heading either north or south, on our way to somewhere else.  This time, we decided to bite the bullet and see what it had to offer.

From Mount Remarkable National Park, we headed south-west, stocking up in Port Pirie before our drive onto the Yorke Peninsula proper.  Our destination was the Innes National Park, at the southern tip of the peninsula.  We knew virtually northing about the park, other than the availability of bush-camping, our preferred accommodation.


The miniature world of Mount Remarkable

Close-up of forest floor

Our first stop after the wildlife survey at Dakalanta Sanctuary was Port Lincoln, where we had some long-overdue work done on our camper trailer’s solar system.  Where to now?  We were heading in the general direction of Kangaroo Island, but decided to explore the Yorke Peninsula on our way.  It just so happened that Mount Remarkable National Park was a solid day’s travel from Port Lincoln, a good stopping off point.  Now, let us just state for the record that we don’t have shares in Mt Remarkable, it’s just that we love the place and find something new there every time we visit.  We stayed for many days, as usual, but the capabilities of our revamped solar system were tested to the maximum, as it rained pretty well the duration of our stay.

Think of rain in the Australian bush, and images of running creeks and flooding rivers, wildlife drinking from pools, and trees sucking up the moisture all come to mind.  But Mount Remarkable, in its own special way, gave us a different look at rain; showing us its influence on the miniature world…the world of fungi, moss, lichen and raindrops.  It was beautiful, totally unexpected, and somehow quite magical.  


Lincoln National Park & Memory Cove Wilderness Area – beautiful places on the Eyre Peninsula

Memory Cove - a little piece of perfection

We left Buckaringa sanctuary, with a couple of weeks to spare before our next commitment to assist as volunteers at the first wildlife survey at the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Dakalanta sanctuary on the Eyre Peninsula.  For us, the choice was obvious; we’d head to the southern tip of the peninsula to re-visit the Lincoln National Park and a special region within it called the Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area.  We’d visited those areas early in 2008 and loved them.


Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary – a ray of hope

Woylie (Brush-tailed Bettong), seen during night-time distance sampling.

Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary, in the mallee country of far western New South Wales, offers a step back in time to an era when Australia’s medium-sized marsupials hopped freely across the landscape.  Nowadays, these beautiful creatures have all but disappeared in the wild, due to land-clearing and predation by foxes and feral cats.