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.


Along the Birdsville Track

Marree Hotel.  There isn't a lot to see at Marree, which marks the southern start of the Birdsville Track.

The term ‘iconic’ is overused nowadays, but is completely appropriate to the Birdsville Track.  The Birdsville Track is probably Australia’s best known and most loved outback track, with a rich history and almost mythic status.  The 500km plus track joins the small town of Marree in outback South Australia with the town of Birdsville in outback, south-western Queensland.


Pitfalling at Scotia Sanctuary – November 2011

Close-up of a Smooth Knob-tailed Gecko (Nephrurus levii).  We saw plenty of these gorgeous geckos.

Anyone who has read our blogs over the past year would know that we love the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Scotia Sanctuary.  Needless to say, we were excited to have the opportunity to assist during the annual pitfalling survey there in November 2011.


Yookamurra Sanctuary – Old Growth Mallee & Marsupials Large and Small

Greater Bilby at Yookamurra.  Enchanted, fragile and beautiful.

We recently completed four months caretaking at Yookamurra Sanctuary, another of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC’s) sanctuaries.  It was a wonderful experience for us.

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.


Adelaide and the Fleurieu Peninsula

Plenty of attitude, Fairy Penguins at the Granite Island Penguin Centre

We had recently visited South Australia’s Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas, so it seemed only fair to visit the Fleurieu Peninsula next, to complete the set.  To be honest, we had several other reasons to visit as well; we were getting some maintenance done on our camper trailer with its manufacturer in Adelaide, we couldn’t resist another visit to the McLaren Vale region and its wineries, and we were heading towards Kangaroo Island, and the mainland ferry terminal is at Cape Jervis on the south western tip of the Fleurieu.