Sunday, July 27, 2014

Down Under, Day #6 - Kangaroo Island Wildlife and Rock Features

Day 6 was the second day of our Kangaroo Island tour. Thankfully it started a little later than the previous two days - Robert picked us up at our hotel with a smaller (but still overkill for a two-person tour) 20-passenger bus. We quickly headed for the Emu Ridge Eucalypt Distillery, one of only three places in Australia that still processes eucalyptus oil. Our guide showed us the large stove where they heat the eucalyptus leaves and distill the oil, and then we watched a short video about the process since they don't run the stove in winter. What's really interesting is their operation is entirely green - every part of the eucalyptus is put to use, even the burnt leaves and branches are turned to mulch. It smelled SO good on their property - the scent of eucalyptus will forever take me back to KI - and we even saw some wild kangaroos out back before we left. 
In the video below, you can see the joey moving around in his mother's pouch - so cool!
video
After buying some eucalyptus products from their store, we headed out for our second stop of the day - the highly anticipated Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park. Much smaller than Cleland, the park is privately owned and operated, and the workers very clearly love their animals. Many of the animals are rescues from across the island. They even have four albino kangaroos!
Kookaburra - love those colors!
By the way, if you don't know the kookaburra song, you need to watch this video. I can't say the word kookaburra or look at these pictures without this song running through my head.
waving hello
Again, we had a private tour, so our course all the kangaroos wanted to be our friends - we did have food, after all. It was so much fun to interact with and feed them - they were very friendly and calm.
Back at the front of the park, the guide introduced us some cute and cuddly babies - Tilly the wallaby and Opie the kangaroo. Oh my goodness! We thoroughly enjoyed holding them and loving on them. Tilly was very nervous with me, but Stephanie got her calmed down. And Opie was a delight! He nibbled on my scarf, and when Stephanie rubbed his belly he kicked his legs like a dog - so cute!
Holding Tilly
Me and Steph with our babies
Opie!
And then we had the most amazing experience - we got to hold Chloe, a baby koala! We had to pay extra for this, but it was so worth it. As big and heavy as Koko was the other day, Chloe was dainty and petite, and so snuggly. Stephanie held her first, and I had to convince her to hand her over. I think we both would have adopted Chloe and taken her home, if that had been an option. 
Koala cuddles
Neither of us wanted to leave the babies, but we still had several adventures awaiting us, so we headed back to the bus and hit the road. We were a little late for lunch, since we spent so long with the animals, but that was quite alright with us. Over lunch, I asked Robert what most people say is their favorite part of a KI tour - he said the Remarkable Rocks and Admiral's Arch, both of which were on our afternoon itinerary. Having been there, I can honestly say that they were definitely two of my highlights as well, though I wish we could have stayed longer at the Remarkable Rocks. 

What are the Remarkable Rocks? They are a group of large granite boulders atop the cliffs that have been hollowed out into unusual shapes by the wind, weather, and sea spray. We walked down to the Remarkable Rocks and then all around them, looking for different shapes and enjoying God's magnificent creation.
Remarkable Rocks from afar
the elephant's trunk
sitting on the chair
On the other side, the cliff drops off into the sea
the face
The Remarkable Rocks are part of the Flinder's Chase National Park. Leaving there, we continued through the park past gorgeous clifftop scenery and the Cape de Couedic Lighthouse.
We next arrived at the top of the cliffs where we followed a wooden boardwalk and staircase down to Admiral's Arch, a spectacular natural rock arch sculpted by the sea and wind over thousands of years. As we walked down, we spotted dozens of New Zealand fur seals resting and playing on the rocks below.
Part of the boardwalk to reach Admiral's Arch
Sleepy seal pup
Admiral's Arch
You can see the size of the arch in this one - that's me bottom right.
After leaving Admiral's Arch and stopping for a quick snack and souvenir shopping on the way out of the park, we made our way to our final attraction on Kangaroo Island - Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and Koala Walk. Unlike Cleland and the KI Wildlife Park earlier that day, the animals at Hanson Bay are truly wild. The land, animals, and plant-life are all protected. We saw kangaroos and tammar wallabies on the way in, but quickly set out for a self-guided koala walk through the eucalyptus grove. We were told that the record for koala spottings in the trees was 12 koalas. Well, we found 16 - record broken!
We left the koala walk at sunset for our hour bus-ride back to Penneshaw to catch the ferry. Both Stephanie and I wished we could have stayed several more days on KI, but that was not possible. Someday I hope to go back and spend more time in this amazing pristine natural wonderland. 

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