As many will know, Kangaroo Island was ravaged by bushfires in January this year. Over 50% of the island was involved and much of the tourism and forestry infrastructure was destroyed. The community was hit very hard by the tourist cancellations, and then it was compounded by the COVID-19 outbreak and lock-downs that swept across the nation. Fortunately the pandemic situation in VK5 has been controlled and we were in the end able to rebook and still travel to Kangaroo Island.
Part of the aim of this trip then was to give a little bit back to the Kangaroo Island economy by visiting the tourist attractions that are open and supporting local businesses and suppliers. It also gave us a chance to see first hand how the island is starting to recover from the fires.
To reach Kangaroo Island, we drove down to Cape Jervis from Adelaide (the capital city of South Australia), roughly a 2 hour trip. We then boarded the Sealink Ferry service and sailed across to the island. We were very lucky on the trip over as the conditions were calm. We were concerned about what we might face on return as payback for lulling us into a false sense of security on the way over!
After 45 minutes on the ferry and another 45 minute drive we arrived at our home for the week at “Hilltop” located about 10-15 minutes south of Kingscote, the main town on the island. By the end of the day we had both stations running with antennas operational for 40 and 20m. The following day we added antennas for 30m and 80m as well.
Flinders Chase National Park
Day 3 saw us trek west across the island to visit one of the premier parks on the island, Flinders Chase suffered the most from the fires. The visitors centre plus the one at Kelly Hill Caves were both completely destroyed along with much of the boardwalk infrastructure around the Remarkable Rocks area. However, across the park there is signs of new regeneration and life.
Once inside Flinders Chase, the first attraction we reached was Admiral’s Arch and Cape De Couedic Lighthouse. Fortunately the fires were stopped before the engulfed the lighthouse grounds, which also spared the boardwalks to the arch. This gave us a chance to visit the Fur Seal colony that lives around the arch.
While at the arch, we were lucky enough to spot an Echidna hiding in the bush. It was great to see some wildlife alive and well on land deep inside the fire zone.
Our next stop was the Remarkable Rocks. Here the damage caused by the fires was most apparent. I have a couple of before and after photos, comparing 2016 to 2020 that graphically illustrate what went on
The rocks themselves are as mystical and magical as ever.
Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island
Later in the week we visited Seal Bay, home to one of the largest colonies of Australian Sea Lions. This colony is special as it was virtually inaccessible to the 1800s seal hunters due to the reefs just off shore. The reef is one of the reasons the seal lions here have not been hunted to extinction. This is another of the premier tourist attractions on the island and is on the must visit list for anyone travelling here. Note however that you do need to book as beach access and group sizes are restricted.
There were many other attractions to be found on the island, all of which are open and looking for your business. I know Andrew and his partner had a grand time touring the various artisan cafe’s, Gin distillery and sights all over the island. For me, this was more about just stopping, relaxing and escaping the madness of the last 6 months with family. It certainly is a most excellent place to do that in thats for sure.
The Trip Home
I would love to bring you some photos of the trip home, but as you will recall my initial comment at the start of this story – we had our payback for such a smooth crossing over. The trip back was anything but, with northerly winds driving very choppy seas side on to the ferry. Lets just say it was very rough indeed – and not all of our party survived the trip without needing the infamous paper bags supplied on board. None the less, the journey is only 45-60 minutes and the discomfort was worth the trip to beautiful Kangaroo Island!