This week on Travel Tales we have an amazing overview of an incredible experience on Kangaroo Island by the very talented American Travel Writer Jennifer Burge. We also have a great story from young Canadian Rob Cecile, who took part in an Australian Working Holiday visa just last year, traversing all over Australia he has shared with us a 5 month Banana Farm experience, road tripping the outback, sailing the Whitsundays, and driving the Great Ocean Road!
These are all both amazing short reads about unforgettable times past and memories that will last a lifetime. There is nothing like Australia and these testimonials prove that in so many ways, and more!! I hope you enjoy the reads and be sure to tune in again soon!!
“Before reaching the island, I knew this voyage would be something special. Landing at Adelaide Airport, I drove the two hours to Cape Jervis where the ferry departs for a 50 minute cruise across Backstairs Passage to Kangaroo Island. I couldn’t resist stopping along the way to snap photos of the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula coastline. Several hues of blue leapt out at me from the calm waters of the southern Ocean and I lost track of time admiring the view.
On board, I was anxious to see the wild island paradise I’d been reading about for weeks. Friends had warned me that this passage is notorious for delivering wild rides, but the winds were calm that day and my journey was off to a sunny relaxing start. I stood on the bow as we approached Penneshaw and admired Hog Bay’s crystal waters. Realizing this was my home for the next week, it was impossible to wipe the smile off my face.
Leaving the jetty, I resisted the urge to stop repeatedly to capture the turquoise waters which sparkled and shifted with every fresh breeze. The most amazing part? There was hardly a soul to be seen! It was late February, so summer was taking her leave, but the weather remained a consistent 27 degrees. I couldn’t have asked for better if I’d had a direct line to Mother Nature.
I got my bearings at the Kangaroo Island Visitor Centre. “KI” to the locals, is 155km long, so make a plan for your time or suffer the consequences of missed opportunities. It’s difficult to name the “best spots” because on an island this size, there are many. The good news is that KI holds something for everyone, no matter what your passion.
For me, it’s all about animals. In Penneshaw, I took the Ironstone Hill Hike which explains the history of the area. On the walk, I spotted five glossy black cockatoos in a single tree. Listed as endangered under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, this was a lucky sight. Further along, a pod of five dolphins cruised the shoreline and several wallabies munched long grasses as they eyed me curiously. From March to October, fairy penguins can be seen marching nightly up the beach to their burrows. Thirty minutes away, American River, is home to spectacular bird life and beautiful black swans. Capital Kingscote, is best for supplies and spying on pelicans and cormorants gathered at the jetty to snatch the catch of nearby fishermen.
One highlight after the next, I thought I’d seen it all. Add spectacular sunrises, sunsets, and the friendliest locals I’ve ever had the privilege to meet and I thought “How can this get any better?” and then it did. Driving the South Coast from Penneshaw to Flinders Chase National Park, its impossible get caught up watching the sea lions play at Seal Bay. You can watch from the boardwalk or get a closer look with a wildlife guide for a few extra dollars. The jewel in the KI crown, however, is Flinders Chase National Park. The fur seal playground known as Admiral’s Arch, will blow away even the most well-traveled and Remarkable Rocks lends the mystery which will leave you scratching your head in wonder. If you still haven’t gotten enough, spend the night in a Heritage Cottage or Lighthouse Keepers Quarters to make the most of the magic. You won’t be the first visitor to linger a bit longer than planned and you surely will not be the last.
29 May 2013
Jennifer Burge is an American travel writer and author living in Brisbane. She has lived in Australia for two years and, after living Europe and Asia, is loving her new home in Queensland. You can find out more about her travels – at last count 39 countries! – at www.burge.nl or contact her on Twitter @JenniferBurge
Rob Cecile – Canadian granted a Working Holiday Visa in Australia
“I arrived in Australia with a buddy in November 2011 on a working holiday visa, with no idea what i was going to do, no plans except a hostel booked for a week in downtown Sydney and a return ticket to Canada booked for late August 2012. With no cell phone or laptop, and knowing I was going to be living in a foreign country for the next 10 months was pretty overwhelming, and really exciting. But as I soon discovered, Australia is very welcoming to young travelers.
I started traveling up the east coast, usually stopping somewhere for about a week before moving on. This included Byron Bay and Fraser Island, 2 places I’d heard about before going to Aus. It was on Fraser that I had my first encounter with Dingos, when they ate all our food while we were camping on the beach! I took about 2 months to get from Sydney up to Cairns. After spending the rest of my money enjoying the backpacker party scene that is Cairns, as well as Christmas spent snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, it was apparent that I needed to get a job.
I wanted to find work on a farm as I’d heard that if you completed a certain number of days doing farm work you could then apply for a 2nd year visa. Through an agency I was able to find a job right away, about an hour from Cairns. I spent the next 5 months living in a trailer and working on a banana farm, and I can honestly say that it was an amazing experience. I made some great Aussie friends, as well as friends from all over the world, working toward their 2nd year visa like me. Almost every day I would encounter some cool wildlife, from wallabys hanging out in the field around my trailer, to a variety of snakes slithering around in the banana trees.
After saving up enough money I decided it was time to continue exploring the rest of the country. I celebrated finishing work by going bungee jumping, sky diving, and white water rafting, which were all a blast! I also did a 3 day sailing trip through the breathtaking Whitsunday Islands, where I saw all kinds of sea creatures, including a crew of dolphins that joined the party around our boat one night. It was on this trip that I went diving for the first time, something I cannot wait to do again. I was also crowned the King of the boat I was on, but that’s another story…
Back on the mainland, a buddy and I decided to rent a camper van and make the long trek through the outback from Cairns to Darwin. It took about 5 days, but it was definitely worth it! From there I flew down to Perth for a week, a beautiful city I wish I’d had more time to explore, and with better weather. Next I flew to Melbourne, where I ended up renting a condo and staying there for almost 2 months.
While I unfortunately never made it to South Australia and Kangaroo Island, I did get the chance to rent another camper van and drive down the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne towards Adelaide, stopping to see the 12 Apostles, some wild Koala bears, and endless picturesque coastline, a road trip I’d highly recommend to everyone.
I’ve fallen in love with Australia, its people, and it’s culture, and can’t wait to get back there!”
Do you have any Travel Tales of a Land Down Unda’ you would like to share? Maybe something specific like a shark encounter of the Eyre Peninsula, a freak Dropbear attack :), an amazing first introduction to swimming with Manta Rays off the Northwest coast… What is your favourite memory from your time spent in Australia? Share it here, with the world!!
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