while tuesday had been all about koalas and kangaroos, wednesday was all about seals, err, australian sea lions, to be exact. we woke up early, made breakfast, then ventured to the tire store to get our flat repaired before finally heading out to seal bay. home to the third largest colony of australian sea lions, the seal bay conservation park offers guided tours to visitors interested in getting up close and personal to these adorable sea mammals.
our guide, dale, was extremely knowledgeable. it was like getting a biology, geography, and safety lesson all in one. yes, you heard me correctly, i said safety lesson. apparently seals and sea lions aren’t necessarily as cuddly as they appear at the clyde and seamore show at sea world. they can be quite aggressive and rather dangerous if provoked. all i could think of was: “i’m sorry, you tell us this NOW as we’re a mere inches away from them?” but thankfully everyone shared the beach peacefully and we escaped unscathed.
after saying goodbye to the sea lions, we took a drive down a looooooong unsealed road out to vivonne bay, a place that was once voted australia’s best beach. and i mean, with good reason.
we were the only ones on the shore for miles. and while it would have been amazing to set up shop on the white sands and catch a few rays, it was terribly windy. so we decided to head back to the cottage and see how the conditions were at stokes bay instead.
we came home for what could only be described as “linner” (late lunch/early dinner) on the patio before changing into bathing suits and hitting the beach directly at the bottom of the hill of our island oasis. despite the wind (apparently the whole island was experiencing windy conditions that day), which was creating a fun little sand storm (i think i’m still finding grains of sand in my ears and nose), the scenery, the temperatures, the company, the reading material, the music blaring from our beach speaker (game changer), all of it came together to create my little version of utopia. if we had had some snacks from trader joe’s and i had been wearing a sequin-covered bikini, i think i would have self-combust from sheer and utter joy. luckily there are no tj’s on the island and sequins don’t fare well in the ocean, so…
seeing as we had yet another open beach, i decided to once again practice my cartwheels. maybe the shore was more angled than the one at emu bay or maybe i had had just a tad too much cider at linner but my equilibrium was off on this particular afternoon. never one to miss the opportunity to keep me humble, M was certain to catch one of my less than poised landings. as soon as i hit the ground with my hands, the momentum propelled me backwards and i immediately hit the sand, booty first. and that’s why i never made it past two weeks of gymnastics class, i thought. i laughed, he laughed, i laughed some more and then, with my tail tucked between my legs in minor embarrassment, i crawled back up to my towel.
as the sun began to descend behind the horizon line, we gathered our things en route back to the top of the hill. but before we settled in for the evening, we took advantage of the golden light.
the night ended with a bottle of sauvignon blanc and breakfast for dinner because wine not (how many times can i use that joke because it’s bound to resurface again when we get to the barossa valley recap)? we began to reorganize our suitcases and the cottage in anticipation of our morning departure before drifting off to dreamland.
with our flight not until 6 p.m. on thursday, after checking-out of our hillside hideaway, we maximized our final hours on kangaroo island. first up? a road trip out to american river, a sleepy little town with little more than a convenience store to its name. after we watched some pretty black swans paddle in the water, we had seen all that we needed to see, so we jumped back in the corolla and headed toward our next stop, penneshaw. while not as big as kingscote, penneshaw did offer a few shops and cafes for exploration. we got coffees at a small cafe before walking down the penguin trail to take in the views. unfortunately the views only included land and ocean, no tuxedo-adorned birds. turns out penguins are more into the night life. oh well. following that little jaunt, we drove down to hog bay where we changed back into bathing suits and laid in the sun while watching the ferry go back and forth across the backstairs passage that connects kangaroo island to mainland south australia (aside from terrifying small planes, the ferry is the only other option for entrance onto the island. it takes a heck of a lot longer though). M assured me that our time on the beach would be coming to a close following our departure from kangaroo island, seeing as i didn’t know how many more UVAs and UVBs my epidermis could handle. so i figured it was only fair to let him deepen his already bronzed complexion (you’re welcome).
all of that sunbathing had worked up an appetite so we ventured back into town to grab a bite at the penneshaw hotel. but seeing as the city only has a population of 265 people, the kitchen had closed at 2:30 p.m. (i guess when you cater to less than 300 residents, you get to make your own rules). i think we got there at 2:36 p.m. wah wah. lucky for us, the cafe that had served us coffee earlier in the day was still open for lunch service. and for being a humble operation, it turned out some pretty amazing food -both in taste and presentation. so as i’ve said so many times before, maybe plan B turned out better than plan A anyway.
we had one last beachside hoorah at baudin beach and a pit stop in kingscote before arriving back at budget rental car at 5:30 p.m. on the dot. we turned in our beloved toyota that had served us well for four days and 800 miles (well, aside from that whole flat tire thing) and checked in for our flight. back on the tiny plane we go. this time in the exit row. because nothing says, “hey, the fate of a dozen people lies in your hands” more than assuming responsibility to sit in the seats nearest the emergency exit. thankfully our services were not needed as we landed back in adelaide safe and sound.
to be continued…