Australia’s Galapagos

 

Well, hello!

 
 

 

Gratuitous emu shots. For Charles..

 

From the Great Ocean Road we’d driven north to Adelaide, to connect with the flight for Kangaroo Island.

 
 

 

On the way, a stop for lunch at Mount Gambier and the Blue Lake. A great suggestion from fellow blogger Jane, at Jane’s Mudgee Garden (here).

 
 

 

The Blue Lake, in a dormant volcanic crater, is almost impossibly blue. Just what it says on the tin really, with the perfect addition of turquoise highlights around the rim. It’s a phenomenon that only happens in summer as the water warms up, most likely the result of crystal formation which scatters the blue wavelengths of light. And as luck would have it on this day it was over 30C. At the lookout we met a guy who actually lives in town and had stopped because the lake was bluer than he had seen it in months.

Driving up through the Coorong National Park was lovely too, thank you Jane.

 
 

 

Our nightly garden visitors on Kangaroo Island. Four of the sixteen.

 

It seems there is no easy way to get to KI. There is a boat. But frequently the crossing is choppy and that’s without this author’s now well documented problem with water phobia. So it has to be the plane. Which still has to fly over the water. Obviously. And it’s one of those teeny tiny ones with the criss crossy things where the jets ought to be. Last time we were in this neck of the woods the flight was ‘interesting’.

 
 

 

 Sea lion and pup at Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island

 

So as you can imagine, I was hardly looking forward to the journey. And the weather forecast for the day? Windy. In the extreme. The Southern Ocean you see. Next stop Antarctica. It isn’t always a millpond.

 
 

 

A juvenile humpback whale that might have regretted coming this way..

 

As we took our seats at the airport departure gate, that brief crackle of static over the intercom which heralds an announcement. “There’s no easy way to put this. Passengers wishing to use the facilities should consider doing so now. The flight will be short but bumpy and the seat belt sign will be on for the duration.”

 
 

 

Cape Barren geese, Kangaroo Island

 

When we got on the plane, and to this day I don’t know how I did, the lady in the seat opposite us was fervently studying the safety card. How often does that happen then? Another crackle of static. “Given the weather conditions today the crew will be coming through the aircraft with refreshments before we leave the ground.”

 
 

 

Pennington Bay, Kangaroo Island

 

Crackle crackle. “Good morning, this is your Captain. A brief message from the flight deck today. Before we take off. While there’s a bit of time. There are a number of storms passing through the area so we’re expecting some turbulence.”

And was it all worth it? Well of course it was. The twenty minute flight (going on forty..) was fine. In spite of me holding my breath most of the way. Far smoother in fact than the same flight two years previously. The threatening storms mercifully kept out of our way.

 
 

 

 The Remarkable Rocks at Flinders Chase National Park.

Some old favourites got a revisit..

 
 

 

Learning from the experience of the Great Ocean Road, this time we left it until late in the day to be rewarded with this truly remarkable natural feature all to ourselves. Not a selfie stick in sight.

 
 

 

And then there were some wonderful new experiences.

Bumbling along the side of the road one day, an echidna. It allowed me to follow it at very close quarters for over fifteen minutes. I knew when I’d overstepped the mark. It would crouch low to the ground, head tucked under spines, only seconds later to hoist itself back up and march onward as before.

The Kangaroo Island short beaked echidna is thought to be a separate sub species, with more numerous and paler spines than echidnas on the mainland. It is listed as endangered.

 
 

 

 

An echidna is a monotreme, one of only two egg laying mammals. They evolved between 20 and 50 million years ago and have the dubious privilege of possessing only a single orifice for peeing, pooping, mating and egg laying. It all sounds rather unhygienic to me but somehow they manage. Their diet consists largely of insects and termites using their long sticky tongue, projecting from the snout, to collect the prey.

When an egg is laid the echidna places it into her pouch, with a baby ‘puggle’ hatching ten days later. What else can I tell you about echidnas? Well, the male has a four headed penis. So now you know.

 
 

 

The Platypus Pools, Flinders Chase National Park

We tried very hard to find the other example of a monotreme, the platypus.

 
 

 

Could this be it? If it was, it was as close as we got.

They are even more elusive than the echidna, rarely seen other than at dawn and dusk.

 

At home in Devon it’s not entirely unexpected to see seagulls perched atop the lampposts.

 
 

 

In American River though, they can go one better.. pelicans.

At first sight they look almost artificial. Like some bizarre and rather kitsch attempt at civic art. But no, they are real alright.

 
 

 

And those lamppost positions (there are only three) are hotly contested. Fights break out and feathers fly.

 
 

 

Can you feel my eyes burning a hole in your back?

 
 


 

The vanquished. Another circuit of the harbour before trying again.

 
 

 

The National Park offers a great selection of walking trails.

 
 

 
 

 

Yaccas, or grass trees. Fires are a regular occurrence in the Australian bush and much of the vegetation has adapted to survive it, if not requiring fire for its very survival. Fire promotes new growth. A yacca grows just 1cm a year. The one in the foreground here was getting on for 200cm high. I wonder how many fires it has seen.

 
 

 

Banksia

 
 

 

Leptospermum

 
 

 

 Showing total disrespect for a public right of way.. a termite mound.

 

And finally.

Even a day washed out by rain can have its magic moments. Not only us sticking near the house to find shelter from the weather. The garden critters moved in closer too…

 
 

 
 

 

“Aren’t you a little big to be going back in there?”

 

Kangaroo Island. One of the world’s truly special places.

 
 
 
 

2018-12-21T11:19:54+00:00December 21st, 2018|Tags: |

42 Comments

  1. Mary December 21, 2018 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    Jessica, you have truly outdone yourself here. Your photos and story line are exquisite. Thank you for enduring the plane ride to give us a marvelous tour of Kangaroo Island — the flora, fauna and wildlife. Just amazing.

    • Jessica December 25, 2018 at 7:44 pm - Reply

      Thanks Mary. It’s an amazing place, easy to wax lyrical about it!

  2. jannaschreier December 21, 2018 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    Tidbinbilla (near Canberra) for you next time, Jessica. We saw platypus in the wild, without fail, every time we visited. So happy to hear you are having such a good time again.

    • Jessica December 25, 2018 at 8:30 pm - Reply

      That sounds like a good bet. Cradle Mountain/Lake St Clair, where we currently are, has them too. We’re still looking!

  3. derrickjknight December 21, 2018 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    More exquisite photography and entertaining narrative

    • Jessica December 25, 2018 at 8:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks Derrick!

  4. Heyjude December 21, 2018 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    One place I really want to visit in Australia, though after reading about the ways to get there I might be changing my mind! Thank you for the marvellous visit without having to suffer travel sickness. Lovely photos and an amusing post. I do like your very dry sense of humour which shows through your writing.

    • Jessica December 25, 2018 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      Maybe we’ve just been unlucky with the weather on both trips over there.. it wouldn’t be unknown! I would still go again. It’s only a short flight. The prize at the other end makes it worth it.

  5. smallsunnygarden December 21, 2018 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Ooh, you are becoming quite an old hand at this matter of flying through wild storms over wind-tossed seas. 😉 It does sound like it would be well worth it each time. I love your echidna. They always look (in photos, I mean!) like rather personable little creatures – I’m not sure why! So glad Jane could point you to the Blue Lake – it looks magnificent…

    • Jessica December 25, 2018 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      It’s well worth the discomfort of the trip. The echidna was very friendly. It did curl into a ball a couple of times when I got too close but mostly just ambled on its way and left me to it. Gorgeous little animals. I’ve seen them in Tasmania too, much darker in colour than those on KI.

  6. Kris P December 21, 2018 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    I’m so glad you haven’t stopped at postcards! These posts are such a pleasure. I’m also glad you persevered on that flight – while I’ve no fear of flying over water, I think even I’d have been put off a bit by those pre-flight announcements. I hope the flight back is smoother.

    • Jessica December 25, 2018 at 8:41 pm - Reply

      I found it too hard to select just one photo for a postcard so reverted to the usual format. The iPad makes it so much harder though, especially the formatting of posts. I’m always running a few days behind.

  7. Henriet Ferguson December 21, 2018 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    Those kangaroos in the garden in picture nr 5 …. Rename your narrative Rusty Roos?…
    Lovely lovely images!

    • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 6:55 am - Reply

      Now why didn’t I think of that? Brilliant!

  8. Flower Roberts December 21, 2018 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    This is a dream
    Enjoy every second. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 6:59 am - Reply

      You’re welcome. Wish we’d spent much longer there 🙁

  9. Diana Studer December 21, 2018 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    Remarkable Rocks. A granite dome? It looks so much like our spring flower reserve up the West Coast.

    • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 7:03 am - Reply

      Yes absolutely, granite dome with the top layer fractured then eroded by the elements.

  10. germac4 December 22, 2018 at 12:42 am - Reply

    Absolutely stunning photos, and a great post altogether, hilarious….Australian birds and animals lend themselves to humour I think… we are enjoying your travels and will definitely keep in mind the Blue Lake and Coorong National Park.

    • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 7:08 am - Reply

      I could have spent much longer in the Coorong. I’d intended to go back but the distances in Australia are so deceptive. It looks close on the map but it would have been a four hour round trip from Adelaide.

  11. CherryPie December 22, 2018 at 2:04 am - Reply

    WOW!!! So beautiful and amazing! xx

    • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 7:08 am - Reply

      It certainly is.

  12. janesmudgeegarden December 22, 2018 at 2:25 am - Reply

    Obviously we have to make another trip down there, and this time include Kangaroo Island..so much to see and enjoy and shared so eloquently by you. I’m glad you enjoyed the blue lake and the Coorong, and thanks for the link.
    At our previous place we had platypuses in the river on our boundary and saw them a number of times even though they’re quite elusive. I miss that kind of thing now we live in town.
    I’m enjoying you posts so much, and always look forward to the next one.

    • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 7:13 am - Reply

      I’ve been so lucky spotting cassowaries and echidnas. Perhaps that luck has now run out with platypus. But I’ve not given up quite yet! It won’t be for want of trying.

  13. bittster December 22, 2018 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    Thanks, I’m really enjoying your travels through Oz! What a dream trip, I hope to do something similar someday 🙂

    • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 7:15 am - Reply

      It’s a wonderful thing to do, especially if you have a bit of time to devote to it. Australia is so vast, there are too many places to go and to choose between.

  14. Chris Nchristina December 23, 2018 at 12:12 am - Reply

    Wow, that is so amazing. And you are much braver than me, I’m not sure I would have stayed on that plane!! Truly fantastic pictures , thank you you for taking us along.

    • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 7:22 am - Reply

      The tiny planes are the worst, even more so for me if they fly low over the water as this one did. I just hold my breath and try to think about all the good things awaiting on the other side.

  15. greentapestry December 23, 2018 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    Oh Jessica I’ve just been catching up with your posts from Australia. A thoroughly enjoyable and informative read. What a fantastic experience you and Mike are having. Thank you for sharing it 🙂

    • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 7:37 am - Reply

      Hi Anna! Travel is such a wonderful thing to do for learning about the natural world. The more I learn the more I want to learn.

  16. Sue Garrett December 24, 2018 at 9:29 am - Reply

    Lovely coast and I do take my hat off to you for venturing on that plane.

    • Sue Garrett December 24, 2018 at 9:31 am - Reply

      Sorry meant lovely post – spell checker does rather bizarre things at times as I know that I didn’t type anything like coast

      • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 7:43 am - Reply

        Spell checker frequently does bizarre things. And quite often I don’t spot them either, until it’s too late!

    • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 7:40 am - Reply

      The girl in the queue behind me actually didn’t get on it..

  17. Charles December 24, 2018 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the gratuitous E birds so much better than C birds. Your pictures remind me of Luderitz and my long departed youth. Given that it is probably Christmas Day here you are have a lovely day, I am going to have the traditional ham, fried egg and chips for Christmas Eve, with additional red wine and then scotch to fill in the gaps.

    • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 7:50 am - Reply

      We walked over 13 miles on Christmas Day (35,000 steps). I was probably in a worse state by the end of it.

  18. pollymacleod December 24, 2018 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    Oh Jessica what a beautiful post, your photos are breathtaking. There are no words to describe the magic of the Sea Lion and her pup. Merry Christmas to you and Mike x

    • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 8:04 am - Reply

      They look so contented don’t they. I didn’t describe the weather conditions at the time. The wind was fearsome, literally picking up the sand and hurling it at us. A cool wind from the south, plus torrential rain showers. These two had found a sheltered spot almost underneath a boardwalk and apparently didn’t have a care in the world!

  19. Natalie December 25, 2018 at 11:50 am - Reply

    Wow, spectacular photos! What an amazing place.

    • Jessica December 26, 2018 at 8:06 am - Reply

      It truly is. If you ever get a chance Natalie, just go. You would really love it.

  20. hb January 5, 2019 at 2:57 am - Reply

    Magic. Thanks for braving that flight!

    • Jessica January 7, 2019 at 12:53 pm - Reply

      It was worth it wasn’t it. But my knuckles are still white.

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