Sunday, 24 January 2016

Bonding with Nature and Wildlife at Kangaroo Island - Part 4

Rocky playground of Stokes Bay, with our accommodation in the background
Days 2 and 3 - North Coast Region, Parndana and Districts Region
     From American River, it took me approximately 1 hour 33 mins (79.9 km) to drive to Stokes Bay via the Playford Highway. I managed to locate the Wingara Beach House and was delighted to find that it was located just by the beach, and even had a mini bay of its own. We were welcomed by a group of pelicans basking in the warm sun. The owners, Alan and Christine, were not there to meet us but had left instructions on how to retrieve the house key. The self-contained beach house had three bedrooms, a bathroom, an open-planned kitchen and lounge and even a well-stocked larder.
     Without further delay, we proceeded to explore Stokes Bay. As described in TripAdvisor, we had to squeeze through some rocks to emerge on the gorgeous white beach and the much talked-about rockpools.
Come, follow me!

Think thin, and you shall be able to squeeze through
Just a few more steps to the beach
Derrick and I strayed from the many sunbathers and swimmers to stroll along the long expanse of the beach.
On the rocks of Stokes Bay
We found some rather unique rock formations, which resembled crumbling rows of wall. Mr. Photographer immediately knew these would form the leading lines of his sunset shots.
Allure of Stokes Bay at sunset

God's work of art

Crumbling walls of rocks at Stokes Bay

Silent majesty

Last light of the day at Stokes Bay

     We returned to the beach house for tea and rest. As I was in the midst of making tea, we had a visitor. Alan and Christine had their hands full at their farm nearby so they had sent a friend, Katy, to drop by and collect the payment from us. It turned out that Katy lived just two doors away, so we had a friendly neighbour for the night.
     Whilst Derrick set out for his sunset shoot of Stokes Bay, I was most contented to watch the view from my bedroom window, with a Mills and Boon novel that I had found in the mini library of the beach house. There were also a couple of kangaroos playing nearby so I had "neighbours" around. What bliss it was!
     Dinner for the night was frozen pizza and canned mushroom soup. It was a simple fare, which meant I did not have to labour over the stove and could just lounge around, letting all worries drift away.
Serving breakfast at Wingara Beach House
Christine paid us a visit the following morning (Day 3) and reiterated what Katy had said the day before; we need not adhere to the check out time but could stay as long as we wished to.
Wingara Beach House with its own bay
So we left around noon, decided against having lunch at the nearby Rockpool Cafe and instead drove to Parndana, 40 mins away. 
     Despite being KI’s most central township and one of the bigger towns on the island, Parndana is just a sleepy hollow, reminiscent of an old cowboy town in the heartlands. The Parndana IGA is, however, fairly well-stocked and serves as a fuel station, supermarket, bakery and cafe all rolled in one. We managed to get some of the groceries we wanted, charged up with great coffee and shared a delicious seafood platter.
     En route to Emu Bay, 48.4 km away, I clamoured for a stop at Island Pure Sheep Dairy as I was keen to try its Ligurian Bee Honey Yoghurt. It was really smooth but not as tasty as I had envisioned it to be. Nevertheless, the stop enabled me to pick up some really adorable baa-baa souvenirs and get up close with the farm “girls” that produce the highly nutritious milk.
     As we were almost approaching Emu Bay, we caught sight of a huge salt lake. The sparkling white salt lagoon really had us spell-bound. We had never seen anything like it before. I trod gingerly  for fear of sinking in. It was a short stop but the experience will be firmly etched in my mind.
First glimpse of Emu Bay
Emu Bay, a magnificent four-kilometre long beach, is touted as the “Long White Beach”. It is also the only beach on KI that you can drive right onto the sand. Our accommodation for the night, the Emu Bay Holiday Homes, was 500m from the jetty and beach, and provided “million dollar views” overlooking the bay. It really took my breath away when I turned around and caught sight of the curve of shimmering turquoise waters framed by the alluring white sand. Memories of  breath-taking Wineglass Bay in Tasmania came to mind. Our budget cabin was extremely clean and did not lack of anything. There was a comfortable seat on the verandah for you to curl up on as you drink in the glorious views of the bay. And that was exactly what I did in the evening…Derrick was out for sunset shots and I savoured the sunset in the comfort of the cabin verandah, with smells of “bak kut teh” wafting out from the bubbling pot of soup in the cabin kitchen.
Mesmerising beauty of Emu Bay, as seen from Emu Bay Holiday Homes
With Ann at her lovely garden overlooking Emu Bay

Togetherness at Emu Bay Holiday Homes

Cozy and well-furnished budget cabin at Emu Bay Holiday Homes
When we went to check out the following morning (Day 4), Ann, one of the owners of the property, came out to chat with us. She was a mine of information, animatedly demonstrating how an echidna curls up when it senses danger and replicating the grunts of a male koala perfectly. I was really sorry to leave enchanting Emu Bay but we had an itinerary to stick to.
     First plan of the day (also the one of paramount importance to me) was to head to Emu Bay Lavender,
A small lavender farm at Emu Bay

Rows of wondrous scents
a mere 5 mins away. When I had first sampled lavender scones and lavender milkshake three years ago in Tasmania, I could not shake off the wondrous taste. So I had been looking forward to getting re-acquainted with lavender this trip; in fact I had revised our travel itinerary for this purpose (Emu Bay Lavender is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays). Wandering among the rows of lavender enabled me to inhale the soothing scent. In addition to the heavenly lavender scones, yummylicious lavender milkshake, we also tried their highly-recommended lavender shortbread and slurpylicious lavender ice cream. 
Delectable lavender scone
Seeing that I loved the lavender shortbread so much, Derrick packed some to take away and fed me with them as I drove, exactly what he did with the delectable Scottie shortbread whilst I drove in the Scottish Highlands a year ago.

     We then made a brief stop in Kingscote to refuel, buy more groceries and pick up some pastries from
Rabbits spotted!
Rabbit Warren Bakery. And then, we were all set for the long drive (102.7 km, 2 hours 12 mins) across the island via Playford Highway to our next destination —- Cape Borda at Flinders Chase National Park.

Bonding with Nature and Wildlife at Kangaroo Island - Part 3

Day 2 - American River Region
     Derrick had a snooze while I drove 39.8 km (31 mins) to the quiet fishing town of American River. In spite of its name, the town is neither American nor does it have a river. It was named after a group of American sealers who landed there in 1803 and camped alongside a narrow inlet from the sea, which they mistook for a river. 
     The sole reason for us making a detour there was to sample the oysters and abalini at The Oyster Farm Shop.
A simple yet popular eatery in American River

Welcome to the Oyster Farm Shop
There was a huge crowd and we had to wait quite a while for our food. We befriended a Singaporean couple, who were also doing a self-drive tour of KI. When the much-anticipated oysters arrived, we were disappointed to find that they were far too salty and were not in the league of the delectable ones we had in Tasmania, nor were they anywhere as sumptuous as those in Scotland.  However, I enjoyed the abalini, which looked and tasted just like their bigger cousins, the abalone. We were also keen to try KI's local fish, the King George whiting, which was quite delicious.
Oysters and abalini await two hungry Malaysians

Poised to tuck into the feast
Abalini and oyster shells
Grilled whiting with buttered toast and salad

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Bonding with Nature and Wildlife at Kangaroo Island - Part 2

Days 1 & 2 - Kingscote and Districts Region
John and his beautiful birds
     What was the reason for our hurry to get into Kingscote? Our earlier arrival on KI resulted in us being able to catch the 5 p.m. feeding of the pelicans at the Kingscote Wharf. Despite being the capital of KI, Kingscote is still generally a small town, whereby you can just drive around the streets without getting lost. We located the venue for the pelicans feeding without any problem.  To our joy, we found the beautiful birds awaiting. Soon, we were joined by more eager beavers (tourists) and John, the Pelican Man.


The Pelican Man delights us with his tales of the birds
The fee of A$5 an adult is a reasonable fee as it all goes into the purchase of the fish for the pelicans and the seagulls that also swoop in to join in the feast. The Pelican Man gives a highly informative and entertaining commentary as cameras click away and the birds feed on.
Malaysian lass with the KI pelicans
It was our first encounter with the graceful yet friendly pelicans and we were delighted to find them almost a touch away. KI’s tagline “A Zoo Without Fences” rings true!

Colourful menu of delightful dishes
KI Tru Thai

     Seeing the hungry birds feasting reminded us that we were hungry too. Our next mission was to find one of the limited dinner places on Kingscote. My food-tuned eyes caught sight of a brightly-painted truck on the field near the Kingscote Wharf. It was the KI Tru Thai food truck, listed as the #2 of 13 restaurants in Kingscote by TripAdvisor! Being a mobile food truck, it operates on several locations around the island and Sundays are when it serves the people of Kingscote.   So our first meal on KI was an Asian meal of rice and Thai curry cooked by Sirintip Panya from north east Thailand…yum! A simple meal in al fresco dining but it cost us A$32 nonetheless.
My choice of sweet & sour pork and  stir-fried squid & prawn in red curry with steamed rice
     With our bellies filled, we proceeded to check in at our accommodation for the night, Kangaroo Island Seaview Motel. Owned and run by the same family that had started this motel back in the 1920s,  the oceanview room that I had chosen was spacious, clean and it provided the views of the Nepean Bay that it had promised. The beds looked extremely inviting, especially to a sleep-deprived traveller like me, but Derrick urged me to follow him to explore Kingscote. We drove around, past Reeves Point (South Australia’s first European settlement) and around the beautiful Bay of Shoals. We met the pelicans again, enjoying the sunset by the Bay of Shoals.
Wistful pelican at dusk

Pelicans enjoying the evening breeze
By the time we got back to our motel room, I was ready to hit the bed after a quick shower.
Interior of the cafe
     The next day, I was awakened when Derrick returned from his sunrise shoot at the Old Jetty. It never ceases to amaze me how he can wake up so diligently for his photography. Our first breakfast on KI was at Roger’s Deli at Dauncey Street.
Cafe as seen from the street
I ordered a   latte to go with my sausage roll while Derrick opted for a cappuccino and meat pie. Mine was quite tasty but Derrick was not impressed with the high salt content in his meat pie.

     Before leaving Kingscote, we stopped at Drakes Foodland to stock up on more groceries. It did have an extensive array of supplies and I was practically jumping for joy when I spotted my favourite lemongrass soap. As petrol pumps are only found in certain towns around the island, we thought it would be wise to refuel before we ventured further. The petrol price of the day was A$1.49 a litre.

Bonding with Nature and Wildlife at Kangaroo Island - Part 1

     Kangaroo Island, or affectionately known as KI, is Australia’s third largest island. It lies off the coast of South Australia, is 140 km long, and 90 km wide. KI is often referred to as Australia’s Galapagos because of its unique biodiversity and pristine environment. For nature lovers like Derrick and I, the chance to bond with nature and wildlife stirs immense joy in us.
     After months of meticulous planning, the 5th of December finally arrived and we were on the seven-hour flight to Adelaide. It was a fairly short flight and we landed at Adelaide International Airport at eight in the morning of the following day, without catching much sleep. Nevertheless, we were brimming with excitement. 

     Upon sorting out our rented Nissan Qashqai with Hertz, we drove to the outskirts of Adelaide city centre to meet Derrick’s cousin and her husband for Sunday brunch. Michelle and Tim had chosen one of their favourite places, Bar 9 at Glen Osmond Street. I did my TripAdvisor homework after Michelle decided on Bar 9 as our meeting place.  Needless to say, I heeded the recommendations and ordered the Truffled Mushroom Ragu. 
Yummy brunch at Bar 9
Bar 9's heavenly Truffled Mushroom Ragu
Derrick did the same, adding bacon to his. Both of us loved the aromatic mushroom fried in truffled oil, sandwiched between honey drizzled toasts and topped with poached eggs.
     Michelle and Tim were the ever gracious hosts. Not only did they refuse to let us pay for brunch, they then drove us to Chinatown so that we could pick up some groceries for our trip. This also gave us a chance to get acquainted with beautiful Adelaide.
     Around noon, we bade farewell to them and we then headed for Cape Jervis, a two-hour drive away. We made a short detour to Willunga Beach to check out the place, as suggested by Michelle. However, the scenery did not ignite a spark in Mr. Photographer’s eye.
     To allow the drowsy Derrick to catch a wink, I took over the wheel. It turned out to be a wise decision as I soon had to navigate around quite a winding road. Being the driver, I did not succumb to the motion sickness, which I probably might have, had I been the passenger.
     We arrived in Cape Jervis around a quarter past two, which meant we had lots of time to kill before our 4 p.m. ferry crossing. So we spent some time at the Cape Jervis Lookout, which afforded great views of the area and the ferry docked there.
Sealink ferry

View of the ferry terminal at Cape Jervis
Seeing cars being loaded onto the ferry, we decided to make some enquiries. It turned out that the ferry docked there was for the 3 p.m. crossing (an extra crossing for the day) and since there was still space, they allowed us to go in. Yahoo! 

     This meant that we arrived on Kangaroo Island an hour earlier than scheduled. As the 45-minute crossing drew to its end, excitement bubbled within us. Fortunately, the Stemetil I had taken helped to stem the seasickness as the crossing was quite rough. The Sealink ferry docked at Penneshaw but apart from a quick stop at the tourist information office to get my hands on some travel brochures, we did not linger on in Penneshaw. We were in a hurry to get to Kingscote, which was about 40 minutes away.