4 May 2015

Our Kangaroo Island family holiday

Kangaroo Island has been on our wishlist of travel locations for a long time.  Every year or two we'd price out trips to Tasmania, Kangaroo Island and Uluru, and not do any of them.   In 2009, Adelaide Zoo became home to two Giant Pandas. They're staying for ten years, and we knew we didn't want to miss out on seeing them.  Given it's already 2015, it seemed time.  

We booked the ferry for Kangaroo Island first.  Given that the South Australian school holidays coincided with our ACT break, it seemed wise.  At this stage, we were still hoping to find cheap airfares from Canberra to Adelaide. These never did eventuate, so it was a road trip.  It's about a 13 hour drive, and there were some interesting things along the way.  We saw cotton fields ready for harvesting, and lots of emus.  Mostly though, it was just a long slog.  

 We stayed our first night at Tailem Bend in a family room. The traffic noise wasn't bad and it was very clean, and that was all that we needed.  Monarto Zoo was our main event of the day, and we enjoyed ourselves here. It's an open range zoo, and we enjoyed a variety of bus tours and walking between the different areas. We've visited open range zoos in Dubbo and Werribee before, and found them all similarly enjoyable.

Monarto's roughly an hour from Adelaide, and on the way we spent a little time visiting Hahndorf.  It's a very pretty town and I could have spent quite a lot of time and money there if we weren't all so tired and cross.  So we just invested in various chocolates and headed for our hotel in Adelaide.

Glenelg is one of Adleaide's beachside suburbs, and the Stamford Grand is located right on the beachfront. We'd been lucky with our room, and received an upgrade to a room overlooking the water. It was so nice. The water was a bit cold to swim (even the children only managed 20 minutes os so) but it was lovely to look at. We stayed two nights, enjoying the suburb and relaxing. Watching the sun set over the water behind the pier was a special treat - we're from the east coast, so we see the sun rise over the water typically!

We checked out  bright and early ready for our Kangaroo Island adventure.  First, we stopped at Woolworths and stocked up for our breakfasts and dinners, since supermarkets are scarce on the island. I'm not much of a sailor, so was a little worried about the ferry trip, but it was fine.

After landing, we headed for our first accommodation, which was on the far western side of the island. Along the way we saw an echidna on the side of the road, which was pretty exciting. The Western KI caravan park  was a very quiet and relaxing place to stay.  There was great camp kitchen, but we didn't really need to use it since our cabin was well equipped. (In fact, it was incredibly well stocked - there was even a wok in our kitchen. Most unusual - sometimes you're lucky to find a frypan!)

The next day we spent in the Flinders Chase National Park. We visited Admiral's Arch and watched the New Zealand fur seals playing and then the Remarkable Rocks, Such beauty. Back to the visitor's centre for a delicious lunch (really!) and then we went for a walk.  It's known as the Platypus Waterholes walk, and takes around two hours. In the end we didn't see any platypus, but the walk took us through several very different ecosystems so we enjoyed ourselves. Sadly, my shoes weren't really up to it, and my feet were very sore afterwards.

A good night's sleep somewhat restored my feet but I was glad our next stop, Raptor Domain didn't involved much walking. We saw two of their shows, one with snakes and scorpions, and the other with birds of prey. Entertaining and informative.   I was very tempted by a kit to build a barn owl box in their shop.

Next day, sandboarding in Little Sahara. My son's tip; try to keep your mouth closed!

And then we were on to the main event, Seal Bay.  It's such a beautiful beach, and the wildlife's just extraordinary.  We chose to do a tour down on the sand with the sea lions, and it was great. The rain closed in just as we were ready to leave the beach, so we didn't linger on the boardwalk as we otherwise would have. It really was as special as it's looked on all those travel shows over the years.

After this, we continued on to our next accommodation, back on the eastern side of the island.  The Seafront Resort was lovely, and we were very comfortable in our villa.

On our last day on Kangaroo Island, we visited the lavender farm, honey centre and the sheep dairy.  This was another highlight for me. We did the tour, which included an informative video, many taste tests and watching the sheep being milked. I tend to lactose intolerant, but the sheep cheeses and yogurts didn't bother me at all. 

 We planned to have another few days in Adelaide, and started this time with a trip to the Haigh's Chocolate factory. Another worthwhile tour!
This time, we stayed in the city at the iStay Precinct. It was a very well set up apartment, and I spent some quality time with the inroom washing machine and dryer.

Adelaide Zoo was our main priority on this visit, and we were delighted to find a free bus travelling there.

The pandas did not disappoint. The last time I saw giant pandas was in 1988, and I don't remember having such an impression of their size - of course, we were a long way away then.
It was the first time we've visited Adelaide Zoo, and I was strongly reminded of Taronga in the early 90s. Some exhibits are fabulous, and others are in need of an upgrade.

Back to our hotel, where the kids enjoyed the pool. Such an exciting design. I hated being in that bit sticking out, but fortunately there was a lovely spa I could enjoy instead.

We broke our journey home in Mildura, where we went for a ride on the paddlesteamer Melbourne through Lock 11 on the Murray river, The kids were astounded. 

Our last holiday stop was overnight at a caravan park. Once again, our cabin was quite adequate and the kids really enjoyed the heated pool.  It was a long drive home the next day, and we were very pleased to arrive. 

This trip took up most of the school holidays. The kids (12 and 10) coped pretty well being in the car for so long, and of course were assisted with their iPods in their quest for entertainment.

(This is not a sponsored post - we paid for everything.)  (Except the upgrade at the Stamford which was purely random and very gratefully accepted!)