365 Places: Kangaroo Island
Day 72: Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Australia
I am writing about Kangaroo Island as it is both a beautiful place and it also reminds me of a wonderful journey we did at the end of 2012, where we travelled along the Great Ocean Road to South Australia. We spent some lovely time with my uncle (and regular contributor) Garry Benson and then headed to Kangaroo Island for a couple of days. We then stopped back to see Garry, catching up with friends and then made our way inland across Victoria. On the way we stayed with some other dear friends for New Years Eve, before heading back to Canberra.
This trip was not only a journey across new landscapes, it for me was also a journey of inner discovery, not just about myself but about learning by sharing time with people I love. Anyway I digress, back to Kangaroo Island. Mr Wikipedia says:
Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island, after Tasmania and Melville Island. It is in the state of South Australia 112 km (70 mi) south-west of Adelaide. Its closest point to the mainland is Snapper Point in Backstair Passage which is 13.5 km (8.4 mi) from the Fleurieu Peninsula.
To get to Kangaroo Island (or KI as it is affectionately known), you catch the SeaLink ferry from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw. SeaLink operates two large, modern vehicle and passenger ferries, SeaLion 2000 and Spirit of Kangaroo Island. The journey takes about 45 minutes for the 16km crossing and there are some great views of both the mainland and KI coast on the way. The ferries are well equipped with a fully licenced café and free wifi.
KI is an incredible place, there are many amazing natural places to see: The Remarkables, Admirals’s Arch and Vivonne Bay are a good start. Seal Bay is also spectacular as you can see up close Australia’s third largest colony of Australian Sea-lions. Also, there is a lot of other wildlife not easily found in other Australian settings any more, for example we saw Koalas, which are sadly becoming a rarer sight.
What is also great about KI is the local produce, there are a number of wineries and KI is also known for its delicious cheese.
One aspect of the history I found intriguing is that the island was deserted by the local people thousands of years ago. The island’s name in the local language means “Island of the Dead”. Mr Wikipedia says:
Known as Karta (“Island of the Dead”) by the mainland Aboriginal tribes, the existence of stone tools and shell middens show that Aboriginal people once lived on Kangaroo Island. It is thought that they occupied it as long ago as 16,000 years before the present, and may have only disappeared from the island as recently as 2000 years ago.
M.H Munroe documents a mainland Aboriginal dreaming story which tells of the Backstairs Passage flooding:
Long ago, Ngurunderi’s two wives ran away from him, and he was forced to follow them. He pursued them and as he did so he crossed Lake Albert and went along the beach to Cape Jervis. When he arrived there he saw his wives wading half-way across the shallow channel which divided Naroongowie from the mainland. He was determined to punish his wives, and angrily ordered the water to rise up and drown them. With a terrific rush the waters roared and the women were carried back towards the mainland. Although they tried frantically to swim against the tidal wave they were powerless to do so and were drowned. (M.H. Munroe, Karta: Island of the Dead – Kangaroo Island http://www.austhrutime.com/karta_island_of_the_dead.htm)
It a story that is cloaked in mystery and one we will never know for sure. I would love to learn more about this history and the people who lived on KI. When you are on the island you get the feeling that it is a place of many stories and of many secrets.
We stayed two nights in the American River area, but could have easily have stayed longer in KI and camped on other parts of the island. The township of Kingscote is also well worth a visit, with lots of galleries and cafés, it is well set up for tourism. Kingscote is situated on the shores of Nepean Bay, has lovely views of the harbour and is home to about 1,800 people. I hope one day to travel back to KI as it is a place that inspires and intrigues me.