South Australia

 

Hello again Australia! After all my recent overseas trips I was ready to to get back to traveling through this wonderful country again. This month, I was off to explore the state of South Australia, beginning with the beautiful city of Adelaide. Adelaide,  the capital of South Australia, was a great place to start my travels. The city is full of museums, great shopping, and dreamy beaches. Its close proximity to the Barossa Valley wine region makes it a popular destination for tourists and Australians. 1.7 million people call South Australia home, of that 1.2 million people live in Adelaide. To give you a comparison of the size of the city, Melbourne, where I lived for 6 months last year has a population of 4.5 million people.

I was welcomed with 42 degree weather once I arrived in Adelaide. This is the second hottest temperature I’ve experienced during my time in Australia and one of the hottest days of the summer for those living in Adelaide. Still wanting to make the most of my day, I opted for indoor activities in air conditioned buildings. I spent the day at the South Australian Museum where I spotted the famous “Fire of Australia” opal. Known as the world’s finest uncut opal, this 998-gram gem had been put on display only weeks earlier, going on public display for the first time since its discovery more than 60 years ago. Valued at more than $675,000, the stone is the largest known high-grade opal in the world as it shows all the colours of the spectrum and is extremely rare. I had read about this opal when it made the front page of the CNN website the beginning of February and was excited to see it in person. The remainder of the day was spent exploring the city by foot and stopping in shopping malls to cool down. In the evening I attended a hostel BBQ where I met several other travelers, and even made another Canadian friend who grew up in Burlington. How cool!

Leaving the city behind the following day, I was off to visit Kangaroo Island (K. I). This island had it all – soaring cliffs, dense bush land, towering sand dunes, wetlands and endless views of white sand beaches. It got it’s name from the abundance of kangaroos on the island when the island was first explored. It is located a 2 hour drive and then a 45 minute ferry ride away from Adelaide. The scenery on our drive reminded me of what I saw in New Zealand. Green hilly paddocks full of sheep, alpacas and even several kangaroos !

K. I is located 16 km ferry ride away from mainland Australia and is known as “the bottom of the world”. It is the third largest island off the coast of mainland Australia with 4500 residents. At 155 kilometres long and up to 55 kilometres wide, it covers an area of 4,416 square kilometres.

Myself and 5 other people, along with our tour guide Greg, spent the next two days exploring the beautiful island. Our stay was jam packed, allowing us to see as much of the island as possible. One highlight our first day was sand boarding down the sand dunes of  Little Sahara. This involved sitting on a sled and going down steep sandy dunes rather than snowy hills. This was scary at times but lots of fun. I also really enjoyed kayaking to Vivonne Bay our first day. I and two other new friends kayaked roughly 25 minutes to the Bay where we then went for a swim. Vivonne Bay was gorgeous and rated the Most Beautiful Beach in Australia in 2002.

The morning of our second day we visited a wildlife sanctuary. Here we went on a koala walk where we walked among gum trees, playing “I Spy” as we searched the trees for the cute furry animals. I managed to spot 12 (with the help of others) out of an estimated 32 koalas that lived there – not too bad!

Other highlights were walking among wild kangaroos (how fitting), seeing a sheep sheering demonstration and learning about the farming on the island, walking along several beaches (including my favourite Hanson Bay), visiting the famous Remarkable Rocks, the Admiral Arch rock formation, and walking among the wild seals on the shores of Seal Bay.

After a busy two days, I took the ferry back to mainland Australia and spent the night back in Adelaide before my next tour began. The next day I jumped on board another tour, this time heading towards the town of Port Lincoln. Our new group consisted of 6 travelers and our guide Damien. I quickly became friends with some travelers from Ajax, Ontario who were on a family trip throughout Australia. In total we spent 8 hours driving around the coast line,stopping for a picnic lunch by the gorgeous Tumby Bay.

Port Lincoln is located on the lower Eyre Peninsula, situated on the shore of Boston Bay. It is known as the “Seafood Capital of Australia” and this city of 14,500 people is reputed to have the most millionaires per capita in Australia. The economy in Port Lincoln is based on the huge grain-handling facilities, the canning and fish processing works, lambs, wool and beef, and tuna farming for the Japanese market. It is the biggest fishing port in the Southern Hemisphere and home of Australia’s largest commercial fishing fleet. Port Lincoln now has a thriving industry that farms tuna, mussels, oysters, yellowtail kingfish and abalone. It is also home to the popular tourist activity of cage diving with the feared Great White Shark.

On our second day in Port Lincoln we woke up early and boarded our “Shark Warrior” boat as we headed to Neptune Island to cage dive with Great White Sharks. There are only four places in the entire world that you can do this – Cape Town, New Mexico, San Francisco and here in Port Lincoln. Great Whites are accountable for several deaths around South Australia. They can’t survive in captivity and therefore cannot be seen in zoos or anywhere else besides the wild. That’s exactly why, despite being extremely scary, I jumped at the opportunity to see them in the water while I was in Port Lincoln. Unfortunately due to horrible and unsafe weather conditions, our boat couldn’t make it all the way to the island and had to turn around which meant I didn’t get the opportunity to see the scary creatures up close. I’m fortunate to have had my safety put first and will undoubtedly jump at the chance to swim with them again. Looks like my dad might just have to go back to Cape Town with me – a task I think he would easily be persuaded into doing (the trip, not the diving).

With a now free afternoon, our tour group drove roughly 2 hours outside of Port Lincoln to the town of Elliston. This coastal town is set on the shores of Waterloo Bay. Once there, we were able to enjoy 12 kms of stunning coastal views including stretches of rugged cliffs, islands and spectacular views of the Great Australian Bight. There were several look-outs along the way including Salmon Point and Blackfellows, which has some of the best surfing waves in Australia. We also enjoyed ‘Sculpture on the Cliffs’, left behind from previous events. Some notable sculptures were a pair of sandals (or “thongs” as the Aussies call them), several faces and even a giant salmon fish.

Rest assured I did see my fair share of deadly animals later that day. While driving our guide spotted a tiger snake, the third most dangerous snake in Australia. Bites are fatal if untreated, causing pain in the feet and neck, tingling, numbness and sweating, followed by breathing difficulties and paralysis. Lucky for me the snake was outside and I was safe on our tour bus.

My final day in Port Lincoln I spent in the water. This time my mentality changed quickly from desperation to see a great white shark to praying I didn’t see any as I braved the open waters. I spent the morning swimming with the endangered Australian Sea Lions; only around 14,000 are reported to remain, due to a history of large scale hunting and a long and complex breeding cycle. I had  the rare opportunity of being able to swim with these incredible animals; they are dubbed the “puppies of the sea” for their playful behaviour.

These sea lions are totally protected in their natural habitat. Our boat anchored well off shore and we were not permitted to walk on the island itself. Donning a wet suit, snorkel and flippers, I swam with the brave sea lions who jumped into the water upon our arrival and decided to come out and meet their visitors. The speed of the sea lions in the water is remarkable, they can swim up to around 30 km/hr. It’s not just a standard straight line swim either as they love to put on a show diving, spinning around in circles, and flipping up in the air. What an incredible experience !

After my fun with the sea lions it was time to make the long 8 hour drive back to Adelaide before flying back to Brisbane. An afternoon on the popular Glenelg Beach in Adelaide was the perfect way to end my trip before my flight home!

Traveling through South Australia was another trip and section of Australia highly recommended to visit for those interested ! Here is a video I made with some highlights from my trip.            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBA5aQuRH74

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Valued at over $675, 000 this is the world’s finest uncut opal
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Walking around the beautiful city of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.

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Our first glimpse of Kangaroo Island from the ferry

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We spent our first morning on Kangaroo Island learning about Sheep Shearing at a locals farm
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Lucy the dog had the fun job of getting the sheep from the fields into the barn. I think she enjoyed her job little too much.
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Spinning the sheep’s wool into strings of yarn. I know my mom and Aunt Rhea (both avid knitters) would have loved this!

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Pennington Bay, Kangaroo Island
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visiting the seals on Seal Bay
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Vivonne Bay
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searching the trees for koalas during our “koala walk”
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I found one!

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wild kangaroos were all over Kangaroo Island

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sandy dunes at Little Sahara
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Having fun sand boarding down the dunes
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kayaking with my two Belgium friends to Vivonne Bay
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swimming in Vivonne Bay was cold but so much fun
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Hanson Bay- my favourite beach on Kangaroo Island

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Remarkable Rocks

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windy weather made for messy hair
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Fishery Bay, Eyre Peninsula
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Admiral Arch lookout. If you look closely you might spot one of the many seals sleeping on the rocks below and swimming in the water
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Seaford Bay. My favourite beach on the Eyre Peninsula

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If you look closely you might notice this wild kangaroo has white fur markings on their face. This is extremely rare- something our tour guide had never seen before. How neat!
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“Thong” sculptures on the cliff in Elliston.

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Overlooking the city of Port Lincoln

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This mum and her baby joined us for dinner one night in Port Lincoln

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Valentine’s Day spent at Glenelg Beach in Adelaide

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Glenelg Beach in Adelaide

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