Mungo National Park and Kangaroo Island – January 2018

Thursday January 11th

It didn’t even feel like we had been asleep, despite going to bed just after 8pm, when we were up at 2.15am, showered and waking the kids for the long journey ahead of us. We were on the road by 3am, after inflating the camper trailer tyres, hoping the kids would fall back to sleep quickly. There was no traffic at all, taking us just over an hour to reach the Hume Highway at Campbelltown.

The back was very quiet as they had all fallen back to sleep which was good as we had 5 hours ahead of us, travelling to Temora, arriving just before 8am, having done 448km. We stopped at the Round-a-bout Bakehouse for breakfast and coffee, we let them all choose whatever, so there was iced teas, strawberry milk, mochas, cream buns, lamingtons, jam and cream match sticks, rainbow finger buns, with Jase and I having bacon quiche and coffee, I’m glad they went the healthy option!!

On the road again, by 8.30am heading to Hay where we were going to stop for lunch. Jase drove the first section, then I took over, we were surprised to see so many semi trailers heading in the opposite direction, it was just truck after truck after truck. We arrived in Hay about 12.30pm and stopped near the Murrumbidgee River for our lunch, which was wraps with egg and avo, ones I had made from home. We were there for about an hour before heading off on out final leg, this time for Balranald, it was getting slightly warm, actually, really hot, so it was nice to get back into the air conditioning of the truck!

Our lunch stop at the Murrumbidgee River, was a very warm day.

As we hadn’t stopped as long with our breakfast and lunch stops, we arrived in Balranald an hour ahead of our expected time of 3pm, having done 875km since leaving the Northern Beaches, so we had heaps of time to set up camp for the next two nights. We found a good spot near the river, which looked very muddy and murky and powered ahead setting up camp. Kids are ridiculous though, as we had been in the car for what, 10 hours, and when we arrived they all just sat in the truck, doing who knows what, while it was 35 degs plus outside, Jase and I sweating profusely setting up the camper trailer. After we had set up the trailer, both of us wet, headachy and a bit feed up, we went for a drive to Regatta Beach, where it said one could swim. As we live one street from the beach, all children were confused to read the word Beach, and it took a lot of explaining that there was no beach! After all of the explanations of what they were about to swim in, as in a lake, Kye said, the water tastes fresh, not salt…seriously, why do we bother explaining anything???

Our campsite for the next three days.

It was just what the doctor ordered, as we felt soooo much better after having a swim, refreshed and cool, we didn’t stay there for too long, just long enough to feel human again! Back at camp we had a change of cooking appliances, as there was a total fire ban for the park, so we cooked our sausages and steak (for Megan) on the frypan over the gas stove, very boring, much prefer them on the open campfire!! We ate fairly early, accompanying our sausages and steak (for Megan) with salad. Everyone was getting rather tired, especially Jase and I, so it wasn’t long after dinner that we hit the sack, although it was so hot, we all just laid on our beds waiting for either a breadth of wind or sleep to take us to a more pleasant place! Sleep took me first, as there was no wind AT ALL!!

Friday January 12th

What a sleep we had, especially me…don’t really care about the others!! It was the hottest evening I think I have ever had, EVER, we slept on the sheet the whole night and it wasn’t until very early in the morning that a breeze finally made it’s way through the fly netting of the tent windows. It was a warm start to the morning, with a fair bit of cloud cover but still rather warm making for a lovely way to start our huge adventure.

Breakfasts were had, except we couldn’t have a cup of tea because apparently someone left them behind…such as me, so coffee it was first! It was getting warm so we decided to visit the woolshed before it started to get too hot to be out and about, although it was quite windy. The woolshed, the shearers quarters, wool classers house, mess hall and kitchen, were all in a little bit of disrepair compared to Willandra Wool shed, but still a great place to visit. The Yanga Wool shed had a lot more information than Willandra, with lots of boards full of the back history of the property, including shearers names of the amount of sheep they sheared, dating back to just before the shed closed in 2005.

There was a fair bit to explore in the Balranald Wool shed.
One of the old wool balers.
The kids all thought it stunk of the ‘country’ inside!
Jase checking out the shearers quarters.
Looking back on the Wool Shed.

We stopped in at Balranald and popped into the IGA to grab a few things for dinner, as there were no fires so we had to change our dinner plans slightly, again. We bought a handball, as we didn’t have any type of ball at all, they were left at home with the teabags, ice-creams for the kids and Jase!

And don’t they look like locals??

Off for a visit to The Homestead of the Yanga Station which was roughly a 20 min drive from the Wool shed, making it quite a distance for the owners of the property way back in its time, it was very well looked after, with a beautiful English garden, full of roses, a worn out tennis court, a vegetable garden and a beautiful verandah where you could sit and look at the views over the garden to Yanga Lake. It was an interesting drive back to the campsite as it was so windy, blowing up huge amounts of dust, causing us at one point to even stop, as we couldn’t see where the road went.

The back verandah of the Yanga Homestead.
Part of the beautiful gardens around the Homestead.
Some of the letters that shearers sent to the Manager of Yanga Station for jobs.
Megan and I thought they were good reading.
As you can see, it was rather a windy day, causing ‘white caps’ on the lake.
The dust storm we had to drive through, was very windy too.

Back to the campsite for lunch, which was the camping staple of biscuits and assorted toppings, then off to Regatta Beach for a cooling off swim, as the wind had died down slightly. We were the only ones at the ‘beach’, making it a very peaceful and refreshing swim. I didn’t stay in for long, but the kids stayed in for a while, especially Keira and Kye, who we had to actually nearly drag out of the water!

Regatta Beach, it did take the kids a little while to understand that there wasn’t a beach.
Wasn’t very busy, as you can see.
Was still a very warm day.
Regatta Beach swimming hole!
The rain only eased the temperature only slightly.

Back at camp we settled in for the early evening, having drinks and pre dinner nibbles, before having a variation of our beef kebabs, which was now a stir fry with rice! It started raining, so we were all undercover, reading, or playing games, waiting for the weather to pass, at least the wind had now stopped with the wet. We had dinner then, yet again, had a fairly early night, although not as early as the night before and it was slightly cooler than the previous night, with still not a breeze in the air.

Saturday January 13th

It had been a beautiful night, sleeping under the sheet, with the windows all open, however a breeze did arrive, turning the night slightly cool, even to the point of having to put the blanket on!

Jase and I were up first, having our first cup of tea, breakfast, then coffees, before the kids all got up. It was a cloudy morning, with the sun trying to come out to warm up the morning air. The kids were all up eventually, packing their beds away, including the sleeping bags they all ended up in during the night, so we could start packing the trailer for our short trip to Mungo National Park. We were on the road by just after 11am, stopping in at Balranald again for some fruit and other dinner requirements needed for the next three nights.

All packed up and ready for the next adventure.
We stopped in at the Homebush Hotel for plate of hot chips, beer and softdrink.

We were finally on the road by 11.55am, stopping at The HomeBush Hotel for a beer, the kids a soft drink and some hot chips for lunch, this pub was in the middle of absolutely nowhere, I actually thought it was in a town, but no, the pub was it’s own point on the map, so we had to stop! We arrived in Mungo National Park at 3pm, having driven on tarmac for a while, then, turning to red dirt which is what we love so much about the outback!

Found The Main Camp at Mungo National Park and drove around twice before settling on a campsite, we were the only ones here at the time, so we had the pick of the spots. Set the tailer up, in the wind, which was quite strong making the set up rather difficult, the ground was also rather hard, so Jase had a hard time hammering in the pegs! We sat and had a drink before going for a walk to the lookout where you had a great view of the Walls of China and over Lake Mungo.

Our home at Mungo National Park main campsite.
The Walls of China, from the lookout.
Not quite sure what they are running from.
Some of the locals hanging around our campsite.

Came back to the campsite and had pre dinner snacks before organising our chicken stir fry and noodles that was going to be dinner, as it was a total fire ban, so no cooking over the fire…AGAIN!! I think it was going to be the only camping holiday we have ever had where we haven’t had one fire! The wind had died down, while we were having dinner, and we were ready for a lovely evening, but, of course as soon we had finished dinner, ready for a night of star viewing, the wind picked up again, making for a coolish evening, with a little bit of wispy cloud cover. Zarah, Keira and Kye all went to bed, while Megan stayed up to star gaze with us, which only lasted for as long we had a cup of tea, because of the wind!

Sunday January 14th

What a horrible night sleep I had, it had been so windy, the tent of the trailer at times sounding like it was about to take off, but not feeling like it was. You could hear the wind coming from afar, then bang, the tent would be battered from left to right, the tropical roof making awful noises. It had also turned rather cool, we actually had to grab another blanket to put over us, the kids all sleeping in their sleeping bags…all in all, I don’t think I slept at all!

Finally up, not rushing for any reason, as we were planning on having a look around the information centre and also do a drive through and around Lake Mungo. Everyone was finally up having their assortment of breakfasts before we headed off to the Information Centre for a look. It was an extremely informative Centre, with lots to look at and read, especially since the return of Mungo Man and Mungo Woman. The facilities were very clean, with showers available 24/7 and a great BBQ area with covered tables and benches around.

The Mungo Woolshed, right near the information centre.
Parts of the Woolshed, with the Walls of China in the background.
We have decided that we love the look and smell of old Woolsheds.
Inside the Mungo Woolshed.
Jase inside the Mungo Woolshed, not quite looking like a shearer.

Back at camp for lunch of wraps before heading back out to do the self guided loop tour of Mungo Lake, which was a fantastic introduction to the area. The one way loop was 70kms with numbers dotting the road, which then correlated back to our guide, the kids taking turns to read what each numeral represented in the area. There were some great vantage points which had stunning views, making for wonderful photo opportunities. We drove on, spotting kangaroos and emu’s as we went, not seeing any snakes or lizards at all, which surprised us both.

Parts of the amazing rock and sand creations made over the years from wind and rain.
The start of the self guided tour around Mungo Lake.
Just the outskirts of the Walls of China.
On the walkway overlooking the Walls of China and Mungo Lake.

We pulled into one area, Vigars Well, that had a soak, a place where, when you dug down, water rose up through the ground. This place was rather special, seeing kangaroos and emus drinking from these deep well type holes in the ground. We walked along the boardwalk then up through the sand dunes, which were spectacular to see and rather large. The kids had fun running and rolling down the dunes, even though there was no water at the bottom!!

Overlooking Vigars Well, where kangaroos and emus drank from the soaks.
A kangaroo at the soak at Vigars Well.
The amazing dunes on the other side of Vigars Well.
There is a largish fox in the middle of this pic.
Still trying to get the coat of arms animals in the same frame.
Emus everywhere at the soak.

Back on the track, on the loop, we stopped at the Zanci Ruins Homestead and wool shed, which had a lot of information through it, the ruins of the homestead even had a bunker where the family must have gone during extreme hot weather in Summer.

Zanci Ruins.
Jase standing at the bunker which they used during extreme weather in summer.
Inside the bunker, the guy said there are often snakes in there, so we didn’t stay long!!
The Zanci Homestead woolshed sheep yards.
The Zanci Homestead woolshed.

Back at the start of the loop we came back to camp where we were going to settle in for the evening with BBQ chops and veg on the camp grounds BBQs. This however wasn’t going to be as the BBQ’s didn’t seem to work, so we packed everything up and took them into the visitor centre where they had BBQ’s and tables that you could eat at. The BBQ’s here worked a treat and the chops were lovely with the rice we had made back at our camp and kept warm. We met a couple that had been travelling and were heading back to Newcastle slowly, cooking their dinner on the BBQ next to ours. After dinner we went back to our camp and washed up ready for an evening of star gazing and satellite spotting, which turned out to be just beautiful, as it was a crystal clear night, with not a cloud in sight, making the competition ierce with everyone yelling ‘satellite’ every 5 or so minutes! There were also many, many shooting stars, making the sky even prettier, with the Milky Way looking bright and stunning against such a dark night. It was soon to bed for us all as we had an early start to the day with our guided tour of the The Walls of China.

Handball it is!!
The Mungo Woolshed at sunset.

Monday 15th January

As we had decided to do the tour of The Walls of China, we had to meet at the visitor centre at 7.30am, so we all missed breakfast so we wouldn’t be running late, the kids all had a piece of fruit to keep their hunger pangs at bay for the time being. There was two others on the tour with us, a mother and daughter from Germany, so just the 8 of us, excluding our National Parks guide Ivan, so off we all went, following Ivan in our own trucks to the bottom of The Walls of China.

He introduced himself when we arrived, explaining a little bit about himself and the tribe he came from, which is one of three in the area, the animals which are their totems, their beliefs, then a little bit about the area of Mungo National Park itself, including the finding, then returning of Mungo Man and Mungo Woman, which were actually been stored in the Visitor Centre under lock and key, before they decided on a final resting place for them both. We then left our cars in the parking lot and travelled the remainder of the tour on foot, which was terribly fascinating. Ivan was a fantastic guide, showing us thousands of year old campfires, which as I said to Jase, any normal person would just walk over without a second glance. He explained the burial sites that are sacred to his tribe and people before we made our way up The Walls of China, stopping while he picked up some pieces off the ground and explained that they may have been remainders of some type of fish or shellfish animal.

The start of our guided tour of the Walls of China.
There were so many angles to take photos from, still doesn’t do the area justice though.
Some kind of animal prints, most likely a fox.
The trees in the foreground hide an old campfire.
Getting near the top.
Over the years, the erosion of wind and water have created stunning landscapes.
Over looking Lake Mungo itself, back towards the tourist centre.
At the top of the Walls of China.
Amazing photo opportunities.

He showed how emu’s mate, creating the tracks they make in the sand with his hands, then the tracks they make after she has laid the eggs, and then finally how the male emu guards the eggs and how the aborigine people ‘borrow’ eggs from them, never taking all the eggs at once and always ‘borrowing’ eggs from different emu nests. He was a very fascinating man to listen too, with all of his knowledge about his land, ancestors and history he shared with us. There were some beautiful photo opportunities, which we all took advantage off, it was hard to pinpoint one great spot from another. It was incredible scenery looking back over the Lake and also looking over the hills beyond. We walked up to some other great sand dunes where the kids had a great time walking up, then rolling down them numerous times before we had to head back, as our two hour guided tour was over. It was a great experience for all of us and hopefully the kids will take these memories with them forever.

Back at the beginning after our tour had finished.

Back at camp we went straight to lunch instead of having a late breakfast, but I must admit, we did have a coffee. It was a fairly warm day, with hardly any clouds, so after lunch, we went for a drive to have a look at Mungo Lodge, which was a lot more of an upmarket place than we thought, so we sat on the verandah and the kids had a soft drink and we had a beer each. There was no one else there, so the kids played a game of pool, while we just sat and Jase read a magazine, while I watched a goat with her two kids jumping on trees and having a lovely time. It was a lovely spot, the restaurant looked lovely and the accomodation would have been lovely as well. Time to head back to camp to pack up what we could to save time the next morning, also time for dinner, so off we went. Zarah was chased by a goat that apparently went a bit crazy, jumping and chasing her, until she screamed and the goat stopped, then the man that served us our beer came out and called it back. She got a fright but everyone else thought it was rather funny, a city girl being chased by something country!!

The goat that chased Zarah!
On the track back to our campsite.

We were meant to have a roll of chicken roasted in the fire, but due to the total fire ban we couldn’t have one, so we decided to do the crazy thing of cutting the chicken up and cooking it in the frypan, it wasn’t the best way to have a rolled chicken, but it tasted good none the less, it did make a mess of the fry pan though. We washed up, then headed to the viewing platform that overlooked the Walls of China for the sunset and as there weren’t any clouds in the sky, it was going to be a beautiful show.

The start of the sunset show we were about to witness.
Every time the sun went lower, the shadows it cast changed the view we had.
Front row seats.
Even the truck had a front row seat.
Changing the scenery yet again.
Slowly going behind the Walls of China.
Beautiful shadows were created by the sunset.
A plane high above.
Pretty much gone.
A beautiful colour sky was left.
The final shot of our spectacular show.

After the show, we headed back to our campsite to start the pack up of the trailer, as it makes the pack up the next day so much easier, saving us at least an hour, especially having to wash up after breakfast. Breakfast was going to be on the move, maybe at Mildura, as it wasn’t an over long trip into town.

Tuesday 16th January

It makes it so easy to pack up in the morning when the back has been done the night before, so we were up just before 6.30am, to get ready for our big drive to Cape Jervis, from where the ferry left for Kangaroo Island. We weren’t having breakfast, so when the kids were up, there were straight into packing their sleeping bags and beds away, I was busy sorting out the footwell of the trailer and Jase was taking pegs out of the tent, so it was ready to pack away.

Next part of our adventure, here we come.

As we have our set jobs, we were done 15mins before our estimated departure time of 8am, off on the red dirt road heading to Renmark, via Mildura. We had to refuel at Mildura having just travelled the 105kms from Mungo National Park, arriving at 9.10am and also inflating the tyres back to road pressures, including the camper trailer. After we left the servo, we were lucky enough to come across a bakery and coffee shop in a small shopping arcade for us all to get breakfast, this time however, we all had an assortment of pies, sausage rolls, toasted sandwiches and toasted croissants and of course coffee!! We finally left Mildura at 10.25am, with a fresh start on the clock.

Jase was driving and it was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky, with a slight breeze, but nothing like it had been at Mungo National Park, the kids were all deeply involved in a movie, I was amazed that we were still seeing emus as I thought we had seen the last of them when were in Mungo, but not to be, when BANG! the truck seem to slow down. Jase drove just off the road, knowing we had just blown a tyre, not knowing if it was the truck or a trailer tyre though. Unfortunately when I got out, I discovered it was actually the camper trailer tyre and wheel that had totally disappeared, causing the back left of the trailer to drag along the ground. It was quite a distressing sight, as we were in the middle somewhere between Mildura and Renmark, not knowing our exact location.

And the new adventure begins, although one that wasn’t planned.
Not much could be done with this grass fire, not even the extinguisher we had in the truck.
We discovered we had a really large problem on our hands.

Jase went back to where there was a little bit of smoke, as the drag from the axel had started a small grass fire, because of the heat that was there. I ran back to the truck to get our extinguisher, but the time I got back to Jase, the flames were a little higher. I asked Megan for her phone as we were lucky enough to have reception and rang 000 to let them know about the grass fire that was now spreading enough for me to get Jase to move the truck and drag the trailer away. It was rather hard to explain where we were, as we thought we were in South Australia, but still in Victoria, so it took a while, but the guy on the other end of 000 had a rough idea where we were.

The smoke seemed to be intensifying.
Thank goodness we had reception, as I was on the phone rather quickly to 000.
A lot of people stopped to check we were doing OK.

As the fire seem to be increasing, the smoke now blowing over the highway, crossing the two lanes and after a guy in a ute had stopped to ask if we were alright, telling us there was a lay bay not far up the road, Jase drove the truck, dragging the trailer still, up to this bay so at least we were now off the road completely. Many people stopped to enquire if we were alright and if anyone could help, which was lovely, truckies all waved after we gave them the OK sign, the kids all settling down after the first initial fright of the whole thing, Keira in tears, followed by Zarah, Megan and Kye seemed alright.

Not much we could do for the trailer.
The kids finally able to get out and have a look.

We left the CB radio on for them to listen too and our trailer blow out and fire was all over the radio, the kids were like…’that’s us again’, ’hahaha, they are talking about us’ and ‘everyone is talking about the fire we started’, it wasn’t good, as while I was watching the fire, a huge tree went up, followed by another huge tree and it was slowly spreading, in both directions, east and west.

Finally, after what seemed to be forever a 4WD with blue and red flashing lights pulled up along side the fire site and two guys jumped out with their backpacks full of water, I don’t think it took them long before they realised they needed a bigger truck and thats what they called for, there were a total of 7 RFS / CFS trucks to put out, what they were now describing as a small bushfire. In the meantime we were trying to contact the NRMA to see what they could do for us, as in a tow to the nearest town, which was Renmark. We were told, in their words, after 40 mins on the phone and speaking to over 5 different people that there was nothing they could do for us, nor was there anyone they could put us in contact with to help us…great, what a company!!

The view of the trailer from across the highway.
As it was a very hot day, luckily not windy, the fire did still intensify.
Across the highway we all went to see what was happening.
The 7 firetrucks arrive to put the fire out.

The fire was being put out slowly, they even had to close the Sturt Highway, which is the main highway between Adelaide and Sydney for a short while to dose the flames, which luckily didn’t cross the road, while we organised a private tow from where we were to a place called Berri, just outside of Renmark. The tow truck driver had arrived and was putting the trailer on his tilt-tray truck when the fire trucks started to arrive around us, having done their job, all asking how we were and if we needed anything like water, we were all good we said. One fireman even said, the guys in the other truck have found your tyre, 200m in a paddock, so they are going to get it and bring it back…the tyre was completely intact, not a chunk missing from it!!

They did end up closing the highway for a short period of time.

There was a lot of panel damage done to the back corner of the trailer, with the door broken and left open, so Jase tried to close that with occy straps for the trip to Berri. The fire trucks all left, leaving one of two there, they were great guys, all asking if we had enough photos of the whole thing, we said we felt bad about it all, which we did, kind of surreal, but they said it was all good and got them out of the office for a bit!!

The guys were all very lovely when they had put the fire out and come to see how we were.
The tow truck arrives and on she goes.
There seemed to be a rather lot of damage.
Just tying down the damaged door for the trip into Renmark and our tyre that was found in a paddock!
Ready to go, following our trailer.

We followed the tow truck driver, with our trailer on board to Berri, entering into South Australia, having to pass through a quarantine station between the two states, we knew we had no fruit what so ever in the trailer fridge, but did have some in the truck fridge. I put it all in a bag to hand to the guy, but he wanted a look inside the truck and fridge, which we showed him, he actually gave us back the carrots, garlic and onion, as in my dazed state I gave him everything we had pretty much!!

South Australia, here we come, although not really the way we wanted to enter the state, us actually following the camper trailer we were meant to be towing. We made it to Roly’s Automative Services in Berri, where the tow truck driver took us and he was great. After they took the trailer off the back of the tilt tray, they used two forklifts to move the trailer onto hoists where they could lift it up to have a look at the damage underneath…and what a fair bit of damage there was. We soon discovered that it was a wheel bearing that had come off, causing the tyre to come off and the back of the trailer to collapse, causing all the damage to the axel and arms of the suspension.

At Roly’s Automatives in Renmark, ready for a repair, hopefully.
Where she will stay while we are continuing our journey to Kangaroo Island.

After much discussion with Roly, the owner, and getting a few bags out of the back of the trailer and other things we needed, we headed off to Renmark to hopefully find accomodation for the night, this we did at the Renmark Big4 Caravan Park, costing a whooping $310 a night for the 6 of us, in a cabin not much larger than our camper trailer. The cabin did have a lovely outlook though, right on the Murray River, which was pretty special, although there were a lot of speed boats with water skiers going by and a lot of people on the shore, just outside our cabin waiting of their turn, or just relaxing on the waters edge.

Overlooking the Murray River, was a pretty outlook.

The kids all went to the pool for a swim, while we tried to organise accomodation for Kangaroo Island, if we could get any and what we were going to do in general with our new predicament. We decided to continue our trip as planned, minus the trailer and speak to Roly in the morning, who might have news for us as he was going to make some phone calls regarding the repair of the suspension and wheel.

Between two cabins at a BIG 4 caravan park, not a place we wanted to be.

As we were staying in the Big4, we were given a 10% discount voucher for the Renmark Hotel, so we had showers, got changed then walked to the Hotel from the Caravan Park, which took a good 20 mins. It was a beautiful evening, rather warm and then at the Hotel we had a table outside over looking the Murray River, which was just beautiful, considering our circumstances.

We all had a lovely dinner, Jase and I enjoying a Canadian Club with dry, the kids had dessert, then we all walked home, it was still very warm, arriving back at the caravan park and going to bed after a very mentally, tiring day, our brains still ticking about the events that took place!

Wednesday 17th January

Had a fairly good night’s sleep, Jase only taking a mere 3 mins to conk out, I was still running the days events through my head, while listening to eveyone fall peacefully asleep. As we didn’t have any tea bags or coffee, we could only have cereal for breakfast, so had that, over looking the Murray River, which I must say was a beautiful outlook, watching a rather large houseboat going by, towing a nice looking ski boat.

The kids got up eventually, changed and had breaky, before we packed the truck and went back to Roly’s to sort out what were taking and what we were leaving for our trip to Kangaroo Island, stopping first to grab a coffee. Roly had rung Lifestyles Camper Trailers already and made enquiry’s and we had decided to let him start the process of repairing the trailer, so we could at least get it back to Sydney. It took us just under an hour to organise the Landcruiser, before we left Berri and our trailer at 10.20am, having done 200kms, making our way to Cape Jervis for the 3pm Ferry to Kangaroo Island.

Our first glimpse of Kangaroo Island.

We stopped at Murray Bridge, actually crossing it, which was built in 1879 and was the first ever bridge to span the river and a beautiful bridge it was. Stopping at a bakery for meat pies and salad rolls, we were on the road again, not stopping until Cape Jervis, arriving just before 2pm, having done 364kms. (Note the time in SA is actually 30mins behind NSW times, I have actually done this story in both time zones).

In the queue ready to board, minus our trailer.

We queued up, in a lane with the other vehicles, Jase having to stay with the truck while the kids and I went to book in.

The fairy that was taking us across.

I checked in and she said, ‘a Landcruiser with a trailer’.
I said, ‘no trailer, we had an accident’, explaining all.
She said, ‘have you got accomodation?’
I said, ‘no, we tried to book but couldn’t get anything so we were just going to wing it’.
She said, ‘I can book you something now’.

Together we booked a three bedroom house on D’estrees Bay, which on the map, looked a beautiful location, at least it was done! Jase came in to the booking office to double check accomodation with me, the kids had already boarded the ferry, and he had a smile on his face. The guys directing the cars on board had asked where the trailer was, (as they would know from the booking sheet, our car rego came with a trailer) and Jase told them our story, the ladies knew our story from me, so we were slightly well known!! As the booking of the accomodation was taking a little while, we were the last ones on, they actually had to delay it’s departure for us to board, then were were off!!

Goodbye mainland Australia!!
Was good to finally be on the ferry after such a big day yesterday.
The beautiful, clear waters of Kangaroo Island.

Arriving at Kangaroo Island, the water looked so beautiful, that I think Megan got tears in her eyes, it was crystal clear, the clearest water I have seen. Jase drove the truck off, we alighted and joined him in the truck, then we were off, first stopping at the local IGA, Jase and the kids doing the shopping while I rang the NRMA to make a claim on the trailer. Both of those tedious jobs done, we were on our way in search of our weeks accomodation.

Nearly ready for the next adventure.
Here we are finally.

It wasn’t long before we found our little ‘beach shack’, above the beautiful D’Estrees Bay on the South Side. It was The Loverings home, which had a great covered verandah, overlooking the bay, a great kitchen with a huge kitchen table with bench seats. The kids soon settled in and after we unpacked, we walked down to the beach and had a quick dip at the beach. There was huge amounts of seaweed on the beach, piles and piles of it, all dried up and crunchy.

The view from our new home.
Not the nicest of beaches, but at least we were here, on the Island.

Nachos was the go for dinner, which was on the menu regardless of accomodation, we all ate and all enjoyed, sitting out on the verandah. We were all out here for a little while before we noticed the mozzies starting to have their dinner too, so inside we went. Zarah and Keira were playing in their room, Megan and Kye playing snap with the HUGE Uno cards we have, Jase reading up on whats about on the island and where we will head first and I decided to head to bed and read, as it had been a rather emotional and tiring few days.

Thursday 18th January

9.25am was the time when I asked Jase that morning, after slowly rising, the house was still which indicated that the occupants were still asleep as well! Had a good nights sleep, with just the sheet, until very early in the morning when we needed a light blanket, as we had left the wind wide open during the night as there was a slight breeze making its way through the room.

Breakfasts were had, with teas and I tried coffee on the electric stove, which worked well, considering I’ve never done it on one before. We packed the truck and headed off on our first full day of exploring, which was exciting for all of us. We made our way up the north coast, via Cliffords Honey Farm and Drunken Drone Brewery, where we had a walk around the bee farm and read lots of information regarding bee keeping and of course you can’t walk through an exit shop without buying anything, so we left with postcards, beer coolers, stickers, honey, relish and some Drunken Drone Pale Ale, which was very refreshing when we had it.

The kids at the Cliffords Honey Farm.

Onward bound to Emu Bay, stopping briefly at Kingscote, which we didn’t think had the same sea town feel as Penneshaw. On to Emu Bay, which surprised us as you could actually drive on it, was a beautiful stretch of beach, with tiny lap, lap waves and that beautiful, crystal, clear water that greeted us when we first arrived in Penneshaw. We set up the truck annex and stayed there for quite a while, all of us swimming and sunning around, deciding to leave about 3pm and head back to Kingscote for a beer in the local pub, but first dropping the kids off at the Pelican Feeding which occurred at 5pm daily at the peer.

Emu Bay, just beautiful.
Settled in for a few hours.

We dropped them off, told them we would be back, did some quick shopping of things we had forgotten then went back to the peer for the last 5 mins of the show. The instructor seemed rather deadpan, uninterested in what he was explaining, there would have been maybe 15-20 people there watching, then at the end, he said, thanks for watching now that will be $5 each for the food I supply the birds with. It said on his advertisement in one of the Kangaroo Island mags that a fee applies, but he was such a grump about the whole thing, it took us by surprise how he actually asked for his fee. On to the pub is was.

The pub in Kingscote turned out to be quite a fizzer, as we thought there would be a beer garden overlooking the water, but there was only a kind of covered in balcony that had glass to the ceiling, so, not really a beer garden at all, in fact, we were sitting at our table and some pedestrians walked passed on the sidewalk and one of them actually smiled at us, all too close really.

It seemed to us like it had been a full day of exploring, so it was back to base for the evening and dinner, of veal pesto with pasta, which we all ate and seemed to enjoy, as there was none left, after everyone went back for seconds. It wasn’t long before we were all in bed, not used to the full day of exploring and being in the sun!

Friday 19th January

We decided that we would get going earlier than yesterday as we had a fair bit of driving to knock out to reach the other side of the Island, with a lot to see along the way, so everyone was up and ready to go by before 9.30am. The first stop was to Seal Bay and then some other tourist spots during the day as well.

The drive to Seal Bay was about an hour, first on dirt road, then the main South Coast Road that took you all the way to the west side of the Island. The tours ran every 15 mins, which surprised us that they ran so frequently, so we didn’t have long to wait before we were heading down to the beach with our guide to walk amongst the Sea Lions of Kangaroo Island.

Our first look at Seal Bay.

There was only 8 of us, excluding our young guide, who said she works the summer on the Island and then back to Adelaide to a wildlife park. We walked along the boardwalk first, taking in the views of the beach with some Sea Lions in the distance, before actually arriving on the sand, which was a pretty special experience for all of us. Our guide was very informative, sharing all of her knowledge of what she knows, the females are pregnant for 18 months, which I personally think would suck and then then only have a 12-24 hour period after they give birth to fall pregnant again…nasty stuff!!

Sound asleep in the sun.
The poor things are so tired after their long trips to sea.
Despite the long lens, we were so close to them.
Everywhere you looked, there were Sealions.

There were a few bulls (males) on the beach, one of them causing a bit of grief to the other Sea Lions, there were a few pups around, which were learning how to swim, calling to their mothers for reassurance, which was rather sweet. There were juveniles playing, a few swimming and also a lot of them just lying on the beach after their epic 2-3 days in the water hunting for food. The tour went for about 45mins and it was sad to actually leave the beach, as it was something that you could just sit and watch for a long time.

A bit of biff by the sea side.
One of bulls on the beach.
Someone looks a bit cranky.
Just so special to see.

After the tour we walked down the public boardwalk to the viewing platform to watch them some more and take more photos. Grabbing ice-creams from the exit shop and then time to head to Vivonne Bay for lunch and a swim and hopefully the afternoon. The water was yet again a beautiful colour, with the perfect bay in front of us. We had pre-made wraps for lunch, that we took down the beach with us, and settled in. The water, although clear was slightly cooler than the day before, we were facing south though.

Sharing the beach.
Time for a quick family photo.
The view from the viewing platform.
Time for a kissy kissy.
Vivonne Bay Jetty.
Such a beautiful place.
The water was a little fresh, despite the crystal clear water.
The Remarkable Rocks.

It was getting later in the afternoon and slightly windy, so we packed up and headed further west to Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch. The rocks were like giant marbles balancing on the edge of the cliff that fell away into the sea. It was quite amazing coming down the road and seeing them in the distance they really did look giant and so out of place.

The colour was all natural.
Looking back over the Southern Ocean.
The were rather incredible.
It was rather windy.
Was a windy, cloudy day.
This rock looked like an eagles beak.

It was quite blowy as we walked around, the kids enjoying playing hide and seek, and climbing in and around the rocks. We then drove back up to the main road and had a look at the building that was used by the lighthouse keepers to store supplies that were unloaded from supply ships and hauled up a near vertical cut in the cliff face. Once again we were amazed by the doggedness that was shown by these early settlers.

Looking back towards the Remarkable Rocks.
The ruins of the settlers, supply house.
The vertical drop to the water from the settlers house.

We then headed over the road to walk down to Admirals Arch, it was now really blowing and cold, so we followed the boardwalk and got down in behind some protection from the elements and watched the seals who were oblivious to the conditions. The kids spotted a bay seal and all fell in love with it instantly, however the baby soon disappeared down in between some rocks. It was time for us to disappear as well as the southern ocean was bearing its teeth. We headed back to d’Estrees Bay for the evening. It took over an hour to get back, then not stopping on the way at all. We did see a koala run across the road so we stopped to see if we could actually see it, but no, it was gone!

The baby seal the kids all feel in love with!
Admirals Arch.
Seals lazing around under the arch.
The conditions were rough, windy and cool.
The Cape de Couedic Lighthouse.

Dinner was a garlic sauce with chicken and rice, which we all enjoyed, then another lazy evening just sitting around. We were pretty proud that althought there was a TV present, we hadn’t actually turned it on and eventually the kids stopped asking us to turn it on too!! Bed was calling as we had another full day of touring the next day.

Saturday 20th January

What a difference an evening makes, as today it is extremely cloudy with quite a strong cool wind blowing, but despite this, we were all still up fairly early to get going on yet again another adventure on the Island, this time going to West Bay National Park to see where were actually going to camp for our time here.

On the road by just after 10am, as we were waiting for the washing machine to finish, which seemed to be taking ages, nice to have clean clothes though! We travelled west heading for Kelly’s Caves where we were going on a guided tour, which was part of our National Parks Pass. There weren’t many cars in the carpark and we had just missed the 10.30am, so booked in for the 11am. We met the guide ‘Don’ at the top of the hill, just after another group had finished going through, there was 9 of us, the 6 of us and 3 Americans.

The caves at Kelly’s Hill.
Some of the many stalactites.

These caves were excellent, there were so many stalactites, not many stalagmites, but still an amazing place to see and Don was excellent, keeping us all entertained and the kids interested the whole time. The tour went for about an hour and was thoroughly enjoyable for all of us, even when Don was taking the mickey out of the American’s for not knowing what a ‘cup of tea’ was!! As we headed back outside, there was chaos waiting, with over 20 people waiting, some not even booked on any tours…Don bade us a quick goodbye to sort out the mess.

What they call the ‘Ballerina Shoe’, you can see why.
A family pic inside the caves.
Don, showing us some very large crystals.

On to our next stop of Cape Borda Lighthouse for another tour and our lunch stop. The tour was at 2pm, with the 6 of us and also two others from I’m not sure where. It was a beautiful, sweet square Lighthouse and one of the shortest I have ever seen. The guide, ‘Mick’ was an absolute character, with a loud voice, especially every time he boomed ’THE ONLY REAL LIGHTHOUSE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA’, making us all giggle. He referred to Cape Willoughby Lighthouse as ‘Cape Wannabe’ and Cape de Couedic as ‘Cape de-could-be’, very, very amusing! He had a lot of information to tell us with his very bright and colourful tour, things we will remember for ever, especially that each Lighthouse had it’s own character for the ships to know where they are. The Cape Borda Lighthouses’ characteristics were, 4 light passes with a 7 second delay, where the light was crossing the land and that the first land you would hit when you left the Lighthouse would be South America, as Kangaroo Island was lower than Africa. He was a great guide and we had lots of fun!!

Cape Borda Lighthouse, such a beautiful place.
Some of the surrounding buildings of Cape Borda.
Was the shortest lighthouse we have ever seen.
The view from the Lighthouse.
Such a sweet Lighthouse.

We had lunch after the tour in the park grounds just near the Lighthouse which was a lovely spot to sit and relax. Mick had mentioned Harvey’s Return, which was maybe a 10 min drive from the Lighthouse, so we headed there for a look, first stopping at the Lighthouse Cemetery where previous Keepers and their family members had been buried. On to Harvey’s Return, which was where the supply ships bought all of the supplies for the Lighthouse and their Keepers every three months. It was a beautiful bay, but to get there it was a very steep climb down on a very rocky hill, but well worth it in the end, the climb out would be hard! Apparently they had a pulley system, with tracks that had two carriages, so as one was going up full of their supplies, the other one was coming down, sort of like a counter weight, with a horse going around a windless to actually keep the carriages moving. We think it is just incredible stuff.

The Lighthouse Cemetery, where previous Keepers were buried.
Looking down towards Harvey’s Return.
Some of the zebra rocks at Harvey’s Return.
They were beautiful rocks.
It was a beautiful area, there were some people snorkelling.
Getting ready for the steep climb out.
The water was such a beautiful colour.
It was a very steep climb out.
They still had a long way to go.

Out to West Bay for a look at where we would have been camping and what a long way out it was, over very, very corrugated road, some of the worst corrugation we have driven on ever. There was only one group of campers there when we arrived and they were surprised to know that we had only travelled out that far just to have a look. We explained our situation and they understood our reason for the visit. The beach below the campsite looked pretty amazing, as did the bay it’s self as it was a very small and sheltered.

West Bay, the beach where we were meant to camp for the trip.
Jase looking over to West Bay.
West Bay.

As it was getting late, we decided to now head back to d’Estrees Bay, via a quick stop at Hanson Bay. The weather wasn’t the greatest so we didn’t really stop for a long time, although it was a very pretty bay and would have been really beautiful on a nice cloudless day.

Hanson Bay, it was a little windy and cool, so we didn’t go down for a swim, was very pretty though.

Back to d’Estrees Bay we had pre-made spaghetti for dinner, although as I had suffered a headache all day, I had a shower and went straight to bed with some medication to alleviate the pain I was in. Everyone else had showers and dinner then read or played games before they headed to bed as well.

Sunday 21st January

As we didn’t have any set plans for today and as the weather was still rather dull and cool we all had a sleep in which was nice after the early starts we had had the previous days. It was going to be a day of exploring the bay’s and beaches on the north side of the Island, so we all had breakfast and coffee and off we went for hopefully a day of exploring and swimming in crystal clear blue water.

On our way to Western River Cove.

This time we went straight up the guts of Kangaroo Island, quickly popping in to Parndana for a few supplies, heading west, then north ending up at Western River Cove first, where we headed straight to the bay for a swim in that crystal clear water that is just so beautiful here. It was slightly windy, the kids all went swimming, but I didn’t venture in this time, despite the water colour! We didn’t stay long as the wind was blowing the fine sand everywhere, making a mess of our towels and everything else, so we decided to leave the beach and have lunch at one of the many covered table and benches that were just on top of the beach. Lunch was yet again the staple of biscuits with assorted toppings which we all enjoy.

Western River Cove.
It doesn’t look it, but it was very windy on the beach.
The view from where we had lunch.

Back in the truck, this time heading to Snellings Beach, which was a beach you could actually drive on, we discovered when we arrived in the carpark and it is most convenient as you don’t need to unpack the truck of all of your gear! It was a beautiful beach, with crystal clear blue water and tiny little lap, lap waves, the ones that I love. We were here for a fair while, even making friends with a dog named ‘Eddie’, who was a very well behaved collie, (we think). He did lots and lots of swimming with the kids, Megan even using her go pro on him, then he did lots of chasing our ball up and down the beach, he was one very tired dog. I think he was a bit sad when we finally left, this time to King Georges beach, then finally on to Stokes Bay.

The view looking over the Island.
The beautiful, clear waters of Snellings Beach.
We set up for a few hours of ‘R & R’.
‘Eddie’ the dog who adopted us for the afternoon.
The kids all playing with Eddie in the water.
He was having a lovely time.
Eddie stayed in the water for as long as the kids staying in.

King Georges beach was a bit rocky with no clear access to the beach itself, except for over huge mounds of rocks, it was clear water again though. Stokes Bay was something rather random altogether, as the carpark was full of cars, yet there seemed to be no one around and the beach itself was actually very rocky, but then there was a random sign that said pointed to a beach. We walked through the large rocky outcrop, reminding me of the movie ‘The Beach’ because when we made our way to the Bay itself, it was a beautiful sight. Lots of white sand, a small manmade bay then an untouched beach greeted us and that’s where all the people were who belonged to all the cars in the carpark. We stayed there to let the kids all have a swim as there were finally some waves for them to play in, then headed back to d’Estrees Bay for dinner of roast lamb and minimal veg, as we didn’t have that many!

Our home, d’Estrees Bay.

Dinner was delicious, so much so, that we were meant to have some left overs, but we ate it all, so there goes that idea! It was a lovely evening, we ate outside, even having a visitor come for dessert, a little wallaby, who was very tame, as he came right up to where the kids were trying to hand feed it some fruit, he got rather close but didn’t take it out of their hands. We went for a walk up the hill to see if we could see any lights or other wildlife, lights we could see, way off in the distance, but no other wildlife. Back to base where we all sat on the lounge and read books, while eating chocolates, then off to bed!

Monday 22nd January

It looked like it was a nicer day outside, as there didn’t seem to be as much cloud cover as the previous days, so we got up to try and get going a little earlier, so we could let the kids have more time at a beach. Breakfasts, teas, coffees were had, then all in the truck to head to Cape Willoughby for the Lighthouse tour there, our last planned tour of the trip. It took quite a while to reach Cape Willoughby and by the time we arrived it was overcast and rather windy.

As the tour didn’t start until 11.30am, we had to wait for half and hour, so I made phone calls to Roly’s and also NRMA regarding the trailer. Roly is hoping it will be ready on Thursday, lets hope so and the NRMA can’t tell us much…nothing unusual there!!

Part of the view from the Lighthouse.
Not sure what it is, but I thought it looked like a face, it was in the Lighthouse Info Centre.
Cape Willoughby Lighthouse.

There were quite a few of us on this tour, I would say roughly 18 people, larger than any tour we had done so far. The guide was great again, not as colourful as Mick, but full of information about Cape Willoughby. He mentioned the other Lighthouses, of course and said that Cape Borda was actually Cape Boredom…the banter between the Lighthouse guides was a great laugh! He actually said, you are at Cape Willoughby, or Cape Windy, as it is one of the windiest places in South Australia and also the coolest, as it was often 20 degs cooler than Adelaide.

Zarah, Kye and Keira standing in an old reflector.
Megan standing in the Reflector.
Looking up towards the top.

The tour eventually lead us to the observation deck, after climbing over 105 stairs, which we all managed and was it windy out there, alright when we first walked out, but then when you walked around to the other side, it was very windy indeed and rather cool up there. We stayed for a little while before heading back inside and down the stairs. It was a great tour, with yet again a great guide, the only dud we have had was the Pelican Feeding Man.

The view from the Observation Deck.
Overlooking the houses of Cape Willoughby.

We made our way to Antechamber Bay where we were going to have lunch then hopefully all go for a swim and have a relaxing afternoon on the beach. That wasn’t going to be the case as it was rather windy still and where we had lunch, we actually had to stand in the sun away from the table as it was cool in the shade. The beach was a little too windy and the water looked like it had a strong current so we decided to head to Penneshaw, near where the ferry comes in, as the kids were all desperate to swim at the beach there, because of the water colour, I guess, which I must admit, was pretty amazing!!

Antechamber Bay, it doesn’t show it, but it was rather windy.
It was too windy, even for a swim.
Lunch under the canopy of trees.

On the way, we stopped in at Dudley’s Wines and had a quick tasting of three, two sparkling and a merlot, which we purchased a bottle of each…the sparkling shiraz was put straight in the fridge in the truck for us to enjoy tonight.

A quick stop at Dudley Winery.
The view from the verandah at Dudley Wines.

Back in the truck, heading to Penneshaw for the afternoon, but when we arrived, it was rather windy on the beach there as well, so we decided to go to Baudin Beach which was on the other side of the peninsular, hoping it wasn’t going to be windy there. Wrong, it was still windy and the beach didn’t look the best, the kids didn’t want to swim there, so it was back to Penneshaw for the afternoon, which was now late afternoon.

The beach at Penneshaw, watching a ferry arrive.
Looking back towards the Mainland.

It wasn’t long before they were in the water, where they stayed for quite a long time, the water was crystal clear, but rather shallow, none the less, they were all happy to swim there. We were there for about 1.5 hours before we left the white sands for the benches of the Penneshaw Hotel, for a drink in a pub, that was the only pub where you could look back at Australia, while having a beer, well in my case a Canadian Club with dry!!

The Penneshaw Pub, where we all enjoyed a drink.
The mainland in the background, the only pub where you can have a drink looking at Australia.
One of the Kangaroo Island Ferries.

It turned out to be a lovely afternoon, evening, but time to head back to base, it still taking us 45mins from Penneshaw to d’Estrees Bay. Dinner had been prepared the night before, so we just had to heat it up, which was easy, a herb and garlic chop, stew thing, which, served with cous cous was delicious, especially with our sparkling shiraz!! It was a rather coolish evening, so much so, I had to put socks on for the first time on this trip, so it wasn’t long before it was bed time, a) for a bit of warmth and b) for sleep, as we were going to get up early tomorrow for a full day at the beach and our last…sob, sob!!

Tuesday 23rd January

It looked like it was going to be a lovely day, as the sun was trying to pop out from behind some very light cloud. As it was our last day, we wanted to head off earlier, so we could enjoy the day at Emu Bay, with also enough time to visit the Bay of Shoals Winery. Breakfasts were had, with our tea and coffees, then we were off.

Our first port of call however, was petrol, as the light had come on on the way home yesterday, so to Kingscote it was. We didn’t fill up, but put 60 litres in, to hopefully get us to Renmark tomorrow, at least the fuel on the mainland is 20 cents cheaper than the Island. We called in to the Winery on the way to Emu Bay but we were a little early, as it didn’t open until 11am and it was only 9.30am, so we would have to call in on the way home.

The sights from the beach at Emu Bay.

Emu Bay bound and what a beautiful stretch of beach it is, there was only one other car on the sand, so we had the pick of the area, deciding to head to the other end, where it may have been a little bit more sheltered. We put the truck annex up and settled in for the day, although it didn’t take long for a casualty, as Kye was stung by a jellyfish.

Was such crystal clear water, shame there were jellyfish stingers.
It was such a beautiful ship to be looking out at.

After a little while we decided to move the truck to another position, as it was slightly windy where we were, so we moved to just beside some large rocks on the beach to hopefully give us a little bit more shelter from the wind. We settled in again and had lunch, which we were glad we moved, as it wouldn’t have been pleasant having lunch fighting the wind. Kye and I were brave enough to go for another swim, despite the jellyfish around and by now there were a lot of them, we were dodging them left, right and centre and we think we did a pretty good job too. Along with Megan, we found a rather large starfish, then another smaller one, washed up on the shore line, both still alive, so photos were taken, then back to the water they went.

We moved the truck to be a little bit more protected from the wind.
Just some of the locals we found on the beach.
The cave where the girls had their lunch.
We got him out before we left!

After our swim Jase and Megan went in one final time before we thought we should head off again, so we left the beach and went to Bay of Shoals Winery, which had a beautiful view overlooking the water. We had a quick tasting of the wines we like, bought 3 bottles, then went in search of our next swim, via the shop to get some supplies, including ice-creams, we had our wine, so I guess it was only fair!!

We went to American River for a look thinking there wouldn’t be much there to see at all, but we were both surprised to find quite a large little township, large enough, we think to have a pub, but there wasn’t one. After our look around, we went to Pennington Bay, which we discovered was one of the very few surf beaches of the Island. It looked fairly rough and it had now become slightly overcast so we didn’t stay and headed back to d’Estrees Bay instead.

We never got lost on the Island.
The place we called home for 7 days.

Arrived back and spent a bit of time tidying the truck and organising the packing of the truck so we didn’t have to do as much the tomorrow. Packed as much as we could, then we watched the kids all preform a magic show, which was of very high quality, then dinner was served, which was only toasted sandwiches, using the left overs we had. More magic shows, then Jase and I just looked over maps to work out rough distances back to Renmarrk, then from Renmark to Bendigo for the remainder of our trip, that was unfortunately coming to an end.

Bed for the kids and us not long after, with most of the packing done and a fair bit of the cleaning done as well, so we didn’t need to do it the next morning.

Wednesday 24th January

After a warmish night, we were up by just after 6.30am to get going for our trip back to the mainland, unfortunately. It was a fairly cloudy day and slightly windy, so we had been lucky that the day before, our last day, was such a good one. We got the kids up, stripped the beds, did a last quick vacuum, packed the rest of the bags on top of the truck, did a last sweep of every room, as sure enough the kids had all left something behind, then we were on our way to Penneshaw for the ferry trip back to Cape Jervis, just after 8am, arriving at Penneshaw after 8.45am. On our way to the ferry we stopped at the shops and the kids bought their assortment of breakfast, we grabbed coffees, then headed to the terminal to see if we could get on an earlier ferry, 10.30 however was the next on, as they don’t run as frequent during the week, so we had an hour to spare before we had to be back, so a quick drive to the top of Penneshaw to check out the view over the ocean and towards the mainland.

All packed and ready to go…sob, sob!
Our last sunrise over d’Estrees Bay.

Back to the terminal by before 10am, the kids all headed inside, we went for a walk around the terminal reading the info signs, then Jase headed inside as I was going to drive the truck on this time. When Jase drove the truck on at Cape Jervis, he reversed on, I however, went on forward and down one side of the ferry and did a u-turn at the end to come back up the other side and as I had poll position, I thought I would be one of the first off, however when I met Keira on the top deck they had reversed parked a little hatchback in front of our truck. It was a lot rougher trip back than what it was on the way over, as we were rocking back and forth a fair bit for most of the journey, we did finally see a huge ship way out to sea that looked like it was full of shipping containers.

Just such a pretty Island.
I thought front and centre but they snuck a small hatchback in front of us.
Goodbye Kangaroo Island.

The announcement was made for the drivers to return to their vehicles, so off I went, ready to be one of the first off, the man in the hatchback head started his car and put it in gear and taken the handbrake off, as when the ferry docked, his car rocked backwards, giving the people standing behind him a fright, he was told very quickly to put the handbrake on. I thought I would have been one of the first off, as I thought I was at the front however, I was about the tenth off, probably because I was in the side lane and not either of the middle lanes.

Hello again, Mainland Australia.
The view from the top of the hill after arriving back on the mainland.
Having done some 1,335kms on the Island and thinking we had seen a bit, the locals still said 7 days isn’t enough time to see it all.

Arriving in Cape Jervis at 12pm, 195km on the clock, I picked the others up and continued our return journey to Renmark and hopefully a repaired camper trailer. We decided to head back to Renmark via a different route, so headed up the left hand side of the peninsula, which had some very windy roads, going over and between the rolling hills of the area, through some very dry countryside. Vomit-tron had her travel bands on both wrists, keeping her car sickness to absolutely nothing so far on this trip, we continued through little country towns, which we think were just on the extended outskirts of Adelaide, coming to a stop at Macclesfield for lunch, just in a local park, where we could also all go to the toilet.

Back in the truck, this time heading to Mt Barker, where we were lucky enough to get the cheapest desiel in town at 128.9l at 2pm having just done 108km, the kids continually asking is this where we had the fire, no not yet, we will pass it tomorrow!! When we arrived in Loxton and I had enough reception, I rang Roly to see how the trailer was going and he said it was ready and as it was just after 4.30pm and he shut at 5.30pm, we asked if it was possible for us to pick it up on the way through to Renmark, he said yep, all good, not a problem.

Crossing the Murray River on the free ferry service.
Was only a short distance, but it ran 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
We were looking like such tourists!
We were up fairly high when taking this pic.

We got to Roly’s at 6pm, after dropping in to Dan Murphy’s to buy him a case of beer for his troubles and having done another 270km. We had been delayed by the great Murray River crossing on the free ferry service though, which when we asked the Ferry Master, ran for 24 hours a day, 365 days a week! It was well worth the wait, I was taking photos and said to him, we are tourists and he said, first time…eh!!       

Roly had pulled the other wheel off to check those bearings as well, which he said were on the way out too, he also did a very quick job on the side panel of the trailer so that at least the door would shut and wouldn’t give us any grief for the remainder of our trip. We were very much appreciative of the work he had done, the phone calls he had made on our behalf and also getting the job done.

We hitched up and left Roly’s thanking him one last time before making the short trip to Renmark, where Rose (my bestie from Sydney) had booked our accomodation while we were on Kangaroo Island, as we didn’t have enough coverage to do a lot of searching. It was the Citrus Valley Motel, on the main road through Renmark and it was great, exactly what we should have done the first night we had to spend in Renmark as it was only $170 for the night for a family room that slept 6, plus a small pool and a complementary breakfast the next morning of toast, cereals, tea and coffee. We all emptied the truck, then the kids all went to the pool, while Jase and I sorted out the truck and trailer, repacking the things we didn’t need anymore on this trip in the front storage box, that held all the food and drinks at the beginning of our trip.

It cooled us down only slightly.

After we were done, we got our swimmers on and met the kids at the pool and had a swim to cool off as it was a balmy 37 degs. We all got changed then all walked down to the same club where we had had dinner the first night we stayed, although this time the kids said they didn’t want kids meals, as they were too small, so we got them the normal meals and of course none of them finished, we could luckily take our left over pizza with us, which was a plus as it would do for lunch he next day.

Back to the Motel, everyone went to bed to read, Jase and I just watching the remainder of Roger Federa’s match, which he won, this was the first tennis I had watched, despite having a TV in our house on Kangaroo Island. One mistake we made, was not turning the air conditioning on before we went out as when we got back, it was still very very warm.

Thursday 25th January

Apparently we all slept well, so everyone said anyhow. We were all up and dressed, bags packed, ready to be re-packed in the trailer, then off to our breakfast in the Motel’s restaurant, which turned out to be a lovely, with an assortment of toast, cereals, juices and tea and coffee. We passed on the coffee, but had a tea and toast, the kids having a bit of everything.

Jase wanting to show the difference in our coffee sizes.
One of the charred trees.
More charred trees.
You could still smell that there had been a fire recently.
With no long grass, there was so much rubbish on the ground.
Homeward bound, via Bendigo.

In the truck, ready to go eat 9.50am, quickly stopping at the bakery we had stopped at previously to grab a coffee for our trip and on our way, reading 274kms, I was driving the first section. We made our way to Mildura first, eventually driving past the scene of the camper trailer accident, which you could see from a fair way up the road, the first had taken out a fair bit of the brush on the side of the road, we didn’t find our hubcap, but did find a bearing that we are pretty sure was ours. Back to the truck still heading for Mildura, where we saw a big sign that said, ‘Australia Day celebrations cancelled due to the heat forecast tomorrow’, what a shame, eventually taking a sweeping right hand bend to Ouyen, where we decided to stop for lunch on the side of the road under the shade of some trees, it was rather warm, 39 degs, very warm indeed. Had lunch of our left over pizza, Megan and Keira finishing their wraps from the day before and some chips, really healthy, then across the road we headed for a cold drink or ice-cream, the heat too over powering for the cafe’s fridges, so the drinks were all actually on ice out the back!!

Jase driving from our lunch stop, heading for Bendigo, via Sea Lake, Wycheproof and Charlton, driving through many a small town that didn’t even have a pub, which really indicates to us that it really is a small town. The sky which had been cloudless for most of the trip was suddenly filled with white and grey clouds, eventually turning dark causing rain to fall and large drops they were, hopefully cleaning our filthy truck a bit!!

We arrived in Bendigo to some very hot weather at 4.45pm, having done 795kms, I’m glad it wasn’t much further as the kids were all getting a bit sick of being in the truck and were actually movied out, if you could call it that! We parked around the back of Jase’s sisters place and backed the trailer in to their garage, then began the unpacking of all the things we needed.

It was extremely hot, so was nice to be unpacked, sitting in air conditioning with yet again another cold beer, this is something we never do without, that cold beer, actually too much, it will be alcohol free for a bit when we get home we think. The kids all played together, it not taking them long to get to know each other again after such a long period with out seeing their cousin. We had dinner before Keralyn got home has she was working late, so in the meantime, Ian played the perfect host! She came home just before 8.30pm, so we stayed up and caught up on everything before we headed to bed, as it had been another big day driving.

Australia Day

Despite the fact that everyone said they would sleep in, we were all up fairly early, before 8am, deciding to go down to Lake Weeroona before the heat arrived where they were having Australia Day Celebrations and markets. We meandered through the market stalls, after having a bacon and egg roll and coffee for breakfast, sitting on the lakes edge. Keralyn and Ian said they would take all the kids to the movies, so after we had finished looking through the market stalls, we swapped cars and they took them to the movies, while we came back to catch up on some washing…exciting times!!

Jase and I ducked into town quickly to find an ATM, then back to Keralyn’s, our truck was there, so everyone was back from the movies, our peace was ruined!! As they had all had lunch, Jase and I had a sandwich then just all chilled for a while before heading off to one of the many pools in Bendigo for the kids to all have a swim, as it was now reaching 40 degs, so rather warm. As it was Australia Day, all the pools had free entry and as I mentioned it was hot, so as you can imagine, the pool was rather busy, in fact pretty packed actually, nearly standing room only! We were lucky enough to find a tiny bit of shade so plonked everything down before we all jumped in for a bit of relief from the heat.

There was a water slide, which the kids all went, apart from Megan, who found the whole pool experience rather difficult, as she much prefers the surf. The clouds had started to come over, giving us some relief from the sun at least, but then they got darker and darker and finally a lightning, which then closes the pool, no one was allowed in for the next 30 mins and as it was getting close to 5pm, we decided to head so we could all get ready for dinner, as we were going out.

Had a lovely dinner at Lazy Moe’s, all having something different, although like most restaurants the meal servings were huge, this place though was no exception, the meals were HUGE, to the point that I couldn’t finish mine, Jase only just finished his, Ian couldn’t eat his and Keralyn didn’t eat hers. The kids menus were large as well, although Megan and Zarah managed to eat theirs, Keira, Kye and Sebastian couldn’t finish theirs…such a waste. While we were sitting in the restaurant Keira and I saw a huge crack of lightning through the window and when we left, it had been raining, with rather large strikes of lightning about.

Back home, the storm didn’t really make that much noise or eventuate to anything really serious and by the time we all went to bed, it had totally blown over, ready for another hot day tomorrow, forecast for an even hotter day than today.

Saturday 27th January

Today Keralyn said she would like to take the girls shopping and also hold Zarah’s hand as she wanted to get her ears pierced for her birthday, but was a bit scared. Ian said he would take the boys to the skate park and also to the pool for another swim, as it was going to be another warm day in Bendigo, so that just left Jase and I at home. We went and did a quick shop for dinner, which was going to be a BBQ and salad at home, we returned home with the shopping then, as we like the corner pubs in Bendigo so much, we decided to go down to their local one for a few cold Canadian Clubs with dry which was most enjoyable.

Everyone made their way home eventually from their afternoon outings, that drinks and snacks were had before the BBQ was cranked for dinner. Salads were made then dinner was had, everyone enjoying sitting around the table discussing their days and making plans for the next catch up, as this was our last night together.

The kids all went and watched one last movie in the Shed, us adults sat and discussed future dates and school holidays for the coming year. We were all in bed by before 9.30pm ready to get up early for our long day in the truck back to Sydney.

Sunday 28th January

Home time, although it was going to be a long trip as I was up from 3am vomiting, so wasn’t looking forward to spending the day in the truck at all. We left Bendigo at 7.15am, as we had the truck packed the before, so except for the kids pillows, all our pj’s, and a few other things, we were good to go. Goodbyes were said and off we went, although we first stopped for petrol, then another stop around the corner for me, very nasty indeed!

I couldn’t drive at all, so poor Jase was left to do it all, making very quick stops on the highway whenever I needed, Keira (aka vomit-tron) kindly offered me her motion sickness bands, but I don’t think they would have worked in my situation.

We stopped at Gundagai for half an hour for toilet breaks and lunch, at 12.20pm, I wasn’t eating anything, except a lemonade ice block. Off we went again, Jase still driving, for the next leg of the trip home, I was though, at this point, feeling slightly better. We pulled into our driveway in Narrabeen at 5pm, having done a whopping 5,080kms in total, all a bit tired after our long trip home. I was feeling a lot better, so the unpacking of the truck and camper trailer began, however with the help of all the kids, the trips up and down the stairs are getting less and less for us!

Despite the set back of the trailer accident and not being able to camp, we had such a fantastic time on Kangaroo Island, there is so much to see and do that it didn’t really matter that we weren’t camping. It was a fantastic holiday, taking in some amazing sights, history and experiences, ones that we hope the kids will remember for a long to come and not just that we started a fire on the highway either!!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *