On an island in the sun

After spending such a long time continuously on the road we were in need of a break, not just for our sanity, but to catch up with some much needed household tasks, like washing all of our clothes. With them drying on the line and Piet contently playing with his cars we got stuck into some forward planning. Inspired by the stories of Kim & Helen in Broome we decided to plan a trip to Kangaroo Island (K.I.). After the ferry and campgrounds were booked we took our time to explore our surroundings, starting off with Australia’s oldest German settlement Hahndorf. A lot of Hahndorf’s shops served up German cliches focussed mainly on Bavaria and it’s Octoberfest, but there was one shop that captivated Ireen. In a Fachwerkhaus built around the 1840’s, we were welcomed by about 100 different cuckoo clocks which lead us through to original woodcarvings from the Erzgebirge, Nussknacker, Weihnachtspyramiden and Räuchermännchen. 

The next morning we drove around the Adelaide Hills, did some wine tasting and finished up on Mount Lofty, providing sweeping views of “the city of churches”, which we planned on visiting the next day. The sweet scent of the purple blossoming Jacaranda trees filled the air as we strolled down towards the CBD and the river Torrens, where we boarded a small boat tour. We took our time walking back to our car hoping to rock Piet to sleep in the pram, which went swimmingly until Ireen’s eyes lit up at the sight of dozens of classic VW Beetles and Kombis (Bullis) gathered in a carpark in the middle of the city. A cover band playing in the background ended all hopes of Piet sleeping, so we joined the crowd of people perusing the rows of shiny cars. Most memorable was an old beetle sporting a DDR logo on the back…ahw…an Ossie loving Aussie! At the bustling spare parts market it was Piet’s eyes that lit up as he yelled “Prinney…, da!!” We couldn’t leave without buying Piet the toy Kombi and caravan he locked his eyes onto. He firmly held onto his new conquest as he fell asleep the second we left the carpark, but he woke up before we got home, so we decided to make a quick detour past one of the local micro breweries for a tasting and stocked up on some amber fluids for our island destination.

Arriving at the ferry terminal in Jervis Bay the next morning I faced the biggest test of my trailer reversing skills yet, driving Henk and Prinney backwards onto the ferry, coached by a staff member, in between the other rows of cars. Piet was fascinated by the boat and hand in hand we did lap after lap of its upper and lower decks, to the amusement of the other passengers. Forty-five minutes later we arrived in Penneshaw and took a short drive to American River, where we first set Prinney up and then climbed the 403 steps up towards Prospect Hill, and visited the beach at Pennington bay, before watching the sun set over the jetty surrounded by pelicans. We hadn’t seen a lot of wildlife on our travels so far, so on our first morning we decided to visit the K.I. Wildlife Park to meet the locals. Our entry fee contributed to the care of survivors and orphans of the devastating 2020 wildfires, which we found a worthy cause. The kangaroos on K.I. have no natural predators and thus are rather laid back and friendly, a perfect opportunity for Piet to experience these intriguing creatures from up close. 

After the park we drove on to Stokes Bay and set Prinney up, before continuing on the unsealed roads along the famous beaches of the North part of the island. Being used to the rough and often unforgiving dirt roads of the Kimberley I was a tad apprehensive about taking Henk onto any unsealed roads, but after mere minutes I was comforted by the sight of wheely bins parked on the road verge. I thought “if a garbage truck can service these parts, we should be fine too” as I cranked up the music. The road first hugged the scenic coastline and then took us up into the hills where the views overlooking the cliffs and the ocean from the car between Snelling Beach and Western River Cove were just breathtakingly beautiful. A familiar feeling crept in, we were back doing what we loved doing, before we returned to Europe, started a family and the COVID pandemic. We were cruising down an unsealed road, through a spectacular landscape to the sound of great tunes… however, this time we were accompanied by our beautiful son! But, at the same time there is a sort of deep sadness, a sort of grief, for not being able to experience these scenes and emotions with the people we love. I guess that’s the curse of travelling, the inability of people closest to you to relate to and share these defining emotional moments. 

And there was something else I noticed personally. After living in Germany the past 5 years, it was intriguing to go through a process of needing to get used to Australia again, a reintegration of sorts. Perhaps it had something to do with the cold and gloomy weather, or perhaps it was the lack of wildlife…? Let me put it this way, I hadn’t quite had my “Oi Oi Oi” moment yet! But as we returned to the Stokes Bay campsite the clouds had given way to blue skies and beautifully warm and sunny weather and a kangaroo mum and her Joey were happily grazing around Prinney. I left the shortwave radio on in the car to catch some of the cricket whilst preparing some dinner. Hearing Jim Maxwell commentating the Test match between Australia and the West Indies felt very familiar. I smiled to myself as I started dinner preparations, but got distracted by a small crowd of people staring up and pointing towards something in the tree. Having never seen a koala in the wild I went over and asked them if they had spotted one. A young German couple pointed vigorously towards an almost invisible pluck of fluffy hair in the top of the tall eucalypt. Confused I asked the young couple how they had managed to spot this koala all the way up there, when the guy answered me with a thick accent: “Yeah it was really weird actually, we were having dinner and he just shat on our table…!!” At 4 am that night, during my “I had too many beers”- toilet run I looked up at the star lit sky and followed the the two bright pointers down towards the Southern Cross and my reintegration felt complete.

Ireen announced with a grin the next morning that today we would see some real epic stuff, like we hadn’t already … but as per usual, she wasn’t wrong! As we drove Southwest towards Flinders Chase National Park the aftermath of the devastating 2020 bushfires was clear to see. The greyish, charred wooden remains of what once was a lush canopy stuck out from a green carpet of young regrowth below. It gave the surrounding bushland an eerie appearance, but a large goanna walking out onto the road forced me to keep my eyes on where I was driving. We first visited the Remarkable Rocks, a name aptly given to a very impressive granite rock formation sticking out on a cliff overlooking the ocean, eroded down for hundreds of millions of years to take on some remarkable looking shapes and sizes indeed. The big boulders gently sloped off towards a steep cliff dropping straight into the ocean. The wind was howling and the waves down below where the biggest and most powerful we’d seen so far. The sounds of them breaking and crashing onto the rocks thundered through the stony shapes. Piet was ecstatic and tried to run around, but with no safety barrier in place we held him closer than ever before! 

Only four kilometers down the road we zigzagged our way down the purposely made boardwalk, towards the Admirals Arch. The wind nearly blew us of our feet as we watched the waves roll in and crash against the Casuarina Islets (aka. the Brothers) facing the Arch. These small islands caused the waves to go in every which direction and crashing violently into each other, exploding into white foam. This sheer force of nature was a humbling experience and left us feeling small and insignificant. But then, amidst all this natural violence we first spotted one, then two, then a whole lot more sea lions lying there stretching their fins and chilling out. Just how they had managed to get up there was perplexing. Contently we signed off our Kangaroo Island experience with a stay in Antechamber bay, where we spent the night having drinks and a great chat with our neighbours, a lovely Dutch couple… they’re never far away I tell ya! We were seriously impressed with this island and it’s inhabitants, so impressed in fact that we day dreamt of living here for a bit. Reality sank in at 4pm when we again lined up for the ferry and I reverse parked Prinney like a seasoned professional onto the ferry. It was time to head back to the mainland and head further East. 

For this episode play yourself some Weezer – Island in the sun.

Remarkable Rocks on a remarkable island ©️ Jasper Kruse

2 thoughts on “On an island in the sun

  1. Joke Ridder

    Dank je wel weer voor je mooie reisverslag. Ik heb ook deze vertaald voor oma en zal haar ook de foto’s laten zien. Wat een mooie plekken hebben jullie bezocht.
    Veel liefs, mam


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