The lazy seals at Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island
31 October 2017
We were up very early this morning to have breakfast at a nearby cafe (the owner opens at 5.30am in the morning!) including a chat with a group of locals who meet each morning at 7am for a coffee and get together) then set off on our one hour drive to Cape Jarvis. Here we will join the Sealink ferry at 9.00am for a 45 minute trip to Kangaroo Island, to be met by our tour leader. It was a smooth drive down in the early morning, we arrived in plenty of time to park the car and find our way to register for our trip, fortunately it was also a fairly smooth crossing of the Backstairs Passage to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island.
Our cheerful tour guide was waiting for us in an enormous bus (there were plenty of them waiting for their tour passengers) and we had about 45 people on our tour. The very popular Seal Bay was our first stop where one of the Seal Bay guides gave us some useful information about the seals (right). We then had the choice of whether we would walk down to the beach (quite steep) or walk along the boardwalk for a great view over the seals – we chose the latter.
It is a beautiful beach and we were lucky to see so many seals on the beach and frolicking in the surf. It is not wise to walk too close to the seals, the guide indicated that she would be the only one who would go near them, and it was a good idea to stay together so they look more aggressive as a crowd if any of the seals decided to get too close!
View of Seal Bay and the brave beach walkers ready to face the seals!
Our lunch today was at the very busy and popular Vivonne Bay Lodge, tucked away in a bushy grove and obviously a popular place for the tour buses to take tourists. It was a tasty buffet lunch, but as with most tours it is never enough time to relax and enjoy your meal – and soon we were off again, this time to the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, in the hope that we would see some wildlife. There were a number of overseas tourists on board, and they were very excited to see some koalas. One had a joey which was very hard to see, and another large male koala had fallen asleep in a lower branch of a tree which made him very easy to find and get some close up photos (left).
Next stop was the Remarkable Rocks – truly remarkable. It took 500 million years for rain, wind, and pounding waves to create these aptly named granite boulders which are now part of the Flinders Chase National Park. Many of the rocks are covered by golden orange lichen, and interpretation signs describe even more details about the formation of the rocks.
Black mica, bluish quartz, and pinkish feldspar comprise most of the granite of Remarkable Rocks. These flat rocks are easy and safe to walk on during dry weather, but special caution should be taken when weather conditions become wet or windy. Strong winds and slippery rocks make it far easier to fall into the water.
Our tour leader had advised us that we would be travelling about 360 kilometres today and our last stop was at Cape Du Couedic on the south west coast of Kangaroo Island. The first thing you see is the magnificent sandstone Cape Du Couedic Lighthouse. The need for a lighthouse in that area has been a great one for many years, as the treacherous waters already boasted a number of casualties including three shipwrecks that had claimed 79 lives.
The seas around the Cape are quite treacherous and today the surf was very wild, and the wind would almost blow you over!
The Flinders Chase National Park is also home to another distinct Kangaroo Island landmark, Admirals Arch, and a New Zealand fur seal colony.
Admirals Arch is one of Kangaroo Island’s most impressive and unusual natural landmarks. It took thousands of years of erosion to create this distinctive rock bridge near the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse on the island’s southwest coast. The boardwalk leading to the Admirals Arch is nearly as scenic as the landmark itself. The Admirals Arch viewing platform is also an ideal place to observe the New Zealand fur seal colony that has established itself below the landmark. These dark brown seals rest and breed on land, but find food in the water. Summer is the primary breeding season, and the rock pools underneath Admirals Arch are a popular place for seal pups to play.
Another unique thing about Admirals Arch is the stalactites which dangle from the rocky ceiling of this former cave (above). The floor, on the other hand, is very smooth. Whale migration season takes place between May and October, but dolphins are frequently spotted throughout the year.
Admirals Arch is just one of 27 officially designated geological monuments situated throughout Kangaroo Island. This landmark is also the starting point of several hikes throughout Flinders Chase National Park. The Admirals Arch Boardwalk leads to the Cape du Couedic Lightstation, which has guarded the southwest coast of the island since 1909.
And we did find one very sleepy fur seal!
All too soon it was time to return to Penneshaw for the 7.30pm ferry back to Cape Jarvis. The tour leader stopped near some cafes at Penneshaw for anyone who wanted to buy something to eat (some tourists were catching the bus to Adelaide once they landed on the mainland) but we decided to wait until we got back to Victor Harbor. After our one hour drive from Cape Jarvis to Victor Harbor we were tired, not so hungry, just missed out on having a meal at a cafe (just closing!) however the local Coles was open and we purchased some food for dinner and breakfast. It was well after 11pm before we got to bed, I am sure we will sleep well!