Kangaroo Island, after the fires, and heading up to Adelaide

Knowing that at least 1/3 of Kangaroo Island was burnt out in the recent devastating bush fire season, we wanted to go anyway. We arrived on Friday afternoon after getting a ferry an hour later than originally planned because Mark wanted to get cheap fuel that took us 20 minutes out of our way. Thankfully Sealink ferries were very obliging and changed our ferry time without charge, otherwise it would have been a very expensive fuel stop!

The north side of the island is more protected from winds and also has, for the most part, escaped the fires. We camped at Browns Beach for the first 2 nights, which has lovely clear calm water, and met a dolphin during our evening walk along the beach.

The Penneshaw market is on the first Sunday of the month, and with a P&O cruise ship also docked there for the day, it was pretty crowded in the cafes. So much so, we couldn’t get a coffee, but it’s great for the island to have so many people coming.

More commonly though, the island is quiet and there are plenty of places to go where you can stay for a few days and just enjoy nature. Emu Bay has a great little pop-up bar, and the beach at Stokes Bay is reached by walking through a granite boulder tunnel.

We also stopped at Western River Cove on the north west side, which had been burnt so there was ash on the beach and in the river making it unsuitable for swimming, but still beautiful with kangaroos and wildflowers dotted around.  

The Flinders Chase national park is completely burnt out with nothing but black sticks left. The green shoots of the grass trees and some eucalyptus trees are starting to grow though, showing how the Australian bush can regenerate quickly. It is definitely a wonderful place to visit.

Back on the South Australian mainland and we stayed for 3 nights at Mount Compass caravan park, probably the cleanest park we’ve ever been to, and is nicely positioned about halfway between McLaren Vale and Victor Harbor. We went to d’Arenburg winery because everyone does, but in the end didn’t go in. The prices to get into the Cube gallery were ridiculous and we couldn’t get a lunch reservation either. So we took a few photos of the Dali sculptures they currently have and went to a small organic winery, Gemtree, instead. A lovely lady talked us through the wine tasting, and we ended up with 6 bottles of their best even though we had no room to put them. A box of wine makes a good footrest we’ve found!

Victor Harbor is different, with a horse drawn tram and a granite boulder island with a sculpture trail, the main attractions.

It was Mark’s birthday on the Friday 6th, so we decided to spoil ourselves and stay in a hotel in Adelaide for a few days. The happy coincidence was that it was also festival time, with 3 major festivals all happening – Fringe, Adelaide festival and Womad. So the city was jam packed with things to do and people everywhere. On Friday evening we went to a Russian bar called Red October for Mark’s birthday and had red caviar, Russian salad, pelmeni and vereneki, followed by Russian honey cake.

We saw a show called Blanc de Blanc which started at 11pm, that was part of Fringe festival, and found ourselves laughing hysterically as gymnasts and actors were refilling peoples glasses while hanging from the ceiling, having pillow fights with the audience, and dancing with nothing on but towels. No photos allowed unfortunately but highly recommended if you ever get a chance to see it.

The following day after having breakfast at the Central Markets, we walked around the city following the river and ending up in the Botanical Gardens. The weather was perfect and the gardens stunning.

At night we went to the Garden of Unearthly Delights and to Gluttony, the two areas set up with theatres, food and drink stalls and rides for the festivals. Rundle Street has been closed off to traffic at night, beyond just the mall, and allows for even more places to go to eat and be merry. Lots of people of all ages were there, and just a bit too crowded for our liking, but it definitely showed that Adelaide knows how to party!

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