While in South Australia, I visited Kangaroo Island, which is just a short flight south of Adelaide. It was a splendid destination that offered glorious scenery, astonishing wildlife, and splendid natural wonders, from Remarkable Rocks to the extensive Kelly Hill Caves. Here’s an excerpt from my first day on K.I.
Kangaroo Island is a fairly large island, nearly 100 miles long and 30 miles wide. The terrain is a combination of lush, rolling, sheep-dotted pasture land; dense scrub; serene forests; wild, rugged, sea-lashed cliffs; and long, peaceful beaches. Because of its isolation from the mainland, as well as the very low population level, Kangaroo Island is rich with native wildlife, some of it unique to the island.
We drove through the thick bush-land, where openings in the sea of green were filled with wildflowers. The road was unsealed, and the long, straight slash of reddish dirt looked like a fresh cut in an otherwise unbroken mass of plant life. Waves of greenery hung over the edges, seemingly ready to engulf the road at any moment.
As we approached the sea, the dense brush gave way to low coastal vegetation springing out of pure, white sand, dotted with small flowers that hugged the ground, trying to escape the wind. We had arrived at Seal Bay.
We walked out onto the hills of drifted sand and clambered down their steep, shifting sides, descending to the beach, where we were surrounded by Australian sea lions. The colony here is made up of nearly 500 sea lions, and they were ranged all along the bay, as far as the rock-sheltered white sand stretched in either direction.
These sea lions are beautiful creatures, with glossy coats and huge, innocent-looking, dark eyes. They are large, but quick. Many of them were sleeping, but several of the youngsters dashed into the surf to play. They splashed joyously, then raced back onto the beach. After a bit of exercise, they would suddenly stop, and just crash to the ground, going from playtime to nap time in a split second.
Some of the bulls showed off for our benefit, stretching their necks skyward and assuming regal poses. Because the pups are getting quite large, now, we could get relatively close—their massive fathers feel that the children can fend for themselves, and they aren’t as jumpy as when the pups are younger. However, one makes a point of staying a respectful distance from the very territorial males. Besides, the mothers with their babies are more adorable, even if the pups are nearly full grown.