A 3 day lap around Kangaroo Island (South Australia)
Having been a visitor to Kangaroo Island over many years with fishing/ dive trips and through work as a teacher, I was keen to take a few days between Xmas and New Year and check out some of the more out of the ways sights aboard my DR650. My mate Paul, having recently upgraded to a brand new DR650, was also along for the trip. With Xmas day out of the way, Boxing Day gave me a chance to check and pack the bike.
Ready to roll!
The first leg saw me head off late on Boxing Day and make my way down the Fleurieu Peninisula 100kms or so to Paul’s place near Victor Harbor. Although it was the middle of summer, by the time I got down past Kuitpo Forrest it was quite cold and had started to drizzle so it was time to pull out the first of my new Xmas presents - my “Rainoff” over mitts (my theory on presents is I’ll buy something I want, then give it to someone to give back to me!) .
Now, despite looking a little like a Thalidomide survivor, these things work a treat!
Soon I’d made it to Paul’s farm and the bikes were parked ready for a 4.30am planned departure the next day. However, firsts things first, with such an early rise it was necessary to get some essentials organised for the next day, namely some cold beers on ice!
Organising some rations for the next day…
Ready to depart
With a brisk bite in the air we were on the road by 4.15am for the windy ride through to Cape Jervis, where the ferry to Kangaroo Island was due to depart at 6am.
The trip was chilly and dark (although my other Xmas present – my new Klim Dakar pants with trackpants underneath worked well), with the DR’s lights failing to make much impact in the twisties through Inman Valley. Sometimes not being able to see the kangaroos by the side of the road is a blessing in disguise (until you hit one I guess!).
We got ourselves in line for the ferry and then went in and got our boarding passes from the Cape Jervis terminal.
The ferry awaits loading
Lining up before riding on board
After getting the ok we soon were down the ramp and onto the Ferry.
Checking the bikes were tied up ok
Then, just on dawn, the ferry pulled away for the 45min trip across Backstairs Passage to the island
Talking of the crossing, there’s a school of thought that this service is one of the more expensive crossings by a ferry in the world (on a $/km basis). The return cost of a vehicle to travel the 18km distance is $172 and then it’s another $88 per person on top of that! The return bike cost was $56 making a total of $144 for each of us which wasn’t too bad.
They know how to jam all of the vehicles on, as when it’s time to get ready to unload it’s like maze to get to your ride as the cars, boats and caravans are jam packed with often no room to maneuver between them
But without much fuss they soon file off and we were on our way
The town where the ferry docks is Penneshaw and with a population of around 300 there’s a few shops a pub, fuel and not much else, so we hit the road and headed towards American River.
This sleepy town sits on a tidal channel that separates Pelican Lagoon and Eastern Cove and is best known for its excellent fishing. After poking around for a while we took Red Banks road that headed north away from the bitumen and led to a great little road that followed the coast towards Kingscote.
Heading towards Kingscote
The capital of the island is Kingscote (pop ~1400) and its main claim to fame is that it was the site of the first settlement by Europeans in South Australia in 1836. More important to us at this point was a feed – we were starving! After sussing out the town not much looked open (it was a public holiday) but we did find a guy who was looking to get ready to open up his café. He assured us that they’d open at 9am so with half an hour up our sleeve we went for a look around the point.
Known as Reeves Point it gave us some good views across the Bay of Shoals.
Reeves Point (Kingscote)
The Bay of Shoals
With a bit more time on our hands we got some fuel and checked out the local tidal swimming pool.
Right on 9am we were back at the café – only to find it half full!
Oh well, we were in no real hurry (lucky as it turned out) and the “Big Breakfast” certainly hit the spot!
“Mmmm I knew I shouldn’t have swallowed that 3rd sausage whole…”
After knocking over breakfast we headed off on the back roads towards Emu Bay. Here there was a spot to get down on the beach and take the bikes for a spin.
Only the rocks stopped our little run
Now, with that great breakfast out of the way and the body clock getting back to normal we both soon realised (rather urgently) that the call of nature was at hand, so back to the beach exit we sped to see who could get to the toilet block first.
I won (and it required the jacket to come off I can assure you!)
It ended up that Paul couldn’t wait, so he took over the female side. It must be hard to concentrate when your mate keeps telling you that there are woman coming over to use the toilet!
The North Coast Road led us towards our next stop at Stokes Bay around 35kms along the coast, passing through Lathami Conservation Park along the way.
Stokes Bay has a little café and campground overlooking a rather rocky beach
but the real reason for its popularity lies at the rocks to the north of the car park. Here a sign indicates another beach is nearby
After following a winding path through the rocks
another white sandy beach is found that has a large natural rockpool that is ideal for young kids
Soon we were back on the North Coast Road and diverted briefly to King George Beach
The road then crossed over Middle River
Before leading to Snelling Beach. Here it’s possible to get down on the beach once more past one of the original shacks
Next it was on towards Western River Cove. At this spot the Western River meets the sea and the Western River Road provides some great views looking back to the cove
Once over the river we had a choice of following the main road or trying to hook up on a trail that I had spied on Google Earth when researching the trip. We decided for the latter and once past the “No Through Road Private Property” sign the track swung steeply uphill before disappearing into bushes.
On we went expecting a locked gate at any moment but after about 5kms we popped out on a more major road with conflicting sign that indicated it was most likely a public easement anyway.
By this stage it was early afternoon and we soon turned on to the Playford Highway and set off towards Cape Borda, which is the north western tip of the island. Now, this road like most of the main gravel roads on the island was a little corrugated but generally fine - in a straight line
But being made of little round rocks like these
required a little care on the bends :clap
Just before Cape Borda a track leads off to a lookout above Scott Cove
This great little spot gives fantastic views of the cliffs to the east that tower over 260mt above the waves and are the highest coastal cliffs in South Australia.
Cape Borda itself was a fizzer. For the privilege of getting a tour of the lighthouse you were expected to pay $13
We chose to take a photo instead!
We decided to set up camp for the night at Harvey’s Return a little spot that we had passed on the way in and for $6 each we got a nice spot amongst the trees
Harvey’s Return is actually the spot where supplies for the lighthouse at Cape Borda were offloaded from ships back in the 1850’s and then hauled up the hill using a type of horse powered rail system. Those guys were nuts!
Today a steep and rocky track is all that remains and it leads down to a rocky bay where we dropped the lines in for a fish
The rocks here are something unusual
And the track up is bloody steep!
Now, with the fish not biting and a few hours to relax before dark it was time to begin sampling our beer rations that were still icy cold thanks to our thorough preparation. Now, you would think at our age we would know better but one story led to another and soon we were dipping into our second nights ration. To cut a long story short it ended up being one of those nights…
“God I hate being a diabetic AND being pissed..what was my blood sugar again??”
Day 1 Route
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:lurk Along for the ride :deal
The morning after the night before wasn’t too pretty (for me at least) and it took all my strength to down my morning bowl of cereal
But with some asprin at hand it wasn’t long before we were on the road again.
Similar in many ways to the Fleurieu Peninisula , the 155 x 55 km long island has an abundance of small river systems with a number seemingly spring fed. One in particular we passed on our journey back from Harvey’s Return cut under the main road and provided a complete change of landscape.
Around 15kms from Harvey’s Return a turn off south down Shackle Road led us through the Ravine Des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area. This area and the adjacent Flinders Chase National Park protect a large section of the western end of the island. One of the benefits of these parks, and a main draw card for tourist, is that much of the wildlife on the island has been preserved and with no rabbits or foxes present the number of native species is healthy and often seen (although feral deer, goats, pigs and cats are still present!).
One of the common sights sunning themselves on the more isolated roads was the Heath Goanna that grows to about 1.5mt in length
Also quite common is the Echinda, an egg laying mammal (monotreme)
The other two iconic Australian animals found on Kangaroo Island, the Koala and Platypus, were both introduced back in the 1920’s. With no natural predators and an abundance of habitat the population of Koalas exploded to the point where action had to be taken to protect the overall ecosystem. This resulted in quite a bit of controversy back in the late 1990’s when the idea of culling them was raised. The general feeling was, that vision on TV of a cuddly little fella like this
falling from a tree with a bullet in its head was not that conducive to Australian tourism. In their wisdom the powers to be decided on a more radical approach – sterilization! So now they put a noose around their necks and drag them down from the tree tops and give them the chop.. (as well as exporting some back to the mainland)
Once at the end of Shackle Road we entered the Flinders Chase National Park
This is the one of the most popular parts of the island for the general tourist with a few iconic locations down on the coast. However, before we headed down that way we decided to take the 4km Snake lagoon loop walk. This starts off following a trail through trees
Before reaching Rocky River
From there the track follows the river for a kilometre or so before it reaches the sea
It’s an idyllic little spot and well worth the effort for those visiting the island. The other great thing is there are a number of deep pools just back from the beach that gave us an opportunity to cool down and have a wash
(and no they’re not man boobs it just the shadows..)
Once back on the bikes we visited the National Parks Headquarters and paid our $9 each (to enter the park) before hitting the bitumen south. This is a great little run through some windy sections and the evidence of the massive wildfires that swept through the island in 2007 was very evident
Two of the most visited natural attractions on the island are found in this south western corner, namely Remarkable Rocks and Admiral's Arch.
The first of these can be seen in distance as you approach
The exposed granite outcrop has a jumble of rocks that remain perched on top and they have weathered over millions of years in an unusual way
Remarkable really :wink:
Looking back in westerly direction from the Remarkable Rocks, Cape Du Couedic lighthouse is visible in the distance
This really is where the tourists flock (literally by the busload) and the boardwalk leading to Admiral's Arch gives a good idea of what it’s like on a busy day!
The arch itself has formed under the headland through the constant pounding of the waves. I visited this area a few years ago and there were 12mt swells hitting the shoreline (needless to say the ferry was cancelled that day!)
Despite its natural appeal the place does stink a bit, as it’s the home to a large colony of New Zealand fur seals that laze around on the rocks and in the shallows
With our tourist obligations out of the way we headed out of the park and stopped for fuel just past the park entrance at the KI Wilderness Retreat.
Paul’s bike was running in stock form and he’d got almost 300kms from the standard tank (with about a litre to go) that was close to 25km/lt (US 58mpg) pretty good going on a loaded bike!
The price of fuel was pretty outrageous here (about 40% higher than the mainland) but it was a more up market type of place. This was clearly evident in the look I got from reception girl when I went it to pay for the fuel (and I'd had a wash..) :D
Next stop was Vivone Bay
A pretty place where the Harriet River meets the sea midway along a large sandy beach
After poking around for a while it became clear that food was required, so we headed north towards the centre of the island to get a feed at the Parndana Hotel.
And a good feed it was! (notice the lemon squash.. once bitten twice shy :1drink)
After dinner we set off south again back towards the coast to look for a campsite for the night. We bypassed the other iconic tourist location of the island, Seal Bay, as the thought of forking out $27.50 to see these guys (Australian Sealions) on the beach wasn’t that appealing (as I’ve been there quite a few times over the years)
With the sun low in the sky we headed towards D’Estrees Bay and after a bit of searching found an old disused track heading off into the scrub
Soon the tents were pitched right alongside the shore and an early night was had :lol3
Day 2 Route
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I didn't read the whole RR but the pictures look GREAT!!! I promise I'll try ASAP ...
My sister is moving to Australia in a few months ... seems that I'll have to have come there to have a look at your beautiful country!
With an early turn in the previous night we were up before the sun to drop the lines in the water just in front of the tents.
How’s the serenity?
Not much was biting but it was a beautiful morning and we did manage one small whiting
Once breakfast was finished the camp was quickly packed and we headed off.
The plan was to take a longer way back to Penneshaw via some lesser used roads.
Once again the fire damage was evident as we wound our way east
The tracks proved to be little used and passed through a variety of countryside
Once out of the trees I saw this guy hanging by the side of the road looking a little lost.
With no farms in sight I stayed with him while Paul rode back about 6kms to the nearest property to get some help for him. Luckily the farmer knew the owner and was able to come back and take him back home.
With our good deed for the day done we hit the bitumen for a short while before turning off onto the East West Highway near Brown Beach.
We soon turned off again to check out some of the tracks that run down to the coast.
After travelling for quite a way along the first track we ended up coming to a locked gate before the coast and had to turn back. However, a keen eye on the way out saw us find a great little track that led down to the Wilson River and a number of nice looking campsites for future reference
Our second attempt at getting to the coast was a bit more successful but the end of the track was a bit of anticlimax :cry
Backtracking soon saw us come out on the road that leads to the most easterly point of the island at Cape Willoughby.
Once again we baulked at paying $13 but got a pretty close look
You would think with all these lighthouses the ships over the years might have stayed away from the coast. Not so - there's over 50 shipwrecks littered around the island!
Off again slowly making our way back to Penneshaw we wanted to firstly try and get to the Cape at St Albans. The GPS showed a track and we soon found it
But as is the custom in this state it ended in a locked gate. Not to be outdone, we found an adjoining homemade gate hidden on a corner and made our way through
This led to a steep rocky easement with, you guessed it, another locked gate at the bottom:ddog
Finally defeated we picked up the main road and headed around to Antechamber Bay. Here the Chapman River meets the sea
And the mainland can be seen across Backstairs Passage
After spending some time walking along the beach and chatting to some fishermen we finally made the last run into Penneshaw but with an hour to kill we thought we’d check out some 4x4 tracks nearby that the GPS had thrown up.
Things started out ok
But it soon became obvious that no vehicles had been down this way for some time
Still, where there’s a will there’s a way
After passing someone who got stuck here some time ago
It was back towards the terminal just in time to see our ferry on the way over
After completing a 3 point turn
We lined up once more for our trip back to the mainland
With the jetty behind us
it wasn’t long before we reached Cape Jervis and it’s nearby wind farm on the other side
From there a quick sprint (in daylight this time :rofl) saw us back at Paul's farm in no time.
Another great trip on the DR’s:clap
Day 3 Route
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Looks great :thumb
Short trips get posted in Day Trippin' where this thread has been moved.
A question about the bikes - The yellow one sits higher in the stroke of the forks - are they DRZ400 forks?
great report and some beautiful scenery :thumbup
Great website by the way.. I can only imagine some of the stunning shots you could get over there :wink:
Nice one guys :freaky
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