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
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