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Jake Mix is an agricultural business senior and Mustang News study abroad columnist.
After spending a few weeks in Australia, I was beginning to get a little frustrated. Many things I was looking forward to were not coming to fruition. The toilets do not spin the opposite direction as I was led to believe — instead, the water doesn’t spin at all. It just shoots straight down the bowl. Also, I had yet to see any kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, emus, dolphins, crocodiles or sharks. Luckily, nearly all of that changed when we took a trip out to Kangaroo Island.
Kangaroo Island is a major tourist destination in Southern Australia, and the third biggest island in Australia. It is home to a lot of interesting creatures and intriguing sites. Unfortunately, the only way to get to the island is by the SeaLink Ferry, which leaves at 9 a.m. every day … which means we needed to wake up at 5 a.m. in order to board a bus to take us to the ferry. But the early morning wake-up call proved to be worth it pretty early on when we were greeted by a pod of dolphins casually swimming alongside the ferry on the way to the island.
Once we reached the island, our first stop was Raptor Domain, a bird and reptile sanctuary where we attended an interactive show. Two handlers came out with various interesting creatures, including different snakes and lizards and some very charming birds such as Rex, the wedge-tailed eagle and my personal favorite, Casper, the friendly barn owl.
After the show at Raptor Domain ended, we were whisked away to a beach in Vivonne Bay — one of the most pristine beaches I’ve been to. The sand was sparkling white and the water was crystal clear. After swimming around for a bit and playing some games with everybody on the beach, we were getting tired, so we headed to our lodgings for a quick afternoon break. We were staying at Flinders Chase Farm, which felt a lot like a summer camp because we had eight to 12 bunk beds in each room and communal bathrooms.
After the quick pit stop, we rushed off to yet another beach. This one wasn’t nearly as spectacular as Vivonne Bay, but it did have a few highlights to it. It had a protected cove in one region which proved ideal for a little snorkeling. After going out and paying a visit to all the fishies, a couple of us discovered there was a large mountain of sand at one end of the beach. Being the intrepid young thrill-seekers we are, we grabbed a couple of boogie boards and went sand boarding. We tried going down every which way: lying down, standing up, sitting back, two-person tandem, three-person tandem — we tried it all. Some people took a few nasty spills, only to pop right back up and give it another go. We partook in this exhilarating activity for awhile until we were herded off the beach for dinner at the barbecues which overlooked the entire cove.
This couldn’t have happened at a more perfect time, since right as we were back at the dinner tables, someone spotted something off in the distance. Underneath a tree approximately 200 meters away, there they were — those furry little T-Rex/deer hybrids the world knows as kangaroos. We had finally spotted kangaroos. Unfortunately, because of the distance, none of my pictures turned out, so I couldn’t get proper documentation of this monumental event. It did, however, give us something to watch as we ate our sausage and chicken dinner.
On our way back to Flinders Chase Farm, our bus came to a screeching halt. We all wondered what could possibly be going on as those in the front of the bus rushed to the door to get off. Without knowing what all the commotion was about, I jumped up and ran outside. I immediately understood why everyone was in such a hurry to get out … there was a koala just chilling in the headlights of our bus. He waited around for 30 seconds to a minute before quickly scurrying off into bushes on the roadside.
Back at Flinders Chase Farm, a couple of us stayed up to play cards. I retired early because I felt like I was being eaten alive by mosquitos. On my way back to my room, though, I spotted yet another glorious Australian critter. Sitting right next to our building and bathing in the light was a cute little wallaby. It looked like a smaller kangaroo with shorter legs. Unfortunately, when I tried to snap a picture of the wild beast on my phone, I had the flash on and it scared the little bugger away. Even though I didn’t get any pictures of these creatures, it was still a treat to see.
The next day proved to be just as interesting as the first on Kangaroo Island. After a delicious breakfast, we boarded our buses and headed to Flinders Chase National Park. We drove around the coast, overlooking lots cliffs that dropped off into beaches that looked just as gorgeous as Vivonne Bay. Eventually, we ended up at Remarkable Rocks, a series of massive boulders which rest right on a cliffside that overlooks the ocean. They were truly spectacular to see and try to climb up.
Once again, we were offered a chance to see some koalas, this time at a koala sanctuary. It was unique in that it wasn’t a guided tour, but were turned loose into a grove of eucalyptus trees and told to find the creatures, which proved to be quite easy. Unfortunately, it was approximately 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit, for those of you unfamiliar with the Metric system), so the koalas were too hot to move around.
After spending some time in the eucalyptus grove, we headed to Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery, which uses eucalyptus trees for a very different purpose. Through a refined process, they turn the trees into eucalyptus oil, which smells a lot like Vicks VapoRub.
Our last stop on Kangaroo Island was supposed to be for fish and chips on the beach, but oddly enough after the hot weather, it started pouring rain. We wound up having dinner in a local pub before boarding the ferry to head back to Adelaide. My time on Kangaroo Island will certainly prove to be one of the most memorable parts of this trip, and if you ever find yourself in South Australia, you have to make a trip out to see it.