Dateline: February 15, 2015 – Kangaroo Island – Meet The Koala

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We left the Lambert Estate Retreat headed to Jim and Pam’s to purchase some wine for the drive to Sydney. DSC_0926We purchase two bottles each of the unreleased sparkling chardonnay/pinot noir, Thoroughbred Cabernet and Commitment Shiraz. Pam said we needed to take a bottle of the sparkling Shiraz as a gift.

We headed down to the ferry at Cape Jarvis through the Adelaide Hills route to Hahndorf. We stopped in town and went to tourist Information. They told us the best local place for lunch so we started exploring the stores along the street. Hahndorf is the first city planned for non-British immigrants and is the oldest German town in Australia. The fifty-four founding families escaped religious persecution and arrived in 1838. The ship’s master, Captain Dirk Hahn helped secure 240 acres rent free for a year, the settlement was named after him Hahndorf (Hahn’s Town). We strolled through the local shops, candle makers, leather makers and beautiful German clocks and stopping for lunch at a small cafe.

Arriving at the ferry terminal we waited to board the 4:00 boat. It was very cloudy so the crossing, which took 45 minutes was a little rough and not much to see.

Kangaroo Island has a rich history. Mathew Flinders, a british explorer found the island in 1802, they were no inhabitants but they found fresh food, kangaroos. The subsequent arrivals to the island began whaling and sealing, at one point almost exhausting the whale population. At different times the English, French and Americans were in charge of Kangaroo Island, the Americans left after repairing their ship hence the name of the American River in Kangaroo Island. There were many shipwrecks around the island, many at the Cape Du Couedic so a lighthouse was erected. The Lighthouse at Cape Du Couedic was not started until 1909. The materials for the building, and later the goods for the keepers, were supplied from nearby Weirs Cove. At first they were carried 90 metres up the cliffs until 1907 when a flying fox was used.

Weirs Cove
Weirs Cove


We arrived in Penneshaw and headed to Kingscote. Much of the road to our motel was lined with eucalyptus and gum trees, where we would be staying for the next two nights. We arrived at our motel and decided to sit outside our room and have cheese, sausage and drinks for dinner. We finished the 4 open bottles from our first night with Pam and Jim at Lambert Estate, which led to additional wine and a few drinks. DSC_0498A gentleman staying in the room next door came out when he heard the laughter and joined up. His name is Terry Modern,  he was from Victor Harbor about an hour from Port Jervis. He was there with a number of his mates for the Kangaroo Island Cup Carnival (Horse racing for 3 days and parties). We did have a great time talking about our countries and politics, interesting, it is the same bull shit!

We met for breakfast about 8:30 and headed to our first stop at the Pandama Wildlife Refuge. We were excited, having been told by a French Canadian group the night before how wonderful it was, we paid a small fee for admission we headed for the Kangaroo area where we could go in a fenced in area with the kangaroos. It was a blast.

The Kangaroos on the island are smaller and darker color that the ones on the mainland. At 11 a.m. they allowed the visitors to go into the are with the Koala . All were sleeping.

Dana, the owner and a wildlife conservationist took the time to tell us all about the small  fuzzy mammal.DSC_0548 As most know it is a marsupial, which means the baby is born into a pouch. After giving birth, a female koala carries her baby in her pouch for about six months. When the infant emerges, it rides on its mother’s back or clings to her belly, accompanying her everywhere until it is about a year old. These plump, fuzzy mammals while they are “cute as a bear”, are no relation to a bear, in fact they are related to Kangaroos. Today the natural predators of the koala do not make a significant impact on wild populations the real threat is lack of food or drought. Disease is part of the natural history of the koala. There are four common koala diseases caused by the chlamydia organism: conjunctivitis which can cause blindness, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and reproductive tract infections, which can cause female infertility. Dana is working with other scientists in Australia to try to breed out this disease by producing koala’s that are immune to the disease. On the island there are 16,000 . Of those 10,000 have been sterilized to control the population. Turns out the island can only handle about that many Koala’s with the amount of foliage available.

Koala’s are not native to the island and about a dozen were brought there many years ago and at one point there were as many as 26,000. Koala’s live about 12-18 years in the wild and longer years in captivity because they are not stressed looking for food..

The Koala’s  at the center are rescue’s the two 18 month old “bears”  were brought to the center when they were found.

Either their mothers had been killed or they were abandoned. Dana raised them herself in a burlap bag to simulate the pouch with special formula so they think she is their mother! It was a great experience and very informative. DSC_0550Peter gave the Koala a hug, see the resemblance!

Dana also told us about Kangaroo families. A family is called a MOB. Each mob has a single breeding male, a number of females and the joey’s. Another male may be allowed in the mob as long as he does not try to breed with the females.  After feeding some of the kangaroos we departed from the center on to our next stop Admirals Arch, Weirs Cove and the Remarkable Rocks.

Driving around Kangaroo Island you must be careful not to hit the wild animals, kangaroos and possums, the driving is very monotonous to say the least, it all looks the same with very little signage, or any homes or farms at least ones you can see from the road.

We arrived at the Flinders Chase visitor center to register for the drive to the arch. When we got out of the car there were a number of Koala’s in the trees right above us, quite a sight.

We grabbed a bite to eat then started the drive down to the Remarkable Rocks, the Admirals Arch and Weirs Cove. It was a long drive down but we’ll worth it, the rock was different and the arch was magnificent.


We concluded our adventure for the day and started back to the motel, executing our plan to stop at the grocery store and purchase cooked chicken and some bread for dinner, then back to the room for some wine and food. Terry joined us again for more conversation and drinks, fun evening.

We got up early the next morning for some breakfast and headed back to Pennshaw to catch the ferry back to the mainland and the drive to Robe.