02nd, November 2014
Off the Indian Pacific on a stormy Sunday afternoon in Adelaide, we are back to our favourite little Aussie city! So stoked :-)
Time to get settle in at the YHA Central we know well already, the good news is that they have renovated double rooms and the staff is always as friendly and helpful.
A week to explore
The Eyre Peninsula
1. An Australian Safari in the Gawler Ranges
Not much time here, in the next morning, we pick up a 4WD and off we go to the Eyre Peninsula, a place we couldn't visit last time, lack of time. It's a long day driving on straight roads with not much going on but we are very much looking forward to going to the Gawler Ranges National Park for a couple of days.I heard this place is breath taking.
After 7 hours, we swap sealed highway for sandy road, we come into the national park. A few kilometres later, we arrive at destination: the exclusive and remote Kangaluna Camp, run by the passionate Geoff and his wife Irene. We also meet the young and lovely Jayde, who will be our wicked tour guide around the region for the next couple of days.
They have 3 luxury and spacious tents and a special “swagon” which is a old wagon converted in a beautiful galaxy suite!! You can open the roof and sleep under the stars. Ok this is not really camping, it's the perfect definition of glamping! In our “tent”, all the comfort, cosy bed, warm duvet, shower and toilet. The decoration is unique and simple using the wood of the surroundings and other outback items. A local artist has also created the duvet covers, painting native birds or animal, clever and unique. From the terrace, we have an open view on the bush, emus are walking through, the roos are hopping, parrots are flying, this place is heaven!!
It's a privilege for us to be staying with Geoff, Irene and Jayde. Being their guests is awesome, after a few minutes we feel like home, their relaxing vibe is something we appreciate. Easy to forget about everything once you are out there! Slowly we try to leave our phones and laptops behind and just enjoy this wonderful place and moment.
Yummy breakfasts and delicious dinners are served in the communal area, a fire is set outside for those who would like to stargazing. The days are spent out, driving through the park exploring. We didn't know much about the region but believe me, there is so much to be amazed of and I can honestly say that I fell in love with this country.
Out there, you see the wildlife in their real environment. At the camp, you live and share the land with them, they are free and this makes such a difference. Every day it's the excitement to cross emus and roos! End of October, we are lucky to observe the emus with their chicks, often at least 4-5 with the daddy (he raises the babies). These birds are totally crazy and probably the most stupid animals I've seen but they are native species and are amazing to look at running through the yellow fields! Every single thing can basically scare them off so better be camera ready to get a snap of them! The babies are so cute!!
The female kangaroos were having a few joeys too, great timing for us to visit! They crossed the road, jumped in every direction up 40 km/h, they are very impressive and powerful! This is a real kangaroo country, impossible not to see them! And you not only see one species of them but 3 different ones: the western grey, the red and the euro, how cool is that?
Landscape wise, Lake Gairdner, which is a vast salt lake, was a big highlight of our trip. It was a first for us to see a salt lake and it felt like seeing snow but not being cold!!Indeed it was not less than 35°C out there at this time of year! Jayde drove us there and recommended us to get rid of our shoes for a moment.
The lake was dry, no water left at the moment, walking barefoot on the crunchy salt was a pleasant feeling! You could expect it being like ice or snow because it's hard, white and bright, but it's smooth and humid on some parts and crunchy on others giving you a scrub to your feet!
Hard to describe the sensation but don't miss it out if you come here!
This location is insanely beautiful and we couldn't believe it's not more famous in Australia! We were totally alone there!! For us honestly, it was as impressive as seeing Uluru. Photo opportunity are endless. Here we share a few shots with you but we have about 600 taken on that day!
You can contemplate and reflect here. What a memorable day!
Sturt Lake is another but smaller salt lake, located just next to the camp. We watch the sunset over there, it looked like we were on a ice floe again! But then we saw water left on one side of it.
Wow! The reflection were simply perfect, this is an out of this world kind of landscapes!!
I won't tell much about the crazy geology happening there 30 million of years ago because it's complex and I'm not an expert but we were blown away by the contrast offered by the national park. Salt lakes, the ochre pit, stones and sand formations! If your hobby is to collect precious stones, then you have to come here! You won't be disappointed. Quartz is found in various variation and colours!! Yoohoo.
The hardest is not to get there, it's actually to leave...But as we've learnt over the past year, every thing comes to an end...
2. Next Stop: PORT LINCOLN
We head off to Port Lincoln, 2 hours and a half from the camp. Here it's all about the ocean (fishing, water activities and seafood).
If you have a car, there is some beautiful landscapes to go explore located less than 1 hour from the city centre. Sand dunes, white sandy wild beaches, huge limestone cliffs, koalas in their natural environment, wow! What a good surprise! We even saw a crazy emu running down the sand dune to the beach and back to the bush!! I told you they are silly.
A small city with a lot on offer. But what makes Port Lincoln's reputation? People from all around the world come to Port Lincoln to get up close with one of the biggest marine predators...the Great White Shark. Shark cage diving is indeed a big business here, not a surprise as this is one of the only two places in the world where you can actually do that (with South Africa).
Adventure Bay Charters: Shark Cage Diving with the Great White
This Friday morning, we are up early to board our vessel for the day. Direction the Neptune islands, which has one of the world's largest population of great sharks! It's a 3 hour journey to get there and you can feel the excitation among the tourists.
So to make this clear, I chose to go with Adventure Bay Charters for a reason, they don't feed the sharks or use baits. They are the only tourism company who doesn't in Port Lincoln. So why not?
It's complicated and false to affirm that feeding the sharks will change their behaviours, but one thing is sure, using baits causes damages to the sharks. As they get aggressive, they try to attack the cage and most of the time end up biting the cage, running against it fastly and get hurt at the face...this is all done for the show.
This is not my philosophy and even less what I want to promote. As a consequence, I chose Adventure Bay instead of Calypso. I like Matt 's ideas and its sustainable way to operate his business. He respects the sharks and aims to educate people about them, not scaring them!
Many people don't realise that, they just want the show and don't care about the animals, which I think it's pretty sad. Human impacts...that's why I tell you about this.
No need of feeding them, the sharks are around on this site and they are coming to check you out anyway, bait or not! They are very inquisitive creatures.
What we do on this vessel is that we play music underwater! Did you know that this could attract a shark? They do have an excellent hearing sense. Matt and the crew told us that every shark has his favourite song! They also have noticed that depending on which song is played, the sharks will adopt different behaviour. Last year, anytime they put “Get lucky” underwater, a shark was jumping out of the water and this straight away!! How cool is that?!? And music is great not only for the sharks but nice for you to listen at while encaged!!
So if you have a song you love, advise Matt and make sure to observe how the sharks react to it!
Our day was great, we were only 14 aboard, we all got to sea the sharks:-) and the big plus on this vessel is that you can go in the cage as many times as you want. Not many people travelling, four can fit in the cage at the same time, and because it's freezing cold, believe me you are happy to do just 10 minutes now and then! I liked this freedom during the day, because on the other boat, you have your 40 min dive allowed at a moment of the day, if no shark is to be seen then, you won't see one. Whereas Matt makes sure every one has got his chance.
At 3pm, we were all happy with what we saw and so we could head back home, have a hot shower and share our stories!
The exciting news for the ones like me, the coldies, is that Matt will have from December 2014 a brand new operating boat for shark cage diving. This one will be bigger, will have a larger cage fitting 6 people and on top of that will be offering a glass cage. So that mean you will be able to watch the sharks from under the boat while staying dry and warm. Love the idea!! :-)
Shall I be back soon to test it and tell you all about it?!? That would be awesome!
More info here:
Price: $395 + $100 if sharks are seen from the cage / full day tour.
Adventure Bay Charters: Swim with the Sea Lions
Another must do experience and the main reason for what we came here is to swim with a more graceful marine creature, the Australian Sea Lion. This animal is just adorable that we could miss this opportunity out!
Again you can choose between a few operators to book your adventure with.
We went with Adventure Bay Charter again and we appreciate that we were only 10 people aboard this day! The skipper told us we were lucky, thanks to beautiful weather conditions, we were able to get to a conservation park island, a bit more remote, but worth the journey she said. The thing is that there, they can't go often and as a consequence, the sea lions are not that used to interacting with humans...So by the end of the tour, we did almost 2 hours in, 2 hours back to just spend an hour with the animals, which were quiet and cautious...Don't get me wrong, it was still an amazing wildlife encounter but not exactly like we had it imagined.
Most of the times, they come very close, kiss your mask, swim under you and are so excited to interact with you. As for us, it was not that at all, a pity...another excuse to come back!
Anyway, it's something we could do again and again and again as for every wildlife encounters, it's always different! And also because we never got enough of this delightful puppy of the sea!
More info here:
Price: $195 / half day tour
Travel from Adelaide to the Gawler ranges is a long drive, plan on a minimum of 7 hours.
It's not a nice one, just highways, straight roads.
If you wish to visit Kangaluna Camp, the best is to fly from Adelaide to Port Lincoln, then Geoff will organise a pick up and drive you back to the camp. You can book with him the adventures you wish according to your schedule and interest. Then, you can fly back to Adelaide from Port Lincoln again. This return flight will save you two travel days, and two days are precious when you are on a timing to visit Australia.
Port Lincoln is South Australia's seafood and fishing capital, the town has a few excellent specialised restaurants. It would be missing something out not to go.
We recommend having the tasting menu at Del Giorno's and having the blue fin tuna steack at Port Lincoln Hotel.
Always bring a small jacket and a raincoat even in summer. In the Gawler Rangers, the nights are cool (8 °C at the end of October), as for Port Lincoln, located at the ocean, storms are frequent.
Enjoy your time in SA! It's wonderful!
Special Merci to:
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