Into the Outback

Bradley Roper | 10 Oct, 2018

Worldwide Travel Specialist Bradley Roper recently took an authentic trip Down Under for an Inspiring Travel Company tour; discovering Kangaroo Island’s unique wildlife and Flinders Ranges amazing aboriginal history along the way…

Situated off the coast of mainland South Australia, and a little bigger than Mallorca in size, the aptly named Kangaroo Island is more than just a day trip. With over a third of the island protected in nature reserves this stunning island accommodates a wide variety of exciting wildlife, including koalas, wallabies, brushtailed possums, bottle-nosed dolphins, penguins, Australian sea lions, some 267 different types of bird, and of course the island’s namesake, kangaroos.

But as I discovered, Kangaroo Island isn’t just about the wildlife. With over 500km of coastline, pristine beaches, local wines and walking and hiking routes, there’s plenty to enjoy. The historic nature of the island is also fascinating. With over 80 shipwrecks discovered off the coast of Kangaroo Island between the late 1800’s and late 1900’s there are many stories to be told, and little wonder I saw so many lighthouses on my travels.

However, the opportunity to see the island’s wildlife in their natural habitat, including swimming with dolphins, is something that shouldn’t be missed. To give yourself the best chance of discovering the wildlife on this picturesque island, I’d strongly suggest embarking on a group or private guided tour with one of the very well-informed team at ‘Exceptional Kangaroo Island’. Their guides are absolute experts and will educate you about the island’s wildlife, rich history and unique ecology. Their guides are great at animal spotting; not an easy task when the koalas are often found halfway up a tree! During my day and a half on the island I saw seven of the cuddly gum tree-dwellers, but if I hadn’t been with the guides, I wouldn’t have seen any.

There are two ways in which you can get to the island. I took a flight direct from Adelaide into Kingscote Airport (the capital of Kangaroo island), but alternatively you can embark on a two-hour road trip driving down from Adelaide to Cape Jervis followed by a 45-minute ferry.

My stay was based at Southern Ocean Lodge, the only luxury resort on the island and situated along the cliffs in the south-west corner with amazing rugged views of the coastline. Highlights included the sea views from my contemporary suite, and the mouth-watering dishes on the locally inspired menu. This stunning resort is ideally located for exploring too, within close proximity of the protected Flinders Chase National Park, where you’ll find Admirals Arch and Seal Colony, the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse, and Remarkable Rocks, which were formed over 500 million years ago.

North of Adelaide awaits the largest mountain ranges in South Australia and an incredibly scenic natural outback experience. Flinders Ranges, the next stop on my tour, is very much an experiences led destination, where you can embark on specialist guided tours and learn about the land, history, wildlife and conservation projects, all the while surrounded by a peaceful and vast mountainous terrain. It really is a brilliant location to disconnect with the stresses of today’s world, and with the lack of internet connectivity, you may not have much choice!

Aboriginal artefacts unearthed in the Flinders Ranges have been dated back 49,000 years ago, and fossils 600 million years. Exploring on foot and on 4WD tours with local specialist guides are brilliant and educating ways of discovering the historic nature of the land. The wildlife here is also a huge appeal with an abundance of the rare yellowfooted rock wallabies, and also emus. Birdwatching is popular, and the Galah cockatoo with their bright pink chests and erratic flying directions can be spotted frequently. You may even see a wedge tailed eagle which has a huge wing span reaching up to three metres.

Getting to and from the Ranges I would suggest either driving or taking a small aircraft trip from Adelaide. My preferred choice though is the former, ensuring you can stop off at one of the wineries such as Clare or Barossa Valley, where the shiraz grapes are a local speciality.

One of my nights in the area was spent at Rawsley Park Station, which is a working sheep station offering guided experiences throughout the local area and accommodation either in eco villas, or, like myself, in the homestead. Surrounded by amazing views, the homestead is perfectly set up for couples or families offering lots of space, a swimming pool, an inhouse wood-burner and an outside firepit for those chilly al fresco evenings. Just remember to close the gate, as the kangaroos and wallabies are partial to the homestead’s foliage! I then spent my second night at Arkaba. This Wild Bush Luxury property accommodates up to ten guests at a time and is situated on a remote 60,000-acre private wildlife conservancy dedicated to the conservation of Australia’s unique wildlife and birds. This all-inclusive historic homestead was a real highlight of my Australian adventure and I’d really recommend it for a luxurious and authentic outback experience bar none.

On top of the historic nature and wildlife to enjoy there’s still so much more to the Flinders Ranges. You can go hiking, mountain biking, stargazing and even visit the iconic Wilpena Pound, a gigantic amphitheatre formed from the erosion of an ancient mountain range. In fact, I’d strongly advise embarking on the helicopter tour over Wilpena Pound. Due to the vastness of the area the view will offer a real perspective of your surroundings and it’s an incredible experience, especially early in the morning as the sun rises over the mountains and into the deep gorges.

To experience Australia like Bradley, take a look at our South Australia’s Outback and Wine Region’s Self-drive. This Australia travel review first appeared in Other Shores magazine. Take a look at the current issue online.

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