Kangaroo Island – Private Trip – March 2020

Private trip to Kangaroo Island 9-20th March 2020 – Michele and Jim Corbett

We had been looking forward to the High Country trip, but when that was cancelled we booked the ferry to Kangaroo Island. Covid 19 was looming, but not looking too ominous yet and we felt it was still safe to travel. At the time KI was asking for visitors to come and spend money so they could rebuild after the bushfires. They were advertising about being a “covid-free” destination and at least one extra cruise ship stopped there during this time.

Half way to Jervis Bay Jim realised he’d left his wallet at home with all our cash so we had to pick some up on the way. This was his first “brain fade” but there were more to come! The water was not too rough for our trip across, however a bit too cold to stand on the upper deck.

We stayed 2 nights in the Penneshaw caravan park as the weather was quite bad and it gave us some shelter, we enjoyed looking around that end of the island and a terrific feed at the Pub. On leaving Penneshaw, we found the car really struggling up the hill – “oh no” said Jim, “I’ve left the trailer brake on”. We pulled up at the cemetery to let them cool down and had a walk around there – strike 2 for Jim!

Our next camp was American River, a council run campground. It was delightful, clean amenities and sheltered BBQ area and we set up right on the water’s edge, able to watch the birdlife on the water all day long and do a bit of fishing. Then we realised we’d lost a set of keys for the camper. We drove slowly back to Pennesh-aw, watching the road and eventually spotted them in the middle of the road on the town limits, the traffic hadn’t done them any good at all – hat-trick to Jim!

While fishing off the jetty, I saw several large blue crabs which aren’t supposed to be in KI waters. The locals told me they’d only started getting them over the last couple of years. Clearly the water temperatures there have risen enough for them. We’ll take the crab pots next time!

The weather turned bad for a few days with high winds, so we decided to head in-land a little and camped for 3 nights at Discovery Lagoon Caravan & Camping just inland from Emu Bay. It was a great campground; the amenities are all new but made in a rustic manner and there is a great camp kitchen. While camped here we ventured out to Parndana and saw some of the fire devastation at that end of the Island and had a meal in the Pub. We had a great drive out to Cape Gantheaume National Park, a stunning and beautiful windswept area.

Seal Bay is always on our “to do” KI list and it didn’t disappoint; we did the cliff top walk down to the viewing platform and then spent ages just watching the seals from our safe distance. On the way back, we visited Vivonne Bay, also a favourite place of ours. As it was in the burnt area, we decided not to stay there but ventured out for a day trip only. The bay is stunning, and the plant life was starting to come back with new green shoots.

We also camped in Emu Bay council campgrounds for a few nights, which is within walking distance of the jetty. The campgrounds overlook the bay and has fantastic views. We met a survivor from the bush fires, he was working on a seed potato farm on the western end of the island, the farmer asked him to stay and defend the farm. He said that he couldn’t see more than a metre in front of him from the smoke, he lost the house he was living in, he lost his camper, and all his possessions except for his 4WD and 2 dogs who were with him the whole time. He is now working on an Abalone Farm near

Emu Bay and trying to rebuild his life and mental health.
As we enjoyed American River so much, we decided to go back for our last few nights.

Covid-19 things had certainly ramped up during our time on KI, our trip back was very different to the trip coming over. Hand sanitisers everywhere in the terminal, every 2nd seat was taped off and social distancing barriers in front of all counters. We were told that we must both board the ferry in our vehicle, and once parked we would be able to go up to the upper deck for the crossing, however due to the previous vehicle incorrectly stating the length of his car and camper, there was not enough room for us in the allocated spot – so they weaved us through all the upright pillars and parked us in an outside lane. Great driving on Jim’s behalf as there was millimetres to spare on most of the turns, the staff were excellent in directing us…and we didn’t get stuck! However, once we were in our allocated spot there was no room on my side to get out to go on deck – so we sat in our car for the crossing…looking out the review mirror at Penneshaw behind us.

Shortly after we got home, KI asked for people to stay away, they were now worried that if there was an outbreak on the island that it would devastate them.