Kangaroo Island can be thought of as a huge zoo with kangaroos, koalas, sea lions and many other four-legged friends and crawlers - only that the animals live completely free and mostly in peace. On an island about as green as Ireland and rough as rocky as the Cape of Good Hope. With Caribbean-like beaches and a small Sahara. In short: I haven't envied critters for a long time.
Early in the morning when the kangaroos wake up
It is still dark when Mark von Groovy Grape Getaways picks up the small group in Adelaide around five in the morning. Mark, this is an Australian in his early 60s, cut from the Australia picture book. A handsome outback, the Aussie hat looks like the banker suit and tie. His accent is broad, all girls immediately become "doll" or "love". In the pastel-colored light of the almost rising sun, we head south towards Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu peninsula, about 110 kilometers away.
"This is a moment when the kangaroos are still active and looking for food," explains Mark. And indeed: they jump on the fields dozing in the golden sun, which run like waves onto the horizon. I'm still new to Australia and still can't get enough of the bounces that seem to be the same level as normal field mice for the teenagers in my group who have been doing Work Travel for a year. If a mother jumps off, the little one on the heel follows it.
There is still only one ferry operator across to Kangaroo Island, Australia's third largest island, 13 kilometers from the mainland - the Sealink. The crossings are correspondingly expensive, but according to Mark, there will soon be a new connection, which should reduce the return trip to AUD 50. There is a lot to do before getting on the ferry: All suitcases and boxes full of provisions must be loaded from the bus into a special trailer for luggage, the bus must be empty on the ship. As so often, the question of why remains open.
More animals than humans
About 4,500 people are said to live on Kangaroo Island, animals are very likely more. Upon arrival, the island opens up a white sandy beach and Caribbean blue sea, only that it is a little bit cooler - especially in April, the South Australian autumn. And the beauty is not as smooth as a postcard as in many places in the Caribbean, but rubbed and chafed by the Pacific.
Mark tells us to buy alcohol for the "Barbie" - BBQ - in the evening in the small town of Penneshaw at the ferry pier, because after that there is scopping with shopping. Or at least there is only honey or everything where you can put honey in, such as ice cream and soaps - at the Honey Beehive, the apiary or farm of Peter Davis. Born in Kangaroo Islander, he was one of the first organic honey producers in Australia and is now one of the largest, producing around 100 tons of honey a year. The legacy of the Ligurian honey bees, which are responsible for the sticky goods, is to be protected and promoted.
After the queen bee, the first animal I see is unfortunately not a kangaroo, but a cheeky lizard basking on the street. Soon street is out of the question when Mark turns into a red-sand off-road and goes into the iron in front of a billabong in front of which a table and benches are waiting for picnics. "Billabong comes from the Aboriginal >
One that the water doesn't itch at all is a koala that is stuck between branches high in the tree and shows us the very best in the best lick-me-in-the-ass manner. The Aborigines understood that koalas are not particularly thirsty, because in their >
The sea lion beach
It feels a bit strange to stand on a beach where sea lions wallow in the sun instead of people and where sea lions splash in the waves instead of children. Fittingly, the bay is also called Seal Bay and is part of a national park, where a conservation program includes research on Australian sea lions, one of six surviving sea lion species in the world. You can only go to the beach with a conservationist who takes care that photography addicts do not get too close to the animals or do other mischief. "One of the greatest dangers for the sea lions is fishermen, whom they accidentally go online," explains the guide. By the 1950s, the animals had even been used as shark bait.
The sea lions go about their everyday life completely unaffected by the few visitors on the beach. A particularly active, pregnant female, who is just emerging from the sea, nudges her sleeping buddy, receives an annoyed grunt and throws herself resignedly into the sand next to him. A swanky male, who seems to have the sea lion equivalent of having too much beer, roars at a pretty, slender female like a mature marriage. And the female leaves the screamer completely to the left like a hardened wife. Learned something again: No matter whether a man or a sea lion, what a guy has to feed goes in one ear, out the other.
The night on the farm
Spend the night in the Flinders Chase Farm directly at the Flinders Chase National Park, a working farm where many young people from all over the world have landed as part of their Work Travel program. The sky is now mourning for us with full force, and I feel sorry for the soaking-wet kids who come home muddy and frozen from the potato harvest. Most of them sleep in multi-bed dorms, from which a clearly definable smell of smoke flows after a few hours. You have to come up with other thoughts with so much hard work.
Meanwhile, Mark turns on the Barbie. We cut the vegetables, he fillets kangaroo, beef and chicken. We sit in the open kitchen, which consists of a long wooden table and benches, and eat ourselves freshly grilled while Deubel comes pounding on the corrugated iron roof. "Actually, I wanted to go out with you again and watch kangaroos," Mark regrets. Since the animals are nocturnal, this is the best time to watch them. When another avalanche pours over the roof, the last one, who still felt some motivation to watch the kangaroo, refrained from this wet pleasure. Only much later, when most of them have already crawled into their double-decker beds, does a wallaby jump into the room as a matter of course, lick it out of the dog's water bowl and leave.
At 6.30 a.m., just before sunrise, my bladder forces me to go to the toilet outside. I look drowsy over to some white sheets that swing a few meters further in the wind. And I don't believe my eyes: two kangaroos are jumping around between the towels, looking for food on the floor. They stare at me as if I really have lost nothing of their laundry, but then decide to let the sheets down. I run across the fields hoping to see more kangaroos, and in fact it bounces in the bushes every now and then, but none of them feel model-allures for my camera. Unlike the fiery red sun, which peeps across the horizon behind the meadows a few minutes later and heralds the day as gently as if the rain from the evening before had never happened.
After pancakes, which Mark also bakes us on the barbie, we head out to the Flinders Chase National Park, where we hope on the Koala Walk to see more of the not so cuddly cuddly bears and kangaroos.
The first koalas are not long in coming, they even seem really active this morning by pulling up on branches and reaching for eucalyptus leaves. "It's normal after the rain," says Mark. I immediately think of one or the other person, whom I would like to pour a few buckets of water over my head to see if this triggers a similar activity flash.
Numerous kangaroos are lively too, their dark, slightly fuzzy fur shines in the sun. "The island kangaroos are a subspecies of the Western Gray kangaroo," says Mark. "Because of the isolation, the animals here developed a little differently, they are smaller, darker and have longer fur than the kangaroos on the mainland." What a privilege to watch these typically Australian animals eating up close! Better than any beep that sounds from my home telly.
The west around Flinders Chase National Park is the most visited part of the island, and with good reason: Near the Cape du Couedic lighthouse, a long staircase leads down the cliffs, past rocks, on which so-called long-nosed fur seals bask, to Part with boy. But that's not even the highlight - this is the Admirals Arch, an archway at the bottom of the cliffs that looks frayed by the sea and wind, before which every Kangaroo Island tourist has to be photographed.
The Remarkable Rocks, the remarkable stones, are just as turbulent a ten-minute drive away. And they are really remarkable, the almost red-colored granite rocks that have been gnawing at time for 200 million years, and that directly above the roaring sea. Not an easy fate. And yet! As with everything and everyone who has to fight and on whose surface this fight is reflected, I find the rocks of intoxicating beauty and uniqueness. So much nicer than something that is still smooth and fresh, because these rocks have something to tell. They start the engine of my imagination, are rough at the same time and baby-soft in other places. Visitor magnet or not - this place will be one of my favorite places on the island.
At lunch picnic, this time we are surrounded by hungry wallabies and kangaroos who, like street dogs, hope for something to eat that is falling off. Madness! You shouldn't feed them anyway.
I am already completely filled with the natural wonders of this island, but the kids all want one more - to Little Sahara. These are sand dunes at Vivonne Bay, which extend over about two square kilometers. Sandboarding or sand surfing is popular there.
Well, after my volcano boarding in Nicaragua this is of course peanuts, but I'll try it anyway. The small sand hill reminds me of the snowy hill descents in the Bergisches Land on my children's sled, only that things progressed a little faster. The boards move on the still wet sand, as if they had been pulled over asphalt full of freshly spewed chewing gum. With a bit of momentum, I go down at some point, some kids are left behind.
I'm sitting on the ferry again, sandy and happy. I could spend many more days on Kangaroo Island, in this magical place where nature is still the boss. Despite many visitors. I wish the island that it stays that way for a long time. Think of the sluggish koalas, kangaroos between fresh laundry, and the fighting couple of sea lions. The sun sets behind the Pacific, I smile at her and toast her with a honey yoghurt drink from the bee farm. For many, many more days like this.