We were fortunate enough to be able to travel on holiday for 3 weeks. We spent the first two weeks driving from the North Island to the South Island of New Zealand. It was gorgeous there. We also loved how few crowds there were. After ending in Queenstown, NZ, we then hopped onto a plane to spend a couple days in Sydney.
Sydney is a city that I think I could move to. The weather was gorgeous. The city itself is gorgeous. It has whatever you may need there. What more can you ask for? (I guess for family to be closeby!)
I loved Sydney and am so glad that we visited there. We stayed in the CBD which was a good spot for us to easily access the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. So we got to see the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge during the day and lit up at night. Both were cool to see. We also were in the Rocks to explore food in that neighborhood.
I loved all the parks that Sydney had…and I loved all the different birds that you found. I’ve never seen cockatoos in the wild like that. We went to the Royal Botanic Gardens and saw (heard first–boy are they loud!) so many of these gorgeous, big birds. I thought someone was putting on a show at first before I realized that these are wild birds here. Who knew?! I also loved watching the ibises. While I went to a walk-in aviary while visiting KL, the city of Sydney is like its very own walk-in aviary. It was cool.
Ben and I opted to do the Hop on Hop off bus with a two day pass to help us get around the city more. This was the perfect option for us and we got to see a lot.
For Day 1, We went up the Sky Tower for some nice views of the city.
We also explored some other areas of the city too that we probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
For Day 2, we first we to Centennial Park (our uber driver couldn’t understand why we would want to go there but I am so glad that we did). Again, it was like a walk-in aviary–so cool! Not only were the birds amazing, the bats were so cool! I’ve never seen bats like that. They were fruit bats that were HUGE, and there were SO many of them. It was loud with all their noises. So many seemed to have trouble getting comfy to sleep. Seeing those alone totally makes going to Centennial Park worth it.
After that we headed over to Coogee Beach to do the famous Bondi to Coogee Beach in reverse. (Again, another reason why this would be a cool city to live in!). This was such a pretty walk with different places to stop along the way for either a break or a bite to eat. I loved all the different options for beaches and swimming.
Overall, Sydney was a cool city to visit. We ended our time by doing a short cruise to get other views of the city. Oh, and we opted against going to the Taronga Zoo which we heard was really good because our next stop would be to Kangaroo Island where we would see some of those animals in the wild!
After our two full days in Sydney, we took a three hour plane ride to Adelaide. From there, we rented a car (long line to get it-oy!) and did a just under 2 hour drive to Cape Jervis where we would take a 45 minute ferry ride to Kangaroo Island.
Let me just say that the was my favorite part of the trip!! While New Zealand was as gorgeous as you can imagine, I just fell in love with Kangaroo Island (more on that in a bit!).
Kangaroo Island, aka KI, is the third largest island in Australia.
Since we wouldn’t have much time while in Adelaide, we wanted to make the most of what time we did have. After we got our car, we went to the center of the city to their Central Market/Farmer’s Market. There we got some lunch-nice fresh sandwiches and some yummy desserts. We were right next to Chinatown but had no interest in exploring that anymore, so we headed to Cape Jervis.
Cape Jervis to Penneshaw
On our drive from Adelaide to Cape Jervis, we saw our first kangaroos in the wild–so exciting for us!! Since we had a bit of time before we had to catch the ferry, we drove to the nearby Blowhole Beach (glad we got a vehicle with four wheel drive!). Here is where we saw so many more kangaroos plus some cool parrots.
We then stopped to check out the Cape Jervis Lighthouse before getting on our ferry. It was pretty windy (our whole trip had a lot of wind actually), so the waves were rolling! I can’t believe that people (and their kids) actually went outside to stand on the deck. It was rocking too much for me to do that. Anyways, we arrived at dark and were off to see the penguins!
I was really hoping to see some penguins while on this trip. It’s still early in the season for the penguins to be returning to the area but we did manage to see two in the wild! That was cool. They were Little Penguins aka Blue Penguins aka Fairy Penguins. After seeing them, we made it to our hotel in Penneshaw.
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
The next morning we got up early to head to the middle of the island to see the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park. Here, they rescue animals that may have been hit by a car or abandoned by their moms. I think we were the first people there and the ones who stayed the longest (it was so cool!!).
I signed up to hold a koala (yay!!). This is one of the few places left in Australia where you can actually hold a koala. Since I wasn’t holding the koala until later, we walked around the park in the meantime. We saw joeys. We saw so many cool birds–like the kookaburra. We, of course, saw lots of koalas! Oh-everything was just so cute.
When you buy your ticket to enter, they give each person a bag of food to be able to hand-feed the kangaroos and wallabies, which I, of course, did (twice!!)!. The first time I was feeding the kangaroos, I was the only one there, so there was a little fighting trying to get the food from me (they have some long claws!!). Really, the ones was just keeping my hand to himself. The second time, they were all sleeping but I found one (and then another one came) who I fed. The wallabies were all sweet. So much smaller than the kangaroos and more rodent looking.
What I loved about this place (besides being able to hold a koala and being able to hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies) is that they had the different animal keepers come out to talk about the different animals. We visited one show where the guy talked about the dingos. It was quite interesting. And it was fascinating seeing the pack leader, Thor, put his entire mouth over the head of another dingo to keep him in line. We also saw a show about the Little Penguins who were just the cutest swimming around. And man, they eat a pretty large fish whole! We also got to learn more about koalas. At this point, we were invited in to pet the koalas. That was cool.
Atfer this, I got my opportunity to hold a koala. The guide was great (especially since she let me go before the large group of Chinese tourists). I held the koala and some eucalyptus leaves to keep him happy. He was one of the larger koalas weighing around 20+ pounds. We were instructed not to hold their rib cages as they are sensitive. So after a little bit, that 20 pounds got heavy in one hand! It was also nice that Ben was able to jump in the picture too.
Now, I’ve had pictures with a snow fox, a panda, and a koala (plus kangaroos and wallabies)–pretty cool! I’m a huge animal lover, so I think this is part of the reason why I loved this part of the trip so much.
Hanson Bay Wildlife Center
After spending all morning at the KI Wildlife Center, we made our way to the other side of the island. We decided to stay at one of the cabins (fortunately we were able to book one of the modern cabins!) belonging to Hanson Bay Wildlife Center. We checked in with them to get the key (and to buy something to eat for dinner-glad they had some ravioli premade!) before going to our cabin.
Again, so glad we had the four wheel drive. There are just a few main roads on the island that are paved. The rest are dirt roads–like the road to our cabin.
We arrived at our cabin and let me just say—wow! That cabin was amazing. The view was breathtaking. I so wish we had more than two nights there. It was modern and updated with a gorgeous kitchen and large bathroom. The views were everything. And with a short five minute walk down to the beach-it was perfect. Plus, it was like having the whole beach pretty much to yourself.
Being on the island and on the remote part of it, we had zero internet/phone. Fortunately, I had things planned out already…and can still read a map.
That night, we headed back to the Wildlife Center for their nocturnal walking tour. There was got to see kangaroos, wallabies, an echidna (looks like a porcupine), and koalas (we even saw a koala on the ground walking to a new tree). On the drive back, we also saw possums (which look a little more like a raccoon).
The next day we woke to drive to Flinders Chase National Park.
Flinders Chase National Park
We got up early and made the short drive over to Flinders Chase. We decided to start at The Remarkables, a rock formation, and go from there. It was empty when we got there (some just before us and then just after us), so it was great.
After visiting The Remarkables, we drove to Admirals Arch. We first saw the Cape Du Couedic Lighthouse and then went to see the NZ fur seal colony. It was so fun watching the seals. There were some babies learning how to swim in the pools of water on the rocks. There were also some huge ones trying to claim their space. Pretty area.
We did another quick stop at Weirs Cove where they kept the supplies for the families of those working for the lighthouse.
We stopped at the Flinders Chase National Park Center to grab some lunch before taking a nature walk from there. While we didn’t have to work so much about snakes and spiders in New Zealand, they were definitely on our minds in Australia. Fortunately, we didn’t encounter any. We did the short walk to see if we could spot anymore koalas in the wild–which we certainly did! We saw koalas, a goanna (a large lizard that we thought was a snake at first when we just saw the tail!), and a kangaroo.
After that walk, we then went to do the Platypus walk to try and spot a platypus! Unfortunately, we didn’t see a platypus but we did see a cool bird in the platypus pond catch and eat a fish.
Hanson Bay Wildlife Center–Take 2 and Take 3!
For the last part of the day, we went back to the Hanson Bay Wildlife Center to do the Koala and Wallaby Walk. Because we had so much fun seeing all of the koalas, we came back the next morning too!
There are around 50,000 koalas on the island. We would spot 20 plus a day…not bad. It was just so cool looking up into the trees for the koalas (and then looking for them on the ground). It was also interesting hearing the males do their call (like a pig grunting) to show that they are healthy. I loved seeing the baby koalas. One was still with her mom. While the ones sleeping were precious, it was so fun to catch the koalas who were up and munching on leaves. Koalas are super picky and only like certain kinds of eucalyptus. Plus, if they find a leaf they don’t like, the just let it fall to the ground. Because of what is in a eucalyptus leave and the lack of nutrition, koalas do sleep 20 plus hours a day but do wake up in different increments to take care of what they need to.
Not only did we get to see more Koalas at Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary but we also saw kangaroos, wallabies, another echidna, and some cool birds!
Coming here was a definite highlight!
The last stop for us on KI was to Seal Bay. I’m glad that we stopped here. While I think that I have a slight preference for land animals over sea animals, I just loved seeing the Australian Sea Lions at Seal Bay. This is the only colony where you can get an up close view of the sea lions (the other ones are out by rocks that you can’t reach). We opted to take the guided tour which had a guide take you onto the beach (if you didn’t pay for this, then you could only view the sea lions at a distance from the boardwalk). I’m glad we paid to do this as I thought it was well worth it. I didn’t think we would be allowed as close as we got! The guide was definitely keeping the animals in mind as she would move our group away anytime a sea lion seemed to want to move by.
They were so fun to watch. There were quite a few babies. I loved watching three of the younger sea lions playing in the water and then coming flying ashore. It was also fun watching a mom try to get her baby to come down to the water but he kept turning around and running back up the hill. There were also two babies who probably got tired of waiting for their moms to come back so they were egging each other on as they made it down to the water. They were so cute.
After Seal Bay, we made our way back to Penneshaw to catch out ferry back to Cape Jervis. From there, we drove back to Adelaide and flew out to Beijing the next day. One note-I was not impressed with Adelaide’s airport. They were not so friendly with some travelers, which surprised me–maybe they were just tired. After a quick layover in Singapore, we made it home to Beijing.
It was quite the holiday, and we are so happy we were fortunate enough to go. I’ve heard people says pick or choose between doing New Zealand or Australia. And then, if you go to NZ, pick between the North Island and the South Island. I am so glad that we opted to do all three. I think we had enough time in NZ. And I can’t imagine doing all that flying again, so in case we never get to that side of the world again, I am glad to say I’ve been there now. It was awesome!
P.S. We’re sure going to miss seeing the Milky Way for the time being. KI is another great spot for stargazing!
TOTE: Internet is not needed to have a good time.
PC: Ben Tucker Photography