Yep, there is one though it’s not especially full of those bouncing boxers with the craziest breeding arrangements – there are some for sure. It also has a really nice selection of other marsupials and if you want to catch sight of the notoriously shy koalas here is probaly the best place to start.
The Le Pards toured Australia in 1998 and spent a week on the island so the Vet (aged 5) and the Lawyer (aged 8) could enjoy some close up experience with the weird and wacky (and unusually non fatal) wildlife that Australia has to offer. We fed orphaned joeys, saw the aforesaid Koalas happily stripping the eucalypts, just missed an indifferent echidna as it strolled across the road and saw a variety of wallabies.
It was blissful, the temperatures brisk (we went in July) and the scenery wondrous.
They have an inland desert you can board down and the Remarkable Rocks and sea lion colony that are both stunning.
Kangaroo island is situated off the South Australian coast near Adelaide. Not as well known as Tasmania or as weird as Frazer Island (I mean, an island made of sand that has fabulous inland lakes, how mad is that?) – or as twee as the Whitsundays, it is actually a great gem for the visitor. Because if there’s one thing you have to get your head around as a European visiting Oz is that is it ridiculously bloody enormous and utterly empty.
Enormous as in if you transposed a map of Oz onto Europe and aligned, say, Perth on the west coast with Lisbon, you’d end up with any one of a number of pubs in Sydney sitting on top of Putin’s hunting lodge east of the Urals (and I know who’d I’d back in a bar fight).
And the empty piece isn’t a surprise given Australia is home to the most deadly selection of snakes and spiders and bitey stingy things so why would you hang around and fill it with loads of people if they are going to get bitten on the bum just for popping to the loo. I know people say ‘I’m dying for the toilet’ but you don’t hear them say ‘I’m dying from the toilet’. Not unless they are Australian.
We stayed in a B&B with a couple from Melbourne who hadn’t been out of State before (he sold Holden cars and, if prompted, happily explained why they were the car for the discerning driver – you make that mistake once; she did something with nails but we never discovered if that was manicures or ironmongery). The whole place made the Textiliste and I feel like we had gone back in time.
That was true in another way. Our Melbourner had one other line in conversation – Pauline Hanson. We hadn’t heard of this lady before we arrived in Oz but she was stoking up some real fire at that time around the influx of Asian immigrants and the, in her view, overly generous benefits given to the Aboriginal population. We listened with polite interest but, if I’m honest, in a rather smug way. You see, at the time, with the new sense of regeneration under Tony Blair and his New Labour, issues of excessive immigration felt rather old school. Weren’t we beyond all that Rivers of Blood stuff of the 1960s? How bloody wrong we were. Now every European nation has its Pauline Hanson – and they are all creeping into the mainstream. Farage here, Le Pen in France, Mussolini in Italy. America has its Tea Party with loonies on the fringes who will creep into the centre, change their suits and hairstyles and soften their images to make them electable.
Back then, in 1998, the press ridiculed Hanson as a chip shop owner and for not knowing what Xenophobia meant. Her ‘Please explain’ became something of a catch phrase. As maybe with the likes of Sarah Palin in the US and Nigel Farage here, a figure of fun can turn to something more substantial.
These people are dangerous and we had no idea how Australia was foreshadowing their emergence, not, as we smugly assumed reflecting a past world.
This little post has become something of an opinion piece. So let’s lighten it with Ze Frank and the true facts about marsupials.