Final destination – Kangaroo Island
Arriving in Adelaide we set up camp at a city beach near Glenelg, which felt like New York City compared to the outback. It was the first week of January and the campground was fully booked so even though we had an allocated site, we had to peg one corner of our tent into the bark chips of the playground. At least one of us enjoyed this location, darting off his lilo at first light to stake his claim as king of the slippery dip!
City campers are a different breed to those we encountered in remote areas. The majority appeared to have set up shop for the entire Christmas holidays and had more gadgetry than I have at home. We were one of the few families that forgot the Christmas tree and flashing icicle lights.
Next we headed to the final and perhaps most anticipated destination of the holiday, Kangaroo Island. We stayed in a cute limestone beach house at Vivonne Bay, judged as “Australia’s best beach”, according to researchers at Sydney University. I don’t know how they decided. There are dozens of breathtaking beaches on the island that could have easily taken the title. For miles there’s nothing but pristine white sand and the glistening aquamarine of the cool Southern Ocean. Remarkably, despite being peak season, it was still possible to enjoy Australia’s best beach alone.
Some other highlights on the Island were the New Zealand Fur Seals that live and play at Admiral’s Arch, the stunning and precariously stacked Remarkable Rocks and the Flinders Chase coastline.
As we packed the family wagon and bade farewell to the stunning island I dug out the maps once again and planned our way home. Keen to get back to familiar surrounds, we chose the most direct route from Adelaide to Sydney via the Sturt Hwy (1400kms). It was a pleasant journey, much of which follows the Murray River (or what remained of it after a long hot summer). Sadly the Murray was so dry in spots it looked more like a salt plain than a river.
When I said the route was pleasant, I hadn’t accounted for stepping out of the car. On a January day with catastrophic bushfire warning it was not so pleasant. As incentive to keep quiet just a bit longer, Jasper had been promised an ice cream at the next town after Mildura. When the town finally appeared on the horizon he was champing at the bit. Never have I seen a chocolate Paddle Pop run down a chubby 3 year old’s arm faster than this! Meanwhile, as I stood under a gum tree by the Murrumbidgee, the heat on my legs felt like I was standing next to a campfire. Miraculously the region managed to avoid major bush fires during this extremely hot summer.
Eventually we arrived home – exhausted but satisfied. With the infinite optimism and selective memory of a three-year-old, Jasper announced that it was the best holiday ever and asked when we could do it again. Would I do it again? I’m sure my inner adventurer will conjure up plans to explore other remote locations in the future, but in the meantime we’ll probably stay close to home. Central Coast anyone?
What tips do you have for surviving a long family road trip with your sanity intact?