Australia, the land of beautiful beaches, remote landscapes, rugged coastlines, red deserts & an abundance of wildlife. But what is the ultimate wildlife destination? I think I found it!
I was lucky enough to win a 5 day Ultimate Wildlife Adventure in the stunning state of South Australia. 3 days Eyre Peninsula including sealion & tuna swim and the incredible Great White Shark cage dive. Plus a 2 day Kangaroo Island wilderness adventure.
The group was made up of 15 travel agents & hostel staff from all over Australia; some I already knew and the rest I will now remember forever. If you’ve ever been on a guided tour you know after 24 hours together you are already like family and feel like you’ve known each other a lifetime.
Our first adventure was swimming with tuna in Port Lincoln. We traveled out to the pontoon via a bunch of islands that remindeded me so much of Ireland, so green & lush. There is a massive island owned by the ex-mayor of Port Lincoln! Port Lincoln is a small city on the Eyre Peninsula with around 20,000 people and has the most millionaires per capita in Australia. Apparently tuna is a great business to be in!
We arrived at the pontoon and stripped down to nothing to put on our wetsuits. I was already dreading getting in that freezing water so stalled as long as possible. I started in the inner pool where there are a range of fish and cute little sharks. Then it was to the outer ring where the massive tuna are. And massive they are! They say some of them were worth $3000 a piece! We jumped in the water, which was definitely the coldest water I’ve ever been in. The staff threw us little fish which we held out to the tuna to feed.These massive freaking fish came out of nowhere and snapped up the feeding fish before you could even realise what had happened. They were the size of a small human! It was an incredible experience, despite the cold. We then fed the bigger ones that you couldn’t swim with with makeshift fishing rods and fed the little sharks with our bare hands.
After returning to Port Lincoln we headed to Mikkira Station which is just full of koalas! More koalas than I’ve ever seen in my life in one place. They were just chilling, watching the sunset, climbing around the trees, getting comfortable. I took about 100 koala selfies of course and we watched the sunset over the gorgeous station.
That night we were treated to a massive seafood Paella prepared by the hostel, Port Lincoln YHA. We then drank half of the bar dry while sitting around singing songs, playing guitar and stamping our feet to keep the entire hostel awake. Of course we had the biggest night of the trip on the eve of the biggest day; Great White shark cage diving!
We woke at 4.30am (sadly, as the bunk bed at the YHA was better than my own!) and made our way to the marina. The group was split in half and put onto 2 different boat companies; Calypso & Adventure Bay Charters. I had already done Calypso so I went on Adventure Bay Charters to compare. The sea seemed fairly calm until we made it to the first spot on the Southern Neptune Islands. The boat was like a constant theme park ride and there a few people making use of the sick bags. We stayed at that spot for a few hours and sadly there were no sharks in sight. We made our way to the Northern Neptune Islands where the seas were much calmer. We spotted the other boat company Calypso who were chumming the waters and baiting the sharks. We could see the fins & sharks coming out of the water for the food from our boat. We got pretty excited by that point!
Adventure Bay Charters doesn’t chum the waters, instead they use noise to attract the sharks. They have an awesome underwater observatory where we could sit and watch the people in the cage and waited for the action to happen. We banged on the walls and made as much noise as possible. We stayed there for hours and unfortunately we didn’t have any shark action 🙁 Despite there being no sharks we had a great day out. We spotted hundreds of cute sealion pups, dolphins and birds and were fed silly all day until I was sporting a pretty sexy pot belly.
We arrived back in Port Lincoln, this time at Navigators Backpackers, where we were spoiled with masses of fresh oysters & prawns. I’ve never been a fan of oysters but as I say, try everything twice, (or in this case about 7 times) and I must admit they were the freshest, tastiest oysters I’ve tried by far! This hostel was also amazing, with a spa (jacuzzi) in every dorm! Sadly we didn’t have time to enjoy it, but what a great way it would be to end a day on the water!
We woke the following morning to one of the best sunrises I’ve ever seen. We went down to the waterfront where there were dolphins casually swimming by, the bright orange & pink colours filled the sky and the water was dead calm. Absolutely amazing!
We then made our way back to the marina and set off for our swimming with the sealions adventure with Adventure Bay Charters. We were spoiled with the most sunny & calm day I’m sure Port Lincoln has ever had at the end of May!
We arrived in Seal Cove at Hopkins Island bay where we were greeted with around 30 sealions that were like excited little puppy dogs!! They were jumping off the rocks, swimming up to the boat, doing flips, it was one of the best sights I’ve ever seen! I put on my million layers of wetsuit, hood, snorkel and jumped in the water. For the first 10 seconds I was frozen stiff, but the minute I put my head underwater to see a sealion right in front of me ready to play I completely forgot I was in cold water at all!
It literally was one of the best experiences of my life!! I free-dived down to be face to face with a sealion who would mimic my moves. I would toss my head from side to side and the sealion would do the same. I would swim on my side and the sealion would face me, matching my moves. It was incredible!!!
I got out of the water feeling so elated at the experience. We got dry & left the bay, but the day wasn’t over. We cruised along the coastline of the surrounding islands, spotting seals & birds while Matt the owner was commentating. It was actually warm & sunny enough to sit on the bow of the boat while it was cruising. I never imagined doing that when I agreed to go on this trip; I thought I would have been freezing for 5 days straight! As we were getting closer to reaching Port Lincoln a pod of around 6 dolphins led the boat, swimming at the bow, racing the boat & each other, jumping out of the water, playing with each other. I’ve seen some dolphins in my time, but that was just magical and such a great way to finish the day!
After a long drive and a quick nights sleep it was onto Kangaroo Island for a 2 day adventure. I’d been to Kangaroo Island as a kid, but of course you never appreciate it as much then. I was excited to see how I felt as an adult after having travelled the world. In my job I am always asked the question “is it worth it going to Kangaroo Island?” Well I was about to find out! We started early driving to Cape Jervis to board the 45 minute ferry. Again, the waters were calm and they say you can often spot dolphins or, in season, whales. We got to go into the captains wheelhouse and discover that a bit like a plane its all on autopilot. So of course we all took photos pretending to be the captain.
We arrived on the island where we drove to Robs Sheep Shearing. This is literally a farm where a guy does sheep rounding & shearing demonstrations which started when a tour guide, years ago asked if he could bring his group in to watch. Now he attracts thousands of visitors wanting to see this Aussie experience. The property was beautiful and Rob is your stereotypical old Aussie farmer which is great for international people to interact with. Personally I didn’t like watching the rounding or the shearing as the sheep are so terrified. But I can’t kill an ant so maybe that’s just me. Everyone else in the group enjoyed it 🙂
Next we went to the lookout of Pennington Bay which was like a postcard, as much of the island is. Then onto seal bay where we came within metres of giant sealions all sunbaking and playing on the beach. Some were literally spooning each other & there was a pimp sealion with all his sealion hoes alongside him. Some of the group also spotted a whale, which I sadly didn’t see no matter how hard I tried.
For lunch we went to the Eucalyptus distillery which was full of eucalyptus products and they had Kangaroo Island wine at the bar which pleased me! All the while driving around the island Kate our awesome tour guide kept us entertained with stories & fun facts.. Like the fact that female koalas have 3 vaginas and male koalas can have double dicks. Who would have known?!
We then made our way to Vivionne Bay lodge where we were staying for the night. It is a gorgeous property we had all to ourselves, set among the bushland with koalas & kangaroos roaming free. For the first time in the trip we had some free time where you can choose to go kayaking, cycling or bushwalking. We chose to do things a little differently and went “wineaking” which is basically kayaking while drinking wine. We paddled down the river enjoying a bottle of red, admiring the scenery and the sunset to finish it off. That night we sat around the campfire eating marshmallows, drinking more wine and telling stories; mostly of the stupidest customers we’ve had in our time in the tourism industry. A very entertaining topic with a group of travel agents!
The next day we visited Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch which was littered with New Zealand fur seals, some other stunning viewpoints, Hanson Bay wildlife sanctuary and then Little Sahara where we went sandboarding! Sandboarding is one of my most favourite activities of all time, probably mostly because there is no skill required :p And secondly because its hilarious to watch everyone stack it and cop of a mouthful of sand! It was a great way to end an incredible 5 day experience before we headed back to Adelaide for a quick snooze before my early morning flight. After having some farewell drinks I managed to squeeze in 2 hours nap before making my way to the airport where I woke myself up snoring on the lounge in front of about 100 people. Classy!
If I had anyone ask me where to go to experience wildlife in Australia my answer would definitely be South Australia! Not only did we get to see an array of Australian animals, but we got to encounter them; swimming with the tuna, sealions, shark cage diving & watching sheep shearing. After traveling the world I sometimes forget the beauty of my own country. This was a giant reminder of how incredible it is and how much there is to see & do! If you haven’t been, go! If you are not convinced, there is no convincing you!
A huge thank you to Sealink, Nullarbor Traveller, Tourism South Australia, Adelaide YHA, Port Lincoln YHA, Adventure Bay Charters, Calypso Star Charters, Navigators Backpackers, Adelaide Backpackers Inn, Adelaide Travellers Inn, Kate, Matt, Amy, Hassie & everyone else who spoiled us during this amazing trip!
Want to do it yourself? Email me!