Kangaroo Island. We thought there would be an abundance of the marsupials, and supposedly there IS, but they sleep during the heat of the day and start stirring at dusk, after we were back aboard the ship. So, like the Tasmanian devils the other day, the only kangaroo we saw is in the last photo! At one of the stops, we did see a koala in a gum tree, but the photos just show a blob that looks like a bunch of leaves, so we decided to leave that photo out.
We were told by our guide that koalas were not native to the island but introduced there by some well-meaning “environmentalist.” They reproduced quickly and have no significant predators on the island. They eat only a few species of eucalyptus. Unfortunately, they will eat the leaves until it kills the trees. A few years ago there was a government plan to shoot about 10,000 of the 30,000 koalas on the island until a (well-meaning) government official put out a press release about it, which caused worldwide condemnation to descend upon the small island. The government pivoted and replaced the $200,000 koala shooting plan with a (so far) $1.5 million plan to catch, “desex,” and release.
They performed that procedure on about 10,000 koalas and declared victory until someone pointed out that there were some koalas living in a grove of a planted eucalyptus species they had not been previously known to eat. They counted the koalas in that grove and found another 50,000. The government is now trying to decide what to do – spend many more millions desexing tens of thousands of more animals or just wait until they kill the available eucalyptus and starve to death.
Most interesting to us was the sign about the island being a penguin rookery….the penguin species on the island is the Fairy Penguin. Our guide didn’t say much about them, other than that they are rather small and only come out at night to sleep on the beach. A little research revealed why we were given so little information…the penguin center is permanently closed, as the seals near the island, as well as the domesticated dogs, have eaten the penguins! They no longer have a presence on the island. Sadly, the Penguin Rookery sign on the beach is apparently nothing more than a historical artifact at this point.
On to the photos….Kangaroo Island is just south of Adelaide on the southern coast of Australia in an area called the Great Australian Bight. It was settled intermittently in the early 19th century by whalers and sealers. The first several photos are in the northeast, near the ferry port of Penneshaw. The ocean was so blue, it resembled a swimming pool in places. Following those are two photos of downtown Kingscote, the capital city of the island, a sleepy beach town with the requisite souvenir shops, grocery store, and a few restaurants. Our last stop was in Pennington Bay, a magnificent beach surrounded by cliffs and with gentle rolling waves.