Home > Travel > Oceania
Saturday August 24, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday November 25, 2013 MYT 1:49:00 PM
by jason godfrey
Hopping from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island, our writer finds something other than ’roos greeting him.
THERE is a little scenic village outside of Adelaide called Hahndorf, and it is the largest German settlement in Australia. Others get excited about seeing the legacy of German architecture here, but I was interested in checking out some real German cuisine.
The Hahndorf Inn Hotel obliged with not only an authentic German menu including an assortment of sausages and beer, but also an atmosphere that was decidedly “Oktoberfestian”.
I gorged myself on sausages and sauerkraut before they brought out the centrepiece of the meal, the pork knuckle.
Now, when I look at my own knuckles, they don’t look that appealing, but whether it’s just the pork or the way the Hahndorf Inn prepared it, the pork knuckle (they called it Pork Hork) there was delicious.
With a full belly, we headed over to the Cedars, about an hour’s drive out of Adelaide. Hans Heysen is one of Australia’s best-known watercolour artists, and his studio has been left as it was at the time of his death. It’s a beautiful rustic cabin among the cedars, hence the name.
As a bonus, you can tour Heysen’s family home, which has also been left as it was back in the 1950s. Even if you’re not impressed by Heysen’s work, which you will be, it’s impressive to walk into his family home. It’s like stepping back in time. The rugs, furniture and fixtures are all out of another era. I was fascinated with the stuff on Heysen’s bookshelves.
Adelaide and the surrounding area definitely has enough to keep me busy, so when I learned that the crew and I would be heading over to Kangaroo island, I was a bit underwhelmed.
Come on ... Kangaroo Island? I mean, I’d already seen more kangaroos than people in Australia. Did I want to see more kangaroos? OK, that’s a little dramatic. Basically, the director said “go”, so I went.
A short flight and we were in Kangaroo Island, Australia’s third largest island, but with a population of below 5,000. It didn’t take me long to figure out there was much more here than kangaroos.
First, we stopped at a marron farm. Marron, for those who don’t know – including me, before this trip – are crayfish that are so hardy that if they don’t like the conditions in a waterway, they’ll walk out of the water and find somewhere more suitable. Turns out that, besides being tough and independent, these shellfish are also incredibly delicious.
I sampled baked marron, fresh marron, grilled marron – all of it tender and rich, a luxury for my palate.
Sure, the marron surprised me but when we finished, we were off to see some wildlife, and I readied myself for yet another mob of kangaroos. Instead, I got something I’d never seen before – a raft of sea lions.
Sea lions are the larger, bulkier cousins of the seal, and on the path down to the beach at Seal Bay, I was greeted by a sea lion which had lumbered out of the water. It dragged itself into the bushes for shelter. My guide explained that the bushes on either side of the path were full of 300kg sea lions looking for shelter from the wind.
That made me rethink wandering off to use the loo.
When we got to the beach, there were sea lions camped out all over, usually in pairs, as it was mating season; but don’t worry, this isn’t going to get X-rated. Instead of romance, I got to witness a right royal sea mammal rumble as the males turned on one another to fight for the females.
Two sea lions were sitting next to a bush, lounging and looking at each other when there was a loud bark from the beach and an animal of several hundred kilos, with no viable legs, came lumbering up the sand. Lumbering is the only way I know to describe its movements. But lumbering doesn’t do justice to how fast it was moving.
The smaller male, which had been making goo-goo eyes at the female, was now doing his own lumbering down the beach towards the water.
The larger male continued to chase the smaller one around in circles for five minutes – five glorious minutes of barking and yelping.
It was like watching a train wreck; I was unable to look away. This was nature’s version of a domestic disturbance, like watching an episode of Cops but with overweight mammals without the ability to learn – wait, that sounds exactly like Cops.
In any case, similar encounters were repeated time and time again as we walked along the beach. So much so that I started to wonder if I could beat a legless, 300kg animal in a race.
After voicing my intention to my guide several times, she realised I wasn’t kidding, and told me there was no way she would let me race a sea lion because I would be beaten by the animal in the race, and probably get killed.
It was a good enough reason for me to not race a sea lion.
So, when in South Australia, definitely expect more than what you expected, but don’t expect to race the sea lions, that would just be stupid.
This is the second episode of a two-parter on Adelaide and South Australia. Catch Jason Down Under tomorrow night at 9pm exclusively on Life Inspired, Astro B.yond Ch728. The trip was sponsored by Tourism Australia and Malaysia Airlines. Visit www.facebook.com/litvchannel and stand a chance to win a trip to Australia courtesy of Tourism Australia and Malaysia Airlines.
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