NORTHWEST TOUR OF KANGAROO ISLAND: With KI Adventure Charters.
It's not that easy to get to, but the northwestern tip offers some of the most beautiful scenery on Kangaroo Island, and spots like Scotts Cove have long fascinated those interested in what these rock formations can tell us about our prehistory. These fossilised trilobites, a creature related to today's insects and crustaceans are now on show at the South Australian Museum. But they were first trapped in these rock formations about five hundred and twenty millions years ago.
They are just one of the amazing features of the northwest coast; a coastline full of ripping yarns of French navigators, wild sealers and trappers and adventurers lost in the dense scrub. One man who knows them all in Tim Williams from Adventure Charters of Kangaroo Island; a man who regularly covers the back roads which cut through dense mallee and onto massive stands of sugar gums.
"Some of the tallest trees in South Australia are in around this ravine de Casoars".
We're bound for a ravine which cuts through some of the most rugged country on Kangaroo Island. But the rest of the trip will be on foot. First a quick clean of the boots to prevent the potential spread of root rot fungus into this remarkable wilderness.
"We want to keep it pure & pristine".
Soon you're walking through thick mallee and sugar gum forest which thrive in the micro climate that is Ravine de Casoars, an ancient cutting which works its way to the island's west coast.
"Notice as we get closer to the creek the trees are growing a lot taller and straighter- reaching for the light?"
"And you've got ferns down below".
"Ferns down below. Roo and Wallaby tracks leading down into the dampness and creek there".
"A little native fish there".
"Yer, he's sitting on the surface".
"And that's found only on Kangaroo Island?"
"It's a native of Kangaroo Island".
The Ravine wilderness trail is a nature lovers paradise. Above, this pair of young Yellow- Tailed Black Cockatoos tell their mates of our arrival. And not far away the spectacular Blue Wren scours the undergrowth and soon another feathered friend is monitoring our progress.
"What's that one Tim?"
"Scarlet Robin; that's the female Scarlet Robin".
Near the creek's bank, the Rosenberg Goana soaks up the early afternoon sun as we make our way into a clearing, one of the few places where the country opens up, emphasising the vastness of the ravine. But for a party of men from the vessel "The Africaine", this is what they had to hack their way through. They'd asked to be dropped ashore at nearby Harvey's Return confident that they could cross the island following a report from an American sealer George Sutherland. He claimed to have traversed the island nearly two decades earlier and spoke glowingly of vast tracts of open parkland. It was an exuberant and misleading report that would result in tragedy.
"Imagine straight from England and this is their first Australian experience - impenetrable bush".
"It was one of the really early disasters of the settlement and it haunted the settlers even after they left the island for Adelaide; they were constantly distracted by the fate of these early sealers. It really freaked the community out".
Soon the ravine fans out to the sea and the pounding surf of the Southern Ocean. The first European contact with this remote spot on the island's wild west coast goes back to 1803.
"The French explorer, Nicholas Baudin, in Le Geographe, charted this part of the island and when he got to this point, he saw some Pygmy Emus which are now extinct and he thought they were cassowaries, hence the name Ravine de Casoars".
The artist on board Lesueur captured in watercolour an animal which had disappeared from the island by the time the first official settlers arrived. But the charts of Baudin and Flinders soon had the sealers and whalers heading for these shores and the caves in the limestone made for a home of sorts.
"You can see where they've cut the entrance away here Ron to make access that little bit easier".
"I suppose sealers would have used this spot?"
"Sealers and possum trappers in the early days".
Inside, the slow drip of water seeping through the limestone and with each drop another addition to a stalagtite that inches its way over generations to the cave floor. And on the walls, the names of those who've passed along this coast.
"So these date back to the mid-1800's".
"There's an 1894 for example".
"I suppose some of the names of some of the boats?"
"Yer, there's names of the boats you can recognise here".
"What, whaling boats?"
"Yer, whaling and sealing boats, guys walking along the coast looking for fur seal and sea lion colonies, possum trappers working here in the early days making a living".
And down below a more recent visitor, just one of the many who've made the caves at the bottom of Ravine de Casoars their home. The Ravine Walk is a good eight kilometres. It starts on the Ravine Road, just south of the Playford Highway near Cape Borda. If you want to take in all the wonders of the northwest coast, then contact Adventure Charters of Kangaroo Island on 8553-9119. They run a number of tours. If you have any further questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Postcards previous tour with Adventure Charters of Kangaroo Island