Have you ever experienced the feeling when your cheeks start to sting because you have been smiling for so long? When it feels like someone has attached a string to each cheek and is yanking them in each direction that you physically can’t stop smiling. Well, I have and most recently I experienced this on Kangaroo Island, South Australia – a hidden gem in the world, that I was lucky enough to experience.
After two amazing days travelling between Adelaide, Port Lincoln and the Eyre Peninsula, the “Best Jobs” finalists were headed to Kingscote on Kangaroo Island (KI). Kangaroo Island is one of the world’s great pristine nature-based destinations. Australia’s third largest island, Kangaroo Island has a multitude of diversity within its 155 km length. From being greeted by sea lions basking on the “unspoiled” white beaches, to kangaroos and wallabies hopping along the tracks, you will be pampered with wildlife throughout your stay. Kangaroo Island offers a wildlife experience that can’t be found in a zoo; they actually refer to it as a zoo without fences. After returning from Kangaroo Island (today – June 18th) I can fully understand how that saying on KI withstands.
When we arrived at Kingscote Airport, Kangaroo Island we met up with our guide from Exceptional Kangaroo Island for who would be leading us the next two days. Note – I am going to say this right off the bat… 2 days is NOT enough on Kangaroo Island. When it was time to leave, every one of us had to be practically dragged away from the last site.
Our first stop on Kangaroo Island was the Flinders Chase National Park, where we were to explore two of the island’s highlights – Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch. When we arrived at our first spot, I think the beauty blew us all away.
We made our way down the walking path to the Remarkable Rocks site and had some time to take pictures while the finalists underwent various photo-ops and interviews.
Greg Snell, CC, Nick Tilley in one of many photoshoots!
It is such a unique experience to travel with an “entourage.” Every spot that could of be used as a photo opportunity was. It was definitely a unique travel experience I have never had before. In addition I also very much enjoyed the ease of being told when and where I had to be at places. It was quite the change from travelling solo for the first two weeks of my “Best Jobs” trip.
The afternoon portion of the day at the Flinders Chase National Park was spent at Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary enjoying a “bush-lunch,” and later followed by a scenic flight over the park.
We had the opportunity for a 15-minute helicopter ride over the park, where we saw the south west coastline, Remarkable Rocks and Admiral Arch from the sky. The sights were spectacular on the ground, but there are no words to describe them from above. “Amazing” no longer does justice to some of the sights that are within South Australia.
Following the helicopter tours, we headed to the Seal Bay Conservation Park, where the finalists would compete in their third challenge to obtain the position of Wildlife Caretaker. Seal Bay was absolutely incredible.
The challenge consisted of running a tour of Seal Bay and being knowledgeable enough to answer questions that the “trip members” would throw at them. For the lucky finalist who will be chosen as Wildlife Caretaker, happenings such as leading tours and being knowledgeable on various areas on Kangaroo Island will become a regular activity. It was a true test of their knowledge, comfort in front of a crowd and passion for the position. The three finalists divided up the tour into: history, current state and future implications to Seal Bay.
Nick (USA) took on the history portion and nailed it. He knew his stuff like the back of his hand and you could tell he was extremely confident in himself in front of a crowd and as a leader. CC (Taiwan) did a good job as well with her section, where she found ways to add humour whenever possible. She made a joke about a group of sea lions on the beach being a family. One of the sea lions was running away from the other and she concluded that it was a “mommy and daddy sea lion and they were in a fight.” I have got to say that she has been such a great supply of comic humour for the entire group this trip. Greg (Canada) closed up the section with a bang. With his professional experience as a small groups tour guide, you could tell he was in his element. He spewed out everything he knew about Seal Bay in an effective manner, as well as welcomed questions when they appeared. Overall, I think that this was the hardest challenge that the finalists had to face while in South Australia. It really showed them as an individual and they were judged against each other while being put on the spot in a setting they were completely unfamiliar with.
During the tour, I had a hard time actually focusing on everything the finalists were saying because the sea lions were so close to us. Some were lounging on the beach, playing with each other and others looked like they were about to “mate,” it was hard not to watch!
Kangaroo Island has blown me away already. To be truthfully honest with you, I didn’t have that high of expectations when I first heard we would be going to Kangaroo Island. I think partially that has to do with the fact I was not informed on what we would be seeing, and how beautiful of a place it truly is. The thing that I have recently found about setting expectations on experiences is that they typically get exceeded – well in Australia they always get exceeded.
Day three of the “Best Jobs” South Australia challenges did not disappoint. The finalists are really starting to show their passion and commitment to winning. I think it is going to be a tight race to the finish line – keep checking back to find out who wins this Friday June 21st.