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Sea lions are just like puppies and other things I learned on the Eyre Peninsula

This holiday was so good I did it twice: the first time though my job in the travel industry, the second time I brought my husband along so he could experience this beautiful part of the world. Here’s what I learned: 1. Camping can be fun! Anyone who knows me will tell you I HATE camping. It’s just not me. I stay in hotels or resorts, maybe self catered apartments, but anything below 4,5 star and I feel like I am roughing it. Kangaluna Camp however, is a whole different type of camping. The tents are large, luxuriously furnished (there is even a four poster bed with the softest duvet imaginable) and have their own toilet and hot shower (with lovely tea tree products). But I must admit the best thing was probably something that real campers experience all the time: watching the sunrise from the open tent screens, hearing the birds sing their morning songs right around you, and smelling that beautiful South Australian land from your bed. 2. Catching an emu is tricky Geoff was our guide during our 3 days in the Eyre Peninsula, and anything he does not know about the area, is not worth knowing. You learn so much by spending a few days with this guy (who looks remarkably like Richard Branson wearing outback fashions) and his stories are often very entertaining. My favourite was when he explained the time some local aboriginal people dared him to catch an emu. They showed him how it was done, and Geoff reckoned he would have a crack at it. Apparently the method involves being very very still, creeping up on them from behind, then suddenly launching and grabbing the animal. However what he then learned the hard way is that an emu’s claws are what you have to worry about – one of the nails scratched an artery in his wrist, resulting in him requiring urgent medical care. Lesson learned: don’t try this unless you grew up doing it. 3. Sea lions are just like puppies In the cold waters of the Eyre Peninsula I discovered my new favourite thing: swimming with the little sea lions! We donned wet suits and went aboard a tiny dinghy, and not long after we got away we noticed a pod of dolphins swimming around us. We resisted the urge to jump in with them as we were saving ourselves for the main event: swimming with the sea lions. We got close to the island where they live, and I have never seen anything like it: the little guys excitedly ran into the water to come swim with us! You get very clear instructions about what is appropriate behaviour (don’t try to touch them, don’t make them feel threatened etc.) but there is no need to worry about that – they actually want to interact with you! At one point I was in a game of “you swim down, I swim up” with a little pup – I eventually had to abandon this game because I was exhausted, and, well frankly not a sea lion, otherwise I could have kept going for hours. I will never forget the excited look the little guy gave me every time he was on the bottom sand, as if telling me “Go on! It’s your turn now!” 4. It is possible to eat really well in the Outback I was a bit worried what meals would be like on this tour, as the closest store to the camp is a two-hour drive away. I need not have worried – Geoff is a bit of a gourmand and serves only the best. While on the road we ate wholemeal wraps prepared in the back of the jeep (which turned out to hold a mini kitchen) and the dinners and breakfasts at the camp itself were delicious, fresh and of excellent quality. They were served in the main building which is open on all sides so you can enjoy the sights and sounds all around you. Birdlife in the evening is spectacular, and in the morning we were joined by a kangaroo and her joey who came in for a drink from the big trough right outside the dining area. 5. Emus can run for a very long time As we were driving the crimson roads of the Eyre Peninsula an emu suddenly appeared and ran in front of our car. We slowed down a little, giving him plenty of opportunity to veer either left or right into the flat grassland. But apparently this guy likes running on the road only, and he continued running ahead of us for several kilometres, only leaving us when our road split into two. Watching that emu’s butt wiggle ahead of us for so long was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. 6. Not all lakes are for swimming One of the highlights of the tour is a visit to Lake Gairdner. Geoff told us how one time, when he told a group of British tourists about the plan for the day, one of the girls got all excited, saying she had been looking forward to a swim after so many days in the desert dust. The group all put on their swimming costumes, only to be left very disappointed indeed when the lake turned out to be a salt lake! To stand on the lake is a bizarre experience. It is so white all around you, and the lake stretches as far as the eye can see. You can see why it is used for high profile photo shoots all the time (so many famous people have been here); the light is amazing. 7. The Eyre Peninsula is my favourite place in the world Through my job in travel (I work for an Australian online travel agent) I have been able to see more of Australia than most Australians have. And while I love Queensland’s beaches and rainforests, Tasmania’s rugged coastlines and forests, the Northern Territory’s wetlands, Melbourne’s café culture and Sydney’s laid back vibe, there is no place I love as much as the beautiful Eyre Peninsula. Most of my favourite places in the world offer great wildlife spotting opportunities, and in the Eyre Peninsula you practically stumble across a kangaroo, emu, reptile, sea lion or dolphin around every corner. So take it from me – you have not really seen the best of Australia until you have enjoyed a night or two under the stars at Kangaluna Camp. To find out more about this trip or to book it go to https:// www.gawlerrangessafaris.com/  

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