Today was spent on the north side of the island. It was a whole other world.
We started by driving down windy, sometimes steep, unsealed roads to King George Beach. It was definitely off the beaten path, and a lovely secluded cove. We were the only folks there, so we got to enjoy the pebbled beach alone. We would have enjoyed staying there longer if we had thought to bring books (or kites!) with us.
Next, a stop in Stokes Bay. This is a more popular destination. The paved road runs down to the beach, and there are places to stay and eat (as an aside – one of the best places we at on the island was here). At first glance, it’s just another rocky beach. However, if you follow a path through the rock cliff, you arrive out on a nice wide strip of sand.
We dipped our toes in the Southern Ocean and looked for interesting animals in the tidal pools. We couldn’t stay too long though, because we had to head back up the road to Paul’s Place.
Wow. Paul’s Place is what would have happened if Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder version) had decided to open a zoo instead of a chocolate factory. It was amazing and ridiculous and adorable.
There are several areas on the tour where a poor unsuspecting tourist is given a bucket and asked to hand out oats. The animals swarm over and immediately try to stick their heads inside. Once the bucket holder is rescued, everyone takes handfulls of oats and feeds the assorted wildlife. We fed kangaroos (so polite, and very soft snouts), ducks (they sort of suck at your skin), chickens (“chooks”), a sheep, a deer, emus (they peck, it’s slightly painful), and more.
We got to hold a baby kangaroo in a pouch, and, of course, a koala! Contrary to what we had been told, the koala was very friendly and did not smell. He did latch on fairly tightly – they certainly make sure they are secure in their trees.
There were also birds to be held, a sheep to be sheared, and various reptiles who also wanted a photo op. The hour and a quarter tour took at least two hours, and every minute was packed with animal encounters. We wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but it was certainly a memorable experience.
Still don’t believe us that it was crazy? Drew had emus eating oats off his head.
What could follow such a wacky afternoon? A delicious lunch (at Rockpool Cafe), a trip to Clifford’s Honey Farm, and finally back to our room and out for some tasty Mexican. To top it all off, we walked down to the bay to look for fairy penguins. We only saw two (one hanging out on some rocks and one hiding in his den), but we heard several talking to each other. We also saw some stunning stars and have definitively seen the Southern Cross.
Haven’t had enough? More pics here.