For Franco

January 2014.

Aussie wildlife expedition

Dear Franco,

For wildlife lovers like your family, Australia truly will be paradise. This country offers a heart-stopping diversity of unexpected, unusual, and fascinating creatures. I have sculpted your trip with a focus on wild creatures as well as some human dimensions—you will observe how humans have found a way to fight for the wild, working tirelessly to preserve this unique habitat and its creatures for generations to come. Leave Australia in awe, but also in appreciation of the paradoxical fragility of these mighty ecosystems. 

Day 1: Arrival on Kangaroo Island

You will arrive on your first day at Kangaroo Island, where you will be met by Craig, your private guide and companion during your stay. Craig will provide a brief orientation session on Kangaroo Island, with a walk among the eucalyptus trees to look for birds, koalas, and other wildlife. After lunch, you will travel to Southern Ocean Lodge and you will be able to settle in for the afternoon. Dinner this evening will be served at Southern Ocean Lodge, where you will stay the night.

Day 2: Wildlife

This morning, you will get out onto the water with a private ocean rafting expedition. On the way, you will enjoy a scenic drive to Emu Bay. On the cruise, Craig will provide an in-depth explanation of the coastline and its marine inhabitants. You also will be able to snorkel with wild dolphins.
After your cruise, return to the beach for lunch. Then, continue along the northern coast to meet with a local wildlife biologist from the endangered Glossy Black Cockatoo recovery program. This program is one of the most successful recovery programs for threatened species in Australia and aims to preserve the Glossy Black Cockatoo population growth by conserving and maintaining their nesting sites and minimizing the interference with their nesting sites by other animals. Return to the lodge in the late afternoon for time to relax before dinner.

Day 3: Bush

Venture out early with Craig this morning to try “breakfast in the bush.” This will be followed by a private tour of the Australian sea lion colony at Seal Bay Conservation Park—your early start will ensure you get there before it is even opened to the public. At Seal Bay, Craig will take you for a walk along the beach among the sea lions to learn about the biology, breeding, and behavior of these creatures, as well as the environmental challenges they are currently facing.
Continue the day with a private free-flight bird and reptile experience at Raptor Domain, where you will meet a selection of native Australian birds of prey and reptiles.

After a break for lunch in the bush, you will have the opportunity to take a private tour on all-terrain vehicles through the local bushland. Return to the lodge in the afternoon for some time to relax and freshen up prior to dinner.

Day 4: Escape to Seascapes

Craig will be waiting for you after breakfast to explore another region of this diverse island. Travel to nearby Flinders Chase National Park and visit the iconic seascapes of the southwest coast—including a natural sculpture perched on the clifftops, a sea cave known as “Admiral’s Arch,” and a heritage lighthouse precinct overlooking a large fur seal colony. Enjoy a seafood barbeque before taking a long walk through a pioneering farming district now home to large numbers of kangaroos that come out of the bush to graze on the pastures each afternoon.

Day 5: Echidnas

Today, Craig will escort you to the eastern end of the island (you will notice the countryside change as you travel through the different regions), where you will be able to enjoy a private sea kayaking tour of Pelican Lagoon Conservation Park, a nature reserve that incorporates a tidal inlet with islets and wetland vegetation.
The morning on the water will be followed by lunch and a private wildlife research session with Dr. Peggy Rismiller, the world expert on echidnas—small animals that are one of three egg laying mammals (monotremes) in the world.

Day 6: Coastline

Franco, I know you and your family are all quite active, but I imagine that by this point you will need a break. To this end, we have scheduled time for leisure at the lodge—you can even take in a well-deserved spa treatment at the Southern Spa.
In the afternoon, there are a few choices you may like to explore: a clifftop hike along the rugged south west coast, adventure caving in the nearby Kelly Hill Conservation Park, or touring the area by mountain bikes.
In the evening, you will head out to see the nocturnal animals come out to graze. If the night is cloudless, you will get the added benefit of enjoying the extraordinary southern skies, a view unsullied by the pollution of city lights.

Day 7: Fishing

Venture out early today for a private fishing charter off the north coast with one of Australia’s leading fishing operators. There is a great variety of fish found in this area, including the prized catch for locals, the King George Whiting. This time of year there also may be some schools of Bluefin Tuna running.
Once back on shore, Craig will transform some of your catch into a delicious lunch on the beach. Afterward, you may want to spend more time exploring the beautiful bays of the north coast or take time for a swim at a beach.
In the afternoon return to the lodge for time to relax prior to dinner.

Day 8: Farewell

After a final breakfast at the lodge, you will bid Craig farewell and begin your journey home. Due to traveling back over the international date line, you will arrive in the United States on the same day as you departed!

Franco, it has been my pleasure to plan this Aussie Wildlife Adventure for you and your family. Please feel free to contact me at any time, should the need arise.