From the Grampians we decided to take an unplanned scenic path route as we entered South Australia. We went across the border and to Kingston S.E., where we first had to stop and see one of Australia infamous “Big” things, the Big Lobster. Then we headed up the coast to The Coorong.
The Coorong is a fragile swampland habitat that is apparently disappearing and may not be around much longer. On all the maps it looks beautiful, so even though we didn’t know much about it and couldn’t really find much about it, even in the South Australia brochures from the tourist information office, we decided to check it out. Driving by the Coorong on the Princes Highway is somewhat scenic, but the best part by far was taking off on the 10km Scenic Drive, a marked turnoff from the main highway. The road isn’t sealed, so it makes for an interesting drive and you can’t drive very fast, but it is well worth the diversion.
First we went on a 3km Nature Trail past a big of a (salt-ish) lake/swamp and through some forest. Though there is supposed to be abundant birdlife, we saw hardly any. And we were a bit disappointed that the only wildlife we did see were a couple shingleback lizards (though they did scare us at first, as when we came across them close together in front of us on the trail they looked like a snake!). The walk was still beautiful, but I had dreams of seeing an emu! Or at least an echidna!
So we got back on the scenic road and after a couple kilometers of spotting rabbits hopping around getting our hopes up and passing a couple more goannas slowly crossing the road, finally my hopes were realized. An emu ran out across the road right in front of us! It was so fast I couldn’t believe it (and couldn’t capture a photo of it!)
We were so excited we pulled over and got out and ran around looking for it, but it was fast and had a big lead on us. I was still elated that my dream had come true, so we got back in the car and kept driving. Not much later we saw another emu in the bush on the side of the road! Again it was ducking behind trees and bushes and I wasn’t able to get a picture, but I couldn’t believe my luck at a second wild emu spotting!
After that we saw a few kangaroos as well, and I was pretty much on top of the world. And the entire time, on the scenic road and on the nature walk, we never saw a single other person or car. At the few other places we stopped off: The Granites (basically some big rocks in the ocean off a nice little beach) and a pelican viewing area (which turned out to be pelican-less) there was never more than two other cars. The Coorong seems to be a vastly underrated area! And it was a highlight so far for me (something to do with the emus, I suppose)!
We drove on to Meringie, a town at the gateway to The Coorong, for the night. Our caravan park is right on Lake Alexander, which is gorgeous and incredible peaceful. We strolled along the lake to an area where some pelicans were hanging out, then I spotted something on our walk back. At first I thought it was a stuffed animal (a tiger?), but then as we got closer I realized what it was: an echidna! It was staying very still, flattening itself against the ground with its spikes out because it was probably scared of us, but I was so excited! The other Australian animal I had been dying to spot! (This leaves platypus and wombat on the list.) We stared at it excitedly before deciding it was probably best to leave it alone.
So we headed back down the lake to watch the sunset, which was spectacular. We sat watching seabirds plunge into the lake to catch fish, then decided to go see if the echidna was still where we left it. It wasn’t, but as we were walking back to the park I heard a rustling in a bush. I went and saw a big piece of cardboard moving around, and at first I thought something was stuck underneath it. Then I saw the echidna (or maybe another one!) digging around under the cardboard, probably looking for bugs. Another sighting!
Overall it was an exceptional day on the Coorong and around, one that we could only hope to top somewhere like our next stop: Kangaroo Island!