For our last week in Australia, we headed southwest to the Eyre Peninsula.
When I think of this week, one of the things that comes to mind is how having an adventure often means making the best of changing situations.  Kind of like rainbows - something beautiful that you only get when the weather isn't perfect.
We had plans for some scenic viewpoints along the coast that didn't work out due to weather and other things, but we ended up finding places we hadn't planned on that were lots of fun.
When it comes to travel, and life in general I guess, sometimes you just need to roll with it and understand that things don't always go as expected but the best memories are often the ones that aren't planned...

When we first arrived we walked down to the beach below our rental.  It was overcast and moody, but we got to see a rainbow and enjoyed watching the waves crash.
The next evening we needed to drive about 3-4 hours to our next stop.  Once underway, we realized we might need to fill up, so we checked Google maps for gas stations and that’s when things got interesting.  Port Lincoln was the largest nearby town (pop. 17,000) but it was the opposite direction of our destination.   Ahead were small towns and their gas stations were showing as closed or closing soon.   Apparently, self pay pumps aren't really a common thing in this area... We had planned to stop at a scenic lookout along the coast but diverted inland and were able to find a lone 24/7 pump, whew! 
We even got some hop-a-long company on the way.  This was taken with my phone out a moving vehicle, so not the clearest shot, but we were excited to see some wild roos!  We saw a few more after dark but don’t worry – we missed them all.  :) 
So what was our destination?  Baird Bay – where we would swim with sea lions.
Yep, we weren’t quite done with our underwater adventures yet.  Although this was a far cry from the warm waters off Cairns or Lady Elliot.  Pretty chilly actually.  But they give you long sleeved wetsuits and you don’t really notice the cold water because, you know, you’re swimming with sea lions!!!
Jason told me later that he could see my huge grin even with a snorkel in my mouth and that I looked like a super excited little kid.  And that’s pretty much how I felt.  Like “I can’t believe I’m doing this!!!”
They call the sea lions the puppies of the sea and I can certainly see why – very energetic, inquisitive and playful.  This particular tour company has been doing this for over 30 years and know the sea lions well.  They bring along some “toys” – a rope tied to the guide's foot with a handle at the end that the pups like to chase after.  A mesh strap with weights that they drop on the sandy floor which the sea lions like to tug on.  We got quite a lot of video with the GoPros and I look forward to getting that all put together when we’re back home.  For now, below is a 1 minute clip and some photos pulled from the videos.
Watching the sea lions tumble and spin and somersault is completely captivating and so much fun.  I’d read that they like it when you play too – so I did my best to twist and turn as well.  I’m definitely not as graceful as they are – doing a somersault with a snorkel on is hilarious – but I had a blast and I think at least one of them got a giggle at my antics.
After our “what an amazing awesome cool lifetime experience” swim, we got back on the boat and were very grateful when the skipper passed around cups of hot cocoa and bikkies (aka biscuits, Aussie for cookies).  Then they took us to a different area to see if we could find dolphins.  A few hardy souls got back in the water for a short swim with them.  Jason and I were content to watch from the boat.  There were quite a few and we had fun spotting them. 
Then back on dry land with some epic memories.
What with the underwater acrobatics to entertain the sea lions, we were certainly ready for lunch.  The first place we tried appeared to have closed early.  The next place was closed between lunch and dinner.  A bakery was open, but didn’t really have much for lunch. Then the next place was closed on Tuesdays.   Small town and we were running out of options. When I looked up restaurants on Google I’d been surprised to see the gas station listed, apparently they had a small food counter inside and folks were raving about the Indian curries.  So we gave it a shot, got a couple types of curries and also some fish and chips and everything was delicious!  
After filling up we strolled around town a bit more and noticed this really interesting flower on a bush, as we were checking it out the owner of the place turned up and explained that it’s a passionfruit vine and would actually yield passionfruit!  Very cool!
We’d planned to drive back down south after the sea lion tour, hitting a couple scenic stops along the way.  But we decided we didn't feel like doing the drive and would stick around another night.  We'd found a map of the local area and got info about some nearby scenic drives from the friendly lady in the gas station/food stop.   We headed out for a short drive, stopping at various places for photos and Jason finally got to get his drone out and do some flying. 
I rented a dslr camera for this trip which is a big change for me – changing lenses and using a tripod and all the bells and whistles that come with it has been a bit overwhelming.  I’ve been doing a lot of online research to learn as much as possible on the fly.  One of the things I wanted to try was the long exposure shots.  You use a tripod to minimize movement and leave the shutter open for longer which causes clouds and water to have a silky effect.  Below are some examples of my first attempts with this technique.   
There were quite a few photogenic birds in this area, see if you can spot them :)
It was a great day weather-wise, lots of sun and blue skies!
After our full day of playing with sea lions and taking in some rugged coastline, we were happy to return back to Perlubie Beach for a second night, the vacation rental was amazing and we had a gorgeous view right out our back door...
The next morning we headed back down south, planning to stop along the way for various scenic coastline views.  The morning worked out well and we enjoyed the views and the warm weather.  I tried out the long exposure again and this time had a few clouds to test it on.  We also stopped at a sea cave which was cool. 
Along the drive, we spotted some large grey and pink birds called Galahs, which are a type of cockatoo.   They’re pretty skittish so when we tried to pull over and take photos, they’d fly away.  It was great seeing them, though, I love the colors!  At one point when we pulled over to try and get a Galah shot I noticed this sheep in the field and it just made me laugh, another photo bombing bird!
The rest of the drive was pretty windy so we skipped some places we'd planned.  All in all, though, a great couple of days!
The chilly and wet weather continued for the next day, which was our last full day in Australia.  I had one more “must do” on my list.  I wanted to see Kangaroo Island kangaroos.  They are a subspecies of the grey kangaroo and are smaller with chocolate brown fur that is softer than the red or grey roos.  I’d seen them when I visited Kangaroo Island during my first trip and was hoping to see them again.  When we decided to visit the Eyre Peninsula instead of Kangaroo Island, I thought we’d lost our chance but it turns out that there’s an animal park near Port Lincoln with KI roos so that went on the “must do” list!
The day was pretty windy with patches of drizzle, but I think that worked in our favor.  The animal park is on a farm and pretty small and with the chilly weather, we ended up having it almost all to ourselves!  We thought we might spend an hour or so and ended up staying about 4 hours!
We timed our visit so we’d catch the koala feeding at 1pm but when we went, the handler explained that they have just 2 koalas and on really windy days like this one, they often don't come down from their perches high in the trees.  We, and another couple, hung out for a few minutes to see if they’d come down - but no luck.
There was a bird enclosure and the sign said to sit still with seed in your outstretched hand (they give you a bag of food for the roos and birds when you get in).  Jason and I sat down on the bench and gave it a try.  After a few minutes of nothing, I went exploring (Jason is way more patient than me!)   When I came back from exploring Jason was still in the same spot like a statue.  A couple ladies near me commented on it and I said that’s my husband, super patient.  They remarked that when they went in the birds came up to them right away and some even landed on their head.  So I thought I’d give it another go.  Back in I went and saw some parakeets on the ground.  I crouched down and extended my hand… which they ignored.  I went over to Jason at his bench and I think I may have scared off some nearby birds (oops).  Jason went over to where he saw one land and I noticed that there were a couple lorikeets (the pretty rainbow birds we’d seen up in Cairns) on a big log behind the bench.  Tried extending my hand again… no go.  So I dumped the seeds on the log and backed off.  The 2 on the log came back and started to eat the seeds and then all of a sudden there were about 15 more birds.  So I gave it another try, dumped seeds into my hand and finally had one land.  I yelled to Jason who looked over, sighed, and said he hated me.  :o)  He came over and we had quite the feeding frenzy.  Patience and persistence pays off!
Eatin' out of the palm of our hands!
Jason is a world class lorikeet trainer... this one jumped on his back and he trained it to get off ;o)
Next, we both headed over to the area with bunnies and guinea pigs, they even had some baby bunnies to see and Jason got in some bunny cuddles.   We both thought of mom, of course!
Then into the roo enclosure for some fun.  Jason was amazed at how gentle they could be and really liked when they put their paws on your hand while they ate.   
I just love these kangaroos!  So adorable, check out those long lashes! 
We wandered around seeing various other animals – your typical farm animals like donkeys, etc as well as llamas, ostrichs and dingoes (wild dogs).  At one point I noticed that the trees in front of me were filled with Galahs so I had another go at photos.
Jason thinks it's funny that whenever I look at my photos later I usually narrate as if the animals are talking.  In the one below with all the birds flying, I noticed the 2 sheep standing by the gate on the left: "Why'd she scare all the birds... quick she's taking a photo, look cool Karl"
We decided to head back over the koalas to see if they’d moved at all and yep – they were down having their lunch just a few feet away.  We were super excited – especially since we had it all to ourselves!  
These 2 were some of the most active koalas I'd ever seen, one had a lot of fun climbing up onto a branch and hanging upside down.  You can see Jason in the first photo - look how close we were!!
It's fun to hang around!
I didn't realize I'd caught her sticking out her tongue ;P
Did I mention it was a WINDY day?  Check out this 13 second video of a koala nomming on some leaves :)
We hung out at the koala enclosure for quite awhile and eventually the handler came back and asked if we wanted to step inside the fence with her and pet them – oh boy did we!!!  
We finished up the awesome day by heading back to the kangaroos to get rid of the rest of our feed.  Jason set up the GoPro to take some video and the resident sheep had to come inspect it :o)  
I admit, I fell in love with this little guy and spent quite a while hanging out with him and taking lots of pictures...
I mean, how can you not love that face!  And he gave me his best walrus/dracula impression :)
And that's how we finished up our travels in Australia - we swam with sea lions, watched dolphins dance among the waves, let some lorikeets land, kicked back with some kangaroos and cuddled koalas... what an amazing way to end the trip!
Thanks for reading, this was a long one... time for a nap, huh?

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