When British explorers happened upon Kangaroo Island—south of what today is the city of Adelaide—the animals took them by surprise.
Unlike the wild ‘roos of the mainland, who knew to keep their distance, these creatures were utterly tame and approachable (so much so that the arriving crew reportedly slaughtered 31 for a giant kangaroo stew).
The reason the animals were unaccustomed to humans (and tragically unfamiliar with their bad habits) was because no humans lived there. Aboriginals had once inhabited the island, but they’d abandoned it at least 2000 years prior, for reasons unknown.
After a couple of centuries of life alongside human settlers, the animals here are understandably a little more wary—but the humans, for their part, have gotten a lot more respectful. Which means that today, this one of the most incredible places to get up close and personal with some very interesting creatures out in the wild.
The best way to meet them is to tour with a local company like Exceptional Kangaroo Island.
Experienced guides are familiar with the animals and their habitats—so they can probably find you a tricky-to-spot echidna and point out where a koala is likely to be hiding in the crook of a tree—but they also ensure that you won’t bother the animals in the process.
(And in lieu of kangaroo stew, they serve fantastic lunches that highlight the local produce.)
The view over Lord Howe Island from the cliffline of Mt Midgford. Image Credit: Courtesy Pinetrees Lodge.
The hike up Lord Howe Island’s Mt Gower is not for the faint hearted.
Widely regarded as one of Australia’s toughest but most spectacular day walks, its 875m summit can only be undertaken with a licensed guide (mostly due to the sensitive wildlife).
The return journey takes between eight and 10 hours through a lot of unmarked track, with some sections so steep that ropes have been fixed to help you climb up.
However, all the hard work will most certainly pay off when you reach the top, with stunning views of the island.
Some of the flora and fauna of Mt Gower cannot be seen anywhere else in the world; if you’re lucky, you might even see a Lord Howe Island woodhen, an endemic bird brought back from the brink of extinction in recent decades.
And an unusual wildlife experience awaits you at the top – the providence petrels almost fall from the sky to your very feet if you make lots of sound.
The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence is a museum dedicated to baked beans, owned and operated by a bean-obsessed superhero called Captain Beany. And yes, it is as eccentric as it sounds.
In order to understand the Baked Bean Museum of Excellence, you first have to understand Captain Beany. The man formerly known as Barry Kirk once worked in the computer department of the British Petroleum chemical plant in the village of Baglan in Neath Port Talbot.
Then, in September 1986, one sublime event changed his life: Kirk sat naked in a bathtub full of baked beans for 100 hours, setting a new world record.
At the same time, his one true destiny was revealed: Captain Beany was born, an honest-to-goodness real-life superhero rising like a phoenix from the rich tomato sauce of a thousand baked beans. It was a beautiful moment.
In truth, it actually took a few years for Kirk to complete his baked bean-obsessed transformation. But in 1991, he legally changed his name by deed poll to Captain Beany.