Kangaroo Island Adventures Part Two

Kangaroo Island (KI) is beautiful with wildlife galore. It feels like staying in a wildlife preserve because much of it is a wildlife preserve. The island has a fertile farming industry and so eating locally grown or caught food is part of any visit. It has all that island living has to offer–both the positive and the negative (more on that later).

The best way to explore the KI is on a tour. We chose a full day “Island Life Tour” from Exceptional Kangaroo Island (EKI) based on a recommendation from a couple we met while in New Zealand. We saw all sorts of real wildlife: rare black cockatoos, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, endangered Australian Sea Lions and Australian wedge-tailed eagles. Our tour include tea under amazing eucalyptus trees (with koalas hanging out overhead), a bbq lunch in the bush. EKI promises small tours and our had only one other couple with us.

Koalas, Eucalyptus, Australia

Tea under koalas in the eucalyptus

Kangaroo Island Tour

Our tour guide and the other couple

Koalas, Kangaroo Island

See the kangaroos in the background?

Kangaroo Island, BBQ

A bbq lunch in the bush

Grilled whiting, halloumi cheese, salad , Kangaroo Island Tour

Grilled whiting, halloumi cheese & salad

Vegetarian, BBQ, Kangaroo Island

Vegetarian option for lunch

Sea lion, nursing, Kangaroo Island

A mother sea lion nursing her pup

Kangaroos, Kangaroo Island

Wild kangaroos hanging out in a field.

Stokes Bay, Kangaroo Island Tour

Overlooking Stokes Bay

That night, to celebrate our anniversary, we had dinner at the Stranraer Homestead, a lovely high-end B & B serving gourmet meals made from local produce and seafood. The owners graciously drove us home afterwards, so we could drink wine during our meal and avoid dealing with the unpaved roads and wildlife hurling themselves at our (uninsured) rental car. It was the end of what should have been a perfect day.

Grilled fish, Kangaroo Island

Grilled fish with gluten free crumb covering

Local lamb, Kangaroo_Island

Local lamb

Pavlova, Kangaroo Island

Authentic Australian Pavlova (read for info
about the Aussies vs the Kiwis)

But not all island living is idyllic. Sometime island living can also mean provincial thinking and small-minded prejudice. We were exposed to this aspect of the island via our tour guide. For most of the day he was funny, informative, educational and all around entertaining. 

I have been on walking tours all over the world and most are pretty good, but this one was excellent and the reason was our tour guide’s stories. You can teach a tour guide facts and figures, but to make a place come alive, you need a storyteller. And that is what we had in this guy: his stories about the locals made the tour lively and  interesting. So it was all the more disappointing to be exposed to a part of island living that we could have done without.

At the end of the day, our tour guide decided to share Australian expressions as he was driving us back. When he asked if anyone was Jewish, we said yes; He then said that he better not share the next expression, leaving us to wonder what he had been about to say.

Context: This was two days after the start of Passover, right before Easter, just after the terrible shooting at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas City. David thinks I am being dramatic when I connect these anti-Semitic remarks to the murder of three people but it starts with comments that are disparaging, off-putting, cruel.

Frankly we were in shock at the time and did not say anything. But after a few days of thinking about this incident I wrote to the owners of EKI. They apologized, said all the right things and supposedly we will be receiving an apology from the tour guide, but the fact is that it marred our time on Kangaroo Island celebrating our anniversary.

This was not the first time I have experienced anti-Semitism. But is has been a long while. The last time was about 10 years ago when we were living in St. Louis. A mothers of our daughter’s friend purposely didn’t invite us to join a group of the other mothers and daughters going to the Nutcracker Ballet, because we are Jewish. Again, subtle but cruel.

Have you ever been the target of hate speech or prejudice? What did you do?

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

8 thoughts on “Kangaroo Island Adventures Part Two

  1. Leslie Conway

    Trip sounds awesome and your anniversary dinner looked great. I loved that the driver took you home so that you could enjoy! So sorry about the tour guide’s comment. I think it’s what makes prejudice so scary. It’s insidious, and when it comes from someone who seems educated and kind, informative and friendly, it makes it doubly terrifying. When you can blame it on ignorance it’s easier to forgive in a way. I’m glad you notified the tour company. That took courage. Not everyone would have and when we all let those types of things go, the lack of consequence allows it to happen again. Way to go!

    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      Thanks Leslie! It was a hard letter to write and a hard blog post to write. But I feel liked writing both helped me process and let go. It was just so unexpected and that is what made it harder to deal with. Of course I have had to deal with the bumps and bruises of anti-semitism before, but it had been a long while.

  2. Sandra Severin

    Hi Heidi,
    I am so sorry your anniversary trip was marred by such an experience. I hope that you can block out the ignorant, and remember the rest of the time you had.
    I am sure that whatever he was going to say was not an Australian expression, just a racist idiot’s expression. I am sorry he subjected you to that experience, and rightly so you should complain to the tour company!

    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      Thanks Sandy, appreciate your comments. After some time passing I can remember the beauty of the island over his comments. Incredibly, he sent an email apology about 2 months afterwards and in it he told a story about how his father saved a bunch of Jewish refugees in WWII to show how he wasn’t anti-semetic and how he didn’t mean to offend us. Bottom line is that while he was a good tour guide for his island, next time I need less small minded island mentality and more open minded people with large hearts!

  3. Jennifer

    I hear people say anti-Semitic things like that all the time, even here in the environs of a major US city. I think it’s mostly ignorance, because it often comes from otherwise good-hearted people who think they are being funny (or even think they are being considerate by asking, before telling the joke, whether you’ll be offended). The more attention is brought to experiences like yours, the more people will begin to recognize this ugliness for what it is. I’m sorry it marred your day, and I hope the bad part of the memory will fade and leave you only with great memories of your trip.

    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      Thanks for the comment. Someday I hope to be able to speak up when this sort of situation occurs. I also happened when I was on a walking tour of Melbourne. a woman made a derogatory remark about Jews while we were learning about the history of the city. Nothing will change until people who make these kids of comments (no matter what their motivation) are told that their comments are offensive. I was pretty upset when it happened as I feared it would mar our experience of celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. But now it is just one more part of the story along with the whole renting of a car fiasco and then trying to get the rental car onto and off the ferry!

  4. Thien-Kim

    I hate that one comment can ruin a day for someone, especially one that is insensitive. I’m sorry it happened to you and your husband. I might not have said anything either, but it would have bother. I’m glad that you contacted the company to tell them what happened.

    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      It was very anti-climatic to contact the company. I knew tat they would apologize, which they did. And I knew that they would be slightly defensive, which they were. And I knew that it would not wash away the bod feelings leftover from the incident, but it was the best I could do. I couldn’t walk away and say nothing and as I wrote in the piece, I was really too shocked at the time to say anything directly. UGH!


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