“Tie Me Kangaroo Down” – On Kangaroo Island

Day 45, Grand World Voyage

Friday, Feb. 17, 2023; Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island, Australia.

Okay, there was no tying down of kangaroos on Kangaroo Island. But the song kept running through my mind today.

Kangaroo Island, just off the coast of Adelaide, is a tender port that takes us into the small town of Penneshaw. As a village of about 1,500 people, Penneshaw offers a look at life away from the cities of Australia. I spent my time ashore in the village.

Some call the island (Australia’s third largest) a zoo without fences. It was named for the kangaroos that live there, but it also is home to wallabies, koalas, seals, sea lions and goannas, a type of lizard.

Penneshaw offers little public transportation beyond a few rental cars, so most people who ventured beyond the village took ship excursions. Eloise went to see the sea lions…

Photo by Eloise Johnston

And Elaine saw the island’s first lighthouse and kangaroos relaxing in the shade in the distance, in addition to stopping “at a local cellar door for some wine tasting.”

Photo by Elaine Johnston Durham

I don’t know why I wasn’t inspired to take a tour, but I enjoyed a slower pace.

I never learned why the penguin discovery area near the pier was closed. Eloise saw penguins there in the early morning.

Photo by Eloise Johnston

Several local artists were selling their creations in a tent market on the soccer pitch near the pier. Somehow I walked right by the kangaroo rescue organization tent, which had an recovering kangaroo that many passengers admired. Many donated to the cause. The local IGA grocery store was the main center of activity, with a few small inns and a couple of restaurants making up the tourist trade. I walked along the coast, admiring the views.

We capped our day with an outstanding Australian dinner with friends Toya and Bob Howard in the Pinnacle Grill.

The chefs offered a 7-course dinner of Australian specialties, starting with an amuse bouche with kangaroo meat. I’ve eaten a kangaroo burger before, and no, it doesn’t taste like chicken, but rather bison.

The meal progressed from scallops to barramundi to Tasmanian lamb to a meringue dessert with mangos, all accompanied by Australian wines. All for the price of $69 plus gratuity. We’ve booked the African and Norwegian dinners for later in the cruise.

Most evenings we eat in the main dining room, unless we want to eat quickly to go to a show or we don’t want to make the effort to dress up. In those cases, we go to the Lido Buffet, which usually features several of the same offerings as the dining room. Early in the day, the menus for each restaurant are posted on our Navigator app.

For many years now Holland America (and other cruise lines) have offered specialty restaurants aboard their ships. The Pinnacle Grill was the first, focusing on great steaks but also offering seafood. Caneletto is an Italian restaurant that takes over part of the Lido buffet area in the evenings. On its larger ships, the cruise line has seafood restaurant Rudi’s Sel de Mer and Asian-focused Tamarind.

The Zuiderdam and its sister Vista-class ships lack the latter two restaurants, but sometimes the Pinnacle offers a “pop-up” version of one or the other. Next week we’re going to give the Tamarind pop-up a try.

Tomorrow we set sail across the Australian Bight, an area known for storms, but our forecast is good. We’ve been lucky to dodge bad weather so far. We left New Zealand before Cyclone Gabrielle arrived earlier this week (described by the prime minister as the biggest natural disaster in a century). Cyclone Freddy, tettering on the edge of a category 5, currently is expected to skirt Mauritius and Réunion Island and perhaps directly hit Madagascar next week. We will be trailing it by a week, as all three islands are on our itinerary starting the first of March.

For now we have three days at sea, after which we will arrive in Fremantle, the port town for Perth, on the west coast of Australia. For those of us who were on the 2020 World Cruise, it marks the place we were cast ashore to make our way home at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.