The kids all slept well, I was awake for a while listening to the very long, loud trains rattling past, and the noise of the highway. We were all awake fairly early though, which meant we had time for a leisurely breakfast and for Millie and I to have our showers, before beginning to pack up. The kids explored the caravan park in between helping with pack up. We’re getting more efficient as we figure out what order to do things in and the best way to put everything in the car and trailer. We were on the road again just before 11, our quickest getaway by far.
On the way we listened to Almost Super again – it’s great to find a book that all 5 of us enjoy, and this is definitely one of them. We also watched the terrain around us change a few times – low flat bushes, and areas of wetlands as we passed the Coorong.
|Our set up in the carpark at Monarto Zoo|
After a couple of hours we reached Monarto Zoo, which we have reciprocal membership to as part of our Zoos Victoria membership. So it was free for us to go in which saved us over $100. We packed a bag with food and hats and sunscreen and in we went. As we were arriving in the afternoon we decided to get straight on the safari bus (the kids checked out the meerkats while we were waiting). We saw Przewalski horses and zebras and bison and rhino
and other animals, before we hopped off to go and see the giraffe talk. The added bonus of this talk and feed was that there were zebras (Millie’s favourite) and they came up to feed off the ute, right underneath where Millie was standing. It’s the closest she’s ever been to a zebra and it was extremely exciting. We really got to see the detail of their stripes and how fluffy their ears were.
|Our view of the zebras at the giraffe talk|
|Waiting for the cheetah|
We had a bit of lunch (tuna and ham and cheese and crackers) while we waited for the bus again, then got off at the next stop so that we could hear the cheetah talk. This cheetah had been hand raised and so the keeper was able to go in the enclosure with her. She said at the start that the cheetah might not come up for us to see her ‘because she IS a cat…’ She did come eventually and it was amazing to see her interacting with the keeper, just like Winky at home. The talk was interesting and we all loved watching her. At the end the keeper asked the kids (ours and one other family) why they weren’t at school. Mine replied that they were homeschooled, and she said that was great, and that coming to the zoo was a very educational way to spend the day. She asked what they learned from her talk, and LiAM said ‘not much’. After everyone stopped laughing I explained that the cheetah was his favourite animal so he already knew most of what she had said, but that she had confirmed his knowledge. She asked him to tell her something about cheetahs that she’d missed, so he said that they have the black stripes below their eyes so they can see better in the bright sun. She was impressed, and chatted to him a bit about all the types of cats in Africa, and was even more impressed when he said that hyenas are related to cats. She said that he could be a zookeeper one day with that amount of knowledge and interest.
|Hand feeding a cheetah - how cool would that be!|
We raced back down to the bus and continued on, seeing rhino, hyena, painted dogs (including puppies, who chased the bus as it drove past) and lions. Back to the visitors centre where we watched the meerkats for a while, then the kids spent some of their money in the gift shop while Tony went back to the car to make us some hot drinks. Caitlin bought jewellery, Millie a little Schleich fennec fox, and LiAM a plush snow leopard and a Schleich hyena. It was a tough decision for the younger two with so much to choose from, and balancing the idea of getting awesome animals with not wanting to spend their holiday money too quickly. Everyone was happy with their choices in the end (and LiAM’s snow leopard has not left his side since).
We continued on towards Adelaide, still trying to figure out where to stay for the next couple of nights. We’d had a couple of suggestions of free camps but I didn’t have enough internet signal to download Wiki Camps and couldn’t find more information on them any other way, so we looked at caravan parks. The prices were all within about $10 of each other, with the Hahndorf Big 4 right in the middle of the price range, so we decided to go with a bit of luxury for a few nights before heading north into more unknown areas.
It was fun driving through Hahndorf and remembering last time we were here (which was before Millie turned 1, I was shocked to calculate that that means it’s 6 years since our South Australia trip! I loved SA then and I’m excited to be back). We stopped for groceries and then on to the Big 4 – the kids were very excited as we drove in and then more so after they had explored and found a pool, mini golf, outdoor chess, a great kitchen, nice toilets, and a games room.
Tony and I set up while they explored and then had sausages on the BBQ for tea. Caitlin and I put the annex up by ourselves while Tony cooked. After we’d eaten we all went up to the games room and played air hockey (for free!!!), ping pong and fusball (all free). It was so much fun. I got better at fusball with a bit of practice – Tony is really good though so I was no match for him. We went close at air hockey, one of the few physical things I have a chance of beating him at. We each played the kids as well and they all did well.
I came back down and set the beds up and we put up the second wall on the annex so that if it rains (which is forecast) all our stuff will stay dry. The kids were exhausted so I read to them for a while then finished getting ready for bed myself.