Hopping Down Under to Kangaroo Island
For Australia-bound travelers seeking close encounters with the weird and wonderful wildlife Down Under, Kangaroo Island offers great opportunities. Penguins burrow in coastal shelters, koalas can be seen munching away in eucalyptus trees, and the kangaroos are so numerous in one national park that fences have been added around picnic tables so you can eat in peace. On a specially protected beach, you can walk among a colony of massive lazing sea lions. The problem for budget travelers has been getting around to the sites--the island is 97 miles long, and there’s no public transportation. Now a local tour operator has introduced tour and transportation packages that include hostel accommodations.
The budget tours offered by Kangaroo Island Ferry Connections depart from the bus terminal in Adelaide. The Wilderness Encounter With Penguins tour starts at 7 a.m. with a bus and ferry ride to the island’s beach town, Penneshaw. Then you have the day free to explore before meeting up with a national park guide for an evening tour of the local fairy penguin colony. Accommodations for the night are provided at the local Penguin Walk Youth Hostel. The following day is spent touring the island. Stops include the Little Sahara Sand Dunes, visiting the sea lions at Seal Bay, kangaroo sighting at Flinders Chase, a visit to Admirals’ Arch and a stop at Remarkable Rocks (a unique geological formation). An evening ferry ride and bus trip get you back to Adelaide by 10:30 p.m. The cost is $112. For more information on budget tours with Kangaroo Island Ferry Connections, contact them at P.O. Box 497, Penneshaw, South Australia 5222; tel. 011-61-8-8553-1233, fax 011-61-8-8553-1190.
Three new budget hostels have been added to the Hostelling International-American Youth Hostels network.
If you’re heading for the East Coast and like to cycle or kayak, there’s a small new hostel on Penobscot Bay, just south of Bangor, Maine. Cyclists staying at the HI-Searsport, Penobscot Bay Hostel can hop onto the Coastal Bike Path (from Camden to Bar Harbor) right at the hostel’s door, and travelers who prefer the sea can rent kayaks locally or take a ride on a schooner. The hostel, open until Aug. 31, also brings in local speakers on lighthouses, local history and astronomy, and you can explore the Penobscot Marine Museum. HI-Searsport, Penobscot Bay Hostel is located at 132 W. Main St., Searsport, Maine; tel. (207) 548-2506. It has just 10 beds, so make reservations.
In western Vermont, right next to the Green Mountain National Forest and Otter Creek (where you can hike, canoe and kayak) is the tiny new HI-Middlebury, Covered Bridge Youth Hostel. The six-bedded hostel, which offers accommodation for $13 to $15 per night, is located at 62 Seymour St., Middlebury, Vt.; tel. (802) 388-0401. It’s open year-round. The hostel is located near the oldest covered bridge in the state. With Middlebury College nearby, there are year-round cultural events and concerts.
The new HI-Madison Summer Hostel is open in the Langdon Residence Hall near the University of Wisconsin at Madison at 126 Langdon St.; tel. (608) 285-8536. “Let’s Go: USA 1998" said of this state capital and lively college town: “Madison may seem a budget traveler’s paradise in some ways but its low-cost lodging department lacks.” The new 48-bed summer hostel offers the advantages of campus dorm accommodation--small two-bed dorm rooms, laundry facilities, a computer room, fitness center and sun deck. It’s open to travelers until Aug. 18. Beds are $13 per night; private rooms are $25.
Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer. She can be reached at https://www.izon.com.