Kangaroo Island is all about simple things that truly matter in life – peace, beautiful landscapes and good food. Here’s what you can do in South Australia’s animal kingdom
Picture an island 4,405 sq km long with a population of merely 4,600 humans and uncountable wildlife. A place where you aren’t greeted with morning newspaper, but Australian sea lions basking on pristine white beaches, koalas dozing on towering eucalyptus trees and kangaroos – many carrying their young joeys in the pouch – hopping around in vast verdant spaces. A place where people have deep values, simple genuineness and a special connection with each other as well as the nature around. That’s Kangaroo Island (KI as locals call it) for you – a remote, rural Australian experience.
Divided in North Coast that consists of rolling hills, secluded bays and views for kilometers and rugged South Coast that is home to island’s most splendid attractions, KI a place to enjoy spectacular contrasts.
EAT, SLEEP, BREATHE WILD
Your adventure in Southern KI begins with a drive down the never-ending road shaded by eucalyptus trees on both sides. Here’s where you can discover a real sense of space, see nature at its barest and observe wildlife where it belongs.
At the magnificent Seal Bay and Admiral’s Arch, watch long-nosed fur seals fishing, surfing, napping, interacting with their pups and defending their territory.
While Seal Bay is home to the third-largest colony of Australian sea lions in the world, over 7,000 of these marine mammals live and breed around Cape du Couedic. Just a 10-minute drive from the Arch, Remarkable Rocks is an iconic landmark with granite boulders sculpted by rain, wind, and pounding waves over a period of 500 million years.
Strike a freakish pose with one of those sculptures, lose yourself in their surreal beauty or revel in the colours of the stunning sunset. With bountiful flora and fauna, KI is every wildlife photographer’s Shangri-La
Feed pelicans and koalas at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, click tammar wallabies that look like a finer version of the kangaroo, catch sight of camera-shy echidnas and be on the lookout for exotic birds like black cockatoo, magpie, cape barren geese, rock parrot and little penguin
If you have some time on hand, traverse the wilderness of Flinders Chase National Park on foot; it has a network of walking trails and broadwalks of varying levels of difficulty.
- KI wildlife is often active at night. Animals are likely to pop up on the road from thick bushlands. So, drive slow, dip your lights and take time to observe wildlife. Carry your binoculars for a closer look.
- Whether it’s under a fig tree or amid the bushes, there is no shortage of private, sheltered spots to settle down for a barbeque in the wild. Bring your own basket of meat, wine, fruits and local sheep’s cheese and enjoy a tasty outdoor feast.
A COAST WITH THE MOST
If you’re among those who love to feel the sand between their toes, the island’s 540 km coastline has everything from secret, rocky caverns to jaw-dropping scenery and shimmering beaches with aquamarine oceans. With old-fashioned beach shacks run by passionate locals and laidback, alfresco-style dining options, Stokes Bay on the northern coast makes for a great swimming and camping spot. Here, the real fun lies in reaching the beach by making your way through natural, cave-like structures.
To explore the underwater world, go on a marine tour that takes off from Bay of Shoals and Emu Bay Jetty. See seals, sea eagles and osprey and view ancient fossil beds or put on your wetsuit and swim with wild bottlenose dolphins in shallow, protected waters. Grab your scuba dive equipment and marvel at gorgonian coral and magnificent fish including blue devil, harlequin, truncate coralfish, boarfish and the elusive leafy sea dragon.
Tip: Don’t leave KI without having a taste of its local drops. Pay a visit to KIS – a little boutique distillery that is into making handcrafted vodka, gin and liqueur in unique flavours like honey, walnut, anisette, limoncello and chilli. Opt for a tasting, learn to make your own or carry a bottle back home as memorabilia
BECOME A LOCAL!
Here, it doesn’t take you long to embrace a local tradition. To look like a local, do the signature Kangaroo Island Wave every time you’re in the driver’s seat. Just raising your index finger when passing a car travelling in the opposite direction does the job!
HOW TO GET THERE
You can either take a 30-min flight from Adelaide to KI (Kingscote airport) or opt for the 45-minute ferry service that operates daily between Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula (two hours drive south of Adelaide) and Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island. If you wish you travel in the comfort of your own car, carry it from the mainland via Sealink.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Kangaroo Island enjoys a Mediterranean climate – summers (December to February) are slightly warm and breezy with cool evenings and winters (June to September) are short and wet. From March to June, the weather is pleasant with long, balmy days and calm seas.
You can visit KI anytime of the year. Visit during
Summer: for a good time at the beaches
Winter: for whale watching
Autumn: for hiking and greenery
Springtime: to spot umpteen birds, animals and wild flowers
WHERE TO STAY
Island’s capital and largest town, Kingscote is a striking place to call home. Aurora Ozone Hotel at Chapman Terrace offers decent accommodation, unforgettable views and freshest seafood at its in-house restaurant. If you’re a budget traveller looking for swag under the stars, KI has many options for intimate caravanning or camping. Beautifully-restored lighthouse keeper’s cottages nestled near Cape du Couedic Lighthouse also make for a good option.
The Ligurian bees on KI are believed to be the last remaining pure stock of this bee found anywhere in the world. Bring back a bottle of sugar gum honey which has a good shelf life and doesn’t candy easily.
DID YOU KNOW?
KI is steeped in history dating back to 1802 when it was first sighted by European explorer, Captain Matthew Flinders.