Kangaroo Island : Seeing is Believing


Just off the coast near Adelaide, beautiful Kangaroo Island is known as Australia’s answer to the Galapagos.  It is a microcosm of different landscapes and environments with stunning beaches, forests, desert dunes and farmland.  Kangaroo Island is the ultimate place to go to see native Australian wildlife in its natural habitat, so it's no wonder that it's been named as one of Australia's National Landscapes.


Kingscote is the Island’s oldest and largest township and was once earmarked to become South Australia’s capital until a lack of water and poor soil drove most settlers to the mainland.  It’s difficult to comprehend now how hard those early settlers must have worked to ensure their survival and success but their labour and persistence is now being recognised by a wider audience thanks to the ever growing influence of tourism on the local economy.


The best thing about KI is that nature is never far away – an echidna wandering across your path is not an uncommon sight, nor are New Zealand Fur Seals, Southern Right Whales, the small but curious Tammar Wallabies, kangaroos, bandicoots, possums and goannas.


Perhaps most popular with visitors is the substantial colony of Australian Sea Lions at Seal Bay on the Island’s Southern coast.  These exotic creatures venture out into the Southern Ocean daily to feed but there are always a considerable number visible on the shoreline.  While the hefty 300kg adults maintain a safe distance of several metres, it’s not uncommon for inquisitive pups to approach visitors and travellers find it simply exhilarating to get this close to these land and seafaring mammals in the wild.  An 800 metre boardwalk meanders through the sand dunes to viewing platforms where the sea lions can be observed surfing the waves or sunning themselves on the beach with a dramatic coastal scenery backdrop.


Further west lies Flinders Chase National Park, a pristine bush environment simply teeming with wildlife.  While a range of birds and marsupials inhabit the bush, the striking Cape du Couedic and Admirals Arch are home to a colony of New Zealand Fur Seals.  At sunset the evocative view of the arch is simply stunning and the boardwalk that leads down to it offers ample viewpoint of the playful fur seals as they frolic amongst the rocks.


Also in Flinders Chase National Park, perched above the sea, the imposing and thoroughly unique Remarkable Rocks form what appears to be a cluster of precariously balanced granite boulders.  This stunning work of nature has been shaped by the erosive forces of wind, sea spray and rain over some 500 million years.  The golden orange lichen covering some of the rocks offers visitors wonderful photo opportunities at different times of the day.  There are times when the eye-catching curves in the rock formation and the colours and the shades resemble a Salvador Dali painting.


Vivonne Bay has crystal clear waters and lush white sands, this beach epitomises coastal perfection. The northern coastline is home to Stokes Bay, a beautiful beach accessible via a cliff ‘tunnel’ which opens out onto the picturesque coast. To your left is a rock pool perfect for children to swim in, while on your right is the secluded coast with waves suitable for surfing. Emu Bay is an expansive, picturesque four kilometre long beach with vehicle access.  It is one of the most popular beaches on Kangaroo Island with safe, clear water for swimming.  Anglers can try their luck from the jetty or launch their boats from the access ramp.  Snellings Beach is another popular beach on the island and the view from the top of nearby Constitution Hill is spectacular.  At the mouth of Middle River, Snellings is great for swimming and surf-fishing and, at either end of the beach, perfectly set up for rock-fishing.


There’s also much value for the gourmet traveller on the island with wineries, honey farms, specialist sheep dairies, gourmet fish shops and a range of fresh seafood.  The lack of large-scale development means that small industry has flourished on the island and now includes a variety of products such as free-range eggs, olive oil, native jams, smoked fish, sauces and marinades.  Kangaroo Island's apiarists harvest honey from the pure strain Ligurian bees, and regional cheeses and yoghurts continue to find a place in food lovers' hearts.  Fresh seafood is featured across the Island and seasonally you can enjoy a variety of natural and farmed produce such as oysters, prawns, crayfish, whiting, snapper and unique local delicacies such as freshwater marron.


Accommodation on Kangaroo Island ranges from upscale lavish six star coastal resorts and exotic wilderness retreats to mid range, budget friendly accommodation, especially within the main townships of Kingscote and Penneshaw.  Many accommodation providers can also arrange island tours tailored to the interests of their guests.


Fantastic wildlife, great nature-centric accommodation, a strong local food culture and stunning scenery are enough to entice anyone to Kangaroo Island for some family time or indulgent relaxation. The island is accessible from the mainland via ferry from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw and flights operate between Adelaide and Kingscote.


For much more information on these and countless other wonderful destinations in South Australia - please visit southaustralia.com whose contribution made this article happen.