Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island is situated 15 km off the coast of South Australia.  It measures 155 km long and 55 km wide, with 4400 sq.km of unspoiled and beautiful scenery, packed with Australian native flora and fauna, and one of Australia’s best nature-based destinations.  If you are keen to see native Australian wildlife roaming free, then this is your place. 

Getting there is easy. A short 45-minute ferry ride from Adelaide will take you to Penneshaw, from there its an easy 30 minute drive to Kingscote. Or a 30-minute flight from Adelaide takes you directly to the main town of Kingscote.

Kangaroo Island map

No visit to Kingscote is complete without a visit to the daily 5 pm pelican feeding show at Kingscote wharf. Definitely worth the $5 for the unique experience of more than 100 pelicans descending on the wharf for their daily supper!

Pelican man
The Pelican man
Pelican coming for dinner
Coming in for dinner
Pelican soup
Pelican Frenzy

After the show, we hung around the wharf for a while and suddenly a most beautiful sunset took off.

Kingscote sunset
Kingscote sunset
Night fall at Kingscote
Night falls over Kingscote

Getting around Kangaroo Island is very easy. One can take their own car on the ferry or can hire a car on the island. Most of the main roads are sealed, there are few unsealed roads that are safe to drive on and some that are 4wd only. There are also tour companies on the island who will create a personalised tour for visitors upon request.

Driving before 8 am and after 5 pm is discouraged as many nocturnal animals are out and about. The wildlife are not aware of any ‘road rules’ and wander around everywhere. On one day alone we counted 25 road kills in a 100 km stretch of road. Even during the day, we had to stop for kangaroos, wallabies, and a few echidnas crossing the road. One is encouraged to drive slowly and stay alert for wildlife crossings.

Flinders chase national park

At the very western end of Kangaroo Island, you will find Flinders Chase National Park. It is approximately 110 km from the main town, Kingscote. Flinders Chase National park is protected for flora and fauna and has become a safe sanctuary for many of Australia’s endangered species, such as koala, platypus, goannas, wallabies, and many other species of wildlife.

Flinders Chase National Park Road
That famous Flinders Chase National Park Road

The Kangaroo Island kangaroo is only found on Kangaroo Island. With no natural predators, they are the slowest moving of all kangaroo species. Closely related to the western grey kangaroo, they are smaller and more robust, with a shorter muzzle, limbs and tails, and a broader jaw. They have dark brown to black-tipped paws and feet. Their fur is darker brown, thicker and longer. They are also not necessarily nocturnal and spend much of their daylight hours out and about grazing in mobs.

Kangaroo Island kangaroo
Kangaroo Island kangaroo
Small Kangaroo Island kangaroo
Kangaroo Island kangaroo

Feeding wildlife on Kangaroo Island is forbidden, and in all National Parks and Wildlife Reserves in South Australia.

remarkable rocks

After an amazing drive through the dense bush of Flinders Chase National Park and enjoying the wildlife, one arrives at Remarkable Rocks. From a distance, the rocks look interesting, but not particularly remarkable!

Remarkable Rocks from a distance
Driving towards Remarkable Rocks

However, once getting up close to the rocks ~ and seeing their sheer size, perched on the cliff over the ocean, and shaped by 500 million years of erosion, they are definitely worthy of their name “Remarkable Rocks”! It was an incredible experience and we were very lucky that we were able to walk up to and around them.

Walking around Remarkable Rocks
Lichen covers Remarkable Rocks
Remarkable Rocks
Admirals arch

Admirals Arch is a natural rock arch not far from Remarkable Rocks. A boardwalk leads you down the cliff face to a viewing platform directly in front of the arch. Fur seals are often lying on the rocks below the arch as seen in the image below, have to look very closely.

Admirals Arch

Cape de couedic lighthouse

Cape de Couedic Lighthouse was built in 1909 to guide ships through Investigator Strait. It is within Flinders Chase National Park a short drive from Remarkable Rocks. It is still operational with automated lighting.

Cape Couedic Lighthouse
Cape du Couedic Lighthouse
Vivonne Bay

There is not much at Vivonne Bay apart from the jetty, beautiful white sand and clear aqua water. It is a very secluded beach which many people apart from locals know about. Definitely well worth the slight detour driving through and around the rocky cliffs and dirt road to see and spend time at this beach. Its very secluded and peaceful.

Vivonne Bay
Vivonne Bay
Seal Bay

Seal Bay, located on the south coast overlooking the body of water known as The Great Southern Ocean. Seal Bay is considered Kangaroo Island’s premier tourist destination. The award-winning ecologically sustainable conservation reserve is home to hundreds of sea lions. It is the only place in the world where you can see Australian sea lions up close and personal as you walk along the beach where pups frolic under the watchful eyes of their parents. Normally the beach is all white and sandy, but the day prior to our visit there was big sea waves which had washed up mountains of kelp!

Sea lions at Seal Bay
Sea lions
Seal Bay sea lions
Sea lion family
Pair of young sea lions
Pair of young sea lions
Bales Beach

Not far from Seal Bay is Bales Beach. It one of the few accessible surfing beaches along the south coast of Kangaroo Island, there wasn’t much surf happening on this day. It is the perfect beach for walking in the sand and enjoying the scenery. Fishing is not allowed at Bales Beach as the beach is part of an Aquatic Reserve that is being used to protect breeding colonies of Australian Seal Lions in the area.

Bales Beach
Bale Beach
Sea star
Eight armed Sea Star
Bales Beach
Bales Beach

raptor domain

The Raptor Domain on Kangaroo Island is an Environmental, Educational, Rehabilitation Centre, located at Seal Bay. It is a beautiful 150 acre property which is beautifully cared for and welcoming for tourists. They have many orphaned and sick Birds of Prey which are either rehabilitated and returned to the wild, or for those that are unable to be released remain at the centre and are cared for. The Raptor Domain also has breed and release programs. Daily educational presentations are available which we found interesting and informative. The birds are trained to demonstrate their own natural abilities that they would have in the wild. They are not trained like zoo animals to do “circus tricks”. We enjoyed a private 2-hour session with a local raptor handler, and were able to learn about the birds. It was a great experience to see owls, eagles, kookaburra’s, Kestrels and Sea Eagles up close.

Cape Willoughby

Cape Willoughby is a headland located on eastern most end of Dudley Peninsular. Cape Willoughby Lighthouse was the first lighthouse built in South Australia in 1952. Proudly standing 27 metres high, and with 102 steps which takes you to the lookout tower it is a very impressive lighhouse. The lighthouse provides lighting over the Backstairs Passage of the Kangaroo Island Coastline for shipping to and from the mainland.

Driving to Cape Willoughby
Drive to Cape Willoughby
Cape Willoughby Lighthouse
Cape Willoughby Lighthouse
Emu Bay

Emu Bay is a short drive from Kingscote. Its beach ranks amongst the most popular on the island due to its clear and clean waters. A favourite swimming and fishing spot for the locals and tourists. The jetty dating backing to 1918.

Emu Bay
Emu Bay pelicans
Jetty at Emu Bay
Emu Bay Pier

Tree lined road
Narrow-leaved Mallee eucalyptus woodland tree lined road on Kangaroo Island

In the summer of 2019 – 2020, Kangaroo Island was subject to devastating bushfires, that were started by lightning strikes that decimated one-third of the island. The bushfires were the largest in the islands recorded history and burnt 211,000 hectares mainly down the western end with the Flinders Chase National Park all but destroyed. Almost 44,000 animals perished in the fires or had to be euthanised. Around 30 wild animals a day, including koalas, wallabies, opossums, monitor lizards, and birds arrived daily at the Island’s wildlife park for treatment. It is estimated that half of the islands 50,000 koalas died in the fires, which was an enormous loss for the healthy and thriving koala population that inhabited the island.

The island has gone from being overpopulated with koalas to underpopulated due to the fires. Providing a habitat for koalas will prove especially difficult with the number of eucalyptus trees lost.

Original photo taken before the fires by myself, post fire photo curtesy of ABC News

As shown above, in the before and after images, you can see the road driving into Flinders Chase National Park suffered devastating habitat loss.

Kangaroo Island is now in slow recovery mode. The wildlife is slowly venturing back to their habitats as nature and the land recovers.

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