Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island is situated 15 km off the coast of South Australia. The Island 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. So if you are keen to see native Australian wildlife roaming free, then this is your place. 

Getting to Kangaroo Island is easy. A short 45-minute ferry ride from Adelaide will take you to Penneshaw. From Penneshaw, it’s 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

Kangaroo Island

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

Pelican man
Pelican feeding frenzy

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

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

Kingscote sunset

Kangaroo Island
Kingscote sunset
Night fall at Kingscote
Night falls over Kingscote

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

take care driving

Driving before 8 am and after 5 pm is discouraged as many nocturnal animals are out and about. The wildlife is unaware of any ‘road rules’ and wanders around everywhere. We counted 25 road kills in a 100 km stretch of road on one day alone. We had to stop for kangaroos, wallabies, and a few echidnas crossing the street during the day. 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. Flora and fauna are protected in Flinders Chase National park. The National park is a safe sanctuary for many of Australia’s endangered species, such as the koala, platypus, goannas, wallabies, and many other wildlife species.

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

The Kangaroo Island kangaroo is only found on Kangaroo Island. They are the slowest moving of all kangaroo species with no natural predators. Closely related to the western grey kangaroo, they are smaller and 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

It is forbidden to feed wildlife on Kangaroo Island. In addition, it is prohibited to feed all wildlife in 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 worthy of their name, “Remarkable Rocks”! It was an incredible experience, and we were fortunate that we could 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. This lighthouse 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. However, it is well worth the slight detour driving through and around the rocky cliffs and dirt road to see and spend time at this beach. It’s very secluded and peaceful.

Vivonne Bay
Vivonne Bay
Seal Bay

Located on the south coast overlooking the body of water known as The Great Southern Ocean. This 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. Seal Bay beach is usually white and sandy. However, the day before, there was a storm with big waves that washed up kelp mountains.

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

Not far from Seal Bay is Bales Beach. It is one of the few accessible surfing beaches along the south coast of Kangaroo Island; there wasn’t much surf happening on this day. However, 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 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 and rehabilitation centre located at Seal Bay. It is a beautiful 150-acre property that is beautifully cared for and welcome tourists. The centre is home to orphaned and sick Birds of Prey. The birds are cared for, hoping to be released back into the wild. The ones that are not released become resident birds at this centre. Those unable to be released remain at the centre. The Raptor Domain also has breed and release programs. Daily educational presentations are available, which we found interesting and informative. We enjoyed a private 2-hour session with a local raptor handler and learned about the birds. It was a great experience to see owls, eagles, kookaburra’s, Kestrels and Sea Eagles up close.

Cape Willoughby lighthouse

Cape Willoughby is a headland located on the easternmost end of Dudley Peninsular. This Lighthouse was the first lighthouse built in South Australia in 1952. Proudly standing 27 metres high and with 102 steps that take you to the lookout tower, it is a very impressive lighthouse. 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

From Kingscote, it is a short and pleasant drive to Emu Bay. 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 dates back to 1918.

Emu Bay
Kangaroo Island
Emu Bay pelicans
Jetty at Emu Bay
Kangaroo Island
Emu Bay Pier
Tree-lined road
Kangaroo Island
Mallee eucalyptus woodland tree-lined road

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

Due to the fires, the Island has gone from being overpopulated with koalas to underpopulated. Providing habitat for koalas will prove especially difficult with the number of eucalyptus trees lost.

I took the photo above before the bushfires. The image above is post-fire (courtesy 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.

Following the bushfires, Kangaroo Island is now in slow recovery mode. On the positive side, wildlife is slowly returning. In addition they are heading back to their habitats as nature and the land recovers.

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