Giving the Galapagos a run for its flora and fauna, Kangaroo Island – nicknamed KI in local parlance – is to nature what Rome is to ancient relics or the Barossa is to vino. A pristine 155km wilderness of wetlands, woodland and waterfront that is so southerly, if you were to keep going, you’d hit Antarctica. Just two days at this year-round South Australia destination for soft adventure will open your eyes to wildlife you may only ever see here. With 30,000 koalas (wow!), roos and sea lions galore populating the pedestrian-friendly beaches, encounters with cute critters are guaranteed.
Tammar wallabies, echidnas and bats – oh my! Our advice is that you take a nocturnal tour at Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary with one of their experienced guides, for 90 minutes of extraordinary animal-spotting. Nighttime at this perfectly preserved bush sanctuary is the best time to experience many species of Australian wildlife as they keep a nocturnal lifestyle. Your adventure through this protected natural environment should have you getting up close and personal with koalas, possums, kangaroos, and the tiniest marsupials.
What wildlife you will see when
In Spring (September to November) it’s a soul-uplifting sweep of wildflowers; summer (December to February) sees the delights of breeding and birthing season; autumn (March to May) is all about the nesting of the spectacular glossy black cockatoos; winter (June to August) is a wonder of waddling echidnas where their ‘mating trains’ can consist of up to eight males trailing a female; meanwhile it is also around this time koalas and joeys begin to pop out of their mums pouches.
Where to stay on Kangaroo Island?
Southern Ocean Lodge This all-inclusive 21-suite retreat set on the southwest coast of Kangaroo Island regularly tops polls of the best hotels in the world. As the rates cover all meals, drinks and selected experiences you know you are in for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with this as your base.
Prise yourself out of the luxury perches and head west to Cape Young Husband to poke your noses around Platypus Holes or Snake Lagoon. Walks you must take include the picturesque Coastal Clifftop walk, the Bush Boundary track, and the boardwalk to Penguin Cove where you can then follow the beach to Hanson Bay. Seal Bay is especially unique as it is here you can walk among the country’s most accessible colony of Australian sea lions, and admire then surfing the waves or lolling on the beach.
As Alastair Oakman, Southern Ocean Lodge’s experiences manager will attest, lizards are starting to make appearances on trails around the lodge. He tells guests to look out for Rosenberg’s monitors (varanus rosenbergi): ‘They are re-establishing burrow networks and home ranges around the limestone cliffs and mallee country surrounding Southern Ocean Lodge.’
It is not all about the animals on KI, though: the paintings and the pottery by local artisans and artists also make this South Australia island a compelling destination. Check out their works, which are on display and available to buy from galleries and studios such as the Kangaroo Island Gallery in Kingscote.
Fly to Kangaroo Island’s Kingscote Airport in 30 minutes from Adelaide’s international airport. If you prefer boats to air, Sealink runs car ferries between Cape Jervis on the mainland and Penneshaw on KI (45 minutes each way). There’s no public transport on Kangaroo Island itself .so it’s fun to hire a car for your own self-drive adventure; if you do this in Adelaide, do note that some companies won’t let you take rental cars onto KI. Driving from Adelaide to Cape Jervis (the ferry departure point) takes around two hours. Alternatively, Sealink runs buses between Adelaide and Cape Jervis.