Discovered by Matthew Flinders in 1802, thirty percent of Kangaroo Island is protected as national and conservation parks. It has remained relatively undeveloped due to the poor quality of soil and low average rainfall making crop sewing difficult. Today the population is still less than 5000 people, leaving a sanctuary unaffected by human hands. Wildlife abounds and you will have many opportunities to get close to wallabies, koalas, kangaroos, sea lions, penguins and dolphins, not to mention a wonderful variety of birds.

Just 110 km south west of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is the third largest island off mainland Australia, after Tasmania and Melville Island. It is accessible by car ferry or a short flight.

Top Ten Things to See and Do 

Only 155 kilometres from east to west, and 55 kilometres at its’ widest point, Kangaroo Island is perfect for active day trips and sightseeing. You can see the entire island by doing a driving loop. If you're the active type, you might want to try Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action - see the island from a quad bike to get your adrenalin racing!

There is no shortage of things to do and see on Kangaroo Island. Natural attractions are the highlight of any visit and visitors may wish to purchase a Kangaroo Island Parks Pass while visiting the Island. The Island Parks Pass provides value for money for visitors wishing to utilise Department for Environment and Heritage facilities and activities on Kangaroo Island.

However, there are also a number of man-made attractions:

Kingscote’s Ozone Seafront Hotel

This is a great place to stop for refreshments or a meal. Opened in 1907, the hotel has recently been renovated to modern standards. It became ‘the’ place to stay for wealthy Adelaide holiday makers during the 1930’s, with a foreshore location and excellent harbour and ocean views. A great place to take a break and chill out for a while.

Seal Bay Conservation Park

With a sea lion population of 500 at its peak, Seal Bay is accessed via walkways which allow visitors a range of viewing points above the beach. The sea lions return to shore to rest after spending their days out hunting at sea. Even with the viewing platforms and number of mammals, a pair of binoculars and/or long lens camera is a good accessory to have, or take one of the Department of Environment and Heritage guided beach tours which enable visitors to get even closer to the animals. The visitor centre at the Seal Bay Conservation Park makes for an interesting stop; it is constructed in an environmentally friendly manner and contains a number of interpretive displays.

A 45 minute drive from Kingscote, the Seal Bay Conservation Park is located on the South side of Kangaroo Island. Covering 750 hectares, the area includes the Seal Bay area as well as the Little Sahara inland sand dunes.

Little Saraha, an ancient inland dune system can be found by taking the turn off about 7km west from the Seal Bay turn off along the South Coast Road, down a private unsigned road.

Kelly Hills Conservation Park

Between Seal Bay and Flinders Chase, also on the South side of the island, is the Kelly Hills Conservation Park. The main attraction here is the Kelly Hill Caves which feature straws, stalactites, stalagmites and helictites. The cave was first explored in 1925 and 1926 by Harold Bell along with a small group of his companions.

The Show Cave can now be explored via an organised tour run by the Department of Environment and Heritage. It is lit using fibre optic technology which allows visitors to clearly view the stunning natural colours. Adventure caving is also possible for those wishing to delve deeper. The visitor’s centre at Kelly Hills provides information on tour times and prices and includes interpretive displays, a souvenir shop and barbeque areas.

Flinders Chase National Park

Most of the Western half of Kangaroo Island is made up of the Flinders Chase National Park, which is home to the Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch and the Cape Borda lighthouse.

The area is home to numerous walking trails for walkers of all abilities and it encompasses stunning coastal landscapes, abundant wildlife and vast wilderness areas. Many native plants in the area are endemic to the island and Flinders Chase is also seen as a sanctuary for many species of fauna which are threatened on mainland Australia. It was declared a National Park in November 1919.

The Flinders Chase Visitor Centre at Rocky River is also worth a stop, as it is home to an interpretive centre, café and showcases Kangaroo Island produce and wines.

Cape Borda Lighthouse

The rugged cliff that the Cape Borda Lighthouse sits atop was named after French mathematician Jean Charles de Borda by French sailor Nicholas Baudin. Built in 1858 on the cliff-tops 155 metres above the ocean, Cape Borda lighthouse is of a square design, unique in South Australia.

Originally only accessible by sea, the nearby graveyard with 16 headstones depicts the isolation and ruggedness of the area, where medical treatment was not available for either adults or children. The lighthouse grounds are home to a cannon, used to warn shops of imminent danger during fog, as well as for protection against invasion. The cannon still sits on the site and is fired daily at 1pm. For detailed history of the outpost, National Parks and Wildlife staff provide guided tours of the lighthouse and Cape Borda Maritime Museum.

Kangaroo Island Map

Admirals Arch

Admiral’s Arch is accessible by a boardwalk from the carpark. It is home to a group of New Zealand Fur Seals who frolic and play in the wash, an added attraction to viewing the naturally sculpted arch. Nearby is the Cape Du Couedic Lighthouse, an automatic lighthouse built in 1906.

Remarkable Rocks

A collection of boulders perched on a rocky headland, the Remarkable Rocks have been sculpted by the wind and the sea. The natural sculpture is interesting because it looks like it was placed there by an artist rather than formed over millions of years.

Wine and local produce

Kangaroo Island was declared a wine region in 2000, with over 23 vineyards being established on the island since 1994. The Sunset Winery at Penneshaw offers a variety of wine as well as local produce such as cheese and olive oil with the added bonus of 180 degree views of Eastern Cove. The Island also offers products such as honey, eucalyptus oil, marron and sheep dairy farms.

American River

Named after American sealers who sheltered here in the 1800’s, American River has one of the first lighthouses in the state and some fine examples of early colonial architecture, including the first house build on Kangaroo Island.

A great place spot for visitors who enjoy fishing, swimming, sailing and other boating activities, and like Kingscote, the pelicans fly in of an afternoon to be hand-fed on the wharves.

Cape Willoughby

The Western-most point on Kangaroo Island, Cape Willoughby is home to one of the island’s historic lighthouses and you can even stay in the lighthouse keepers cottages. Nearby Devil’s Kitchen is a fantastic viewing point for the Southern Ocean and a great place to go when the ocean is wild and crashing against the coast, here the waves pound into a narrow cove.

What sort of holiday options are there?

For the touring traveller, there is plenty to see and do by driving in your car as well as a number of vantage points and visitor centres with accessible facilities. Kangaroo Island is home to many heritage buildings and sites and is popular with visitors aged 65 and over.

For the more active and adventurous you can take advantage of the walks in the southern section of the Flinders Chase National Park, the many and varied beaches, fishing, snorkelling, swimming and scuba diving.

Kangaroo Island is also popular with children, however to maximise their experience it is recommended that they are old enough to appreciate the proximity to nature and perhaps read some of the interpretive information themselves, or at least for you to be able to explain it to them.

Being as close as it is to Adelaide, you would think that most South Australian’s would have visited Kangaroo Island, but some still have not, so if you’ve not made the trip, there’s no time like the present.

Kangaroo Island is perfect for short visits of 3 to 4 days as well as longer, more relaxed visits of a couple of weeks. It all depends on the pace at which you want to tour the island. One thing is for sure, if you only pop over for a short visit, you are sure to want to return another time and continue your exploration.

When to Go?

Kangaroo Island is a year-round destination with mild conditions in both summer and winter, although the peak season is typically October through to April. Wet weather gear and wind-proof clothing is recommended at any time of the year. Temperatures range from an average of 15 degrees Celcius in the winter and 23 in the summer, although it can peak at 35-40 degrees.

How to get there?

The car and passenger ferry to Kangaroo Island departs Cape Jervis (a 90 minute drive from Adelaide) for Penneshaw four times each day and take 45 minutes. Operated by Kangaroo Island Sealink, the journey takes around one hour. Reservations should be made in advance. Alternatively, flights are available from Adelaide Airport via Regional Express, taking only 30 minutes to Kingscote.

Where to Stay?

There is a full range of self contained apartments, houses and holiday homes on Kangaroo Island – literally something for every budget. Browse the large range of accommodation on Stayz right now!

Image above: 

- Stunning vistas like this are the norm on Kangaroo Island! 


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