I was hesitant about visiting Kangaroo Island in the beginning of December 2008, being almost school holidays I expected the island to be over-run. I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. KI, as the locals call it must be South Australia’s best kept secret.
Covering almost 4,500 kms KI is Australia’s 3rd largest island. Rising sea levels cut it off from the mainland approximately 9,500 years ago, resulting in a special and unique place.
There are two main towns, Kingscote, the commercial and business hub and Penneshaw, a seaside village where the Sealink ferries arrive and depart from the mainland. Both are charming in their own right.
What stands out here was the quality of the local produce served in a variety of restaurants and cafes. Several dishes I sampled included the locally produced Marron, a freshwater crayfish, simply outstanding. All washed down with a beautiful drop from a local winery, what more could you ask for?
There is a wide variety of accommodation available throughout the island to suit all budgets but if you really want to splurge I would recommend staying at the Southern Ocean Lodge which is a sophisticated and intimate Eco lodge with stunning ocean views. An experience you are not likely to forget.
No matter what your budget KI is one place that can be enjoyed by all.
As for sightseeing there is so much to see.
The southern areas are covered in natural bush land teaming with wildlife. I have travelled extensively and I never seen so many different animal species in one place.
The northern areas contain more farming properties but also some of the most amazing coastline such as King Georges Bay.
King Georges Bay
If you’re a maritime buff, you will be fascinated by the lighthouses of Cape Willoughby, Cape Bourda and Cape Du Couedic and well as listening to the stories told about the numerous shipwrecks that surround KI.
There is so much to experience, from animal attractions for the young at heart, honey farms, wineries, art galleries to the spectacular coastline, too many to list !
If you have limited time, these are a few must sees –
• Admirals Arch – Easily reached via a boardwalk. See the naturally sculpted arch created by the forces of nature. View the NZ fur seals basking on the rocks in the late afternoon sun.
• Remarkable Rocks – An impressive sight, from a distance you cannot appreciate the scale of these massive granite boulders which are perched above the ocean, in Flinders Chase National Park
• Seal Bay Conservation Park – During a guided tour you will see the Australian Sea Lions up close. Truly wonderful to see these beautiful creatures interact in their natural environment. Visitors can also walk along a 400m boardwalk to a viewing platform.
• Kangaroo Island Penguin Centre- The tour begins inside with guides feeding some of the sea creatures. After moving outside you take a torch lit walk around the foreshore through Kingscote’s little penguin colony, which are so adorable.
• Stokes Bay -To the east of the rocky cove is an unusual walk through a headland of boulders that brings you to a stunning white sandy beach surrounded by cliffs. A large rock-enclosed pool provides protection from the surf, making this a safe swimming spot for all the family. An extremely popular spot with the locals.
• Kelly Hill Caves – KI’s underworld, discovered in the 1800s. The area is actually a petrified sand dune which blew onto the Island when the surrounding sea level dropped during the last ice age. For the past 500,000 years, water and iron oxide have seeped through to eat away and stain these amazing caves, tunnels and caverns. Kelly Hill Caves contain numerous speleothems, straws, stalactites and stalagmites but most impressive are the various helictites.
Kangaroo Island is a place where the natural environment is still vibrantly alive. There are no major freeways overflowing with cars, commercial jets do not appear every five minutes. There are places on KI where you can experience silence and sometimes be the only soul around on two legs.
It’s a place to discover, a place that offers the complete holiday experience where you can be as active or inactive as you like.
You can swim with dolphins or take an extreme boat ride, surf the sand-dunes of Little Sahara or just relax with a massage and spa treatment, the choice is yours. There are a few things to remember, bitumen roads are the exception rather than the rule and please take it easy on the roads at dusk to dawn and this is the time you will see more wildlife than you could have ever imagined.
Kangaroo Island was surprising, beautiful and I will definitely return.
Editorial – word count 793 & eight images