Karta Pintingga, known as Kangaroo Island, is often described as a ‘zoo without fences’ for the abundance of wildlife encounters and biodiversity.
As Australia’s third-largest island and just over 9 miles of water away from the mainland, Kangaroo Island covers a landmass approximately the size of Puerto Rico with a population of fewer than 4,300 people yet hundreds of thousands of animals.
Although parts of the island were severely affected by bushfires, the vegetation, wildlife habitat, and community of Kangaroo Island residents have made a full recovery.
Feed pelicans and see giant cuttlefish, seahorses and little penguins at Kingscote Wharf. Meet wallabies, brush-tailed possums and kangaroos on a nocturnal tour along American River. Cuddle koalas and hand-feed lorikeets, hold a possum or get wrapped by a snake at Stokes Bay. Bushwalk past the ducks, swans and waders of Murray Lagoon in Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park. Observe Australian sea lions at Seal Bay and over 7,000 New Zealand fur seals playfully interacting in and around Admirals Arch* in Flinders Chase National Park*, also home to hundreds of docile kangaroos. You’ll spot koalas pretty much everywhere, but some of their most popular hangouts are in the trees of Hanson Bay Sanctuary* and Western KI Caravan Park*.
FOOD & WINE
Visit the cellar door of the island’s first and largest winery at Cape Willoughby, shuck oysters in Penneshaw and visit local farms making sheep’s milk cheese and mouth-watering Ligurian honey in MacGillivray and Kinsgcote. Kangaroo Island is also dotted with cosy cafes and elegant restaurants. Dine on Nepean Bay oysters overlooking the ocean and sample other premium seafood in season in Penneshaw. Enjoy a five-star feast amongst the wilderness on the South Coast and a sunset seafood and marron platter next to the rock pool in Parndana. Fill your beach house with gourmet produce, pack a picnic for a day of touring and take home a case of your favourite wines.
Stay in a restored lighthouse keeper’s cottage at isolated Cape Willoughby on Dudley Peninsula. Or read the diaries of disgruntled lighthouse keepers in the lighthouses at Cape Borda and Cape du Couedic in Flinders Chase National Park*. Dive the wrecks of the Portland Maru and the Loch Vennachar, which sailed into the west coast cliffs in 1905, losing all 27 crew. Visit Frenchman’s Rock, the spot in Hog Bay where French explorer Captain Nicolas Baudin anchored in 1803. Climb the same 512 steps explorer Captain Matthew Flinders climbed to survey the island at Prospect Hill. See the original mulberry tree, well, jetty, post office and quarry sites of South Australia’s first official European settlement at Reeves Point. Learn about the soldiers who created homes and farms out of 100,000 hectares of thick virgin scrub at Parndana Soldier Settlement Museum. Remains of stone tools and Aboriginal campsites show that Aboriginal people lived on Kangaroo Island at least as early as 16,000 years ago, but why they abandoned the island, or when they last lived here, remains a mystery.
SWIM, SURF, SNORKEL & DRIVE
Fish from the historic jetty at Emu Bay or join a fishing tour from American River, Penneshaw, Kingscote and Emu Bay. Swim in the rock-enclosed pool of Stokes Bay and off picnic-perfect Penneshaw Beach. Surf the uncrowded breaks at Stokes, Vivonne and Pennington Bays. Sail past the sandy beaches and sheltered coves of Nepean Bay. Bushwalk, dive shipwrecks and see shore-wading birds and pelicans in D’estrees Bay. You can trek the bushland, sand hills and lagoons of Antechamber Bay/Chapman River, and canoe and camp along the way. Under the water you’ll find some of Australia’s best temperate-water diving. Watch elusive leafy sea-dragons, blue devils, and harlequin flit between towering coral walls and red, orange and white sponges.
ADVENTURES ON LAND
Discover quiet country lanes, picturesque towns and national parks on a cycling tour from Penneshaw. Take an all-terrain vehicle across acres of bushland trails or surf down the sand dunes in Vivonne Bay. Go caving in the magical underground caves at Kelly Hill Conservation Park*, squeezing through the sinkholes and caverns. You can also take in the natural attractions of Australia’s third largest island on the many scenic drives. Spot dolphins, see the hidden beach of Stokes Bay and meet rare farm animals and friendly wildlife on the Rolling North Coast Drive. See the Remarkable Rocks at sunset in Flinders Chase National Park* on a tour of the south west corner. Follow the Dudley Peninsula drive to the lighthouse of Cape Willoughby and visit honey makers and lobster, lavender and dairy farms on a journey through the Kingscote District.
*Due to bushfire activity in January 2020 on Kangaroo Island these attractions and the Western KI Caravan Park are now closed until further notice. Click here to view the latest SATC Bushfire Updates.
4 distinct seasons allow for different experiences throughout the year:
- Native plants blossom, farming communities are on display at country shows, wildlife abundant (experiences hiking, birdwatching, kayaking, fishing, snorkeling)
- Average Max temp – 70°F
- Average Min temp – 50°F
- Average Rainfall – 1.4in
- Warm weather encourages aquatic experiences, American River Gala Day and Cygnet River Racecourse are popular
- Average Max temp – 81°F
- Average Min temp – 59°F
- Average Rainfall – 0.8in
- Great time to sample the island’s produce and food products, Kangaroo Island Easter Art Exhibition shows, Kangaroo Island Marathon run in May
- Average Max temp – 72°F
- Average Min temp – 54°F
- Average Rainfall – 1.6in
- Spectacular coastal walks and great fishing opportunities, lush landscape speckled with waterfalls and teeming with wildlife, Settlement Day is celebrated on July 27
- Average Max temp – 59°F
- Average Min temp – 45°F
- Average Rainfall – 2.2in