Kangaroo Island Destination Guide
A stone’s throw from the South Australian coastline, Kangaroo Island is a pristine paradise where kangaroos and sea lions frolic and farmers toil from dawn ‘til dusk, producing gourmet pantry items and an enticing range of varietal wines. With secluded beaches, boutique wineries and wildlife sanctuaries dotting the 155-kilometre-long isle, there’s a certain magic on Kangaroo Island that entrances visitors into a blissful state of relaxation. Known simply as “KI” to the locals, Kangaroo Island is a land locked in time – its ancient landscapes and unhurried lifestyle providing the perfect setting for a restful and revitalising holiday. Connect with nature, meet the local wildlife, bask on a secluded beach and let your tastebuds lead you around this offshore pocket of indulgence.
The scenery of Australia’s third largest island is an attraction in its own right: soaring cliffs, lofty sand dunes, fragrant Eucalypt forests, ribbons of alabaster beach and sparkling southern waters offer the ultimate backdrop for all sorts of outdoor pursuits. Cellar doors, art galleries and tourable farms are among the top things to do on Kangaroo Island, not to mention geological wonders such as the Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch and Kelly Hill caves. The best way to spot the local wildlife is undoubtedly on a Kangaroo Island tour, with cluey guides leading the way to the favourite hiding spots of the iconic fauna such as the unique KI kangaroo, Australian sea lions and New Zealand fur seals. Consider grabbing a Kangaroo Island Parks Pass for access to several of the must-see sites including Seal Bay, Flinders Chase National Park and the two cape lightstations.
While about one third of Kangaroo Island is devoted to national park and conservation, much of the remaining land is all about agriculture, including some 30 wine producers. Kangaroo Island restaurants aren’t found in surplus but the eateries that do call KI home boast finely assembled menus, the best local and South Australian produce and good old-fashioned service with a smile. Follow the “Eat Local” signs to a handful of sites that serve up the finest flavours of KI such as Sunset Winery, the Kangaroo Island Spirits micro distillery and the Kangaroo Island Source cooking school. Premier food comes standard here, with island specialities including marron (freshwater crayfish), lobster, crab, oysters, ligurian bee honey and sheep’s milk cheese.
Where to Stay
Wake up to Kangaroo Island’s picturesque coastline (which stretches an impressive 540 kilometres, just for the record) from the vantage point of your bed and breakfast, wilderness lodge or self-contained beachside apartment. Much like the destination itself, Kangaroo Island accommodation is wonderfully diverse. If it’s 5-star style you’re chasing, consider booking a luxe suit at the cliff-top Southern Ocean Lodge, or take your pick of accommodating on-farm guesthouses and even cheap and cheerful hostels. KI is a photographer’s paradise – rise and shine early to capture the views from your abode, whether they are vistas of rolling farmland, rambling vines, quaint country towns, fishing villages, beachscapes or unspoiled scrubland.
Kingscote and Penneshaw have the lion’s share (or should that be sea lion’s share?) of Kangaroo Island shopping, with smaller shops taking residence in Parndana, Vivonne Bay and American River. Let’s face it – if you’re visiting KI you’re probably not looking to leave with a suitcase full of the latest runway looks, but you can still indulge in a little retail therapy! Out-of-towners can pick up a postcard or two at the shops in the main hubs mentioned earlier, plus stock up on groceries and use the local bank/post/beauty services. As far as souvenirs go, opt for edible take-home treats like something sweet from Clifford’s Honey Farm, a bottle of vino from one of 18 local labels or an original artwork straight from one of the sculptors, painters, glassblowers of jewellery makers who have set up studio on the island.
Kangaroo Island Like a Local
KI’s fascinating back-story begins all the way back in 1802. It wasn’t long before sealers, escaped convicts and runaway sailors set up camp on the island, building the foundations of a thriving community. The characters of Kangaroo Island today are a little less shady but can still spin a tall tale! Learn about the local lore at South Australia’s first lighthouse, Cape Willoughby, or support the community by visiting the exhibition spaces and workshops of KI’s artisans – an estimated 10 per cent of the island’s 4,600 residents are engaged in some form of creative arts. The combination of good food and wine, warm hospitality, aquatic adventures, a flourishing art culture and wildlife watching opportunities makes any day on Kangaroo Island a day in the good life.