Kangaroo Island is off the coast of South Australia and is sometimes described as Australia’s answer to the Galapagos Islands because of the abundance of wildlife that seems unconcerned by human visitors.
Don’t get me started on how expensive the Kangaroo Island ferry to cross from the mainland is, but if you don’t think about that too much it really is a beautiful holiday destination with stunning beaches (like Vivonne Bay above) and friendly locals.
We saw hundreds of Kangaroo Island kangaroos and little Tammar Wallabies (not as small as the pademelon in Tasmania but still damned cute), koalas, possums and a bandicoot, all in the wild. Here are my top five things to do on Kangaroo Island:
1. Seal Bay
The colony of Australian Sea Lions here at Seal Bay is a rare chance to see one of the world’s endangered seal species up close and personal. A series of carefully-constructed boardwalks bring visitors within metres of the animals as they bask in the sun on the beach, resting up after days hunting and feeding at sea. I saw a mother suckling her pup a metre away – this is a really amazing place.
2. Rocks and seals of Flinders Chase National Park
Flinders Chase National Park covers most of the western end of Kangaroo Island. There is plenty of bush walking and wild, empty beaches. But the main attractions are at Cape du Couedic. They are two unusual rock formations, both of which are a testament to the forces of nature.
Admirals Arch is a surprising and beautiful rock formation, hidden from sight until you’re right upon it. A great, jagged arch of ocean-carved rock is a perfect frame for a colony of New Zealand fur seals.
A bit further down the coast the Remarkable Rocks are even more surprising. Looking kind of like a Henry Moore sculpture dumped on a smooth platform of a promontory, these lumps of granite have been eroded by wind and water over 200 million years into bizarre formations. They are also decorated with the bright orange lichen that adorns so much of southern Australia’s coastline.
3. Chapman River Cellar Door
Kangaroo Island has gained a reputation as a food and wine destination, with some excellent Sauvignon Blanc temperate climate wine being produced (and tasted). My favourite was the Chapman River Cellar Door, owned and run with love by Diana and Bruce Keir. In fact I loved this place so much I think Chapman River Wines deserves its own post – one of my occasional forays into foodie travel writing. As a tease I’ll just give you a photo of the tasting platter:
4. Lonely lighthouses
There are a number of elegant light stations around the coast of Kangaroo Island, bearing witness to how the fledgling colony in South Australia was totally dependent on shipping. The Cape Willoughby Lighthouse was the first built in South Australia in 1852. It is set on a gorgeous promontory enjoying spectacular views along the coast of the island and across Backstairs Passage (hmmm) to Cape Fleurieu on the Australian mainland.
5. Cliffords Honey Farm
Even if you only come here for Jenny’s famous homemade honey ice cream you would be able to die happy. The family-run farm doesn’t look much when you drive up but the products on sale are outstanding. Honey tasting, honey mead, candles and other honey-related products. Kangaroo Island honey is unique in being made by the world’s only remaining pure strain of Ligurian bees, known for their placidity and productivity. They were introduced to the island in the 19th century from Italy and so they have remained, the island being out of bee flight range from Australia. I’m still dreaming about that icecream.
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you been to Kangaroo Island in Australia? Did you try the icecream?