It’s a short hop from the mainland but a world away from the everyday hustle and bustle. Australia’s third-largest island is all at once a place of relaxation and revelation – a showcase of natural beauty and a sanctuary for Australian wildlife with pristine waters, superb beaches, rugged cliffs and protected national parks.
It is also a place of bounty: discover boutique wineries, meet artisan cheesemakers, sample the island’s honey, and indulge in the freshest fish, lobster and freshwater crayfish.
It’s all backed by the warmest welcome from the people who call this place home, many of whom make their living from catering to visitors uncovering one of the best-kept destination secrets.
Nature and wildlife top the must-see list of any visit to Kangaroo Island or KI as the locals know it. Options include a close and personal encounter with the sea lions at Seal Bay Conservation Park where you can take a, ranger-guided walk through the colony. You can watch birds of prey fly at the nearby Raptor Domain or cuddle a koala at Paul’s Place Wildlife Sanctuary.
For natural attractions, explore Flinders Chase National Park with its stunning Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch (where you can also watch frolicking fur seals) and the Kelly Hill Caves at nearby Cape Bouguer. You can also take in the island from a different perspective with wildlife boat tours from Kingscote and Penneshaw.
Productive farmland surrounded by an ocean teeming with life make for a perfect marriage and islanders are proud to showcase the best of the harvest through an “eat local” campaign. Look for the signs. You will find several restaurants and cafes in Kingscote, Penneshaw, American River and Parndana and local specialities include the freshest fish (the King George whiting is superb), oysters, marron (freshwater cray), sheep’s cheese and honey.
Kangaroo Island is also a declared wine-growing area and you can’t miss the boutique wineries dotted around the island, many offering tastings and cellar door sales. If you prefer a pub, try Kingscote, Penneshaw and Parndana.
From five-star to humble caravan parks and campsites, you will find accommodation well placed to explore the island’s natural attractions. Stay in a lighthouse keeper’s cottage, on a working farm stay or in eco-lodges and health retreats.
Self-catering and bed and breakfast are also popular options around the island, with numerous properties in or close to Kingscote, Penneshaw and American River ranging from modern, luxury, purpose-built accommodation, often with superb sea views, to apartments and older cottages.
You will be able to pick up some meaningful souvenirs, as well as some superb pieces of locally produced art, craft and jewellery. Kangaroo Island has a recognised and thriving art community creating unique pieces.
On top of that, opt for tasty treats and gifts from the boutique food producers and wine makers. Most shops and stores are in Kingscote and Penneshaw, but you won’t find city-style shopping malls. Low-key is one of the island’s greatest charms.
Kangaroo Island Like a Local
They call it the Kangaroo Island wave and it defines you as a local, or at least as someone with good manners. Most visitors hire a car on the island to get around and it is a tradition to give a little “wave” when passing a car travelling in the opposite direction – an index finger raised from the steering wheel does the job. It has its history in the days when people travelled around using real horses rather than horsepower.