The things to do on Kangaroo Island reach far and wide across this big island sitting off our southern shores. Perhaps you are visiting Adelaide and wondering if you can do a day trip to Kangaroo Island. For sure you can make it a day trip, but you’d be missing so much if you didn't plan a stay. When it comes to the question of ‘how many days should I spend on Kangaroo Island?’, every extra day is a bonus and if you can plan at least three days on the island you’ll be able do your visit true justice. Kangaroo island attractions are plentiful, and any Kangaroo Island holiday is guaranteed to be a lasting memory.
It’s not just the seal colony that makes it a worthy visit but also the pristine beach surrounds.
This is another well established kangaroo Island tourism development. It’s a mark of the eco tourism on the island; seals in their natural habitat – no enclosures or cages and visits are by guided tours only that ensure visitors don’t interrupt the natural environment of the home of this sea colony.
I loved my visit; seeing seal pups with their mum’s and the big see lions basking under the island sun. The Australian sea lion is an endangered species and only found in South and Western Australia and there’s nowhere else to see the sea lions so up close, as you can see them with a visit to the Seal Bay Conservation Park.
As a big island, it’s worthwhile to dedicate a day at the western side and it’s here where you’ll find the iconic Remarkable Rocks. As a vast country, Australia has lots of remarkable rocks! Having visited Uluru I wasn’t expecting I could be impressed by any other rock and was kind of thinking ‘big deal…it’s just some rocks’. Judging the rocks by photos doesn’t do them justice, and a visit quickly turned my opinion. The form of the rocks and the size are what struck me; it’s much bigger than I expected. There’s lots of magical photos you can take – the incredible shape, and the small size of the visitors against the backdrop of the rocks and the water behind, make it truly remarkable.
Staying on the island gives you the advantage of being able to plan a visit that beats the day tours to The Remarkable Rocks coming from Adelaide. Driving from the main accommodation areas of American River allow around 1 hour 45 minutes to arrive, or from Kingscote a similar time or a bit less.
With Kangaroo island wineries dotted around the east and north of the island it’s easy to include winery visits as you tour the corners of her shores. There’s Dudley Wines, The Islander Estate Vineyards and Bay of Shoals Wines to name a few of the wineries on the island.
A visit to Dudley’s Wines plans well into arrival day as the Sealink Ferry from Adelaide arrives to Penneshaw in the east. Dudley’s Wines, family run winery is a mere 12 kilometres from the Sealink Ferry terminal on the island. While visiting this part of the island, include a stop at Cape Willoughby about 20 minutes on from Dudley’s and stop in at the Penneshaw Martime and Folk Museum (check opening hours). As you finish up your eastern side touring pull into Prospect Hill for the lookout point across Pennington Bay. It’s the highest point on the island, reached by a custom built staircase.
With a visit to Dudley wines, your tour of Kangaroo Island is off to a great start with a decent array of reds and whites to sip while enjoying their superb view from the desk, across Backstairs Passage to mainland Australia.
Find out more about other wineries. Visit Winecraft
Impressive - Kangaroo Island Spirits' O Gin has been named best contemporary gin in the world at the prestigious International Wine and Spirits Competition. How could you not stop and pick up a bottle to take home?
This distillery has an equally impressive history. It’s Australia’s oldest dedicated gin distillery too! This is all the best of craft industry; family owned, locally sourced ingredients and a line up of awards.
KI Spirits have it covered when it comes to the catering to all gin lovers’ tastes; Choose from Wally Wild, O’Gin, Wild Gin, Mulberry Gin, Whisky Barrell Gin, Old Tom Gin, Kis a Sailor Gin. And if gin’s not for you, then take your pick from their vodkas and liqueurs.
Preplan your KIS visit. Click here for more about KIS.
Located on the far western side of the island is the Admirals Arch landmark and the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse, and it’s here that you’ll also find the population of the New Zealand fur seal. These visits are part of a trip to Flinders Chase National Park which covers an area over 325 square kilometres. These days the fur seals enjoys its peaceful surrounds and has a staggering population of around 100,000. However, there was a treacherous past for these animals at the time of early settlement when they were hunted, and it reached a point when the population was diminished to such a low level they became an endangered species. Although the ‘New Zealand fur seal’ they are native to Australia and you’ll have the chance to see them as you make your way down the walk way to see Admirals Arch.
Admirals Arch makes for another iconic Kangaroo Island photo; a natural rock formation that forms an arch and the visit to Cape du Couedic Lighthouse will give you a real sense of the remoteness of this island, and of course some more amazing photo opportunities
Note: since the January 2020 bushfires Flinders Chase National Park has been closed and only re opening July 2020 as the land regenerates and recovery is taking place.
My big island regret – I only bought one jar of the local and very yummy Ligurian bee honey. I’d never heard of it before my visit but it’s a big deal. It’s a rare honey, with the origins of the bee coming from Italy, but sadly no longer believed to exist in Italy. Luckily back in the 1880’s the bee was imported to Kangaroo Island and it’s been the saving of this pure honey bee species. It’s now solely found on Kangaroo Island. This is the crème de la crème of honey; organic, unfiltered and raw!
The Ligurian bee, a protected species is another of the islands unique tastings and experiences waiting to be enjoyed by all visitors.
The Island Beehive offers tours, tastings, shopping and a café featuring a honey inspired menu.
Finding the elusive koala is not always easy, often so high up in the trees. I’ve never been so lucky with my attempts to spot the koala in the wild in different parts of Australia.
At the Hanson Bay Sanctuary you can see them as a sustainable population in the wild. The sanctuary was hard hit by the 2020 bush fires but fortunately they’ve announced they are on the road to recovery. On a visit to the sanctuary you will also have the chance to see Tammar Wallabies, Kangaroos, Bats, Echidnas, Possums and Bush Stone-Curlews.
A unique experience on a beautiful property on the island and a one of the new tourist attractions with a purpose of rescuing orphaned, injured and sick birds of prey.
For most visitors arriving to Kangaroo Island, it will be by connecting from Adelaide, the southern state’s capital and travelling by road to Cape Jervis. It’s from here that the Sealink ferry takes passengers and cars across to the Island. If you’re looking to extend your visit beyond the island there’s so much more to explore in South Australia with visits to wine country like The Barossa or Clare Valley or heading to The Flinders Ranges, or The Murray River. Once you’re ready to head home you don’t have to return the same way you arrived. There’s the option to travel on The Indian Pacific between Adelaide and Sydney, or Adelaide to Perth, or if travelling to Melbourne take the lesser known Overland train travelling in the day.
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The Indian Pacific, Adelaide to Sydney