With a name like that it’s no wonder why Kangaroo Island (or KI, as the locals call it) is such a hot spot for tourists and travellers. Famous for its stunning scenery and excessive wildlife, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to head over there for work. And after only a few days on the island I knew that I wouldn’t be leaving any time soon.
Before I even arrived on the island I was thrown by the two hour drive from Adelaide down to Cape Jervis, the south western tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula, where the ferry departs from, and like many others I just assumed the ferry left from Port Adelaide. WRONG. Saying that though, the drive down was surprisingly pleasant as we passed through the Adelaide Hills and much of the wine region, seeing fantastic views all the way down.
Though the third largest island in Australia (after Tasmania and Melville Island, NT), when I first arrived on the island I was struck by how large it actually was. And when I chatted to locals it seems I wasn’t the only one thrown by the sheer size of the island, and that tourists often come over expecting to see the whole island in a day. After staying here for three months I can assure you, you can’t. At 150km long and 90km wide, there is so much to see and do that ideally you need a few days to see the best bits the island has to offer. Of course, if like me you are lucky to stick around for a few months, you see more than the average tourist or traveller. To say that I have seen and done everything would be a lie, though I sure have managed to see plenty during my time on KI.
I was lucky enough to call Penneshaw my home for the past three months. And what an incredible, beautiful place to arrive to when you first step off the ferry. With fantastic local activities such as the penguin tours and the Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari (which is also #1 on trip advisor for KI experiences), plus the beautiful, white, sandy beach next to the ferry terminal, Penneshaw offers arriving travellers a first glimpse of what the island has to offer. Penneshaw also boats a great array of sea life and it is a very common sight to see dolphins and seals along the coast. And those who are lucky enough will also see whales enjoying the crystal blue waters (though these are seasonal). And if you fancy a quiet, relaxing afternoon, head to the Penneshaw Hotel for an ice cold beer or a glass of wine from one of the local vineyards and enjoy the stunning views from the cliff side beer garden. For me, a definite favourite!
On the Far East side of the island, on the Dudley peninsula, you will find Cape Willoughby Conservation Park which boasts South Australia’s very first lighthouse surrounded by water as blue as the sky. In addition the park is also plentiful of wildlife such as kangaroos and wallabies, and snakes are also known to inhabit the area!
While up that way it is also worth taking a trip to Dudley winery which is not only famous for its wines, but also its stunning views and gourmet lunch menu. In addition, Dudley wines prides itself on their 100% local KI products.
Flinders Chase National Park
If, like me, you are staying in the Penneshaw area, or even Kingscote, I would recommend dedicating a whole day to visiting Flinders Chase National Park. From Penneshaw the drive is approximately two hours and nearly 150km away, and with very little in terms of service stations along the way it’s important to be prepared for the drive down there. I’ve met so many people here who were thrown by the sheer distance and lack of amenities along the way. The drive feels longer than it is. But don’t let that put you off!
Once you arrive at the park there is a fantastic information centre where you can pay your entry fee and get all the information about the park. It is also a great time to grab a coffee from the cafe before heading back out onto the road and enjoying the beautiful scenic drive leading to the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch.
Aptly named, the Remarkable Rocks sits at the top of the cliff edge on the wide side of the island and they are an incredible example of natural geological formations. Definitely something not to be missed! From the Remarkable Rocks the road continues down to Cape du Couedic where you will find Admirals Arch which is another incredible rock formation, again formed over millions of years by weather and sea erosion. It’s here at Cape du Couedic that you will see a whole array of sea life, including New Zealand fur seals, and at such close proximity! You could easily spend an hour just watching these amazing creatures catching sun rays on the jagged rocks.
If you haven’t had your seal fix from Flinders Chase, I suggest taking a trip to Seal Bay Conservation Park on the south coast of the island. With the choice between a guided tour on to the beach or a self guided board walk, no matter what your budget you are guaranteed to witness these amazing sea creatures as nature intended. And you can’t deny that they’ve picked a pretty good spot to call home!
Easily my favourite spot on the whole island, Pennington Bay boasts what everyone dreams as paradise. Beautiful, white, sandy beaches, crystal blue and turquoise waters, and best of all, not a soul in sight (or very rarely, anyway). Pennington Bay is also famous for its surf and, according to locals, it is arguably one of the best surfing spots in South Australia. Not biased at all, of course! Just after the turn off for Pennington Bay you will find Prospect Hill and after climbing the 512 steps to the top you will see beautiful 360 degree views of the island and its sensational coastline. Well worth the climb, I can assure you!
Take it from someone who has experienced this beautiful island, it is well worth the trip. Book through a tour or get together with a group of friends and a car and enjoy the island for yourself with no time limits.
The island at the end of the world is waiting for you..