In this guide, you can find information about how to get to Kangaroo Island and the top things to do and see on this beautiful island in Southern Australia.
Kangaroo Island: the first time I read about it, I was absolutely fascinated. It has lush vegetation, a lot of wildlife, and very few people; it is a true paradise for nature and photographers.
That’s why, while planning my trip to Australia, I included Kangaroo Island in my itinerary.
Top things to do and see on a Kangaroo Island
Looking at that tiny dot in Southern Australia, just a few kilometers from Adelaide, it’s hard to realize that Kangaroo Island is not that small! It’s Australia’s third largest island, after Tasmania and Melville Island. In length, it extends for 150 km, and in width, it varies from a minimum of 900m to a maximum of 57 km for an area of 4405 square kilometers.
What makes the island special is the great variety of wildlife that lives there undisturbed due to the almost total absence of natural predators and the absence of the human population for several centuries. With only 4200 inhabitants and a large part of the island declared a national park, it’s truly an animal’s paradise.
The main protected areas in a Kangaroo Island are:
- Flinders Chase is famous for its peculiar rock formation and is a heaven for the endangered New Zealand fur seals.
- Seal Bay Conservation Park is one of the landmarks of Kangaroo Island. It’s possible to get pretty close to the Sea Lions.
- Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park is the Island’s largest lagoon.
- Cape Bouguer Wilderness Protection Area was created “to protect and preserve the outstandingly high wilderness qualities of the area.”
- Ravine des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area was established in 1993 on land previously part of the Flinders Chase.
One of the reasons why the wildlife in Kangaroo Island is well protected is mainly thanks to the experience gained on the mainland. Not many people know that many Australian animals are in danger of extinction because of cats, foxes, rabbits, and other animals introduced from other continents in the past two centuries. So, the local government has tried its best to reduce the population of those animals.
The greatest dangers for the island’s animals are wild cats and fire.
The Fire in Australia
About 1000 square kilometers of forest were lost in a recent fire, equivalent to almost one-fifth of the entire territory (85% is part of the Flinders Chase National Park). Despite this, fire represents an important resource for Australian vegetation. Why? Fire fertilizes the soil, and the plants that survive grow lusher than before. When visiting Australia, it’s common to see some partially burnt eucalyptus trees.
Of course, this does not apply to animals who must flee as soon as the fire starts and do so quickly. Sadly, many species can’t run very fast and die. Remember that Australian forests are mostly composed of eucalyptus trees with oily leaves. When a tree of eucalyptus burns, its leaves explode, and this can create a firestorm. The storm can spread quickly since the wind can blow at 80 Kmh!
For this reason, open fires are forbidden at certain times of the year, and the roads are dotted with street signs indicating the level of danger.
How to get to Kangaroo Island and other useful info
To visit the island, I decided to book a two-day tour. If you rent a car, you’ll be 100% independent, but booking the tour allowed me to save some money, which was my priority. You also have to keep in mind that the majority of roads are not paved. So if you visit the island during the rainy season, it’s better to rent a 4×4 car.
Kangaroo Island can be reached by ferry or plane. If you decide to take the ferry, remember that it’s quite expensive: I paid 92 dollars for 40 mins. The ferry arrives in Penneshaw, and it is better if you buy water and food supplies before driving on the island since there aren’t many stores.
Kangaroo Island is also famous for its honey, and you can visit the world’s oldest bee sanctuary. The incredible thing is that the bees come from the Italian region of Liguria and were introduced to Australia by some Italian emigrants. In the meantime, all the bees in Italy went extinct.
Another island attraction is the Eucalyptus distillery, the only one left since all the others closed due to the Brazilian competition.
The Wildlife on Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island couldn’t be called such if it weren’t full of kangaroos! And you’ll see plenty on them. During the day, they prefer to sleep, but it’s quite easy to see them in the evening.
In addition to kangaroos, there are many Wallaby and Possum (relatives of the American opossums). One interesting thing about Koalas is that they emit sounds similar to the wild boar.
Other animals quite common on the island are the Bandicoot, the New Zealand Fur Seals, the Sea Lions, six species of bats, and an infinity of birds. So, if you are a photographer, bring a telephoto lens and a sturdy tripod.
I also spotted an Echidna (a kind of weird hedgehog) that, with the Platypus, belongs to the family of the Monotremes. The monotremes lay eggs rather than bearing live young. However, like all mammals, the females nurse their young with milk. There are only 4 species of monotremes, and they are all found in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
There would be many other things to say about this wonderful place where I left my heart.
For those who love nature and are lucky enough to travel to that part of the world, a visit to Kangaroo Island is a must, but be careful: among the side effects, there is a strong desire to return to Kangaroo Island more than once…