The Traveling Islanders Guide To Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is the best place in Australia to get intimate with the country’s unique wildlife. Plan your trip with our Kangaroo Island travel guide!
The marsupials are everywhere on Kangaroo Island and not just the boxing kind. The island is the final stronghold of eucalyptus chomping koalas and you can’t go a day without seeing them. Wallabies, platypus, echidnas…these iconic animals are more common here than almost anywhere else in Australia. The whole island is nature’s playground with wildlife as the main attraction. This Kangaroo Island guide shows you what to find and where to find it.
Where is Kangaroo Island?
Part of Kangaroo Island’s appeal is its inaccessibility. Standing isolated off the South Australia coast, the island is a three-hour journey away from Adelaide. Most tourists visit the country’s East Coast (Sydney, Melbourne, the Great Barrier Reef) or West Coast (Perth), so all of South Australia is a little off the beaten track. From Adelaide it’s a 90-minute bus to Cape Jervis, where you can board a passenger ferry to Kangaroo Island.
Getting Around Kangaroo Island
Almost all of Kangaroo Island is designated as a protected reserve. There are only a couple of public buses and no taxis anywhere on the island. And while the island looks small in comparison to Australia, it’s over 100 miles long. This wilderness can be explored on a guided tour but it’s highly recommended to rent a car. Many of the roads are made of gravel but you don’t need an expensive four-wheel drive to get around. Vehicles are cheaper to rent on the mainland although you’ll have to pay extra for taking one on the ferry, so this is only the best option if you plan to spend more than four days on Kangaroo Island.
Where to Stay on Kangaroo Island
Accommodation can be expensive on the island. But hey, when there are kangaroos skipping past your chalet it’s worth the splurge. If you are going on local tours then Penneshaw is the most convenient base. With a rental car it’s recommended to hop across the island as different wildlife is found in different places. Note that wild camping is illegal and farmers may move you on with guns, rather than kind words. However, there are some good public campsites within nature.
The Guide to Kangaroo Island Wildlife
Wildlife and wilderness, a combination that’s found all over Kangaroo Island. You don’t need to look far. Koalas are found in eucalyptus trees around the lodges, kangaroos and wallabies hop across the roads, and then there are the penguins…
Take the ferry and you’ll land at Penneshaw. Immediately after disembarking you’ll see the Gateway Visitor Information Centre. Wildlife is always moving and this center provides a wealth of information on the best places to go. They will inform you of when different tours are leaving and give out detailed island maps. Even if you already have a detailed plan, it’s highly recommended to stop and check your route with the information center staff.
- Kangaroos – You’ll see them all over the island, often on grassy valleys around the roads.
- Koalas – These cute animals are most abundant in and around Flinders Chase National Park. They are found in the eucalyptus trees but are well camouflaged so walk slowly and keep looking up.
- Echidnas – Bashful yet beautiful, these spiky animals are plentiful although hard to find. Flinders Chase is usually a good bet.
- Wallabies – Another marsupial you will struggle to miss, especially if you stay at any of the island’s campsites.
- Sea Lions – Travel to the south of the island and Seal Bay Conservation Park. You can walk alongside these strange animals on a short, guided beach tour.
- Fur Seals – Hit the southwestern coast and walk from Admiral’s Arch to Remarkable Rocks: you can’t miss the seals!
- Penguins – Penguin colonies cover the shoreline at Kingscote Wharf and Lloyd Collins Reserve in Penneshaw. They usually come to land at dusk and you’re best taking a guided tour as these are permitted to get closer.
- Pelicans – Watch the Australian Pelican feedings at Kingscote Jetty
Other Things to Do on Kangaroo Island
This is an island of adventure. While it can be tempting to hop between the main wildlife destinations, much of the experience comes from what you discover in between. Driving to Seal Bay and stopping to photograph a huge mob of kangaroos; camping at Browns Beach and being the only person on the sand; having to slow down because an echidna is in the road; using Vivonne Bay as a base for coastal hikes. Just bring a sense of adventure and stick to the paths, because one thing you won’t want to bump into is a tiger snake!