What is Kangaroo Island famous for

Kangaroo Island: Tips & highlights for the natural paradise in South Australia

Where South Australia is Most Beautiful!

Have you heard of Kangaroo Island? No? To be honest, I didn't know anything about the island in South Australia until shortly before my trip to Australia. The "Kangaroo Island" Kangaroo Island is not only the third largest island in Australia, it is also a paradise for animal and nature lovers. Like a big zoo without fences, because the variety of animals is unique.

There are so many magical places in Australia that I could visit during my 3 month road trip. But Kangaroo Island is one of them special highlights in Australia. Koalas, kangaroos, seals, sea lions, echidnas (beaked hedgehogs) and impressive rock formations make a visit to this island a unique experience.

Locals get bright eyes when I walk them in Adelaide tell about our upcoming 2-day trip to Kangaroo Island. Your "KI" (keei aiii), as they affectionately call Kangaroo Island. So it's no wonder our expectations are high when we board the ferry to Kangaroo Island.

My first kangaroos in the wild

In the early morning we wait at the agreed meeting point for the bus to the ferry to collect us. After a 2-hour drive we arrive at the Cape Jarvis Ferry Terminal via the Fleurieu Peninsula. We already see the first kangaroos during the journey. The first ever for me in the wild! I am delighted and wide awake immediately.

Either boxing (yes they really do), chilling in the grass, or standing upright watching us. At this point in time, I don't know that many living kangaroos are a rarity. Many travelers see more dead kangaroos than live kangaroos. Fortunately for me, the balance sheet is positive.

Take the ferry to Kangaroo Island

We have a little time until the ferry leaves and treat ourselves to a first flat white in the terminal. The ferry leaves punctually at 9 a.m. The waves let the color escape from the face of many a passenger. I, on the other hand, love rough seas and I'm glad I've never had seasickness before. We dock an hour later.

Our guide Pierre from Kangaroo Island Odysseys is already waiting at the terminal in Penneshaw. We will explore the island with him for the next two days. First he explains to us on the basis of a large map which places we will visit in the next 48 hours.

We are already driving off and experience 48 hours that I will not forget anytime soon. Kangaroo Island has reserved a place in my heart forever. And who knows, maybe at the end of my 3-month trip to Australia I will go to the little kangaroo island again? I really want to ...

Highlights on Kangaroo Island

Pennington Bay

Our first stop on the tour is the beautiful beach at Pennington Bay. The bay is located on the south coast and offers one of the best surfing spots on the island. This wide bay is less suitable for swimmers, as there are often undercurrents and make the bathing experience a dangerous one.

Dolphins and whales can also be seen here. Unfortunately, I'm here outside of the whale season. Dolphins cannot be seen in the morning either.

On the way there we meet the Kangagroo Island kangaroos, which are chocolate brown and smaller than the kangaroos on the mainland. Pierre also takes great care that these kangaroos don't box.

Koalas on the Eleanor River

The best part of the tour with Kangaroo Island Odyssey is now following. We're going to a private lot on the Eleanor River. After an extensive lunch with wine, we go here in search of koalas. Whereby - we don't really have to search properly. Because in almost every tree we find at least one - in another even six koalas distributed.

It's like a game, and so we search together, because the koalas are sometimes really well camouflaged. The tour has already paid off for this place alone. I am in love with the cute little animals.

Seal Bay

I'm still blown away by the koalas when we reach the next highlight: Seal Bay. Seal Bay is the only place in the world where you can get this close to Australian sea lions. It is also the largest colonies of these rare animals.

We get close to the animals within reach. But keep enough distance. Not only for animal welfare, but also because the animals can become quite aggressive.

During our visit, the animals are quite unimpressed by us. The sea lions lie dozing around. An alpha male shows his power and chases away any other male that gets too close. Then he picks up kisses from the female sea lions. We enjoy ourselves. Young animals playfully chase seagulls. Sugar-sweet and no less fascinating than kangaroos or koalas.

More information about Seal Bay:

  • Seal Bay is approximately 45 minutes by car from Kingscote.
  • You can visit the boardwalk on your own from 9 a.m. to 4.15 p.m.
  • A tour (duration approx. 45 minutes) directly to the beach to the sea lions can only be undertaken with a guide. Tours run every 45 minutes every day. For detailed information, see the South Australian National Park website. Link to the website.
  • Admission with a guided tour, boardwalk, and viewpoint is $ 35 for adults and $ 20 for children.

Bay of Shoals (Emu Bay)

At the end of the day we drive to the Bay of Shoals (Emu Bay) to watch the Australian pelicans catch fish. Because here the animals wait for the fishermen's fish waste and get as much food as possible.

The beach is particularly popular with Australians as it is one of only two beaches on Kangaroo Island that can be accessed by four-wheel drive vehicle. I still haven't understood why you have to do this, but the beach is really nice. During our visit it was rather autumnal and cool. Therefore the beach was deserted shortly before sunset.

Stokes Bay

"Stokey Bay is magic", Pierre enthuses to us. On the drive from Kingscote via Reeves Point, we spot a wallaby on the roadside and spot two Wedge Tailed Eagles and a large flock of Crimson Rosella birds. Pink-white-black glowing birds that make an animal noise but offer a great splash of color in the landscape.

When we arrive I don't know what Pierre is talking about at first. The parking lot and the rocks with the sea look nice, but not “magical”. But he grins and leads us through a tangle of closely spaced rocks. We squeeze through narrow passages between the rocks until we suddenly come out directly to a hidden beach.

It's gorgeous. There are bright orange starfish in the shallow water and there are no other people on the beach apart from us. Nature from its most beautiful side! Out of sheer beauty, we forgot to take a picture or two - sorry!

Snelling Beach

At Snelling Beach we stop at a lookout point and enjoy the view of the bay. The beach is one of the most popular on KI's north coast. Unfortunately we don't have time to go down to the beach. The most beautiful view is from the lookout on the road leading down into the valley.

Flinders Chase National Park

The Flinders Chase National Park is one of the highlights on Kangaroo Island. Every tourist definitely comes here in the West End. Dense forests, untouched nature, white sandy beaches and striking rock formations await us here.

You should already take a closer look up in the parking lot at the Visitors Center, because here you can watch koalas wonderfully.

You also have good chances of getting wallabies here, because unfortunately animals seem to have been given something to eat, especially in the picnic area, or have filled their stomachs with remains of visitors ...

At the Visitors Center, hiking trails branch off into the forest. We only have a short time, but still walk a few meters. Here too, with luck, you can spot koalas in the trees.

Information about Flinders Chase National Park:

  • The visitor center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Outside of the opening times it is possible to register yourself.
  • Day pass: AUD 11 adults, AUD 9 children and 2-day pass: AUD 16 adults and AUD 10 children.

Remarkable rocks

The “striking rocks” in Flinders Chase National Park are Australia's fourth landmark and Kangaroo Island's most famous rock formation. So I'm not surprised that many tourists stop here in particular.

From a distance, the formation looks quite unspectacular, as the road along the rough cliffs is more photogenic. But the closer you get, the more unusual the rocks look.

The impressive granite boulders have been exposed to wind and weather for thousands of years and thereby formed. Some are hollowed out on the inside, on others a wavy surface has formed.

The elevation on which the Remarkable Rocks are located rises 75 meters from the sea. Depending on the light and solar radiation, the rocks shine red, orange or not at all.

Admirals Arch and Cape du Couedic

Another highlight of the Flinders Chase National Park is the Admirals Arch on the windy Cape du Couedic. New Zealand fur seals live here under the protection. Rough rocks and turquoise water make the panorama perfect.

Even if you zoom in, you can only see the seals on this mighty rock as a small point:

We are lucky at the famous Admirals Arch, and a seal is placed on a rock in front of us:

Vivonne Bay - the best comes at the end

One last highlight awaits us at Vivonne Bay. The long and wide bay has even been voted one of the 10 most beautiful and unspoilt beaches in the world. I'm not surprised about that.

Unfortunately afterwards it is time to say goodbye to this beautiful island. I know one thing for sure: I'll be back!

Wallabies, kangaroos and winding roads

Most of the roads to national parks and beaches are paved. But thanks to all-wheel drive vehicles, we often take shortcuts - shortcuts over bumpy unpaved roads (unsealed roads). No matter where we drive - the roads are a feast for the eyes and a highlight in themselves.

Road signs warn of kangaroos. Again and again we see dead wallabies and kangaroos lying on the roadside. "Roadkill" as these carcasses are called here. Unfortunately, the only way to avoid these crashes is to stop driving after dark. It cannot always be avoided.

But the good thing about Kangaroo Island is that you see more animals alive than dead.

Tammar Wallabies - kangaroos in small format

Like Tammar Wallabies, for example, who are already extinct on the mainland. These little kangaroos are darker and smaller than their mainland relatives. The easiest way to find them is in Flinders Chase National Park. We have already spotted them along the road to the park. This was not difficult because they were busy eating in the shade of the trees.

Since we caught a cooler and slightly rainy day, especially on the first day on Kangaroo Island, we could see kangaroos along the streets all day. Most of the time they lay relaxed under trees in the shade (if the sun could be seen briefly) or watched us curiously from a distance.

The winding roads on Kangaroo Island

No matter where on Kangaroo Island. Every street was special. Here are a few impressions of what to expect:

Map of Kangaroo Island with highlights in order of our tour:

More travel tips & information for your visit

Data & facts about Kangaroo Island

The 155 km long island consists of a third of national parks and is surprisingly varied: Steep cliffs, densely forested national parks, towering sand dunes, wetlands and pristine white sandy beaches. Impressively, more than half of the island's original vegetation has been preserved thanks to sustainable tourism and programs to protect flora and fauna.

Only 4,600 people live here - mainly from agriculture and tourism. So it's no wonder that the products here are some of the best in the country. Goat cheese, honey, one of the best types of gin in Australia and fine wines come from the small island. You can buy many of the products at Adelaide's Central Market.

We booked this two day trip with an overnight stay at Kangaroo Island Odyssey. I advise you to stay on the island between 3 - 7 days if possible. Not because there is so much to see, but simply to soak up and experience the special atmosphere of the island. I would have liked to have stayed longer, but unfortunately I didn't have more time.

Visiting Kangaroo Island on your own?

Before going on a trip, you always ask yourself whether you want to discover a place individually or as part of a tour. It was very easy for us: We didn't have a rental car at the beginning of the journey along the south coast to Perth. In addition, almost all rental car providers say in the small print that you are not allowed to drive according to "KI" with the rental car.

We have therefore booked a “2 Day Highlights of Kangaroo Island Tour” from Adelaide. The excursion into nature is not cheap. But if you add up all costs separately, it is worth booking a tour if you don't want to spend at least five days on Kangaroo Island.

The ferry ticket alone would cost us $ 98 there and back. With car or campervan an additional 196 AUD. Accommodation and prices in restaurants cost more than on the mainland. The standard is really nothing particularly high. Entrance to the national parks is also a little more expensive here. You would have to pay separately for each location.

In the end, the 1144 AUD (approx. 760 euros) is money well spent and I am glad I made this trip. The group is very small (8 in total) and we come to places that are privately owned. Other providers can't get here. This is exactly where koalas are. Not just one or two, but up to six in a tree. Many more spread over the eucalyptus trees, the cute animals chill high up.

How to Get to Kangaroo Island

By ferry and bus from Adelaide

Take the SeaLink car and passenger ferry from Cape Jarvis to Penneshaw. The crossing takes about 45 minutes - 1 hour. The swell can sometimes be heavy and sometimes non-existent. With us there and back were not comparable.

The ferry brings passengers from the mainland to Kangaroo Island and back eight times a day (except at Christmas). The drive to Cape Jarvis from Adelaide takes approximately 2 hours. You should definitely book a trip in advance so that you can still ride.

If you book a tour at Kangaroo Island Odyssey like me, the transfer from Adelaide by bus and back is included.

By plane

From Adelaide you can get to Kingsote Airport in 30 minutes by plane. There are four round-trip flights a day.

By car

If you want to drive to Kangaroo Island by rental car you have to make sure that your provider also allows you to drive to Kangaroo Island. In the run-up to the trip, I read from several that driving on Kangaroo Island was banned.

If you want to rent a car on site, there are limited options for 2WD and 4WD (I would recommend for the unpaved roads). The main roads are tarred but the roads to the most interesting highlights are gravel and unpaved roads.

Sealink offers packages for ferry, car and campsites. Information on the Sealink website.

Overnight on Kangaroo Island

There are a few hotels in Kingscote. We stayed at the Aurora Ozone Hotel in Kingscote. The room was large and had a sea view. Since the number of accommodations is very limited, you should book well in advance. We booked through Kangaroo Island Odyssey, where we booked a complete package from Adelaide.

If you like luxury you should check out the Southern Ocean Lodge (update: unfortunately burned down). It is one of the most beautiful accommodations in Australia and is located on a cliff at Hanson Bay.

There are also many unique places to stay in Kangaroo Island, such as the Cape du Couedic lighthouse or the Cape Borda lighthouse. You can book the accommodations here.

Entrance fees to Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island Pass

For visitors who have not booked a tour, there is the Kangaroo Island Pass. This pass gives you access for 12 months to the following places and attractions:

  • Seal Bay with guided tour, boardwalk and viewpoint
  • Kelly Hill show cave tour (I wasn't and can't say if it's worth it)
  • Flinders Chase National Park, Cape Borda Lighthouse Tour, Cape Willoughby Lighthouse Tour (we didn't do either lighthouse tour).
  • The pass costs AUD 70 for adults and AUD 43 for children (as of March 2017).

You can also pay separate admission for all of these highlights.

Everything else you need to know about Kangaroo Island

There are ATMs in Kingscote, Penneshaw, Parndana, American River, and the Flinders Chase Visitors Center.

There are few restaurants in Kingscote that close very early (I didn't go to the other places in the evening). We preferred to dine in the hotel restaurant. The portions were large and the prices fair.

Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail

The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is a five day hike (4 nights). The trail is still relatively new but already very popular. We met a few smaller hiking groups on the way.

→ More information on the official website.

Climate and best travel time for Kangaroo Island

The temperatures on Kangaroo Island are always quite mild due to the location by the sea. In summer, however, like over 40 degrees. Then it is unbearably hot that even the koalas climb down from the trees and hang at the bottom of the tree trunk to cool off.

I was on Kangaroo Island at the beginning of autumn in mid / late March. During the day it was pleasant with temperatures around 24 degrees. As soon as the sun was there, it was hot. However, one day we had relatively bad weather. Short but light drizzle and a cloudy sky. It wasn't too hot for the many animals, so that kangaroos and wallabies were also quite active during the day.

Have you already been to Kangaroo Island? If you have any more tips, please feel free to comment at the end of this article. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them as a comment!

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