Kangaroo Island southwest of Adelaide is Australia’s third biggest island, after Melville Island and Tasmania. At its closest point the mainland is 16km away and the short ferry trip is definitely worth the journey as Kangaroo Island is a marvellous haven for native flora and fauna, and it’s renowned for its unspoilt natural environment. Kangaroos, koalas and other wildlife such as birds are abundant all over the island and there are several wilderness protection areas. The island has approximately 150,000 visitors every year, but with its 4,500km2 it is big enough to host them all without getting crowded.
A day trip is a good opportunity to see kangaroos, wallabies, emus, goannas, echidna and koalas in their natural habitat and you can also see sea lions on the beaches, but the ferry is expensive so it’s a good idea to spend at least one night on the island so you get more for your money, besides in one day it’s impossible to see even half of what the island has to offer.
Kangaroo Island is a wilderness refuge with a fascinating past. It was discovered in 1802 by English sea captain Matthew Flinders, who never travelled without his cat, Trim. Flinders and Trim found Kangaroo Island uninhabited, but stone tools since discovered indicate people lived there about 10,000 years ago. The fate of the original inhabitants remains a mystery.
The main towns on the island are American River, Kingscote and Penneshaw.
Coming & going
Kangaroo Island is easily accessible by air and sea, but it is an expensive island to get to. It is 30 minutes by air from Adelaide and ferries sail there from Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Rex operate frequent flights between Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. Flights arrive at Kingscote Airport near Cygnet River, about 14km from Kingscote.
Sealink operates several ferries per day between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. The return fare is $98 per person and $188 for a car.
Adventures Beyond run one and two-day 4WD adventures to Kangaroo Island. One-day trips cost $258 and two-day trips cost $415.
Renting a car is the best way to explore the island, particularly since the main attractions are away from the towns. Although expensive for a single traveller, renting a car becomes more affordable when the cost is split between several people. Rental car companies on Kangaroo Island include Budget and Hertz.