Kangaroo Island, South Australia: The Best Bits


We experienced a memorable visit to Kangaroo Island, Australia’s third-largest island, accessible by a ferry ride from Cape Jervis on the mainland. Renowned for its pristine natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and tranquil atmosphere, Kangaroo Island offers a sublime retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. We saw koalas, kangaroos and sea lions in the wild and enjoyed the rugged coastline and local hospitality on a visit there a few years back. We flew in from Sydney via Adelaide and hired a car for our week or so exploring the island. A few of the best bits that we enjoyed below.  ED: Kevin Parker

  • Seal Bay: Start your exploration of Kangaroo Island at Seal Bay, home to the third-largest Australian sea lion colony in the world. The Seal Bay Conservation Park offers a unique opportunity to walk among these fascinating creatures on a guided beach tour. Observe the sea lions in their natural habitat as they bask on the sand or frolic in the surf.
  • Flinders Chase National Park: Spend a day at the Flinders Chase National Park, a vast wilderness area covering the western end of the island. The park is famous for its unusual geological formations, the Remarkable Rocks and Admiral’s Arch. The Remarkable Rocks are a cluster of weather-worn granite boulders perched atop a granite outcrop, providing an amazing photo opportunity, especially at sunrise or sunset. Admiral’s Arch is a stunning natural rock archway where you can spot New Zealand fur seals from the viewing platforms. The park also offers a variety of hiking trails through diverse habitats, from coastal landscapes to eucalyptus forests.
  • Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park: End your journey at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, where you can experience close encounters with some of Australia’s most iconic wildlife. Here, you can hand-feed kangaroos, cuddle a koala, hold a snake or a bird of prey, or interact with wombats. It’s a fantastic place for families and anyone looking to learn more about Australia’s unique fauna.

Beyond these highlights, Kangaroo Island offers many additional experiences:

  • Kelly Hill Caves: Explore the stunning limestone caves at Kelly Hill Conservation Park. Adventure caving tours are also available for the more daring.
  • Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary: Visit the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary for a chance to spot koalas in the wild and take a nocturnal tour to see the island’s nightlife come alive.
  • Local Food and Wine: Kangaroo Island is also known for its culinary scene, with locally produced honey, wine, and spirits. Don’t miss a visit to Kangaroo Island Spirits or Islander Estate Vineyards, we enjoyed both.
  • Vivonne Bay: Voted as one of Australia’s best beaches, Vivonne Bay is perfect for picnics, fishing, or surfing.
  • Little Sahara: Try sandboarding or tobogganing at Little Sahara, a naturally occurring sand dune system.

Kangaroo Island truly has abundant wildlife, untouched landscapes, and myriad outdoor activities. 

Traditional Custodians

The local Aboriginal people indigenous to Kangaroo Island are known as the Ramindjeri People (also spelled as Ngarrindjeri or Ngarrindjeri-Ngarrindjeri). They are the traditional custodians of the land and have a deep connection to Kangaroo Island.

The Ramindjeri people refer to Kangaroo Island as “Karta” in their language. “Karta” means “Island of the Dead” or “Island of the Spirits” in the Ramindjeri language. This name reflects the spiritual significance and cultural history of the island to the Ramindjeri people.

Flora and Fauna

Here are some of the flora and fauna that you can expect to find on Kangaroo Island.

Flora of Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island is home to a diverse range of native plant species, with almost 900 species in total.
Approximately 50 of these plant species are found nowhere else on earth, making Kangaroo Island a unique and important biodiversity hotspot.

The flora of Kangaroo Island includes a variety of vegetation types, ranging from coastal dunes and heathlands to woodlands and forests.
Some notable plant species found on Kangaroo Island include the Kangaroo Island Narrow-leaved Mallee (Eucalyptus cneorifolia), Kangaroo Island Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata), and Kangaroo Island Daisy (Brachyscome diversifolia).

Fauna of Kangaroo Island:

Kangaroo Island is known for its diverse wildlife, including several iconic Australian animal species.

Native wildlife that can be seen on Kangaroo Island includes the Kangaroo Island Kangaroo, Rosenberg’s Sand Goanna, Tammar Wallaby, and Short-beaked Echidna.

The island is also home to various bird species, such as the Glossy Black Cockatoo, Kangaroo Island Emu, and Hooded Plover.

Marine life around Kangaroo Island is abundant, with Australian Sea Lions, New Zealand Fur Seals, and Little Penguins being some of the species that can be observed in the surrounding waters.

Kangaroo Island Species courtesy of INaturalist community

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