Unsurprisingly, Kangaroo Island is the best place in Australia to see kangaroos.
In the early days, local authorities shot the furry nuisances on sight until international pressure (most notably from the Japanese of all people) forced a compromise: each year locals would capture and neuter several thousand koalas until their population was under check.
Oddly enough, there are three times as many kangaroos as koalas on the island , not to mention 6,000 fur seals, 600 sea lions and between 500,000 and one million tammar wallabies.
No predators plus frisky island inhabitants makes for one hell of a place for wildlife viewing.
But it wasn’t always so.
Convicts, pirates, and mutineers (this is Australia, after all) arrived in the 19th century and subsequently slaughtered the seals and sea lions to near extinction (the sea lions remain endangered to this day).
Then to make matters worse, Aboringal women were kidnapped and forced to skin seals, wallabies and kangaroos.
Fortunately, Kangaroo Island has become a haven for wildlife with a large percentage of the island protected from further development.
Things to Do on Kangaroo Island
Flinders Chase National Park
It took over 30 years… but… this section of Kangaroo Island was finally preserved for future generations. It was a bold move which paid off: there are over 240 species of bird and striking coastline which you cannot help but spend an afternoon admiring.
Remember the koalas? They’re here, too… and they brought their brothers (and sisters and cousins and… you get the picture).
Platypuses – a delightfully difficult animal to classify – are occasionally seen along the two hour walk to the Platypus Waterholes (evenings are best for spotting a platypus). Possums, kangaroos and wallabies are everywhere… you’d have to be blind to miss them.
Cape du Couedic
Located along the southern tip of Flinders Chase National Park, Cape du Couedic offers the park’s best coastal scenery. Waves relentlessly pound its jagged coastline, resulting in several interesting limestone formations called the Admiral’s Arch. You’ll spot thousands of seals along the rocks here.
And speaking of which…
Seal Bay Conservation Park
Ok, so they’re sea lions, not seals. But this park – designated in 1972 – is the best place to see over hundreds of endangered sea lions in their natural habitat. Guided tours of the park (required) run every half hour during the day.
Lathami Conservation Park
Another park worth visiting, Lathami is an excellent spot to spot wallabies. Cockatoos are also occasionally seen.
Screw the Animals, Feed Yourself
Seriously, several animals here are lactose intolerant and will die if you feed them. Seriously. But when it comes to feeding yourself… good Lord, there’s some good eating. Get down on honey, cheese, yogurts and other dairy product. Remember: don’t feed the animals!
When To Go
The best time to visit Kangaroo Island is from November to March when the island is drier and warmer.
Keep in mind this is also peak season as many people visit the area for Christmas and New Years.
From November to March, the average high temperatures range from 73 to 79°F (23 to 26°C), low temperatures range from 62 to 68°F (17 to 20°C), and precipitation ranges from 0 to 1.6 inches (0 to 42mm) each month.
Getting There & Around
Kangaroo Island is located off the coast of the South Australia state.
The best way to get to Kangaroo Island is to fly into Kingscote Airport located 8 miles (13km) from the Island’s capital, Kingscote.
You can also take a 45-minute ferry from Cape Jervis and Penneshaw that depart from the mainland four times a day.
The best way to get around is by car. You can either transport a vehicle from the mainland by ferry or rent a car on the island.
- Mid-range accommodations: $150-200
- Meals: $20-30
- Bottle of beer: $6
- Taste the famous Ligurian bee honey. The bees were recolonized from Italy and have flourished on the island.
- Visit Mount Thisby (also known as Prospect Hill) for a great 360 panorama view of the island.
- Check out Reeves Point to imagine what Australia’s first settlement once looked like.
- Miss climbing the unusual rocks at Flinders Chase National Park.
- Swim without asking a lifeguard about water conditions and potential hazards. The north side of the island is generally calmer.
- Forget to sand board Little Sahara off South Coast Road.
- Kangaroo Island is well protected. Half of the island hasn’t been cleared of vegetation and a quarter is protected under the government.
- Nearly 150,000 people visit Kangaroo Island every year.
- Koalas were introduced to the island and have flourished, almost to the point of endangering plant species.
Feature Image Credit: apparena