See native wildlife in the wild in the ecological haven of Kangaroo Island. See pink pelicans wheeling through the sky, sea lions lying on the sand of Seal Bay and sleepy koalas in the trees. Sit in the sand grandstands and watch packs and pairs of little penguins make their nightly pilgrimage to the shore in Penneshaw. Load up on fresh produce – from Ligurian honey to free range chickens and eggs – and wine produced by 30 growers from Cape Willoughby to Kingscote. Stay in heritage accommodation and see some of South Australia’s first lighthouses at Cape Willoughby, Cape Borda and Cape du Couedic. Swim on secret beaches at Stokes Bay, surf at Vivonne Bay and fish from Emu Bay. Take a scenic drive to the underground caves of Kelly Hill Conservation Park and the Remarkable Rocks in Flinders Chase National Park.
With wildlife: including seals and platypus, koalas and kangaroos
Feed pelicans and see giant cuttlefish, seahorses and little penguins at Kingscote Wharf. Meet wallabies, brush-tailed possums and kangaroos on a nocturnal tour along American River. Cuddle koalas and hand-feed lorikeets, hold a possum or get wrapped by a snake at Stokes Bay. Bushwalk past the ducks, swans and waders of Murray Lagoon in Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park. Observe Australian sea lions at Seal Bay and over 7,000 New Zealand fur seals playfully interacting in and around Admirals Arch in Flinders Chase National Park, also home to hundreds of docile kangaroos. You’ll spot koalas pretty much everywhere, but some of their most popular hangouts are in the trees of Hanson Bay Sanctuary and Western Ki Caravan Park.
With fine food and wine: in your pouch and on your table
Visit the cellar door of the island’s first and largest winery at Cape Willoughby, shuck oysters in Penneshaw and visit local farms making sheep’s milk cheese and mounth-watering Ligurian honey in MacGillivray and Kinsgcote. Kangaroo Island is also dotted with cosy cafes and elegant restaurants. Dine on Nepean Bay oysters overlooking the ocean and sample other premium seafood in season in Penneshaw. Enjoy a five-star feast amongst the wilderness on the South Coast and a sunset seafood and marron platter next to the rockpool in Parndana. Fill your beach house with gourmet produce, pack a picnic for a day of touring and take home a case of your favourite wines.
With history: sailors, soldiers, explorers and an Aboriginal mystery
Stay in a restored lighthouse keeper’s cottage at isolated Cape Willoughby on Dudley Peninsula. Or read the diaries of disgruntled lighthouse keepers in the lighthouses at Cape Borda and Cape du Couedic in Flinders Chase National Park. Dive the wrecks of the Portland Maru and the Loch Vennachar, which sailed into the west coast cliffs in 1905, losing all 27 crew. Visit Frenchman’s Rock, the spot in Hog Bay where French explorer Captain Nicolas Baudin anchored in 1803. Climb the same 512 steps explorer Captain Matthew Flinders climbed to survey the island at Prospect Hill. See the original mulberry tree, well, jetty, post office and quarry sites of South Australia’s first official European settlement at Reeves Point. Learn about the soldiers who created homes and farms out of 100,000 hectares of thick virgin scrub at Parndana Soldier Settlement Museum. Remains of stone tools and Aboriginal campsites show that Aboriginal people lived on Kangaroo Island at least as early as 16,000 years ago, but why they abandoned the island, or when they last lived here, remains a mystery.
On the coast: swim, surf, snorkel and dive from sparkling beaches & bays
Fish from the historic jetty at Emu Bay or join a fishing tour from American River, Penneshaw, Kingscote and Emu Bay. Swim in the rock-enclosed pool of Stokes Bay and off picnic-perfect Penneshaw Beach. Surf the uncrowded breaks at Stokes, Vivonne and Pennington Bays. Sail past the sandy beaches and sheltered coves of Nepean Bay. Bushwalk, dive shipwrecks and see shore-wading birds and pelicans in D’estrees Bay. You can trek the bushland, sandhills and lagoons of Antechamber Bay/Chapman River, and canoe and camp along the way. Under the water you’ll find some of Australia’s best temperate-water diving. Watch elusive leafy sea-dragons, blue devils, and harlequin flit between towering coral walls and red, orange and white sponges.
With adventures on land: ride, drive and surf the sand
Discover quiet country lanes, picturesque towns and national parks on a cycling tour from Penneshaw. Take an all-terrain vehicle across acres of bushland trails or surf down the sand dunes in Vivonne Bay. Go caving in the magical underground caves at Kelly Hill Conservation Park, squeezing through the sinkholes and caverns. You can also take in the natural attractions of Australia’s third largest island on the many scenic drives. Spot dolphins, see the hidden beach of Stokes Bay and meet rare farm animals and friendly wildlife on the Rolling North Coast Drive. See the Remarkable Rocks at sunset in Flinders Chase National Park on a tour of the south west corner. Follow the Dudley Peninsula drive to the lighthouse of Cape Willoughby and visit honey makers and lobster, lavender and dairy farms on a journey through the Kingscote District.