7 things you didn’t know about Kangaroo Island
Just a short hop from the South Australian mainland is a sanctuary for wildlife that’s as rugged as it is spectacular.
- November 2019
While it is Australia’s third biggest island, there is much more to Kangaroo Island than its impressive size. From kangaroos, sea lions and bees to huge granite boulders, sand dunes and rustic cottages, it is quite unlike any other South Australian destination.
It is an impressive size
Only 110 kilometres south of Adelaide, KI is Australia’s third-largest island (after Tasmania and Melville) and its 4400 square kilometres are home to just over 100 sheep for every one of its 4700 residents.
It's teeming with kangaroos and sea lion
Apart from the eponymous kangaroos, which are smaller and darker than the mainland cousins they last saw about 10,000 years ago, the best-known wildlife drawcard of this richly varied island is the endangered Australian sea lion. Seal Bay is the only place in the world where you can literally get amongst them on the sand and watch them sleep, surf, sometimes fight and feed their impossibly cute babies.
You can stay overnight
Flinders Chase National Park turns 100 this month. Embrace its heritage by staying in a one-room stone hut that was the postman’s fortnightly stopover or a lighthouse keeper’s cottage with a wood-fired stove.
The Remarkable Rocks are awe-inspiring
High on the island’s southern coast you’ll find the weathered granite boulders that are the Remarkable Rocks. Take a camera and capture their abstract shapes; look towards Antarctica from your perch 60 metres above the Southern Ocean; and take extra care when it’s wet and windy – the same forces that helped shape these landmarks over 500 million years are still going strong.
There are tonnes of wineries, distilleries, cellar doors and pubs
At almost seven times the size of Singapore, KI still retains about half of its native vegetation. Around 120 hectares of the island is under vine and there are 13 wineries, six with cellar doors. There’s also a distillery, pubs, a cider maker, microbreweries and a pop-up caravan bar on the beach where sandy feet are welcome.
You can slide down sand dunes
Get your heart pumping at Little Sahara, a dune system where you can rent a board or toboggan slicked with Ligurian beeswax (naturally!) and zoom down the slopes.
It is a sanctuary for bees
The year after its prized bees arrived from the mainland in 1884, Kangaroo Island was declared a bee sanctuary. It’s the world’s oldest and thanks to strict quarantine measures it retains the purest existing strain of Ligurian bees. In a good year the island’s 51 registered beekeepers can harvest up to an estimated 300 tonnes of honey from their 3333 hives.