There I was, working away at what I do best in the day-job office, when across the cubicle a voice was heard to say “There’s nothing to do on Kangaroo Island!” – I was gob smacked because I know better. Thankfully I had someone to back me up, yet I didn’t feel that we had said enough. So I knew I had to expand and say so much more what I enjoy about Kangaroo Island.
If there is only one place I could visit, it’d be Kangaroo Island! Whether you want a few days out to escape the world, or you need some exercise of all your muscles, ‘KI’ (pronounced ‘Kay Eye’) has it all. Every time we visit we find something new to do, new places to see, and some hidden gems which we are keeping to ourselves.
But the tourist attractions are worth more than anything on the mainland has to offer! I say this because not only do you get a little educated, you also get a free look at mother nature, you enjoy it all with a smaller group of people – who are generally from other countries – who can easily become your new best friend!
Instead of me rambling on about it all, I have admittedly-ransacked my favourite websites to find ALL of the places I have visited, plus a few extra that I plan to see very soon! It might be a long list, but that is the point.
- Tour Kangaroo Island – Think of an island seven times the size of Singapore. Think of native bushland, wildlife and pristine beaches. Think of adventure and days of exploring. Think of beach houses, local wines and sunsets. You’re thinking of Kangaroo Island, a brilliant blend.
- Good Food Kangaroo Island – It’s a natural fit, and for visitors to the island it’s a rare opportunity to taste nature at its best. Local producers have been fiercely protective of the clean, green character of the island and for good reason. Today they produce a stunning array of foods, from high quality dairy products and pure honey to gourmet ice-cream and some of the finest seafood available in Australia.
Scroll down, be amazed. Many have their own websites, so I have attempted to link where possible. There really is lots to see, do, visit, touch, eat, drink and enjoy on KI!
Location: Willsons Road, MacGillivray
During the 1930s there were 48 eucalyptus stills in operation employing over 600 people on Kangaroo Island. Today, Emu Ridge is the only commercial eucalyptus oil distillery in operation in South Australia. The technology of this operation may surprise you! The rustic outlook hides some clever bush technology and processes which are simple yet effective. Emu Ridge is self-sufficient with solar and wind power. An extensive range of local art and crafts are also available from the gift shop and Rookery Wines have their cellar door on site with tastings available. Free entry, tour fee applies.
Location: Emu Bay Road
This beautifully presented farm showcases 14 cultivators of English lavender with over 8,000 individual plants in terraced rows. Walk among the fragrant garden and then relax in the outdoor area with a light lunch and a cup of tea or coffee, complete with a lavender shortbread. The charming gift shop includes lavender essential oil, scented candles, soap, culinary items and other Emu Bay Lavender products. The home-made lavender ice cream is a speciality.
Location: Off the South Coast Road, Vivonne Bay
This is an area of spectacular white sand-dunes, surrounded by bush vegetation. Climbing over the first ridge you are confronted by a second, much higher dune which, when scaled, reveals…yes, more dunes. Take your sand-board and climb to the top of the razorback ridges and enjoy a thrilling ride to the bottom. There’s no charge for your enjoyment of Little Sahara but please respect this environment and leave only footprints behind.
Cruising Kangaroo Island operate kayaking tours at carefully selected locations across the Island. Accompanying you on your tour will be an experienced local guide who will ensure a safe, enjoyable and relaxing time on the water. Tours are usually 2 or 3 hours in duration and are undertaken at a very casual pace with regular stops to admire the stunning surrounds. Gliding across the pristine waters you are likely to see dolphins, sea eagles, pelicans, fish, ducks, swans and much more. What better way to see this beautiful island, then from the sea.
Location: Kingscote Jetty
Take a one-hour, half or full-day excursion from Emu Bay and soak up the fun and meet the marine life on this comfortable, purpose-built craft. Join an environmentally focussed pleasure cruise and experience the thrill of swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat, enjoy spectacular scenery, snorkelling, ancient fossil beds, sea eagles and osprey as you explore the magnificent North Coast.
Location: Jetty Road, Vivonne Bay
Enjoy nature-based adventures at breathtaking Vivonne Bay. To get the adrenalin pumping, try sand boarding or Quad-bike (ATV) tours. Ride Quad bikes (available for children over 6 years or be a passenger from 5 years old) through 500 acres of bushland trails – a great way to see kangaroos and other wildlife in their natural environment. Those that do not want to ride themselves can join the guide in the lead vehicle. Surfboards and double or single kayaks are also available for hire.
Location: North Coast Road, Stokes Bay
A conservation project with a difference, this farm saves rare, heritage and unusual breeds of domesticated farm animals from extinction. Less than 4,000 breeds of domesticated farm animals exist globally and these are becoming extinct at a rate of two breeds per week. Many of the breeds kept are critically endangered and not on public display anywhere else in the world. A highly informative personal guided tour is provided.
Location: Western River
They provide both full day & multi-day fishing charter, featuring the beautiful KI coastline. With access to the states most prolific fishing waters, fisherman can catch the mighty Samson Fish, XOS snapper, Sharks, Blue Morwong, & Kidney Slapping Whiting plus so many more! Bundled together with our on-site 4-star luxury accommodation.
Location: South Coast Road, Vivonne Bay
This is set on a property of 206ha, with 1km of beach frontage and 15km of signposted walking trails. There’s abundant wildlife and native vegetation throughout the property, plus multi-purpose recreation, dining and accommodation facilities. With cabin and dormitory-style accommodation for up to 64 guests, the venue is ideal for residential camp programs for schools and all interest groups. It offers informative and educational Island and wildlife tours, corporate training/team building programs and skills training programs for kayaking, surfing and scuba diving. Dining facilities are available for groups and functions.
Marvel at Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch, just two of the many amazing land formations within the 33,000-hectare Flinders Chase National Park. There’s also the 1909 Cape du Couedic lighthouse and wildlife aplenty, including kangaroos, koalas, echidnas and the endangered Cape Barren geese. Start with a visit to the fabulous Flinders Chase Visitor Centre.
Walk among the nation’s third largest and most accessible colony of Australian Sea Lions as these cute creatures doze in the sun after lengthy fishing forays in the Southern Ocean. Various tours are available at the hugely popular Seal Bay Conservation Park: you can join a park ranger for a guided walk on the beach, of take a self-guided tour on the more accessible board-walk.
Join Little Penguins on their nightly procession from the waters around Kingscote and Penneshaw to cosy seaside burrows. The friendly folk of the Kangaroo Island Penguin Centre in Kingscote run nightly tours, and will also show you around their illuminating salt-water aquariums, containing a huge variety of island marine life including seahorses, amazing cuttlefish and reef fish.
Kangaroo Island is home to the only known pure strain of Ligurian bee in the world. The bees descended from the Italian province of Liguria, imported in twelve hives in the 1880’s and protected from other breeds of bee by the Island’s isolation. The honey produced is of outstanding quality and no trip to Kangaroo Island is complete without sampling it. At both the Island Beehive and Clifford’s Honey Farm you can taste the honey and learn more about the Ligurian bee.
Envelop yourself in the Island’s history with a tour of its spectacular lighthouses. Dating back to 1852, Cape Willoughby is SA’s oldest lighthouse: you can tour it daily. At Cape Borda, tour the lighthouse and museum before exploring the old landing site and light-keeper’s cemetery. And at Weirs Cove wonder at how life was for the early keepers of Cape du Couedic lighthouse, visiting the remains of the jetty, water tank and storerooms that sustained life in this isolated post between infrequent supply ships.
Feel the sand between your toes as you wander the white slopes of Little Sahara, a series of spectacular sand dunes that rise out of bushland in the centre of the island. Take a sand board, climb to the top of those razorback ridges and ride the slopes back down to the bottom.
When Sydney University evaluated 10,000 beaches across Australia (rating them on things like clarity of water, privacy and cleanliness) it was only natural that Kangaroo Island’s Vivonne Bay would come out tops. But with so many long, curved, sandy beaches – perfect for beach-combing, picnics, surfing, swimming or fishing – it’s a wonder the Island’s other beaches didn’t receive similar recognition.
National and Conservation parks cover more than one third of the total area of land on Kangaroo Island. From very early in Kangaroo Island’s European settlement, National and Conservation parks were declared across the Island, in recognition of the importance of preserving the unique plant and wildlife species that exist on Kangaroo Island. Some of these species of plants and animals are either threatened or exist nowhere else in Australia. Kangaroo Island’s four major parks are Flinders Chase National Park National Park, famous for the must see Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch and walking trails, Kelly Hill Conservation Park
for its magnificent limestone caves and hike, Seal Bay Conservation Park where visitors can walk among the third largest and only accessible colony of Australia Sea lions and Cape Willoughby Conservation Park where tours of the first lighthouse in South Australia are held.National Parks provide the opportunity to access spectacular coastline, unique geological formations, be inspired by history and discover wildlife in the wild.
Walk among the nation’s third largest and most accessible colony of Australian Sea Lions as these cute creatures doze in the sun after lengthy fishing forays in the Southern Ocean.
hile many visitors take the board-walk to photograph and enjoy the stalactite-fringed vista of the ocean and volcanic rock, a great surprise is the large colony of New Zealand Fur seals that live below.
Cape Borda Conservation Park
Envelop yourself in the Island’s history with a tour of Cape Borda light station and museum before exploring the old landing and the lighthouse keeper’s cemetery.
Location: South Coast Road, Murray Lagoon
Visit Murray Lagoon, a bird lover’s paradise or take a drive to D’Estrees Bay, the historic site of early whaling and pastoral industries. D’Estrees Bay is also a popular surfing beach with camping and picnic areas available.
South Australia’s first lighthouse for an insight into the important role Cape Willoughby played in the early history of South Australia. Re-live the stories of light keepers and enjoy spectacular views atop the lighthouse.
Home to Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch, this park requires at least a day to explore. Visit Cape Du Couedic Lighthouse and spectacular Weirs Cove. Enjoy one of the many walks and hikes for wildlife encounters.
Adventure Caving at Kelly Hill Caves
Location: South Coast Road, Flinders Chase
Tour this beautiful cave system of caverns and sink holes. Showcase tours run daily. The more daring can also book an adventure caving tour for a deeper look into this underground world of ornate calcite formations.
Explore the island’s scenic terrain. There are trails ranging in length and difficulty to cater for all fitness levels. The Clifftop Hike at Cape Borda is the perfect introduction to this spectacular site. Sometimes you will be rewarded with dolphin or whale sightings, or views of soaring sea-eagles. The Hanson Bay Hike at Kelly Hill Conservation Park is also spectacular. It is 18km (return) taking 6 hours to complete. However the scenery is worth it. The trail meanders from the visitor centre to the south coast at Hanson Bay and showcases Pink Gum woodlands, mallee, coastal heaths, freshwater lagoons and ancient dunes. There are several spectacular viewpoints along the way.
Ironstone Hill Hike
Location: Baudin Conservation Park, East of Penneshaw.
This 4km hike follows the coast east of Penneshaw along a section of the original bullock track to Cape Willoughby. After climbing through regenerating sheoak vegetation, the hike leads to the ruins of Harry Bates’ cottage and a stone-threshing floor on Ironstone Hill. The farming heritage of the area is interpreted on signs along the hike.
Location: Lierich Drive, American River
Departing from the northern side of the town, this walk takes you on a fascinating coastal trail to the Historic Fish Cannery. During the walk, keep an eye out for bird life, a variety of coastal vegetation and dolphins swimming in the cove. The walk takes about 1.5 hours; a guide is available at American River shops.
Kingscote & Districts
Kingscote to Brownlow Coastal Walk
Location: Between Kingscote Wharf and Brownlow Beach
Beginning at the Kingscote Wharf, this trail follows the coast to the nearby township of Brownlow.The walk provides impressive coastal views over Nepean Bay and some fine bird watching opportunities.
Location: Departs from Cape du Couedic Light-station, Flinders Chase Nation Park
This 2km hike provides spectacular coastal cliff-top views as it meanders between the Cape du Couedic Light-station and Admirals Arch car park. Discover the varied and impressive techniques that plants use to grow here. Find out about Aboriginal connections with Cape du Couedic and how they survived in this harsh environment. Contemplate the drama of being shipwrecked here 110 years ago. Look for the water pool built by the lighthouse builders and watch for those who still use it today.
Weirs Cove Hike
Location: Cape du Couedic Road, Flinders Chase National Park
Imagine spending three months or more waiting for fresh supplies… Hike from Cape du Couedic Light-station to Weirs Cove (3km return) to appreciate the life of a light-keeper, not to mention his long walk to bringing the groceries home. Discover the method of landing people and supplies along this treacherous coastline.
Location: Cape Borda Light-station
This short 1km trail is the perfect complement to a guided tour at Cape Borda Light-station. Meander through the picturesque rock gardens and observe how the vegetation changes as you near the cliff-top. A stone lookout provides an ideal vantage point for spotting whales and dolphins.
Harveys Return Hike
Location: Playford Highway, near Cape Borda
This short hike follows the original route used by the Cape Borda Light-keepers who hauled their stores up from Harveys Return using a horse and capstan (horse-drawn winch), and small rail cars. For geology enthusiasts, there are spectacular outcrops of tightly folded, thinly bedded schists. Below the capstan, the trail is very steep, so walkers should descend carefully.
Hanson Bay Hike
Location: Departs from Kelly Hill Caves or Hanson Bay
This spectacular trail meanders from Kelly Hill Visitor Centre to Hanson Bay. It passes through Banksia heath, pink gum woodlands, mallee and coastal heath, alongside freshwater lagoons, and over dunes to viewpoints that provide wonderful vistas inland and along the coast. Allow a full day for the return trip or try to arrange a pick-up.
Location: Seagers Road
The Murray Lagoon is the Island’s largest lagoon and offers three walks – Bald Hill (1km), Curley Creek (11km) and Timber Creek (1.5km). All have great vantage points to observe bird life. Bald Hill in particular has great vistas over Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park. This area is particularly attractive during winter and spring when the creeks are flowing, bringing a great variety of water-birds and waders to the region. A ranger’s office and basic camping facilities are located nearby.
Beaches and Coast
Kangaroo Island’s coastline has everything: from surf-pounded cliffs to becalmed coves, from famous sweeps of sand to secret rocky inlets. Yet in spite of the diversity, you don’t have to travel far to enjoy spectacular contrasts. The possibilities for recreation are equally diverse – surfers, fishermen, wreck-divers, wildlife lovers and of course people who simply love to feel sand between their toes, they all relish the Island fringes.
Antechamber Bay – Chapman River
You could easily spend a day relaxing at Antechamber Bay and Chapman River. The area is full of tracks leading through bushland, sand-hills and lagoons, and is a favourite spot for canoeists and campers. Chapman River is a wonderful place to spend a day and a great place for children to play in the shallow waters of the river mouth. A stroll on the long, sandy beach will reveal the splendour of Antechamber Bay; and more often than not, you’ll have the beach to yourself. Swimming, picnic areas, camping and toilets are available.
This small community of approximately 50 residents is actively preserving the local area for the enjoyment of all. Next to the boat ramp is an interesting copper sculpture celebrating Mary Beckwith, the first recorded European woman to set foot on South Australian soil. Facilities include a boat ramp, viewing platform, cliff-top walking path and public toilet.
A sheltered and easily accessible beach suitable for families with children. Great for swimming, wading in the shallows or fossicking for shells on the beach. Camping facilities, picnic area and public toilets are available.
Hog Bay Beach, Penneshaw
Clean sand, safe swimming and views across Backstairs Passage to the mainland make Hog Bay the ideal holiday beach for all ages. The Lloyd Collins Reserve provides toilets, electric barbecue and picnic facilities, and being in Penneshaw, you’re not too far away from the ice cream shop!
Known locally as Millionaires’ Row for its fabulous real estate, Island Beach is the quintessential beach holiday location. Fringed by dense bush land, the sandy beach stretches almost as far as the eye can see and provides very safe swimming. A walk along the coast towards American River has plenty of bird watching opportunities. Boats can be launched from the beach.
The lack of large-scale development has meant that small industry has flourished and now includes a variety of products such as free-range eggs, olive oil, native jams, smoked fish, sauces and marinades. Kangaroo Island’s apiarists harvest honey from the pure strain Ligurian bees, and regional cheeses and yoghurt’s continue to find a place in food lovers’ hearts. Fresh seafood is featured across the Island and seasonally you can enjoy a variety of natural and farmed produce such as oysters, prawns, crayfish, whiting, snapper and, not forgetting freshwater marron – it’s so easy to get a taste for Kangaroo Island!
Location: Harriet Road, Central KI
Don’t miss this threefold opportunity for magnificent marron (freshwater crayfish), wine tastings/sales and café dining. View marron in holding tanks in the farm shed and learn more about this Island icon. Taste a selection of premium red and white wines made from grapes grown on the property – Sauvignon Blanc is a speciality. Select marron, wine and bush tucker sauces to create your own Island feast or dine at the Marron Café beside the native herb garden (last orders 4pm).
Location: Elsegood Road, MacGillivray
Discover the Ligurian Bee, view them in a glass hive and watch the informative video, which explains the collection and extraction process of honey and bee hive by-products. Enjoy browsing the local produce, art and craft and cosmetics made with honey and beeswax. Sample several flavours of pure Ligurian honey and try Jenny’s famous honey Ice-cream.
Location: North Terrace, Penneshaw
Join renowned chef Sue Pearson at her gourmet fish shop on the last Friday of each month as she hosts cooking demonstrations. Each lesson is different and covers all topics from shucking oysters to cooking the perfect lobster. She may even share the secrets to her now famous sauces, or take guests off-site in search of samphire and wild garlic.
Location: Gum Creek Road, Cygnet River
A dairy with a difference. Take part in a guided tour and observe the milking of sheep and the making of this famous cheese and yoghurt. There are opportunities for visitors to taste and buy the produce, which includes Spanish, Greek, Italian and Cypriot style cheeses. Wouldn’t you love some fried haloumi on the BBQ tonight?
Established by Kate Sumner, the Island’s most produce driven Chef, Kangaroo Island Source specialises in gourmet food production and catering that is the clearest, cleanest, most natural expression of the Kangaroo Island region. All ingredients and produce are hand selected and supplied by local producers who share in the same philosophy – food that encapsulates the freshness, quality and flavour of local and natural Kangaroo Island ingredients. Kangaroo Island Source feeds not only the body but the mind with a truly unique regional food experience.
KI2U – Kangaroo Island Online Store
KI2U is run by local Kangaroo Island family Luke and Tania Conaghty. Wanting to showcase the many quality Island products that they themselves enjoyed, they started researching who may benefit from some added exposure. What they found was an even larger range and diversity of local food, wine, spirits, art and crafts than they had imagined.
Location: Lyoyd Collins Reserve
Join a selection of Kangaroo Island’s top food producers at the Penneshaw Farmers Market. Purchase a range of fresh local produce from the very people who grow, farm or make it. Tastings, breakfast, coffee and a great village atmosphere are all on offer…so be sure to make a morning out of it.
Nature makes a fine muse. Little wonder Kangaroo Island inspires so many fine artists. From painters to potters, writers to woodworkers and spinners to silk painters, the art and crafts of local artists reflect life on the Island. The Kangaroo Island Gallery in Kingscote and KI Artworks in Baudin Beach exhibit and sell only Island-made works – a real opportunity to take an original piece of the Island home with you.
Location: 80 Dauncey Street, Kingscote
Fleur and Fred Peters present an outstanding and welcoming art space. A selection of fine local artwork is superbly displayed in a renovated 1885 heritage building in the central retail precinct. With works from 80% of the Island’s professional artists as well as a showcase of emerging new talent, the emphasis is on quality. Featuring a diverse range of media and styles including original and handmade jewellery, sculpture and ceramics. Professional packaging and freighting available to anywhere in the world.
Roo Lagoon Gallery
Location: Playford Highway, Gosse
Join Jonny in his working gallery and see why his distinctive woodwork – both beautiful and functional – is so sought after around the world. Jonny makes a range of items from the rich red gums that thrive in the west end of Kangaroo Island, including clocks, barometers, platters, lazy susans and his most popular item, pepper and salt mills.
Location: South Coast Rd, 8km West of Vivonne Bay
Immerse yourself in Rustic Blue, a serene gallery showcasing a collection of artwork and photography by the owners in a renovated shearing shed. Their work is supported by a unique range of Australian designed and created jewellery, art and sculpture. Enjoy freshly brewed coffee or herbal teas and cake on the deck, be sure to experience the ‘gong’ in the spiritual room and set up your own picnic in the grounds. Sunset Wildlife Safaris are also available on request.
Location: Bellmore Road, Shoal Bay, off North Coast Rd (8km from Kingscote)
Neil Sheppard’s studio and straw bale home overlooks beautiful Bay of Shoals, 10 minutes from Kingscote. Sheps’ work is dynamic, bright and popular with both tourists and locals. His preferred medium is oils, but you never know what you might find. This talented artist has a knack for reinvention and surprising even his biggest fans.
Whew, what a list! And you know the best bit?: It isn’t finished. On each of the sites linked at every location, you’ll find MORE, MUCH MORE! Whoever says Kangaroo Island is boring – they’ve never been.