KANGAROO ISLAND: A 4-DAY ITINERARY
Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island, situated in South Australia, 112 kilometres south-west of Adelaide. It is 150 km long and between 90 km and 57 km wide, covering an area of 4405 square kilometres. It has a coast line of about 540 kilometres, so if you’re a beach person (who isn’t, right?) then you have the longest stretch of seashore that you’ve probably ever seen. And it’s not as crowded as other beaches.
Kangaroo Island is said to have separated from the Australian mainland about 10,000 years ago, due to rising sea level and tectonic shifts during the last glacial period. Excavations have thrown up stone tools that show that it was once settled upon by Aborigines. They occupied it as long as 16,000 years ago – before the split – and only disappeared from it as recently as 2000 years ago. So the culture in this place will have a distinct Aussie Aboriginal tinge.
European settlement commenced in the early 1800’s, and as can be expected from a small island, it is full of lighthouses and shipwrecks.
The island has a resident population of just 4,417 (according to the 2011 census), but more than 140,000 tourists visit it every year, primarily from Europe. Therefore, tourism is an important part of the island’s economy. Today we will therefore give you a comprehensive itinerary of what to do if you find yourself marooned on Kangaroo Island for four days. Or even if you visit it intentionally, as you no doubt must.
From Adelaide, take a Regional Express flight to Kingscote, Kangaroo Island’s main town and administrative centre. You have choices for accommodation that fit most budgets, but if you’re going for luxury, Southern Ocean Lodge is a good pick. Wherever you decide to stay, though, drop your bags, freshen up, get something in your tummy, and head out around noon to explore the island.
Flinders Chase National Park is a good choice for visiting on your first day. It has rugged coastlines, views of vast wilderness, sculpted rocks and encounters with wildlife. Here you will also find Remarkable Rocks, which are truly remarkable not just because they’re named that way. These are huge weather-sculpted granite boulders that drop 75 metres down to the sea. There is also Admiral’s Arch at the park, which is a remnant of an ancient cave that was broken by waves and transformed into a natural bridge.
After lunch, you can head out to Seal Bay Conservation Park, where you can walk among a breeding colony of sea lions. Watch them rest in the sun and nurse their young. If seal watching is not for you, go ahead and hit the beach or even grab your surfboard and ride the waves. Return to your accommodation by sunset so that you can freshen up in time for dinner. Instead of ordering room service at your hotel, why not take a walk and see what the restaurants of Kingscote have to offer?
Day two of the itinerary is all about food. On this day, you should dedicate at least the first part to a Food Safari. A little known fact about Kangaroo Island is its pure and extraordinary produce. Either procure for yourself a guide, or if you’re feeling adventurous, ask around and make your own way. Discover the diversity of the produce and the passion of the producers. Talk to them and figure out how food comes from the paddock and ends up on the plate.
You can visit Kangaroo Island Olive Oil, Kangaroo Island Honey, Marron, Wine and Native Spices, The Island Estate Winery, and many more such places where people in the food business will happily chat with you about anything you want to know. This is an earthy, Australian way to find out more about the place you visit. You meet some great people, make some lasting friendships, and taste some of the purest food that you ever knew existed.
Think oysters, abalone, artisan cheeses, honey, free-range eggs, marron, yoghurt, wine…and anything else that you prefer. Prepare for a whole day of eating and talking, and for returning to your hotel in the evening with a full stomach and a mind bubbling over with experiences.
In the evening, again the choice is yours, but we encourage you to go out and see more of Kingscote’s cuisine. Why not try and spot the food that you tasted during the day in one of the many restaurants in town?
Divide the third day into three equal parts. Set out as early as you can, preferably right after breakfast, and make for Sunset Winery, a 14-hectare property of native bushland boasting of 180-degree sea views, an all-weather deck, and seven premium wines. Aim to spend about three hours over here.
From there you will go on a Coastal Clifftop Walk, a scenic trail atop the limestone cliffs of Hanson Bay. When you’re on top of the cliff, looking out onto the Southern Ocean, the wind in your hair comes all the way from those ‘other’ kind of white hills in the distant South which make up the continent of Antarctica. If you get for yourself a good tour guide, he or she will tell you a little about coastline ecosystems and the local flora and fauna.
After the sun has set, why not set out on a nocturnal tour at the Hanson Bay Sanctuary? This is not a great distance off Kingscote, so you should be able to reach it with no problem. An experienced tour guide will take you on a 90-minute walk along the 250-acre area, where you will discover more about the nocturnal animals of Kangaroo Island in their natural habitat and environment.
If you’ve booked your flight in the second half of Day 4, you have time in the morning for a nice relaxing breakfast, followed by souvenir shopping in Kingscote. If shopping doesn’t interest you, perhaps you have enough time to head out to the beach once more and have that one final surf or a run along the pristine sands before you leave.
If you’re still in the mood for something new, check out Kangaroo Island’s Penguin Centre. Though you cannot get too close to the little fellows or play with them, you can watch them flap their little wings and make pretty faces at you while you click away with your camera. Murray Lagoon is another place you would like to see, especially if you’re a lover of aquatic life and also of birds. If you’re staying close enough, Raptor Domain is worth a visit too, for their in-flight bird of prey presentation and reptile show.
In short, Day 4 is to cover all those small bits and pieces you were not able to visit in the first three days. Make sure you have enough energy for the flight that you’re about to take, though, and most importantly, don’t cram everything into this day. Arrive at Kingscote Airport with plenty of time in hand, and fly back to Adelaide.
If you feel at the end of four days that you have not really experienced Kangaroo Island fully, don’t fret, because that’s a perfectly common sentiment that most visitors to the island have. Why not come back again, then, this time for a longer visit? Until then, stay safe!