I cannot tell a lie. Before visiting Kangaroo Island in South Australia, I had visions of a tiny island being jam packed with Kangaroos. I assumed it was a wildlife preserve and kangaroos would be everywhere. As it turns out, Kangaroo Island is Australia's third largest island filled with wildlife, adventure, luxury accommodation and beautiful scenery.
Our trip to KI started with a flight on the Regional Express from Adelaide. We left the majority of our gear at our hotel, The Rockford Adelaide as the Regional Express airways has very strict baggage allowances. (10 Kilos) We scaled it down more than enough and arrived at the island first thing in the morning to start our three day safari with Kangaroo Island Wilderness tours. It ended up being a fantastic itinerary. Because we were on a private tour, we could make our own schedule and had a lot of flexibility to see everything that we wanted. So here's what we saw!
The main attraction that Dave wanted to photograph was the famous Remarkable Rocks in Flinders Chase National Park. We expected them to be bigger and a little more remarkable, but they were beautiful none the less. The Remarkables are rocks turned into giant works of art. These granite boulders have been sculpted over 500 million years creating unique formations balancing precariously on the edge of the sea. It's worth it to wait for the sun to set as the boulders light up to beautiful shades of orange and red creating deep shadows, perfect for photography. There's not many people around at this time of day, so you have the rocks almost all to yourself!
We had only seen a few Koalas during our time in South Australia, so we were looking forward to getting a closer view of them on Kangaroo Island. Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect spot to find Koalas. When someone spots one, they put up a flag below the tree to make it easier for you to find them. When we arrived they had spotted 5 that day. Koalas can be a little tricky to spot, but once you find one, you know where to look and it gets easier. I think that they may be the laziest animals on the planet though. All they ever seem to do is sleep, but if you do manage to get one to raise their head between sleeping or eating, they are just as cute as a button.
If you want to see seals when traveling, Kangaroo Island is the place to do it. There are a couple of different viewing opportunities from the rocks and arches at the lighthouse to Seal Bay where you can see tons of seals basking in the sun or surfing in the waves. Seals go out to sea for days hunting and diving as deep as 100 metres to search for food. It's exhausting work and when seals are on shore, they don't do a heck of a lot besides sleep. However you'll see a lot of cubs playing in the waves and it is the cutest thing to watch.
Surprisingly we didn't see any kangaroos until the second day of our tour when our guide Terry took us for a stroll through a conservation area. Not many tourists go to this area and it pays to have a guide with you because we never would have found this on our own. It was amazing once we walked through the path to a clearing in the woods. There were kangaroos everywhere and not only were they plentiful, they put on a great show for us. Terry told us that this was a rare site to see them standing up high on their hind legs to eat leaves in the trees. I don't know if it is rare or not, but it was beautiful to watch. They didn't seem to mind that we were there one bit. They'd glance in our direction every once in a while, but for the most part they went on with their day.
Terry asked us if we were interested in seeing some pelicans being fed and being game for anything, we said sure. We didn't know what to expect at Kingscote Warf when we saw the Pelican man, but what we ended up seeing was entertaining and impressive. For a donation of $5 per person you sit on the steps to watch the Pelican Man feed this feathered friends. It's stinky and dirty but it's a lot of fun to watch the pelicans get excited over a bucket full of fish. They know this routine well and even before he arrives, the birds are all lined up waiting to be fed. Once the fish comes out, it's a frenzy of wings flapping and mouths chomping.
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours
When you book a safari with Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours, you don't have to worry about a thing. Everything is included. You have transportation, park and attraction fees, accommodation and meals. Lunches with Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours are spectacular. Terry, is excellent on the barbie (he's vegetarian so we were totally torturing him) and we had many a delicious meal in exotic settings like our lunch within the boughs of a 150 year old fig tree. It was the most amazing surprise when Terry dropped us off at the beach while he went ahead to prepare our meal.
He gave us directions on where to meet him across the road and once we finished up in the surf, we wove our way through a path inside the gigantic web of roots and vines of the bough of a fig tree. We didn't think we were going the right way until we came upon a clearing with a table set for a romantic meal in the middle of the woods!
Each evening Terry dropped us off at the beautiful Seascape Lodge overlooking Emu Bay. This modern luxury inn run by Mandy and Paul, a couple who left the farming business six years ago to run this amazing getaway. The three bedroom lodge has a contemporary design made for luxury living. Before dinner, guests relax in the living room by the fire sipping wine while Mandy prepares a delectable home cooked meal. Her home cooked meals aren't the type your mom makes though, these meals are fine dining goodness in a relaxed atmosphere. With all inclusive KI wines and cocktails, dinner conversations with the other guests can be very entertaining.
I could see hanging out in this place for days. The cozy rooms and large deck make for the most relaxing of atmospheres. Dave and I came home early one day to an empty house and found ourselves simply sitting on the deck looking out over the bay at the beautiful scenery below. Kangaroo Island may have a lot to do, but sometimes it's nice to just be able to sit and relax and take in the moment. The lodge has wifi included, but we couldn't bring ourselves to work when we were staying in such a beautiful setting.
We truly had an incredible time on KI. Besides all the wildlife and scenery, I think it was our guide Terry who made it perfect. He was friendly, informative and fun and this well traveled guy had a lot of stories to tell. He was flexible and knew what to do to make the best of our trip. Kangaroo Island is difficult to get to and it's expensive to travel. The price of taking a car over on the ferry is high and each attraction and park has their own entrance fee. I think that the easiest way to see this island is to book a private guide to take you around. We stayed free of the crowds and found little hideaways that only a local could know about. If we had driven ourselves around the island, I know that we would have missed half of the things that made our trip so special.
When you ask the locals what they think of how difficult it is to get to Kangaroo Island, they say they like it. If the government made it too easy, it would lose all the things that make it so special. It's the fact that you can be on the most beautiful beach in all of Australia (Vivonne Beach was once voted the best beach in Australia) and not see a soul. It's the fact that you can spot most the wildlife that makes Australia so unique free from crowds and you can spend your nights in pure luxury in total seclusion. Kangaroo Island is the perfect getaway from the mainland. It's no wonder that it's the next location for Australia's best job in the world contest. Who wouldn't want to spend a year in paradise?
You can book tours to Kangaroo Island through Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours accommodations are included with packages, but if you happen to be on a self drive tour of KI, check out Seascape Lodge for your accommodation. What we love about both businesses is how down to earth and friendly they are. When visiting South Australia, everyone we met became fast friends.
Big thanks to South Australia Tourism for inviting us to experience this beautiful destination.