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You can visit Kangaroo island on a one day tour from Adelaide although it will be a long day. The ferry ride (45 minutes) departs from Cape Jarvis which is just over 100 klm from Adelaide so allowing time to board and exit the ferry the one way trip from Adelaide to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island is a little over 3 hours.

If you have the time then the best way to experience all that Kangaroo Island has to offer is to spend a couple of days there. This gives ample time to see all the natural attractions the island has, with time to sample the local produce the island is famous for.

Flinders Chase National Park is the largest National Park on the island and include such icons as Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch as well as light houses and walking tracks. There is the Seal Bay Conservation Park which features a colony of Australian Sea Lions and Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary's Koala Walk. While traveling around the island you are likely to see the endemic Kangaroos which gave the island its name, echindnas and a wide array of bird life.

For a culinary delight sample wines from one of the dozen wineries on the island, their world famous honeys, or the world class seafood from around the island.

If it is an action holiday you are seeking Kangaroo Island has that covered, you can go surfing at Vivonne Bay, ride the sand dunes of Little Sahara or head out on one of the many walking and hiking trails.

Where is Kangaroo Island?

A very brief history

It is thought that Kangaroo Island has been relatively uninhabited by native Australians since it was separated from the mainland thousands of years ago. There are aboriginal artifacts on the island but in 1802 when Matthew Flinders named the island it was uninhabited. The predominantly French names on the island come from the French explorer Nicolas Baudin who was the first European to circumnavigate the island. Despite being at war at the time the French and British explorers met peacefully in this area.

The island was the location of the first free European settlement in Australia in 1836, almost 6 months before the colony of South Australia was proclaimed. Prior to that sealers and whalers used the island as their base. The initial plan to establish a farming community on Kangaroo island was short lived due to a lack of reliable freshwater and building materials.

After numerous shipwrecks the first lighthouse to be built in South Australia was constructed at Cape Willoughby in 1852, despite the construction of another two light houses shipwrecks continues to occur into the mid 1900's.

At the end of WWII the Australian Government gave farming lots to returned servicemen and this helped strengthen the agricultural community that already existed on the island. Today farming, fishing and tourism are the economic drivers of Kangaroo Island.

The isolated nature of the island has insulated the native wildlife from the mainland influences and the island is also very popular with nature lovers.

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The beach at Middle River Kangaroo Island

Middle River Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island Wildlife

If it is wild life you have come to see then Kangaroo Island has so much more to offer than just its namesake Kangaroos.

The island was named after its endemic population of Kangaroos the Kangaroo Island Kangaroo, which have evolved differently to the mainland species they descended from after the island became isolated. Like many species they are nocturnal and can usually be seen resting in the shade during the day.

Kangaroo Island has the largest population of Tammar wallabies. The islands isolation has protected them from the issues that have impacted the mainland populations. The wallabies are much smaller than the kangaroos and also nocturnal. They are particularly difficult to spot in the wild as they rest during the day in vegetation and use it for protection as they travel to their feed areas at night.

After earlier being hunted to near extinction Australian Sea lions and the New Zealand Fur Seal have growing populations on Kangaroo Island. You are more likely to see the NZ Fur seal although Seal Bay is a great place to observe the Sea Lions.

Platypuses were introduced to Kangaroo Island in the 1920's for the preservation of the species and now form the only wild population in South Australia.

Around the same time a population of Koalas was introduced to the island. With a lack of predators and a safe environment the population has grown to the extent that they have now almost out grown their food source. The eucalypts they eat grow along the river banks and this is the best place to observe them. Being sedentary they tend to blend into the background so be patient and very quiet and once you spot one you will start to see more.

Another Australian wild life oddity is the echidna and there is a large population on Kangaroo Island so your chances of spotting one are good. They are often seen crossing the road so be careful if driving around the island.

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Seals and People at Seal Bay Kangaroo Island

Seal Bay Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island's Natural Attractions

If you are interested in a tour that encompasses one of these island attractions click on the hyperlink to be taken to tours of Kangaroo Island that mention that attraction.

Seal Bay is home to one of the world's largest colonies of Australian Sea Lions, with boardwalks weaving throughout the sand dunes taking you to viewing platforms where you can observe the colonies.

There is a small settlement at Vivonne Bay and access to 5klm of beach that has been rated as one of the best beaches in Australia. The beach is a popular surfing and swimming spot although it is not patrolled by life savers.

Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is bordered by National Parks and Conservation Parks allowing fence free viewing of koalas, kangaroos, possums and echidnas as well as a variety of bird life. Some of the wild life is nocturnal and less active during the day so evening and night time visits are encouraged.

Crafted by nature over millions of years, Remarkable Rocks is one of the most photographed places on Kangaroo Island. Boardwalks allow access for almost everybody and the rocks are particularly stunning at sunrise and sunset.

Nearby Admiral's Arch is a natural rock arch formed by the same forces of nature. Both Admiral's Arch and the Remarkable Rocks are part of the Flinder's Chase National Park where you can watch the sea lion pups and dolphins frolic in the water just off the shore. If you are lucky enough you may catch a glimpse of the migratory whales as they pass by the island during the whale watching season.

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Family at the viewing platform near Admirals Arch Kangaroo Island

Admirals Arch Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island Weather

What's the weather like on Kangaroo Island?

Summer (Dec - Feb): Min 11°C Max 27°C
Avg monthly rainfall 17mm Avg rain days per month 5

Autumn (Mar - May): Min 8°C Max 25°C
Avg monthly rainfall 33mm Avg rain days per month 10

Winter (Jun - Aug): Min 6°C Max 16°C
Avg monthly rainfall 63mm Avg rain days per month 19

Spring (Sep - Nov): Min 6.5°C Max 23°C
Avg monthly rainfall 32mm Avg rain days per month 15

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What's on at Kangaroo Island?

Kangaroo Island Racing Carnival

15th to 17th February, 2018

A three day racing carnival culminating on the Saturday with the Sealink Kangaroo Island Cup. The fashions in the Field winner will represent Ki in Adelaide later in the year.

More information Kangaroo Island Cup

Kangaroo Island Fringe

20th February, 2018

The Adelaide fringe festival heads to Kangaroo Island for the first time in 2018. The festival will feature local artists and has both free family entertainment and an adult side for the more mature audience.

More information Fringe

Kangaroo Island Marathon

1st September, 2018

With a limited number of participants, the spectacular southern ocean as you backdrop and running through the Flinders Chase National Park, this event is attracting growing attention.

More information Run with the Roos

Kangaroo Island Show

27th October, 2018

Kingscote celebrated their 100 show in 2017. It may have taken a few extra years to reach this milestone with interruptions due to wars and depressions but the show is now firmly entrenched on the Islands calendar.

More information - Kingscote Show

Parndana Show

10th November, 2018

If you want to see a small agricultural show then this one day event fits the bill. Local produce, fruit and veg, sheep sheering and local crafts. A great family friendly day.

More information Parndana Show

Kangaroo Island Sufferfest

25th November, 2018

A three day triathlon festival culminating in an iron distance event around Kangaroo Island. The event's first year 2017 was very popular so register early.

More information Triathlon

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Our Favourite Kangaroo Island Tours

Food and Wine on Kangaroo island

Food, Wine & Nature 2 Day

See all the wonderful natural sights of Kangaroo Island as well as tasting some of the Island's gourmet delights. Watch the sunset over Remarkable rocks with a glass of sparkling wine. Enjoy  the views at Eastern Cove with your two course dinner.

  • Wine tasting at 'Bay of Shoals'
  • Visit Island Pure Sheep Dairy
  • Watch the sunset over Remarkable Rocks
  • Inc Adelaide transfers

seal Bay Kangaroo Island

Gray line KI Tour

Travel in comfort to Jarvis Bay to begin your day on Kangaroo Island. With a ranger led tour at Seal Bay and watch the Australian Sea Lions basking on the beach. See iconic Admiral's Arch and Remarkable Rocks with a chance to watch the NZ fur seals

  • Ranger tour at Seal Bay
  • Admiral's Arch and Remarkable Rocks
  • Aussie style lunch
  • Selected Adelaide hotel pick-ups

Remarkable rocks Kangaroo island

1 day KI Experience

Focusing on maximum time to see the natural wonders of Kangaroo Island. Take a guided beach walk at Seal Bay, go Koala spotting at Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and visit Flinders Chase National Park to see Remarkable Rocks and Admiral's Arch.

  • Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Guided beach walk at Seal Bay
  • Flinders Chase National Park
  • Selected Glenelg and Adelaide pick ups

A group sitting around a campfire on Kangaroo island

Wilderness Explorer 2 Day

A two day, one night tour for those who want to see parts of KI that are off the main route and are OK with helping out. Stay at exclusive accommodation at Vivonne Bay with access to one of Australia's best beaches, where you can kayak and swim.

  • Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery
  • Sand Board at Little Sahara
  • Remarkable Rocks and Admiral's Arch
  • Dormitory accommodation