Kangaroo Island is much larger than you might think looking at the map. It is Australia’s third largest island, coming after Tasmania and Melville Island.
Day and multi-day tours are available from Adelaide, but for a more relaxed look at the Island, flying over and staying at one of the excellent hotels, lodges or accommodations can really show you some different aspects of Australia.
Though you will see Koalas in the trees all over Kangaroo Island, it is interesting that they are not a native species. Koalas were actually introduced from the Mainland of Australia. They have reached plague proportions because they have no natural enemies on Kangaroo Island. The debate is raging on how best to control the numbers, though the over abundance of Koalas has put the Manna Gum, their favourite source of food at risk.
Things to do on Kangaroo Island
- Flinders Chase National Park
- Seal Bay Conservation Park
- Dudley Wines Cellar Door
- Walk around Remarkable Rocks
- Frenchman’s Rock
- Go to the Raptor Domain Show
- Try Marron at Marron Café
- See a Koala in the wild
- Hang out at Vivonne Bay
- Visit Cape Willoughby Lightstation
- Visit Rocky River
- Have a beer at Kangaroo Island Brewery
- Go sand duneing at Little Sahara
- Admirals Arch
- Visit Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
History of Kangaroo Island
When the Oceans rose after the last Ice Age about 10,000 years ago, they cut off Kangaroo Island from the Mainland, the same time as they cut off Tasmania. The Aboriginal people on the Mainland call Kangaroo Island Karta, translated as “Island of the Dead”. There is a Dreamtime (creation) story about the rising of the waters cutting off Karta from the Mainland. There is evidence of Aboriginal occupation before 10,000 years ago, but none after.
In 1802 Matthew Flinders named Kangaroo Island after the local species of Western Grey Kangaroo found there. The French explorer Nicolas Baudin mapped the area after Flinders. This is why Kangaroo Island has so many French names. Official European settlement began in 1836, and today agriculture and tourism are the major industries.
Geography and Weather
Kangaroo Island is 150 kilometres (93 miles) long and 90 kilometres (56 miles) wide at its widest point. This is no small Island! It is 112 kilometres (70 miles) southwest of Adelaide. At its closest point (Cape Jervis) it is 13.5 kilometres (8 miles) from the Mainland. Kangaroo Island has the same basic weather as Adelaide (warm hot summers, milder, moist winters), but the summer heat is tempered by the ocean. When you arrive on Kangaroo Island, it will be by plane into Kingscote, or by ferry into Penneshaw. About half the Island is cleared for agriculture, one quarter is in National Parks, Wilderness Conservation Areas or Conservation Parks. The rest is natural bushland.
There are 28 wine growers on Kangaroo Island; beef cattle and sheep are the main livestock. Rabbits and foxes, a scourge on Mainland Australia, have never been introduced to Kangaroo Island keeping the ecosystem in its natural state. Any cat introduced to the Island must be registered and micro-chipped. The natural rock formations and sea caves on the Island are intriguing. Kangaroo Island is a great place to see Australian wildlife in the wild.
Map of Kangaroo Island
Zoom in and out for an interactive map of Kangaroo Island