Kangaroo Island is an animal lovers’ paradise, and the prospect of seeing kangaroos, koalas and sea lions were just three reasons we had to visit.
With its abundant wildlife and nature, the unspoilt Kangaroo Island was high on our “best things to do in Australia” list. A day trip to Kangaroo Island was not enough for us, so we researched various tours to Kangaroo Island and booked the 2-day Sealink Kangaroo Island Ferry Tour.
Our Kangaroo Island experience included a coach from our hotel to the ferry port, an outward ferry crossing, a 2-day guided tour of Kangaroo Island and a flight back to Adelaide with a taxi transfer to our hotel. Our Kangaroo Island trip also included hotel accommodation for one night at the Ozone Hotel in Kingscote.
Our First Impressions of the Kangaroo Island Tour
We arrived on Kangaroo Island, or KI, as the locals call it, from Adelaide on day 16 of our epic round-the-world trip.
Kangaroo Island is one of the best places to visit in South Australia, and we were eager to tour Kangaroo Island and discover if the claims that it was like a zoo without fences were true!
Being the third largest island in Australia and one of the best-preserved spots for wildlife encounters, we were excited to see animals in their natural habitat.
Over 65,000 island kangaroos call this their home and outnumber the 4,400 residents.
Our Kangaroo Island tour group was the right mix of ages and nationalities, and our driver, Bruce, had a wealth of bad jokes but a fantastic knowledge of the island.
No sooner had we departed the ferry than we were off to the first location on our tour, encountering our first island kangaroos on the way. The excitement was real!
Kangaroo Island Tour Itinerary
- Ferry to Kangaroo Island
- Seal Bay Conservation Park
- Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery
- Lunch at Vivonne Bay Bistro
- Raptor Domain Bird of Prey Centre
- Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
- Overnight at Ozone Hotel Kingscote
- Clifford’s Honey Farm
- Hanson Bay Sanctuary
- Flinders Chase National Park
- Remarkable Rocks
- Admirals Arch
- Flight back to Adelaide
Best Places To Visit On Kangaroo Island
Seal Bay Conservation Park
How marvellous it was that our first stop on Kangaroo Island would be to visit the rare Australian sea lions in their natural habitat at Seal Bay Conservation Park.
As we approached the beach, seeing them basking in the sun and frolicking in the water was great.
The bulls (males) and cows (females) lay on the beach, seemingly exhausted, while the pups enjoyed diving through the waves.
Our Seal Bay guide told us that only 12,000 remain in the wild and are a protected species.
Therefore, access by the public is only with an official guide, and as you are relatively close to these magnificent creatures, you can understand why this rule is in place.
I was standing by the walkway and realised that a pup and her parent were underneath it, sheltering from the heat and to be so close was a fabulous introduction to the beauty of Kangaroo Island.
Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery
Eucalyptus trees are not a common sight in the UK; however, we use the oil to clear head colds and sinuses, so a visit to Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery on the other side of the world was interesting.
We found out that the plant is the staple diet of a koala and how this traditional Kangaroo Island product is made.
We were shown past and present eucalyptus oil processes of distilling and told how the oil was Australia’s first overseas export.
This was a lovely visit to a local business with a cute gift shop and tea rooms, not forgetting the resident emu who watched over the guests.
Vivonne Bay Bistro
Getting to Kangaroo island had been pretty easy, but as we had started the morning at 5 am to catch the coach to the ferry terminal, we were now more than ready to stop for lunch.
The tour included a buffet-style selection in a rustic bistro setting in keeping with its surroundings.
Located in the beautiful Vivonne Bay, we didn’t have a chance to swim in the azure waters that encompass the area, but there are many beautiful beaches on Kangaroo Island to enjoy if you have the time.
Raptor Domain Bird of Prey Centre
Birds of prey who have been abandoned or orphaned are brought and looked after at the Raptor Domain Bird of Prey Centre by Dave Irwin, cousin of the late TV personality Steve Irwin.
They display them at Raptor Domain to bring awareness to the public of their existence and vulnerability.
The 1-hour shows are carefully curated; if the birds don’t want to perform, they are left to their own devices.
As bird lovers, we both enjoyed our interaction with the kookaburras, a species we had only ever read about, as they are indigenous to this part of the world.
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
I wasn’t sure what to expect at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park; after all, I had heard that Kangaroo Island’s animals all led wild, carefree lives, and here we were, visiting an animal park.
Managed by two wildlife conservationists, they bring awareness of the 150 species of native Australian wildlife to a broader audience.
Hands-on experiences are available, and for us, feeding the kangaroos was incredible. They are incredibly gentle as they take the food from your hand, but beware of the slobber from their mouths that they leave behind!
Of course, koala cuddling is one of the most popular activities in the park, but we preferred to watch and admire them rather than hold them.
As a child, I had a toy koala brought back from Australia for me, so I was over the moon to have a photograph taken with the real thing, and the bonus was that it was awake! A treasured memory that will last a lifetime.
Waking up in Kingscote
We had spent the previous night at the Ozone Hotel in Kingscote. Located opposite the seafront, this basic but comfortable hotel had been the perfect stop for one night.
We had taken a walk around the town this morning in search of the post office so we could send our postcards back to the UK and discovered a quaint town with several cafes, coffee shops, and souvenir shops.
The beach area was good for a morning walk, and we saw a sign saying that a resident fed pelicans each evening at dusk. We missed it, but if you are in this area, check it out.
Clifford’s Honey Farm
It just so happens that we really love honey, so a visit to Clifford’s Honey Farm was perfect for us. Clifford is the founder, and his children and their partners are now all involved in this cottage industry.
Manuka honey may be famous in New Zealand, but here on Kangaroo Island, the Ligurian bee is the star, and its honey is delicious. Try the honey ice cream, biscuits and beer – you won’t be sorry.
Dominic came away with an action plan to learn how to become an apiarist (beekeeper) and set up in our UK garden. So far, it’s still just an idea!
Hanson Bay Sanctuary
I must admit that when I came to Australia, I thought I would see koalas hanging off almost every tree, but I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Koalas are quiet, nocturnal animals who sleep during the day, normally so high in a tree they are hard to see.
They wake for only 4-6 hours in the evening to eat eucalyptus leaves, their only food source.
Spotting one is like winning the lottery, so when we discovered that Hanson Bay Sanctuary was home to wild koalas, we couldn’t wait to explore.
Spotting our first koala in Australia
As we strolled through the self-guided walk, we spotted our first koala. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see one in the wild in Australia. A dream come true!
To be fair, the staff tie a coloured ribbon around the trees with the koalas in them; after all, they aren’t going anywhere until tea time, the koalas, that is, not the staff!
Feral cats are a big problem for the indigenous animals on Kangaroo Island. Introduced as domestic pets, they have turned wild and consume 1500 kg of native animal meat daily.
Hanson Bay has fenced off 250 acres to protect the native animals enabling them to live without fear of attack and, ultimately, extinction.
During our walk, we spotted around eight koalas: a pademelon, a small marsupial and an echidna, a hedgehog-like creature with a long snout for foraging food.
My first encounter with one of these strange creatures and out here in this sanctuary. Kangaroo Island was undoubtedly holding up to its claims to be a wildlife haven.
Flinders Chase National Park
Following a 2-course lunch at Hanson Sanctuary, we headed to the westernmost part of Kangaroo Island, known as Flinders Chase National Park, where we would discover the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch.
So you may wonder just how remarkable a group of rocks could be. We thought the same thing until we saw them.
Boulders of russet-coloured granite hewn into incredible shapes by the force of nature were like an outdoor sculpture exhibition.
Dali-esque in form, the rocks looked like they had been imagined by the artist Dali and made for a film set not hewn from the elements over the last 50 million years.
Cameras were everywhere, and we weren’t about to miss out on taking photographs of these rocks. And I think you would agree; they are remarkable rocks.
Walking along the wooden boardwalk and around the cliff face takes you to Admirals Arch’s natural rock.
The arch has taken shape due to weather erosion from the sea over thousands of years, and while it looks delicate, it carries the weight above it quite easily.
Fur seals can be seen here, and we were lucky to spot quite a few.
These small dark brown seals feed at sea and return to land to rest and breed. The gulls also fly in and out of this area, hunting for dinner.
A viewing platform allows you to look through the arch and out to sea, and for me, it was a real privilege to watch animals behaving so naturally in their habitat.
Our Flight Back From Kingscote To Adelaide
We boarded our small propeller plane at Kingscote Airfield for the 15-minute flight back to Adelaide.
The flight itself was an interesting experience as no sooner had we buckled up than we were landing again. This was the quickest flight we had ever encountered, and the views of the island from the air were incredible.
At Adelaide airport, a taxi organised by Sealink was waiting to take us back to our hotel. Kangaroo Island had undoubtedly held up to all its promises and was one of the highlights of our 6-week trip to Australia.
Our time on Kangaroo Island had ended, and it had been a fantastic trip.
The Kangaroo Island 2-day tour was everything we hoped it would be and showed us the best of the island. I would recommend KI to anyone as this is one of the best places to visit in South Australia.
If you are short on time, there are one-day tours to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide.
Getting to Kangaroo Island is easy and worth doing.
You will still see some of the main highlights on a one-day Kangaroo island tour, leaving you with good reason to return later!
This blog was written before the bushfires on Kangaroo Island. The island has since started to recover and, in 2023, has been listed by Lonely Planet as #2 of the best places to visit in 2024.
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