Australia / My Epic Round the World Trip / Oceania

The Best Kangaroo Island Tour: A 2-day Ultimate Wildlife Trip

kangaroos feeding

Kangaroo Island is an animal lovers paradise and the prospect of seeing kangaroos, koalas and sea lions were just three of the reasons we had to visit.

With its abundance of wildlife and nature, the unspoilt Kangaroo Island was high on our “best things to do in Australia” list. A day trip was not going to be enough for us, so we booked the Sealink Ferries Kangaroo 2-day Island Tour. We booked to stay overnight on Kangaroo Island which included coach, ferry and air transport, 1-night Kangaroo Island hotel accommodation in Kingscote and a 2-day guided tour of Kangaroo Island.

We arrived on Kangaroo Island or KI, as the locals call it, from the city of 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 eagerly joined our tour bus to find out if the claims that the island 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 60,000 island kangaroos call this their home and so they should as they outnumber the 4,400 residents living here.

Our 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!

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Kangaroo lying on floor

Seal Bay Conservation Park

How marvellous that our first stop on Kangaroo Island would be to visit the rare Australian sea lions in their natural habitat. As we approached the beach, it was great to see them basking in the sun and frolicking in the water. 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.

The walkway towards the golden sands of Seal Bay

Seal Bay walk to the beach

 Sea-Lions basking in the sunshine after a morning of hunting

Sealions on the beach

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 and so a visit to a 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. With a cute gift shop and tea rooms, not forgetting the resident emu who watched over the guests, this was a lovely visit to a local business.

Sign for Emu ridge Distillery kangaroo island

The resident Emu keeping an eye on the guests

emu at the Emu Bay distillery on Kangaroo island

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. Included in the tour, we enjoyed 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 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, and if the birds don’t want to perform, they are left to their own devices. As bird lovers, we both enjoyed the interaction we had with the kookaburras, a species we had only ever read about before as they are indigenous to this part of the world.

The hawk was looking magnificent during his display.

Eagle on Kangaroo Island

The Kookaburra refused to sit on the leather glove.

A man with a kookaburra on his arm

Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park

I wasn’t sure what to expect at this 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.

woman feeding kangaroos on kangaroo island

woman standing beside a koala on kangaroo island

Day Two

Our previous night had been 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 and coffee shops as well as souvenir shops.

The beach area was good for a morning walk, and we saw a sign saying that pelicans were fed each evening at dusk by a resident. We had missed it but if you are in this area then check it out.

Watch the sun go down from Kingscote shore.

a bench by the sea at Kingscote

The Kingscote signpost highlighting pelican feeding

sign post in Kingscote

The clear water in Kingscote

clear sea and pebbles in Kingscote

Clifford’s Honey Farm

It just so happens that we really love honey and so a visit to a working bee 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, honey biscuits and honey 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!

building at Cliffords honey farm

Hanson Bay Sanctuary

I have to admit then when I came to Australia, I thought that I would be seeing 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. To spot one is like winning the lottery and so when we discovered that Hanson Bay Sanctuary was home to wild koalas, we couldn’t wait to explore.

Spotting our first Koala

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 that have 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 per day. Hanson Bay has fenced off 250 acres to protect the native animals enabling them to live without fear of attack and ultimately, extinction.

We spotted around eight koalas during our walk as well as a pademelon, a small marsupial and an echidna, a hedgehog-like creature with a long snout for foraging food. My first ever encounter with one of these strange creatures and out here in this sanctuary. Kangaroo Island was undoubtedly holding up to its claims of being a haven for wildlife.

Sleepy Time for this Koala

koala asleep in a tree on Kangaroo island

A Pademelon, a small marsupial that lives in forests

a wallaby by a tree

The curious Echidna foraging for food

an echidna foraging for food on kangaroo island

Dominic spotting his first Koala

Man pointing to a koala on Kangaroo island

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.

sign saying flinders chase nation park

Remarkable Rocks

So you must be wondering 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 as though 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.

The Dali-esque Remarkable Rocks

Man sitting on top of one of the remarkable rocks on kangaroo island
lady standing beneath the remarkable rocks
lady sitting on one of the remarkable rocks
a rock in flinders range

Admirals Arch

A wander 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 of them. 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 their 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.

woman looking out to sea through Admirals Arch

Our time on Kangaroo Island had come to an end, and what a fantastic trip it had been. Our Kangaroo Island 2-day tour provided us with such a diverse range of activities to experience that I would recommend it to anyone who wants to immerse themselves in island life.

Kingscote airfield was our last stop on KI, and as we boarded our small propeller plane for the 15-minute flight back to Adelaide, we agreed our trip had been excellent. 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.

Outside the airport, a taxi, organised by Sealink, was waiting to take us back to our hotel for our last night in Adelaide. Kangaroo Island had undoubtedly held up to all its promises and turned out to be one of the highlights of our 6-week trip to Australia.

Kangaroo on beach
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About Author

Angela Price

Angie is a full-time travel writer with over 30 years of travel experience. She has always had a passion for travel, and after a 3-month world trip with her 18-year-old son, she created her popular travel blog to share her adventures with a wider audience. When Angie is at home in the UK, she enjoys exploring the English countryside, visiting castles and gardens and planning her next big adventure. Her motto is "Live Life Wandering not Wondering".

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2 years ago

Kangaroo Island is such a beautiful part of the world, we were lucky enough to visit for a couple of weeks, and there is still more to go back and do. Such a shame that the western half of the island has been burnt in the recent Australian bushfires, although I hear that the regeneration of the bush and wildlife is incredible. Hopefully we will get back there later this year.

Reply to  Natalie
2 years ago

I watched the devastation on KI and was in tears. When you have been to a location and then see it being destroyed it is heartbreaking. I would love to return one day but it is so far from me. I hope you get back and can witness its recovery.

Carrie Ann | Should Be Cruising
2 years ago

So beautiful! I love seeing wildlife in their natural habitats, and you had such great luck with that here.Definitely going to KI if I have the chance to visit the Adelaide area 😀

Reply to  Carrie Ann | Should Be Cruising
2 years ago

It was a wonderful trip and one I would put on any itinerary if travelling near Adelaide.

Richa Jain
2 years ago

It seems like a really enjoyable place to visit.Lovely pictures

Renee | The Holidaymaker
Renee | The Holidaymaker
2 years ago

Definitely a paradise for animal lovers I would say! The views of Kangaroo Island look so amazing. Would expect nothing less of Australia, a far away destination on my list!

Jay Artale
2 years ago

It must be a little upsetting for you to wonder how much of the amazing landscape and wildlife you saw during your Australia trip is still there after the fires. It just goes to show how lucky we are to travel and see the world at it’s best before disaster strikes. p.s. How come there’s some white kangaroos?

Reply to  Jay Artale
2 years ago

Jay, I watched the footage on the news and just sat and cried. We saw all the areas we had visited just raised to the ground and several of the cottage industries that exist on the island are now gone. I feel overwhelmed that I got the chance to see and interact with the people and animals on the islands. I pray that in time it will restore itself to its former glory and future visitors will be able to experience the magic that I did.

Reply to  Jay Artale
2 years ago

The white kangaroos are a colony of albino roos that can only be found on the island.

2 years ago

Oh wow! This is right up my alley! I did some research a few years ago as I really wanted to go but we didnt have time. I would just love meeting all these animals!!

Reply to  Lauren
2 years ago

It was an amazing experience however so many places that we visited have since been badly affected by the horrendous fires that they have had. I pray that this natural habitat can recover and return to the wonderful sanctuary it was when I visited.

2 years ago

Looking forward to my trip to Aussie soon and I love watching sunrises and sunsets so Kingscote is one of the places I will explore

Reply to  Sharon
2 years ago

I spent 6 weeks travelling around Australia so if you need any advice just let me know.

2 years ago

As it is an island I hope it didn’t reach them 🙏

2 years ago

We spent a full week on Kangaroo Island and would still like to return to see the rest of the Island. We loved Flinders Chase National Park on the Western end – it’s teaming with wildlife! 🙂

Reply to  Natalie
2 years ago

Wow I would have loved to spend a week there. Lucky you

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