Kangaroo Island (or as it is known as “KI” to the locals) is a short flight from Adelaide or a ferry ride from Cape Jervis, South Australia. The third largest island in Australia after Tasmania and Melville Island, Kangaroo Island is rich in history. The original aboriginal inhabitants of Kangaroo Island abandoned it several thousands of years ago, due to rising sea levels. Then in 1802, British explorer, Matthew Flinders landed near Kangaroo Head on Dudley Peninsula.
French explorer, Nicolas Baudin, followed soon after and then mapped most of the island. From that, Kangaroo Island was almost declared a French colony, but instead became Australia’s first free settlement with sealers, escaped convicts and runaway sailors calling the beautiful island home.
In July 1836, the Duke of York anchored on the island and began the first formal settlement in South Australia that lasted just four years. However, some persistent individuals stayed on the island and formed the basis of a community that still prides itself on a strong sense of independence. Today, some of the descendents of the original settlers still live on the island with a population of around 4,000 today.
From the start of the 20th century tourism became a major component to the island’s economy. To this day, Kangaroo Island’s numerous natural wonders, beaches, conservation parks and wildlife sanctuaries are visited by tens of thousands of people each year.
The agricultural industry has adapted to the poor soil and forestry, sheep dairying, plus bee keeping and farming has become popular. Grape vines grow well in the moderate climate and the wines produced on the island are world standard.
There are still traditional farms but these are diminishing in number as the smaller ‘hobby’ style farms are established, depending on the lifestyle choices and experimental agricultural pursuits of the new owners.
In terms of local wildlife, Kangaroo Island is like a zoo without fences, with rare birds, tammar wallabies, short-beaked echidnas and (as you would expect) plenty of kangaroos and koalas. The surrounding ocean is teeming with fish, sea lions and little penguin colonies. If you stand on the shore in the cooler months you can see the migrating southern right whales and their calves. There are local guides; most of who have lived on the island all their lives that can help you discover the local wildlife.
There are loads of accommodation options, from simple lodgings to breathtaking luxury. Try a permanent tent fitted out with modern conveniences; wilderness lodges or historic lighthouse keepers’ cottages. Beachside self-contained houses are a popular accommodation option on the island and are perfect for families and couples. Alternatively, sleep in a bag under the stars, there are plenty of beautiful places to camp.
The island is also home to a number of great hotels that come with a variety of different amenities. Some of the more popular hotels feature outstanding on-site restaurants that are sure to keep guests well fed as they explore the area. Many of these hotels are located near the beach, giving visitors the chance to soak up the sun while on Kangaroo Island. Other hotels are found closer to the wilderness, which allows guests to head out in search of wildlife and the rest of the exciting activities that the region has to offer.