Discover Kangaroo Island on a Two Day Tour from Adelaide
By Angie Price, from Where Angie Wanders
Kangaroo Island is an animal lovers paradise and kangaroos, koalas and sea-lions were just three of the reasons that we had to visit. With its abundance of wildlife and nature, this unspoilt island was high on our “must-do while in Australia” list.
A day trip was not going to be enough for us and so through SeaLink, we booked to stay overnight which included coach, ferry and air transport, 1-night hotel accommodation and a 2-day guided tour of the island.
Kangaroo Island Kangaroos at the KI Wildlife Park
We arrived on Kangaroo Island or KI, as the locals call it, from Adelaide on day 16 of our round the world trip and 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 a good mix of ages and nationalities and our driver, Bruce had a wealth of bad jokes but an amazing 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!
Seal Bay Conservation Park
How marvellous that our first stop 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 took great delight in diving through the waves.
Our Seal Bay guide told us that only 12,000 are left in the wild and that they are a protected species. Access by the public, therefore, is only with an official guide and as you are fairly 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 to Seal Bay
Sea lions basking in the sunshine
Emu Ridge - Kangaroo Island’s Eucalyptus Distillery
Eucalyptus trees are not a common sight in the UK however we do use the oil to clear head colds and sinuses and so a visit to a distillery on the other side of the world was to be interesting. We found out that not only is the plant the staple diet of a koala but how this traditional Kangaroo Island product is made. We were shown past and present processes of eucalyptus oil 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 nice visit to a local business.
One of the resident emus and their working dog, Choppa
Vivonne Bay Lodge and Bistro
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 that was 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.
Vivonne Bay Lodge deck surrounded by bushland
Raptor Domain – Kangaroo Island’s 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 then 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 kookaburra didn’t want to sit on the glove
See and hold their giant wedge tailed eagle
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 are bringing awareness of the 150 species of native Australian wildlife to a wider audience. Hands-on experiences are available and for us feeding the kangaroos was incredible. They are extremely gentle as they take the food from your hand but beware of the slobber from their mouths that they leave behind!
Of course, the koala cuddling is one of the most popular activities in the park but for us, we preferred to watch and admire them rather than holding them. As a child, I had a toy koala that had been brought back from Australia for me and 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.
Our previous night had been spent at the Ozone Hotel in Kingscote. Located opposite to the seafront this basic, but comfortable hotel had been the perfect stop for 1-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.
The perfect place to watch the sunset in Kingscote, over Neapean Bay
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, it is the Ligurian bee that is the star and its honey is delicious. Try the honey ice-cream, honey biscuits and the honey beer, you won’t be sorry. Dominic came away with an action plan to learn how to become an apiarist (beekeeper) and to set up in our garden in the UK. So far it’s still just an idea!
Hanson Bay Wildlife 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 Wildlife Sanctuary was home to wild koalas we couldn’t wait to explore.
We spotted this sleepy koala up in the tree
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 an area of 250 acres to protect the native animals so that they can live without fear of attack and ultimately, extinction.
We spotted around 8 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 certainly holding up to its claims of being a haven for wildlife.
Flinders Chase National Park
Following a 2-course lunch, at Hanson Sanctuary, we headed to the westernmost part of Kangaroo Island know as Flinders Chase National Park where we would discover the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch.
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 shape 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.
A wander along the wooden boardwalk and around the cliff face takes you to the natural rock of Admirals Arch. 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.
Our time on Kangaroo Island had come to an end and what an amazing trip it had been. Our SeaLink two day tour had provided us with such a diverse range of activities to experience that I would recommend it to anyone wanting to immerse themselves in island life.
We took the flight back to Adelaide to save on time and we all agreed our trip had been wonderful. 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 certainly held up to all its promises and turned out to be one of the highlights of our 6-week trip to Australia.
Follow more of Angie’s travels around Australia on her blog site, Where Angie Wanders. Find out more about SeaLink’s 2 Day Best of Kangaroo Island Tour on their website.