Australia’s third largest island is an oasis of pristine wilderness, premium produce and hidden secrets ripe for discovery. Easily accessible from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is a spectacular retreat from the modern world where travellers can embrace a slower, more relaxed pace of living.
Where is it?
Kangaroo Island is a 90-minute (112km) drive south west of Adelaide, South Australia. Looking northwest from the island, you’ll see St Vincent Gulf, with ocean views stretching to Inneston and as far as Port Lincoln. To the east lies the spectacular Fleurieu Peninsula, which is also South Australia’s premier wine region.
How to get there
The most scenic, and delicious, way to reach Kangaroo Island is by driving along the South Australian coast, possibly stopping in for a tasting or two at wineries along the Fleurieu Peninsula, before boarding a 45-minute car and caravan ferry with SeaLink from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw.
Kangaroo Island is also serviced by its own airport, Kingscote Airport, with regular daily services with QantasLink and Rex Regional Express departing from Adelaide Airport. The flight takes around 30 minutes and Kingscote Airport is a short 14km drive from Kangaroo Island’s main town, Kingscote.
Regular coach services from Adelaide to Cape Jervis operate at times to coincide with SeaLink’s ferry schedule. These services are run by Goolwa/Victor Harbor Coach and Kangaroo Island Connect, with the number of coaches varying based on demand. Booking ahead is essential to avoid disappointment.
Why Kangaroo Island is so great
Kangaroo Island feels like a time capsule, as if it was its own world, removed from mainland Australia. It was left virtually untouched by the impact of COVID-19 and remains a beautiful place to spot wildlife in the air, water and trees; to hike through forests blooming with new growth; and to unwind on white beaches.
Where to stay
Making the most of its coastal views, Snellings View is a Scandi-inspired luxury retreat that soothes with its light and bright interior design and stunning location overlooking Snellings Beach, which is accessible via a short walk downhill. During ‘busier’ holiday periods, you may share the beach with around five other visitors!
Snellings View boasts two self-contained wings, both featuring open living spaces with kitchen and dining to accommodate up to six guests (for a total of 12 guests). It’s ideal for romantic retreats or larger groups of friends. The bedrooms can be customised with single beds and trundles, making this a family friendly place. It would also be perfect for a couple or two on a weekend escape, or a summer island adventure for a group of friends.
A contactless check-in means guests can enter the retreat without meeting anyone. The accommodation is cleaned carefully in line with state COVID-19 cleaning guidelines.
Things to do
Discover the renewed Flinders Chase National Park
The devastating bushfires of the 2019-2020 summer burnt 96 per cent of Flinders Chase National Park, but already there are green shoots of renewal. The park has reopened for self-drive visitors, who can witness first-hand the beautiful resilience of this untouched wilderness. The national park is also home to some of Kangaroo Island’s most iconic sites, including Admirals Arch, Cape du Couedic lighthouse and the Remarkable Rocks, a cluster of gigantic granite boulders overlooking dramatic cliffs and deep-blue swells.
Visit a honey factory
Kangaroo Island was declared a sanctuary for bees in 1885 in order to protect the bees’ purity, and they’ve been busy ever since. Visit Island Beehive to learn about Ligurian bees, tour the production factory and enjoy free tastings of organic honey. The shop also contains all manner of honey-related goodness, including beeswax candles, health products and local arts and crafts.
Go sandboarding in Little Sahara
The Little Sahara is a unique natural inland sand dune system along Kangaroo Island’s underbelly, near Vivonne Bay. Thrill seekers can hire a sandboard or toboggan to slide down the giant dunes, or take a guided tour to explore the area on foot or bike. The surf and sand buggy tour takes visitors to otherwise inaccessible sections of the coastline and includes the chance to see koalas.
Where to eat
Emu Bay Lavender Farm
What better way to lunch than among lavenders? This family-run working lavender farm has been running for 19 years and now has more than 51 acres of land with 7500 lavender plants. Get lost walking among rows of blossoming lavender, then retreat to the fully licensed cafe to enjoy oversized lavender scones and lavender honey.
The Oyster Farm Shop
Situated in the picturesque town of American River, The Oyster Farm is an authentic, working oyster farm where visitors can taste fresh local oysters fished out of the island’s pristine waters. Kangaroo Island Premium Oysters are shipped to Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne but here visitors can shuck oysters straight from the shell and take a tour of the farm.
Millie Mae’s Pantry
Inspired by a family love of gardening, Millie Mae’s Pantry is a charming cafe set inside a corrugated cottage and surrounding garden. The menu is a love letter to Kangaroo Island with its famous ‘Chatter Platter’ showcasing the very best local produce. Inside you’ll also find a small shop selling a wide range of artisanal goods from across the island, such as bath bombs, upcycled candles and pottery.
Where to drink
The Islander Estate Vineyards
Nestled on a 280-hectare property in the Kohinoor Hills, The Islander Estate Vineyards is Kangaroo Island’s only five-star James Halliday-rated winery. The vineyard was established by renowned Bordeaux winemaker Jacques Lurton, who grows and handcrafts cool climate French-styled wines. At their tasting room, which is based on the Cygnet River, visitors can enjoy a guided tasting or pick their favourite bottle and settle down on the lawn with a gourmet platter.
Kangaroo Island Spirits
Step inside South Australia’s first boutique distillery and discover gins created to reflect the local landscape using native botanicals. Kangaroo Island Spirits has received international acclaim at prestigious competitions around the globe for their distinctly Australian flavours and commitment to traditional techniques. Gin lovers can also sign up to special cocktail-making masterclasses run at the cellar door.
Kangaroo Island Brewery
This craft brewery, located on 20 acres just outside the main town of Kingscote, is the island’s first cellar door microbrewery. The beers are made using seasonal ingredients, meaning there’s always a new taste to discover, and each beer is made using filtered water collected off the roof of the brewery.
About the author
In the ’90s, Nan Caple retreated to Kangaroo Island each year while her children were growing up as an escape from her busy retail business. She now works in pro bono activities and manages Snellings View, Kangaroo Island from afar, having built the dream holiday property with a great mate 12 years ago.
Have you been to Kangaroo Island? Which experiences would you share with our members?