Top Five: Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is a tiny speck in the great Australian Bight; close enough to the mainland that you can still see it, but far enough away to earn the term ‘The Galapagos of Australia’.
My very dear friend Melanie and I went over for a long weekend, courtesy of the awesome team behind Hooroo, a new travel deal/information site. I was chosen to be a Travel Ambassador for them and was given the task of reviewing this remote southern outpost.
Without further ado, here’s what I loved about Kangaroo Island:
1. Wildlife: It’s freakin’ everywhere! From the turkeys that wander the island, biodynamically munching on snails in the vineyards, to the Cape Barron Geese with fluoro green beaks, and echidnas burrowing for ants beside the road, everywhere you look, there are feathers, fur and fins. I have never seen so many superb blue wrens in my life. And kangaroos. And fur seals. It was a paradise of photogenic creatures. Even the cows were happy to pose.
2. Scenery: It’s also freakin’ everywhere. Windblown native heather, narrow leaf mallee sculpted by prevailing southerlies and seas as clear and blue as a pregnancy test. Beyond the natural delights of wildflowers, pastures and rugged rocks, there is a honeyed golden light diffused by sea mist that casts the whole island in soft-focus.
3. Food and wine: This also has the capacity to cast everything in a soft, golden light (see: above). Whether it’s a tasting flight at the Dudley cellar door, followed by a glass of your favourite drop on the balcony, or a casual dinner at the Penneshaw Hotel, one thing is for sure; the salad leaves with dazzle you with their crispiness (a local bloke grows them) and the wine will leave you feeling affectionate about the locals.
4. The locals: They’re just so damn friendly! You get the feeling that everyone is happy to have you there; not because you’re a tourist but because there are only 4000 people living on the whole island and I guess they need new people to talk to/about.
5. The history: Most significant landmarks have an informational plaque telling you what went down there. In most cases, it was a ship with a bunch of people on it, except for the odd survivor who had to eat dead penguins to stay alive. Written in the flowery prose of newspaper articles from the late 1800s, the stories are equal parts gruesome, tragic and highly entertaining. All I can say is that there’s a very good reason I hate boats.
To get there, fly Qantas or Jetstar to Adelaide and then Rex to Kangaroo Island, or drive down the coast through the rolling green hills of the Fleurieu Peninsula and board the Sealink Ferry at Cape Jervis for a 45 minute journey over. I highly recommend flying if you are prone to seasickness – there’s a reason they supply those little white bags.
On the island, I recommend staying in Penneshaw for at least one night at the Seafront Resort. This is a great starting point for your exploration of the island and Penneshaw has the best cafe, pub, pizza shop and takeaway, plus an IGA supermarket for snacks.
If you’re planning to drive over to Flinders Chase National Park, try to find accommodation over there as it’s a long drive (around 2 hours from Penneshaw to Admirals Arch where the seal colony is). If you are a squillionaire, I highly recommend Southern Ocean Lodge. It’s stupendously beautiful but also stupendously pricey.
Does anyone know any squillionaires? Is that even a word? Have you been to Kangaroo Island? What did you think?