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Kangaroo Island

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South Australia : Kangaroo Island
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Kangaroo Island
Remarkable Rocks on K.I.

Kangaroo Island [1] or K.I. is an island off the coast of South Australia, it takes about 45mins to reach the island via ferry. The island is a few hundred kilometers accross.

Understand

Kangaroo Island is an unspoilt island 15km from the shores of the Australian mainland. It is remarkable for its wildlife and its untouched woods which have been growing here for thousands of years. Many species which Australia is famous for can be found here like Kangaroos, Wallabies, Koalas exotic birds and some which you might not expect to be found here like penguins and seals. There are plenty of opportunities to see those creatures from a nearby distance since most of them seem to be used to human guests. It might be surprising that Kangaroo Island was separated from the mainland only 9000 to 10000 years ago. Due to the separation from the mainlang some animals have evolved differently,e.g. the Kangaroo Island kangaroo. Human population can be traced back 16.000 years from now since stone tools and aboriginal campsites have been found in the early 1900s. European settlement started in the early 1800s.

Cities

There are only two big settlements on Kangaroo Island:

  • Penneshaw - located in the east of the island. This is the place where the ferries arrive.
  • Kingscote - about 70km from Penneshaw, the biggest city on the island.

Get in

There are two ways to get to Kangaroo Island:

By ferry

Sealink operates ferries from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. Tickets can be booked calling 131301 or on http://www.saelink.com.au. It is necessary to book in advance. A one-way ticket is around 40 australian dollars. Saelink runs an office in Adelaide (440 King William Street, phone:08-8202 8688) which can arrange coach transfer to Cape Jervis, car rental and accomodation. Ferries usually depart in the morning (9am) and in the evening to the island.

By air

Regional Express operates 30min flights from Adelaide to Kingscote Airport (13km away from the biggest city) on Kangaroo Island. Shuttle transport to Kingscote is available, Bookings can be made phoning (08)85532390. A one way ticket is about 80 Australian dollars. Visit http://www.regionalexpress.com.au/ for more details.

Talk

The locals enjoy a non-vocal form of communication while driving accross the island. It is common place for the drivers of vehicles travelling in the opposite direction to lift a finger from the steering wheel and wave as they drive past. It's considered polite to do the same, the people are quite friendly.

Get around

Getting around can be difficult unless you don't bring your own car with you. However, there are plenty of tour options which can be booked in Adelaide and on the islands. (1day to 3day tours)

By car

If you hire a car on the main continent be prepared that some companies deny taking the hired car to the island. However, Hertz and Budget are the only two operators who offer car rental on Kangaroo Island. Both have offices in Kingscote and Penneshaw. It's a good idea to book in advance if you plan to visit Kangaroo Island during school holiday since availability of cars can be very limited. Be prepared to pay around 70 Australian Dollars per day. (depending on the type of car) Be sure you have plenty of fuel left before you start your trip since petrol stations are limited and mostly close down before 6pm. Roads are good, there is no need for a 4WD car. Cars can be rented from Budget (call 08/85533133, 24h available) or Hertz. Petrol is usually more expensive than on the mainland.

By bus

There is a shuttle service between Kingscote, American River and Penneshaw. Booking is necessary, there is no taxi service on the Island.

By bicycle

Bike rental is available though it should be considered that the island is large (155km long) and appropriate fitness is surley necessary.

See

There is plenty to see on Kangaroo Island, on a one-day trip you will only get a glimpse of what this island has to offer. Most tour operators in Adelaide usually offer 2-day tours but four to five days give you enough time to fully explore the island. If you have only one day your tour should cover at least stops at following destinations:

  • KI Marine Centre - Kingscote Wharf, phone 0885533112. The local aquarium in Kingscote. Has giant cuttlefish, seahorses and little penguins. There are daily guided tours to see the local penguins. (tours start 7.30pm and 8.30pm in winter and 8.30pm and 9.30pm in summer) The tour includes the centre as well as some interessting explanations about the southern night sky.
  • Penneshaw Penguin Centre - Lloyd Collins Reserve, Pennyshaw, phone (08)85531103. Guided tour to see the penguins in Penneshaw. Tours start at 7.30pm and 8.30pm in winter, an hour later in summer.
  • Koala Walk - South Coast Road, Western KI - Free 20min walk close to a camp site. Watch Koalas sleeping in the trees and wallabies hiding in the bush. Accessible during daylight hours. Take your time, since these creatures aren't easy to spot.
  • Seal Bay Conservation Park - Located in the south of the island, this park gives you the opportunity to see wild australian seals while resting on the beach before returning for feeding on the sea. The beach is only accessible with guided tours. Entry fee is 13 Australian dollars for adults, special fares apply for students, childs and groups. http://www.parks.sa.gov.au/sealbay/index.htm has more details. The park is open between 9 am and 5 pm every day except Christmas Day.

Do

  • Wildlife spotting - Many of the local species can be found right next to the roads. So drive slowly in order not to miss anything. The best time for wildlife spotting is during winter and in summer on cooler days. Most of the species are nocturnal as well, so the best time to watch them might be dawn and dusk. There are a number of private operators who offer wildlife tours. When spotting wildlife you should always observe, never interact. Do not feed the animals, since this might cause death and illness since these creates are not used to human food.

Buy

Souvenir shops can be found in Kingscote and Penneshaw. General stores selling food and drinks can be found here as well. If you are going to camp in the remote islands of the island it is better to buy ahead here since shops are rare and expensive (usually limited to camp sites and resorts selling a few things) especially in the west of the island.

Eat

Restaurants and Cafes are limited to Penneshaw and Kingscote and some small Cafes along the way on the south coast.

Drink

There 28 vineyards spreading throughout the island. Variaties grown are Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Shiraz.

Sleep

Stay safe

Kangaroo Island is a pretty safe place but care should be taken when going around the island by car. Don't drive at dusk and dawn or night since wildlife is most active at this time of day. None of the car rental services cover damage caused by collision if any animals so be extremly carful. Road conditions are good - most roads are sealed - though some tourist locations can only be reached on unsealed roads which can be particulary hard to drive. Unsealled roads are often made with an ironstone top which can be very treacherous.

Get out

Once again there are only two options to get back to mainland Australia from K.I. either the ferry which is capable of carrying cars, trucks and buses. Or by plane from the airport.

Contact

There is an internet terminal in the public library as well as in the Ozone Seafront Hotel in Kingscote.



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