Imagine: over 1700 square miles of massive sand dunes, drop-dead gorgeous wilderness, towering cliffs, lush wetlands, and soft, white sandy beaches. Kangaroo Island used to be part of the Australian mainland…until it said “Lates” about 10,000 years ago. Mainland Aboriginal tribes named the island, Karta, meaning “Island of the Dead.” But, don’t let that moniker deter you, Kangaroo Island is vibrant, wild, and free, and the perfect destination for daytrippers, roadtrippers, and adventurers.
According to a mainland Aboriginal dreaming story:
“Long ago, Ngurunderi’s two wives ran away from him, and he was forced to follow them. He pursued them and as he did so he crossed Lake Alber and went along the beach to Cape Jervis. When he arrived there he saw his wives wading half-way across the shallow channel which divided Naroongowie from the mainland. He was determined to punish his wives, and angrily ordered the water to rise up and drown them. With a terrific rush the waters roared and the women were carried back towards the mainland. Although they tried frantically to swim against the tidal wave they were powerless to do so and were drowned.”
Flinders Chase National Park
It’s also home to Flinders Chase National Park, a jaw-dropping natural wonderland of massive granite boulders, rock arches, wild beaches, gravel roads, and two lighthouses. Be sure to hit up the Visitor Center to load up on maps and information on the park, and grab a coffee at the Chase Cafe. Be sure that your 2 WD vehicle is fully gassed up, cause the roads here are for intrepid explorers only!
What to do at Flinders Chase National Park
- Experience a 5-day Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail hike
- Watch a colony of long-nosed fur-seals surf, play, and sunbathe at Admirals Arch.
- Chill out a platypus waterhole
- Traverse the river along the Ravine Hike to a secret beach
- Sleep in a 1907 lighthouse keeper’s cottage
- Dig through the fossil pit
- Head to the Black Swamp Lookout via the Discovery Walk
- Sleep under the stars
Where to Stay
Besides the wildlife-watching, beach-lounging, ocean-swimming, hiking, and roadtripping there are also three restored historic lighthouse cabins where you can spend the night. Located right in Flinders Chase National Park, there are three, turn of the century (as in the early part of the 20th century) lighthouse keeper’s cottages. There are also quite a few campgrounds, some include hot showers, gas BBQ pits, and picnic areas.
When to visit Kangaroo Island and Flinders Chase National Park
Well, you can’t really go wrong visiting any time of year! Although depending on your personal seasonal preference, it’s good to note that in winter there will be some beautiful blooming orchids, and rivers will have a strong flow. Also, winter is an ideal time to book the lighthouse keeper’s cottage and just get cozy in front of a wood-burning fire, while the ocean crashes against the rocks. Springtime will be breeding season, so prepare for loads of wildlife viewing. Summer is perfect for camping and picnics and swimming and hiking, it’s also the more busy of the seasons as far as visitors go.
How to get to Kangaroo Island
There are a few ways an industrious adventurer can visit Kangaroo Island. There’s the Kangaroo Island SeaLink ferry which shuttles passengers from Cape Jervis (only a two hour drive from Adelaide) to the island in about 45 minutes. There’s also the Regional Express Airline which offers several 30 minute flights throughout the day. Starting in December of 2017, QantasLink will begin offering flights from Adelaide and Melbourne to the island.
Gravel roads on Kangaroo Island via Wikipedia CC