Kangaroo Island Activities
Worth getting out of bed for...
- On the road to Kingscote, 25 kilometres out of Penneshaw, there’s a jaunty set of stairs leading up to the top of Prospect Hill. Explorer Matthew Flinders (who named the island) used the hill as a look-out while he was mapping its shoreline. From the summit there are great vistas across to Pennington Bay.
- Arts and culture
- KI has an emerging arts and crafts scene, with local talent hocking their wares in little galleries around the island. But what’s really interesting here is the maritime and social history: check out some nautical relics at the Penneshaw Maritime & Folk Museum (www.nationaltrustsa.org.au) and colonial history at the Hope Cottage Museum (08 8553 2656) in Kingscote, a stone cottage built in 1857.
- Something for nothing
- It’s not exactly rock ’n’ roll, but here’s one for history buffs. Near the Penneshaw ferry terminal on Hog Bay, you’ll find a replica of Frenchman’s Rock, a boulder inscribed by a sailor on French explorer Nicholas Baudin’s 1803 expedition to KI. The real rock is at the visitors centre in Penneshaw (08 8553 1185).
- No one comes to KI to shop, but some of the local produce makes worthy (and edible) souvenirs. Try some tasty sheep’s cheese from Island Pure Sheep Dairy in Cygnet River (08 8553 9110), some honey ice-cream from Island Beehive (www.island-beehive.com.au) or Clifford’s Honey Farm (08 8553 8295) in Haines. Emu Bay Lavender (08 8553 5338) sells biscuits and shortbread enhanced with the sweet smell and flavour of this fragrant flower.
- Spend a day wobbling between the island’s wineries. Kick things off at quirky Chapman River Wines (08 8553 1371) at Antechamber Bay. Dudley Cellar Door (www.dudleywines.com.au) in Penneshaw bottles up a crisp chardonnay, a shiraz and a pretty good sparkling rosé. Sunset Winery (www.sunset-wines.com.au), on the Penneshaw–Kingscote Road, makes the most of its killer view-drenched hilltop position.
- Best beach
- On the island’s north shore there’s a string of sheltered swimming beaches, including the sand dune-backed Emu Bay, Stokes Bay (which has a penguin rookery and protected rock pool) and photogenic Snelling Beach. Western River Cove is a small sandy nook flanked by dark stone cliffs.
- Perfect picnic
- No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll be able to find a stretch of beach with absolutely no one else on it. Try the beach near Vivonne Bay on the central south coast; the village has a store for picking up supplies.
- Don’t miss a walk around Flinders Chase National Park (www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/sanpr/flinders chasenp/index) at the south-western end of the island, where you’ll find the wind-gouged Remarkable Rocks, a couple of ageing lighthouses and Admirals Arch, an impressive span of surf-eroded rock that’s a favourite for fur seals. A short drive away, the Ravine des Casoars boasts a striking walking trail by the coast.
- The kids will love a visit to the Penneshaw Penguin Centre (08 8553 1103), near the ferry terminal. Tours run at 7.30pm and 8.30pm from April to October; 8.30pm and 9.30pm from November to March. Bookings essential. During the day, head over to Seal Bay Conservation Park (www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/sanpr/sealbay) on the south coast. Tours of the sea lion colony run between 9am and 4.15pm all year.
- On the south-west of the island, Kelly Hill Conservation Park (www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/sanpr/kellyhill) is a collection of dry limestone caves named after a horse who fell into them in the 1880s. Tours run daily between 10.30am and 4.15pm. KI is also ideal for sampling one of the six Ss: swimming, surfing, sandboarding, snorkelling, sailing or scuba diving.
- Mobile phone reception is patchy at best, so there’s really no excuse for bringing the office offshore.
February The annual Kangaroo Island Cup (firstname.lastname@example.org) happens in mid-February at the Cygnet River Racecourse near Kingscote. The horses do their thing, and everyone gets festive and fashionable in the party tents. May–October Penneshaw Farmers Market (0412 194 840) occupies Penneshaw Oval the first Sunday of the month, plus sundry other dates between November and April; call for details. October The Kangaroo Island Art Feast (www.tourkangarooisland.com.au/artfeast.aspx) at various venues is an annual celebration of all things artsy, craftsy and islander. November Kangaroo Island Speed Shears (www.kispeedshears.com) takes place over three days in Parndana, and is Australia’s most lucrative sheep-shearing comp. The Shearers & Shedhand Ball kicks things off.