Planning a big family trip and considering Australia? Why not help boost tourism post-bushfires and pop Kangaroo Island on your holiday list. Here's everything to know...
You’ve probably been living under a rock if you missed the news of the raging Australian bushfires recently. So many areas were hit, and popular tourist destination Kangaroo Island (an island off the mainland of South Australia, southwest of Adelaide) did not escape unharmed. So much so, that some areas – including the Flinders Chase National Park and Admirals Arch rock formation – have been closed to the public until further notice to give the wildlife a chance to regenerate.
Part of this regeneration includes the super-positive #bookthemout, #hirethemout and #holidayherethisyear initiatives, which aim to kickstart the much-relied-on tourism industry on the island. So, if you want to do your bit and visit a truly beautiful spot Down Under, read on. We’ve done the work for you and compiled our top travel tips for visiting Australia’s version of the Galapagos with your family in tow. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
How to get there
The quickest and easiest way to get to Kangaroo Island is a direct flight from Singapore to Adelaide International Airport (approximately seven hours), followed by a 30-minute flight via Qantas or Rex airlines to Kingscote. Alternatively, if you want your own transport while on the island, hire a car at Adelaide airport and take the scenic one-and-a-half-hour drive to Cape Jervis, followed by a quick 45-minute ferry crossing to Penneshaw. Check out Sealink Ferry for travel deals.
Where to stay
When travelling to Kangaroo Island with kids, there’s everything from eco-glamping tents to Airbnb accommodation (and everything in between). We rented a four-bed Airbnb in American River, which provided stunning sea views and allowed long leisurely walks along Island Beach. Lifetime Private Retreats & Kangaroo Island Beach Escapes offer high-end family accommodation and can suit couples or groups of up to 10 people.
What to do
There’s an abundance of native flora and wildlife on Kangaroo Island, so our advice is get out there and see as much of it as you can. When we visited, we were lucky enough to observe the native kangaroos eating their breakfast on grasses and native shrubs directly outside our rental every morning. Usually they can be found in open woodland, scrub and grassland areas or on pastureland. You can watch them quietly from a distance of at least 20m and if they change their behaviour while you’re watching them, you’re probably too close.
Seal Bay Conservation Park
The Seal Bay Conservation Park is a must-see attraction for the whole family. It offers the rare chance to get up close and within perfect photo-snapping proximity to the native seals on their very own turf. Make sure you take the hour-long guided tour down onto the beach where you’ll learn all about the habits of these gorgeous creatures.
Not squeamish when it comes to animals that slither, crawl and fly? Then check out Raptor Domain, a short 15-minute drive from Seal Bay, for a delightfully interactive introduction to birds of prey and other unique wildlife. Check online schedules for daily showtimes that are up close and personal, yet safe and educational.
Little Sahara Toboggan at KI Outdoor Action
Ever thought to try surfing or tobogganing on a sand dune? We’re so glad we gave this a go! Little Sahara is located near both Seal Bay and Raptor Domain and is an awesome place where you can leave your bike, feet or toboggan tracks in nature’s white-duned wonderland. This is a great way for the family to burn off some excess energy. Yee-ha! We recommend booking this in advance.
Take in the stunning scenery
For super-duper serene views and vistas, get the family loaded up in the car and simply drive around the island. Kangaroo Island is big and surprisingly diverse – in fact, it is the third-largest island off the coast of mainland Australia. You’ll find soaring cliffs, dense and stark bushland, stunning sand dunes and even wetlands. The sea is a beckoning blue while the many sandy beaches provide the ideal backdrop for a family game of cricket or place to kick a football, then plunge into the cool shallow sea waters. Also of note: the historic lighthouses dotted over the island.
Where to eat
For wine-tasting, awesome pizzas, sharing plates and a chance to take in the exceptional views, check out Dudley Wines in Penneshaw. The kids are taken care of, with bean bags to slope in, a playground and even a mini driving range to practise their golf swing.
Sunset Food and Wine
The only fine dining option on the island, Sunset Food and Wine is a modern bistro that overlooks the beautiful American Beach. It was also the first restaurant on Kangaroo Island to be awarded one Chef Hat from the Australian Good Food Guide in 2017, which it maintains today. Open for lunches and dinner, there’s no better place to sample so many local ingredients.
Milly Mae’s Pantry
Did someone say coffee and cake? Look no further than a casual chow down at Milly Mae’s in Penneshaw for scrummy local fare, breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas. Everything you could want to fill hungry tummies! Kids can fossick and play in the shaded areas while mums and dads can relax and graze over the famous ‘Chatter Platter’, which comprises a selection of the finest foods on the island. All accompanied with a glass of local wine, beer or gin. Nom.
Cactus Cafe in Kingscote
There’s a buzz about Cactus Cafe as families and groups can often be seen queueing for the casual outside seating. Cactus Cafe offers varied dining options with a menu focused on premium local products and both classic and Asian-inspired dishes. It’s fully licensed too, with a good selection of local beer and wine. It also offers homemade sweets, specialty coffee and teas plus the all-important kids’ menu – something for everyone!
Top travel tips
- If you don’t already hold an Australian passport, you will need a visa to visit and enter Australia. Check visa requirements and the strict quarantine information before booking your ticket.
- The best time to visit Kangaroo Island? Anytime, but if you are looking to swim in the sea then late spring, early summer and early autumn are good times as the water does get cold in winter. On the hunt for a greener rugged coastline view and stormy seas? Then June, July and August are also excellent and peaceful times to visit Kangaroo Island.
- Be mindful that some tourism/hospitality businesses can be closed on the island in the “off season”.
- Currency is the Australian dollar.
Top image: Photography: Iván Lojko via Unsplash