Kangaroo Island is a smorgasbord of wildlife adventures. This I know first hand as during my visit I saw koalas and kangaroos and plenty of sea lions. With abundant wildlife, it’s no wonder the best Kangaroo Island attractions is the wildlife.
Spot a wild koala in a tree
While travelling through Flinders Chase National Park, my driver spotted a koala high in a gum tree, wedged in a typical pose between the branches.
We stop the car and stand beneath the tree gawking.
Around one-third of Kangaroo Island is covered in national park, providing a natural environment for all kinds of wildlife.
This includes introduced species – such as koalas, platypus and ring-tail possums – and native wildlife like western-grey kangaroos and tammar wallabies.
We spot short-beaked echidnas in the bushes and a heath goanna on the dunes.
Brush-tail possums and pygmy possums forage in the forest. Honeyeaters, golden whistlers and fairy wrens flutter amongst the native plants.
Sea Lions and seals
The best wildlife sightings are along the island’s rugged coastline.
Australian sea lions and New Zealand fur seals bask in the sun, making Kangaroo Island a kind of Galapagos Islands.
Flinders Chase National Park is a pristine wilderness with amazing boulders, such as the Remarkable Rocks.
The rock formations are sculpted by centuries of relentless winds, rain and salt from the Southern Ocean.
Best beach in Australia
We stop to gaze at the best beach in Australia Vivonne Bay, which was named so (by Sydney University) in a study of 10,000 beaches.
At Cape du Couedic, we stroll along the timber boardwalk down to Admirals Arch.
The grotto is full of plump New Zealand fur seals. They doze sleepily on large grey rocks. Their grey-brown coats are just a shade darker than the rocks on which they lay.
Younger seals chase one another playfully under the arch and into the breaking waves.
Later from a cliff top viewing platform, we watch them perform a graceful water ballet in the aquamarine ocean.
Almost 70 percent of the world’s population of New Zealand fur seals are on Kangaroo Island.
Other places to see them are around Australia, New Zealand and some sub-Antarctic islands.
Now a protected marine mammal under the South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, fur seals were hunted in the early 1800s for their thick fur coats and blubber.
Around 1.5 million fur seals were killed and at least 100,000 were taken on Kangaroo Island.
More Kangaroo Island attractions
We stop at the historic stone lighthouse on the headland where lighthouse keepers experienced hardships.
With no road access, until 1940, they received supplies by sea each quarter.
Seal Bay Conservation Park is home to Australia’s third largest colony of Australian sea lions.
In 1972 the park became a protected area for the endangered Australian sea lions, a species found only in Australia.
Researchers believe there are only around 12,000 Australian sea lions left in the wild. And the species continues to be threatened by oil spills and potential entanglement in fishing nets.
Visiting during breeding season is a special treat.
We stroll along the Don Dixon boardwalk through a landscape of gentle sand dunes and low-lying shrubs.
Enormous sea-lions flop among the shrubs like dune potatoes, some weighing up to 300 kg, raising their heads occasionally to observe the stream of people on the boardwalk.
The signs along the walkway offer a wealth of information.
Australian sea lions, New Zealand fur seals and Australian fur seals can also be found on Kangaroo Island.
They all belong to the Otariidae family of eared seals. Compared to true seals of the Phocidae family, which have no ears, the Otariidae have external ears, are more agile on land and capable of walking on all four flippers.
An interpretative officer from the visitor’s centre accompanies us onto the beach.
We walk on the sand stopping to observe the pinnipeds and listen to fascinating facts about their life cycles.
A pup waddles down the dunes dragging its flippers in the sand. It stares at us in surprise then turns away and continues towards the ocean.
Discover South Australia
Travel to Kangaroo Island aboard the vehicle and passenger ferry from Cape Jervis. Cape Jervis is a two-hour drive from Adelaide. While visiting South Australia, head to the Barossa Valley for top wine tasting.
If you love wildlife but don’t have time to travel to Kangaroo Island, another option is to visit Monarto Zoo. While in Adelaide, head for the Adelaide Hills for fine food, wine and charming villages.
Find out more about South Australia here: