KAN­GA­ROO IS­LAND Your es­cape to Eden

This glo­ri­ous isle, only a short hop from Ade­laide, is pos­si­bly the best wildlife des­ti­na­tion in Aus­tralia

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Promotional Feature -

̏Kan­ga­roos are just the start. To say the is­land is a fine place to ob­serve na­tive fauna is an un­der­state­ment˝

Some­where spe­cial? The clue is in the name. Sit­ting pretty just off the coast of the South Aus­tralian main­land, Kan­ga­roo Is­land is one of the great­est wildlife des­ti­na­tions in the coun­try. It takes only 30 min­utes to reach by air from Ade­laide – or, for road-trip­pers, a mere 45 min­utes by ferry from Cape Jervis – but in eco­log­i­cal terms it’s a land of its own.

Kan­ga­roos are just the start. To say it’s a fine place to ob­serve na­tive fauna in its nat­u­ral habi­tat is an un­der­state­ment. “It was a dif­fer­ent world,” says Nick Baker, re­flect­ing on his trip ear­lier this year. “Be­ing an is­land, it’s got species that on the main­land are more dis­persed or harder to see. It was bril­liant.”

Wildlife won­der­land

As a pas­sion­ate wildlife-watcher, Nick was in his el­e­ment here. The broad 4,405 sq km isle plays home to ev­ery­thing from wal­la­bies, sea lions and brush-tailed pos­sums to rare birds, fur seals and lit­tle pen­guins. “It’s also one of the best places in Aus­tralia to see koala, bar none,” he adds, “so make sure you keep your eyes open.”

The an­i­mals that lent the place its name have evolved slightly dif­fer­ently to their main­land coun­ter­parts (“It’s a sub­species,” en­thuses Nick, “it’s darker, and doesn’t need to hop so fast”). There’s a rather grisly story be­hind the is­land’s name, how­ever. It re­ceived its ti­tle af­ter the Bri­tish ex­plorer Matthew Flin­ders ‘dis­cov­ered’ it in 1802 and filled the bel­lies of his hun­gry men with kan­ga­roo meat. You’ll be pleased to hear the is­land’s menagerie is treated with con­sid­er­ably more love and re­spect these days, al­though the many sto­ries tied in to the ex­plorer era add ex­tra cul­tural in­ter­est to a trip here.

A spe­cial spot

The is­land has long been a mag­net for wildlife ex­perts, and you’ll find a wealth of hugely knowl­edge­able guides. Ar­rang­ing to spend a day or two in their com­pany is highly rec­om­mended. Be sure, too, to ex­plore the is­land’s beaches with a well­laden pic­nic bas­ket. The lo­cal honey, oys­ters, cray­fish and de­li­cious lob­ster are par­tic­u­larly renowned.

If you have the time, the Kan­ga­roo Is­land Wilder­ness Trail – a 61km five-day trek – is a phe­nom­e­nal op­tion. If you’re cher­ryp­ick­ing the best bits, don’t skip on the marine life: the colony of sea lions at Seal Bay, the seals at Ad­mi­ral’s Arch and Re­mark­able Rocks, and the is­land’s dol­phins. “I see bot­tlenose dol­phins reg­u­larly but I was blown away,” ex­plains Nick. “We chugged along the coast for half an hour look­ing at wedge-tailed ea­gles, then rounded a head­land and there was a huge pod or 40 or 50 of them, bob­bing around in shal­low clear water. It was the best dolphin swim I’ve done any­where in the world, and the ethics of the op­er­a­tor were bril­liant.”

If you’re look­ing for a cor­ner of Aus­tralia that’s go­ing to serve up unforgettable out­door en­coun­ters, there’s nowhere bet­ter. “I had a par­tic­u­larly mag­i­cal even­ing as the sun was set­ting, watch­ing the galahs com­ing down to feed and kan­ga­roos bounc­ing all around us,” re­calls Nick. “It was beau­ti­ful – re­ally, re­ally spe­cial.”

Live the wild life Kan­ga­roo Is­land is one of the best places to see Aus­tralia’s na­tive wildlife; (bot­tom) the stark beauty of the Re­mark­able Rocks

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