What else could an island in Australia be called but Kangaroo Island, Australia's third largest after Tasmania and Melville; locals just call it KI. Imagine, if you can, a wild wonderland of jaw-dropping natural landscapes where creatures roam free from fear. After the day's adventure is done, there's a nice glass of wine waiting for you, all a short flight from one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Yes, in Australia, you can.
A 20-minute flight from Adelaide, South Australia's bustling capital, in a plane so tiny even average-height-me bumped my head against the overhead bin, brought us to Kingscote, a one-horse town that serves as the administrative centre of Kangaroo Island. Connected to the mainland until a few thousand years ago and even settled by Aboriginals once, before sea levels rose and made it an island, Kangaroo Island has been protected from invasive species like rabbits and foxes, which were brought in by settlers. This isolation has made it a sort of time capsule of Australia's native flora, fauna, and ecology.
While a third of the 4,405 sq km island is protected, wildlife obeys no boundaries and can be seen everywhere, from kangaroos (but, of course) and wallabies to goannas, koalas, echidnas, seals, and more. There are around 250 species of birds, including little penguins and the massive wedge-tailed eagle.
It was while taking a break on a quad biking trail that I saw my first koalas in the wild, thanks to a more attentive travel companion. After that, it was a visual treat, watching the cute dynamics of the mother-child pair, the mother patiently coaxing her ward to leap over to her (the baby obliged in the end and then curled up for a nap).
After a quick lunch of burgers and soda at the Vivonne Bay General Store and Bottle Shop, we drove out to the Seal Bay Conservation Park. Here, guides take you on elevated wooden walkways under which seals go about their business and then down to the beach, where you are kissing distance from them.
Kangaroo Island's amazingly friendly wildlife is complemented by its iconic sights and stunning natural formations, many of which can be seen inside the Flinders Chase National Park. These include the Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch, and the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse.
That evening, at Sunset Food and Wine, a Modern Australian bistro that relies on seasonal produce to startling effect, we toasted a day of spectacular natural immersion with a glass of Kangaroo Island wine.
Next morning, at Clifford's Honey Farm, we were face-to-face with the Ligurian bee, introduced from Italy in the late 1800s and now the only pure strain of that species to exist anywhere in the world. They make the most excellent honey, as we were able to attest, and it was a sweet finish to a memorable adventure.
Kangaroo Island is a treasure trove of natural beauty and wildlife encounters. For a first-time visitor, here are some must-see attractions on the island:
Flinders Chase National Park: The national park is home to iconic landmarks like Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch, and Cape du Couedic Lighthouse. The Remarkable Rocks are stunning granite formations shaped by wind and sea, while Admirals Arch is a natural rock bridge where you can see New Zealand fur seals.
Entry fee: AUD 13 per person/INR 728.64
Seal Bay Conservation Park: This park offers guided tours where you can walk among Australian sea lions on the beach. It's an incredible opportunity to observe these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.
Timings: 9 AM–5 PM
Entry fee: AUD 16 per person/INR 896.83
Kelly Hill Caves: Explore the underground world of limestone caves adorned with beautiful formations, stalactites, and stalagmites. Guided tours provide insights into the geological history of the area.
Timing: 10:15 AM–4:30 PM
Entry fee: AUD 28 per person/INR 1,568.69
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park: Encounter a variety of native Australian wildlife, including kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, and birdlife. It's a great place to get up close to these animals and learn more about their habitats.
Timings: 9.30 AM TO 5 PM
Entry fee: AUD 33 for adults and AUD 20 for children/INR 1848.82 for adults and INR 1120.49 for children
Stokes Bay: A picturesque and secluded beach with a hidden entrance through a rock tunnel. It's an ideal spot for relaxation and enjoying the pristine coastline.
Look for flights from major Indian cities (like Delhi or Mumbai) to Australian cities like Sydney, Melbourne, or Adelaide. Most likely, you'll find direct flights to Sydney or Melbourne and then connect to Adelaide.
Once in Australia, you'll need to catch a domestic flight from either Sydney or Melbourne to Adelaide. Adelaide is the main gateway to Kangaroo Island.
From Adelaide, you can take a short flight (about 30 minutes) from Adelaide Airport to Kangaroo Island Airport in Kingscote. Alternatively, there's also the option of taking a ferry from Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island.
Once on the island, there are car rental services available at the airport, or you can book guided tours that often include transportation around the island to explore its attractions.