London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
Kangaroo Island has a very special place in my heart: the Galapagos of Australia, spared by big crowds and developments has been my base for 2 weeks during my first pregnancy whilst volunteering with Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Kangaroo Island 3 day tour is a minimum as the map of attractions is long and so diverse.
And very sadly Kangaroo Island like many other parts of South Australia became very topical in the last month – over one third of this magic island has been wiped by bushfires, so now more important than ever to help rebuild this ravaged community. Go, explore, stay, buy delicious local wine & artisanal food. Kangaroo island adventure tours are still feasible, explore it safely and in the know with Kangaroo Island Guide and Luca’s team. They did survive the terrible fire crisis but they need us now.
13 kilometres (8 miles) off the coast of South Australia and 30 minutes by plane from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island brims with unique wildlife, artisanal food, epic rock formations and some great hotels by the coast. Kangaroo Island with kids is also awesome – this is one place I always dream about bringing the monkeys to show them all the Ozzie wonders I was so lucky to witness.
Having spent over 2 weeks in here, here are Kangaroo Island adventure tours and itinerary I’d recommend:
Day 1 Kangaroo Island 3 day tour:
1. If you arrive by ferry, walk around Kingscote and grab a coffee. Surrounded by hills and cliffs descending down to Reeves Point (Old Kingscote), this is one of South Australia’s most important heritage sites. The first European settlers migrated here and the area features paths with monuments: mulberry tree, the old jetty, the island’s first well and the old post office. I personally loved Kangaroo Island Art Gallery, right in the centre displaying local art as well as jewellery, glasswork and woodcraft. As the largest town on Kangaroo Island, Kingscote is also a very good place to stock up on food for the next 3 days, especially relevant for snacks and families with kids.
2. A 40 minutes drive from Kingscote harbour, Seal Bay Conservation Park awaits. The Seal Bay Conservation Park on Kangaroo Island’s south coast is the only place in the world where you can walk among endangered Australian sea lions. More precisely you can walk along a 900-metre wooden boardwalk and see them on the sand and in the surf, or you can take a guided 45-minute Seal Bay Experience tour onto the beach itself. There is also a two-hour Twilight Beach Tour. As well as being longer, this tour has fewer people. The guides will walk with you around Seal Bay, explain how the island works together to protect and conserve the sea lions – some strong messages about animal conservation that will surely resonate.
3. Some exciting activities after – sandboarding on the Little Sahara dunes and kayaking around the pretty coastline, or quadbiking along stunning trails through the inland forests.
4. Head to your base in Kangaroo Island. We loved Hanson Bay beachfront cabins that we got to know and stay with for 1 night whilst volunteering at Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. A 35 minutes drive from Seal Bay, however currently Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is closed for business and not taking any bookings. Badly impacted by the bush fires, half of the koalas wiped out and no sightings of echidnas since.
KI tours surely will be able to suggest another great hotel by the coast, but please bear these guys in mind once they re-open, their cabins are awesome and Hanson Bay to my mind, one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been on worldwide.
Another eco luxury iconic property next door, Southern Ocean Lodge with its 21 elegant suites perched on limestone cliffs above Hanson Bay succumbed to the raging fires. The founders and co-creators of the lodge James and Hayley Baillie pledged to take the lead in rebuilding Kangaroo Island. For eco-luxury lovers, this would be a dream, a minimum 2 years to rebuild, fingers crossed they will go ahead and insurance premiums won’t be excruciating.
Day 2 Kangaroo Island 3 day tour:
5. One of the highlights of my time with Hanson Bay wildlife sanctuary was the 1 hour helicopter tour. Have been particularly lucky and grateful as a volunteer you get preferential discounted rates plus I got to go with one famous US wildlife reporter. This is one condensed way to see all the wonders of this enchanted island, and now more relevant than ever in assessing the damage of the bushfires.
6. Climb the Remarkable Rocks. More than 50 million years of westerly winds, rain and salt spray have carved Kangaroo Island’s granite boulders into extraordinary formations. Best time to visit is in the afternoon and catch the sunset. Head to the raised accessible boardwalk in Flinders Chase National Park and you can wander through small boulders and grassy shrubs. And keep your eyes out for beautiful Blue Wren’s preparing their nests in spring!
7. Explore the Admirals Arch. A short drive from Remarkable Rocks in the Flinders Chase National Park, this stunning natural beauty is made even more special when you find New Zealand fur seals on the rocks. And from here you will also be able to see the charming Cape de Couedic Lighthouse, built in 1909 to guide ships away from the Flinders Chase coast. This treacherous stretch of land had claimed 14 ships and 79 lives. Save a thought for the lighthouse keepers of the day, living in remote conditions. Cape de Couedic Lighthouse was so inaccessible that supplies were winched from the ships by a horse-drawn cable. A flat, elevated boardwalk with a few connecting flights of stairs pass lovely vistas of jagged coastline, awesome waves, rugged rock pools of emerald blue waters and dark brown New Zealand fur seals resting on rocks in great numbers.
Again due to bush fire activity in January 2020 on Kangaroo Island the Remarkable Rocks and the Admirals Arch are now closed until further notice. But there are many other things to see and do on – KI Guides will help plus below a list of my favourite bays.
8. Best beaches Kangaroo Island:
– Hanson Bay – one of my favourite bays in the world
– Vivonne Bay – bright blue, crystal clear water, surrounded by white sandy cliffs. There’s one shop in here that caters for the whole southern side of the island; a small take away serving fish and chips and burgers plus snacks, drinks and basic groceries.
– If you feel like taking to the water yourself, the safest swimming spots are off the north coast and Stokes Bay sea pool enclosed by rocks is very pretty.
– Emu Bay, near Kingscote, is also one of the most popular thanks to its clear waters and long shoreline.
Day 3 Kangaroo Island 3 day tour: swimming with wild dolphins!
I was 4 months pregnant at the time with my first child and before have done a fair amount of diving and snorkelling worldwide, dolphins included. But the swim and snorkel in Kangaroo Island compared to nothing else – pure joy, playfulness and delight. The dolphins hanged around with us almost 2 hours and I counted over 100 – babies and mums included. In no other place I witnessed so many, so friendly, curious and playful!
Kangaroo Island Marine Adventure Boat has Emu Bay as one of the departure points – the jetty is located on Hamilton Drive (which faces the ocean), between Hall and Buick Streets. And once on board at the Emu Bay Jetty get ready for some lifetime sealife adventures!
For further reading on the recent damage (millions of burnt kangaroos, koalas, wiped out species etc), head to heartbreaking articles – a summary in here from January 5th 2020 Kangaroo Island’s endangered wildlife may not survive fires & National Geographic published January 17th 2020. To my mind it’s beyond belief the irresponsible approach of a ‘civilised’ government. The reactions, speed and finances used to tackle this huge crisis have been mind-blowingly slow and inadequate – so little and too late.
The bushfires aren’t new in Australia, but the increased temperatures of a warming world make them hotter, more intense, and harder to fight. They came earlier, lasted longer, and reached places previously unaffected.
On December 2019 Australia was rated the worst-performing country on climate change policy out of 57 countries in a report prepared by international thinktanks. The report also criticised the Morrison government for being a regressive force internationally. And his actions December 2019 & January 2020 are rather unconcerned and appalling. At a press conference in Kingscote, Kangaroo Island mayor, Michael Pengilly, also told reporters there is no connection between the fires and a changing climate, in quite a topical twitter debate with Barack Obama. Truly mindblowing. Greenpeace published on January 20th 2020 a very topical article : A lot of information has been circulating online that puts all the blame for Australia’s unprecedented fires on arson or green policies – anything other than climate change. Spreading the myth that fires were deliberately lit is dangerous and wrong. Here is a factcheck tackling some of the rumours.
Up to January 10th 2020 it was estimated that the bushfires released a huge quantity of carbon dioxide – 2/3rds of annual number in just one season. The scientists call it a positive feedback loop – the consequences are dire. I can’t believe Australians are not all in the streets asking for accountability and change. The apocalyptic scenes and heartbreaking damage are afterall only a glimpse of further global warming days, sombre future for our kids and planet.