7 tips for visiting Kangaroo Island this summer

Kangaroo, Hanson Bay Nocturnal Tour, Kangaroo Island

Image credit: SATC

Here’s the latest pretty picture-filled essay I’ve written for the lifestyle and inspo site Adelady

There’s something magical about escaping to an island. Sun, sand, serenity, all of the above.

But forget Hamilton and Fraser islands, Kangaroo Island is where it’s at this summer – the island that sadly more interstaters and overseasers visit each year than South Australians.

Here’s everything you need to know to plan the perfect summer jail-break to the island of kangaroos.

1. Kangaroo Island is the ideal summer, escapism holiday destination

Kangaroo Island is remote (island, duh!) and beautiful. Like seriously stunning! But the phone coverage is as reliable as Tiger Airways. In fact, if you’re with any other carrier that’s not Telstra, you may as well leave your iPhone on the mainland. This means no email, no Facebook, no Snapchat, no Instagram, no connectivity whatsoever. This is mildly distressing, for half a day, until the most deserted of beaches, the whitest of sand and the bluest of skies assists you in unstitching yourself from the chaoticness of everyday life.

Jetty, Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo Island

Image credit: Julie Fletcher

2. How on earth do you get there?

Your only three options are ferry, plane or hover pack. All of which is true expect for the last one. SeaLink has a minimum of three daily ferry crossings that run between Cape Jervis, Fleurieu Peninsula and Kingscote, Kangaroo Island. The beauty of the ferry is that you then have a car for when you’re on the island, and you will need some mode of transport as it would take you 32 hours to walk from one end of the island to the other. But, given only the main roads are sealed, it’s best not to take your Holden Barina – unless you’re happy leaving half your chassis on the island.

If you’re prone to seasickness or have an aversion to boats, you can catch the 30-minute flight from Adelaide Airport to Kingscote Airport, operated by Regional Express (REX).

Driving, Kangaroo Island

Image credit: Tourism Australia

3. Where to stay?

It depends on what floats your canoe. Accommodation ranges from budget motels and caravan parks to the exxy, cliff top Southern Ocean Lodge, which from all reports, is over priced and over rated, although undeniably spectacular. Then there’s the quirky lighthouse and cottage stays. My advice is to jag a holiday house on the beachfront for the ultimate access to ocean life.

Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island

Image credit: SATC

4. The food and wine can be amazing, but you need to know where to look

Kangaroo Island has the makings of a gourmand’s paradise but it’s still a remote country island in places, so can be a bit hit and miss. The sport of food and wine hunting needs to be done with an astute nose, of which you’ll be rewarded with ahhh-mazing Kangaroo Island-grown haloumi, oysters, freshwater crayfish, sheep’s milk cheeses, pure ligurian bee honey, wines and spirits. If you don’t want to play, you can just settle on a breakfast, lunch and dinner diet of the deep fried variety.

I aggressively suggest you purchase some local produce from one of the farmgate outlets and cook up a KI feast at your accommodation, if you can (this is where the rental house comes into its own). My farmgate recommendations are Ferguson Australia (for lobster and fish), Island Pure Sheep Dairy (for cheeses and yoghurts) and The Oyster Farm Shop (for oysters and seafood).

Alternatively, my favourite spots to eat out at are the Marron Café for freshwater marron, Rustic Blue for afternoon café-type light snacks, and Dudley Wines for pizzas and wine overlooking Backstairs Passage. Also a take-away whiting burger from Vivonne Bay General Store is up there with what you’d find at Nordburger.

The Marron Cafe, Andermal Marron, Kangaroo Island

Image credit: SATC

5. It’s like a 24-hour wildlife safari

With one-third designated national park, Kangaroo Island is like an open range zoo. Yes, there are quite a few kangaroos, but there are also koalas, wallabies and echidnas roaming in the wild. There’s sea lions and fur seal colonies playing in the surf or dozing on the sand, particularly around Seal Bay and Remarkable Rocks. At wildlife sanctuary Paul’s Place you can even hold a kangaroo, as I did (relax that’s not beer people).

Kim Lamb, Paul's Place, Kangaroo Island

Then underwater there’s an Anzac Highway of marine life: fish, crayfish and leafy sea dragons. A tour with Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures is my favourite way to see these creatures of the deep.

6. Prepare for an action adventure movie role

Channel your best Angelina Jolie, for this island isn’t just for beach lolling like the sea lions. Have a stab at surfing, kayaking, underground caving, horse riding and sandboarding, or stick to the more sedate swimming and hiking.

One of my favourite action experiences of all time was quad biking (with Kangaroo Island Outdoor Adventure) through untouched bushland and sand dunes, stopping only to see two male kangaroos getting into a full-on, knock your jaw off boxing brawl.

Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island

Image credit: SATC

7. Get on it!

It’s time to push in-front of the non-South Australians and investigate this backyard of ours. Yet summertime on Kangaroo Island sells out faster than tickets to Taylor Swift, so come December you’ll be scraping the bottom of the accommodation barrel. Best to move swiftly on this one.

Antechamber Bay, Kangaroo Island

Image credit: SATC