What else could an island in Australia be called but Kangaroo? 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; where, 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-min 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 KI. 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, KI 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 noboundaries, 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 (baby obliged in the end, and then curled up for a nap).
After a quick lunch of burger 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.
KI’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 which 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.