When we visited Kangaroo Island (KI) we expected that we’d get up close and personal with wildlife and gorge ourselves on local delicacies, and KI certainly did not disappoint. But, what did surprise us was how completely untouched and quiet the island was. It honestly felt like we were the only people there.
Our trip began before sunrise, waking our two boys (ages 3 ½ and 1) at 5am to catch an early flight from Sydney to Adelaide. After picking up our rental car, we had a few hours to kill, so we kicked off the holiday by exploring the McLaren Vale wine region. Unlike our experience in the Hunter Valley last year, we found that it is possible to do wine tastings with toddlers!
McLaren Vale is set up for families and almost every winery has a playground or at least a toy box.
Our boys were welcome everywhere we went and that made it easy for us to enjoy tasting the wonderful wines.
We left with two cases of wine and enough locally made cheeses and chutneys to keep us happy for a week.
Stepping onto the ferry in Cape Jervis, we could see KI off in the distance and the island is surprisingly big – 155kms in length with 540kms of coastline. It should be called ‘the 45-minute island’ because anywhere you want to go is at least a 45-minute drive and you probably won’t see another car.
With very little phone and internet service on the island, we relaxed instantly. After stocking up on groceries in Kingscote, we drove to Flinders Chase National Park to check into our home for the next few days, Troubridge Lodge. The Lodge is one of three of the original Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottages next to the Cape du Couedic lighthouse. Like true lighthouse keepers, we were a million miles away from civilization – (don’t worry, there is an emergency satellite phone out the back).
Wallabies were the only creature in sight, and our boys loved spotting them right next to our house. The great thing about staying in the National Park is that you have the whole place to yourself after the park closes at 5pm and before it opens at 9am. We felt incredibly isolated, which is both amazing and a little haunting.
Flinders Chase shows its true colours right at sunrise around The Remarkables. Once they woke, we chased each other around the rock formation, poking in and out of holes and natural hiding places while minding the seaside cliffs. We also squeezed in a short hike to Admirals Arch before naptime.
After two nights in the park we continued to our rental property in Vivonne Bay. Although it is a tiny seaside town with just one store (also a café), it felt like we had returned to civilization. The beach always appears on lists of the Top 10 beaches in the world, and it does not disappoint. Like everything else in KI, its size, beauty, and serenity is impressive.
Despite the island’s beauty, the main attraction is the wildlife. KI offers protection to an incredible amount of native Australian animals. There are roughly 4,000 people on the island, but more than one million wallabies! We saw koalas and echidnas crossing the road, kangaroos at our doorstep, and possums in the trees.
I have yet to meet another person who has been to Kangaroo Island. However, every time I tell someone we went, they say, “Oh, it’s on my bucket list”. Well, it’s time to knock it off. It’s an easy, affordable trip that the littlies will love.
- There are flights between KI and Adelaide but they are very expensive. The Sea Link ferry between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw is only 45 minutes and much more economical.
- Buy as many groceries, nappies, alcohol, etc that you can on the mainland. If you can’t shop on the mainland, stock up in Kingscote or Penneshaw and continue on.
- If you have to stay overnight in either Kingscote or Penneshaw, I would choose Penneshaw.
- Definitely rent a car!!! There is no public transport on the island and you don’t want to get stuck seeing everything on a tour.
- School holidays and summer are the busy times on KI. Winds die down just after Easter but temps stay high, making May the perfect time to visit.
- I recommend staying for at least 3 days when visiting KI. We were there for 6 and it was great. We well and truly did everything the island has to offer.
- Don’t miss the world famous whiting burger at the Vivonne Bay General Store. YUM!
- Try the homemade honeycomb ice cream just outside of Kingscote. It’s incredible!
Jennie has travelled to more than 60 countries and is the proud mother of two boys, Lachlan (3 ½) and Noah (14 months).