Travelling Weasels


Is Kangaroo Island Worth Visiting?

kangaroo island

kangaroo island

Kangaroo Island, located in South Australia, is ripe with unique wildlife, strange natural phenomena and pristine, secluded beaches. But due to its isolated location, it's sadly often missed out by visitors to Australia, and even Australians themselves. 

kangaroo island sealion

We travelled to Australia's third-largest island and spent five wonderful days in an Australian Eden. 

koala australia

This blog post tells you our story on Kangaroo Island, including how we had free accommodation there, how we got around Kangaroo Island without a car and how expensive it was. To help you decide if it's worth visiting (spoiler alert: it is). 

Is Kangaroo Island Worth It?

How to get to Kangaroo Island

First things first, how to get to Kangaroo Island: We arrived by ferry. It was an expensive and extremely bumpy ride but the meat pies sold on-board made up for everything (this was before we were vegan of course, but it's irrelevant, even as a vegan I'd be tempted by those bad boys). We went on the Kangaroo Island car ferry even though we were visiting without a car (yes, that's allowed). Prices start from $20 without a car and you can also purchase the link from Adelaide to the ferry and from the ferry across the island if you want. That's what we did and it all ran smoothly.

kangaroo island

Once you reach Kangaroo Island you can believe the claim that Kangaroo Island has the second cleanest air in the world (after Antarctica). The beaches are stunning and the water is crystal clear.

beach kangaroo island

Thanks to House Sitting, we had free accommodation on the island. Three minutes walk from our house in Kingscote were four beautiful, serene beaches. We couldn't believe how deserted they were.

kangaroo island collage

Deserted from people that is, they were rife with pelicans:

kangaroo island

And, much more excitingly, New Zealand Fur Seals!

new zealand fur seals

On our first day, we sat by the shore to watch the sunset and up popped a seal:

kangaroo island seal

We followed him along the coast and found a secret cove where he and his buddies hang out.

seals hanging out

We were able to get within one metre of them, before they growled and we ran away. 

growling seal
After that we kept our distance and waved back at the ones playing in the water 

seal playing in water

With no public transport on the island and without the foresight to hire a car we were 'forced' to go on a tour of the island to see its other wonders. 

sunny beach kangaroo island

The first stop was Emu Ridge, where we learn that emus can be squeezed to make emu juice which is great for curing everything, including cancer. You go emus. 

kangaroo island emu ridge

We even got to meet an emu. We were told that they used to call her 'the bitch' because she toed her husband to death, but then Julia Gillard became Prime Minister of Australia so they renamed her Julia..

emu kangaroo island

The next stop was the infamous Seal Bay

seal bay kangaroo island

Despite the clouds it was a beautiful bay, and the perfect place to see wild seal lions (not seals..)

wild seal lions kangaroo island

To get down to the beach we walked along a wooden jetty. The sea lions like to hang out under it, so we were able to get close without disturbing them:

sea lion closeup

sea lion love

Apart from the colour, we couldn't really tell the difference between sea lions and seals. Then our guide pointed out that seals wiggle to get around on land, whereas sea lions walk on their feet like dogs (or lions):

seals south australia

One of the downsides to Seal Bay is that you do have to go down with a guide and a group. One sea lion started flapping towards me and the guide screamed at me for being too close to it like it was my fault the sea lion liked me.

seal bay south australia

The upside of being in a group though was that we finally had someone to take a photo of us and the sea lions: 

kangaroo island

Next on the list was seeing koalas in the wild. The size of the koala population on Kangaroo Island has fluctuated wildly in the years humans have been observing it. At one point there were too many koalas and most would have died of starvation, before humans could decide between humanely killing or letting them die a slow death, a bushfire broke out. The fire killed a large percentage of the koalas and balance was restored. 

koala kangaroo island australia

This was actually the second time we'd seen koalas in the wild, but it was just as magical. Read more: Cute Australian animals - a guide to finding (and avoiding) Australian animals. After the koalas we had the most disgusting lunch we've ever had. It was included in the price of the tour and was really vile. But the rest of the tour was so good we quickly forgot about it. The coach took us through Flinder's Chase Park which is larger than Singapore!

kangaroo island

But that wasn't the best bit, the best bit were the Remarkable Rocks:

remarkable rocks

True to their unimaginative name, these rocks really are remarkable.

remarkable rocks kangaroo island

They are granite boulders sitting on a dome of lava formed over 500 million years ago(!) They get their ginger colour from lichen.

remarkable rocks

You can clamber all over the rocks to your heart's content: 

remarkable rocks

These rocks are by far our favourite rocks ever (sorry Stonehenge).

remarkable rocks

remarkable rocks

But the natural phenomena didn't stop there. The next stop was Admirals Arch.

admirals arch

The Stalactite looking things are actually fossilised roots and the arch took thousands of years of erosion to form. Whilst not as Remarkable as the Rocks, Admirals Arch is certainly admirable for it's effort (hehe).

admirals arch

The surrounding area was pretty awesome too.

kangaroo island

And again the wildlife was abundant, there were more New Zealand Fur Seals!

kangaroo island

 And even a Black Tiger Snake!

black tiger snake

Yes, this is a deadly one and no, no one was bitten (not even my stupidly close feet). On that happy note, the tour was over. On our last day we finally saw wild kangaroos! 

kangaroo island

It was the only drizzly day we had on Kangaroo Island and at first we were disappointed - until the locals pointed out it was prime kangaroo spotting weather. They recommended that we check out Kingscote Graveyard, where they have been known to hang out. A mob of kangaroos were indeed in the field next to the graveyard!

kangaroo island

The 'Kangaroo Island' kangaroo is indigenous and found nowhere else on earth. Guidebooks told us that their fur is longer and darker than mainland roos, but we couldn't get close enough to see. Being wild, this was as close as they let me get before hoping off.

kangaroo island

We did get up close and personal with tame kangaroos, but that's a different story...

kangaroos australia

Now for the nitty gritty: 

Is It Worth Spending Your Money on Kangaroo Island?

The short answer is YES. It was one of our favourite parts of our nine month Australia trip. But it will take a chunk out of any budget traveller's budget, so the cost needs to be considered:

1. Getting to Kangaroo Island

We were already in South Australia thanks to House Sitting, so our prices are from the state's capital - Adelaide. But lots of tourists don't make it as far as South Australia, but if you have the time you should! South Australia was one of our favourite states. With its agreeable temperatures, classy culture and delicious food, and wine! So if you've made it to Adelaide, how much is it going to cost you to get to Kangaroo Island?

Return Ticket from Adelaide to Kingscote: $136 (each)

This is a coach trip from Adelaide to Penneshaw, a ferry from Penneshaw to Cape Jervis and a minibus from Cape Jervis to Kingscote. Prices will vary depending on where you are coming from/going to and if you take a car or not. Here is a link to the prices: SeaLink Fares. The island can also be reached by flying. I don't know anything about this, but try Skyscanner

2. Accommodation on Kangaroo Island

Now because we are House Sitters our accommodation costs were zero. I hope you can House Sit too! There aren't actually many House Sits going on Kangaroo Island, but there are thousands going in Australia. If you can save money House Sitting in Adelaide you can perhaps afford to splurge a little on Kangaroo Island accommodation. There aren't a lot of hostels or hotels on Kangaroo Island. A night in a hostel will set you back about $60 for a double-private room. 

3. Food Prices on Kangaroo Island

Due to import fees, the food costs more on Kangaroo Island. We highly recommend bringing your own from the mainland.

4. Activities on Kangaroo Island

Our day tour with Sea Link cost $150 each. It included pick up from Kingscote, a trip to the Emu Farm, entry to Seal Bay, a stop at the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch (both of which are free entry) and the two course meal. We saw wild koalas and seals too, but that's not guaranteed of course. We're not a big fan of organised tours and next time we go we'll probably hire a car and tour the island ourselves.  Still, without a car the tour was definitely, definitely worth it. Seeing those first seals, the pelicans and the wild kangaroos were all completely free. One of the best activities in Kangaroo Island is finding your own wildlife - it's practically guaranteed. Another great and free activity on Kangaroo Island is of course hanging out on the beautiful beaches and swimming in the sea: 

kangaroo island

So, despite the costs, Kangaroo Island is an absolute must for anyone interested in Australia / animals / beaches / rocks. It was one of our absolute highlights of our nine month trip - on par only with seeing the Sydney Opera House, surfing at Surfer's Paradise and meeting albino kangaroos in Western Australia. 

kangaroo island

Have you been to Kangaroo Island? Did you think it was worth it? 

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