Kangaroo Island - Jump Into Nature's Arms

In 1802 the British explorer Matthew Flinders stumbled across an island off the coast of South Australia that he was instantly enchanted with.

The thick bushland and the diverse coastline of the island thrived with wildlife on an unseen scale, driving Flinders to name it after its most common inhabitant, the kangaroo.

Today little seems to have changed. Kangaroo Island is still covered in more than half the original bushland that was there at the time of discovery, and a mesmerising amount of animals and birds still call it home.

Of course there are more people- you cannot keep tourists away from a place as beautiful as this, and there is a small resident population that is supported by tourism and agriculture.

But a harmony between man and nature exists that has preserved the natural beauty of the island, and ensures it will still be as beautiful as when Flinders found it when you go and visit.

Getting to the island is easy, as many ferries operate from the South Australian mainland and are able to take you and your vehicle across.

There is a good road network throughout the island, sealed and unsealed, that will take you to the majority of the more well known attractions.

As for accommodation, there is a place for everyone here, no matter how much you want to pay or what kind of region you wish to stay in. Luxurious lodges, bushland dwellings and cosy sea cottages are yours to choose from. You could stay close to the ferry port, nearby to shops and restaurants or if its seclusion your after then book somewhere in a more isolated region. Theres plenty of choice!

Once you have sorted out where you are staying, there is still a lot of decisions to be made as to what to see and do. Depending on how long you have here, you will want to fit in as much as possible to your stay.

A good place to begin is always the beaches as they seem to appeal to all age groups and interests, and the beaches on the island are simply spectacular.

Emu Bay is a popular spot as it is safe for swimming and there is vehicle access onto the four kilometre long beach.

The most popular one however is Vivonne Bay, which was recently declared by Sydney University after a lengthy survey to be the best beach in the country. Its white and sandy crescent shape is perfect for picnics, sunbaking and beach sports, and the gentle swells of the blue turquoise waters are popular amongst surfers.

Fishermen also try their luck here, as they do in nearby Hanson Bay where large Australian salmon are often caught.

One third of the island is Conservation or National Park, and exploring these will lead you to some amazing attractions.

Flinders Chase National Park is one of the bigger ones, and is located towards the western end of the island, encompassing vast wilderness areas and amazing coastline.

It is home to Admirals Arch, a natural rock arch created by the force of the crashing waves. Here a viewing platform and boardwalk provides views of the arch and of the fur seals frolicking in the waves and basking on the bare rock faces below.

Close to here are the Remarkable Rocks, one of the islands icons. These rocks have been crafted into strange shapes by swirling air currents carrying sand and water, and are sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who sees them.

It is hard to miss the abundance of wildlife on the island, where you are likely to bump into echidnas, platypi, goannas, wallabies and kangaroos. If you wish to get more up close and personal with the wildlife, then there are a number of institutions you can visit to do so.

The Penneshaw Penguin Centre is one such institution, offering the best penguin experience in South Australia. Eco viewing platforms allow for close encounters with Little Penguins in their natural habitat, and nocturnal or daytime tours can be taken with informative guides.

For wildlife adventures of the tree climbing kind head to the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctary, where you walk through a sustainably managed koala population living in the gum trees above you. Night time tours are a great way to see the stars and see the nocturnal aussie wildlife.

Kangaroo Island can be visited at any time of the year. In each of the four seasons distinct aspects of the island shine through, meaning that autumn, winter, spring and summer are different and special in their own way.

While these things change other things remain constant- friendly locals, pristine beaches and stunning natural attractions. And one thing you can definitely be assured of is that your first visit here will not be your last!

Gavin Wyatt

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