4 days of family fun on Kangaroo Island
Fancy a swim with wild dolphins or a walk among hundreds of sea lions? Boy, have you come to the right place.
By Dilvin Yasa
Picture a place where the only passing traffic is a mob of bounding kangaroos and where the only other lifeforce capable of stealing your patch of sand is an Australian sea lion. Now, add to these unique wildlife experiences, some of the country’s most spectacular scenery and heart-stopping attractions – both natural and manmade – and you have the showstopper family holiday destination of Kangaroo Island.
While the western side of the South Australian island was impacted by the 2019/2020 bush fires, heading to the eastern side offers up equally breathtaking experiences (did someone say swimming with dolphins?), with lavender scones and locally distilled spirits thrown in for good measure.
Get ready for four days of family fun on Kangaroo Island.
Day 1: Adelaide - Cape Jervis - Penneshaw
- Drive time: 1.5 hours
Is it about the journey or the destination? In this case, it’s both, as you head out of Adelaide (there are daily flights here from most Australian capital cities) and snake your way down through the Fleurieu Peninsula (notorious for serving up some of South Australia’s most spectacular coastal and culinary experiences) towards the picturesque port town of Cape Jervis – the gateway to Kangaroo Island.
Got a little time up your sleeve? Take a McLaren Vale detour on your way and head to Maxwell Wines, where an epic hedge maze awaits discovery, or Woodstock Wines – home to a playground and wildlife sanctuary with supervised feeding times for its western grey kangaroos and wallabies.Show more
Day 2: Explore Emu Bay
Start your day the best way possible: by swimming with pods of wild dolphins in pristine coastal waters. Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures operates in the Emu Bay area; owner Andrew Neighbour takes groups out in his rigid, inflatable boat to tour the coastline and wait for the finned lovelies to swim in from their early morning outing. Everyone’s catered for; there are snorkels and noodles for the kids and tea and biscuits for the adults.
As the afternoon heat settles in, there’s no place better to find shelter and comfort than Emu Bay Lavender Farm; it’s also the place that serves the world’s best lavender scones and homemade lavender ice-cream. Pop in for lunch before picking up a couple of bottles of wine from Bay of Shoals winery, then heading down to the beach for a late afternoon splash.
Day 3: Vivonne bay and Raptor Domain
Give 1860's life a whirl and book a tour around the little-known Hope Cottage Museum in Kingscote. Originally built in 1859, the cottage is the restored home of Charles and Michael Calnan – the offspring of some of the first settlers on the island.
How do you outdo yesterday’s dolphin swim? Try taking a walk along a beach where hundreds of Australian sea lions roam free and frolic. Visitors to Seal Bay Conservation Park have the option of taking a self-guided stroll along the wheelchair-accessible 900-metre (0.5-mile) round trip boardwalk or booking a guided tour down on the beach. It’s best to leave Dune House early; Seal Bay is a 40-minute drive south.
A short drive away sits a local institution, the Vivonne Bay General Store, which is a one-stop shop for families requiring anything from sunscreen to lunch (it’s famous for its whiting burgers). Take the sandy track right by it down to Vivonne Bay Beach, which has been voted one of Australia’s best beaches, for a quick dip before coming back up for a bite.Show more
Day 4: East island touring
Rise with the sun and drive the 40 minutes from Emu Bay to Stokes Bay, widely acknowledged as the island’s most family-friendly beach thanks to its unique natural pool. Once you’ve had a swim and taken the kids for a walk through the bay’s maze-like rocky passageways, you’re headed southbound to Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, home to more than 150 species of wildlife – most of them orphaned and rehabilitated. Once at the park, kids and kidults alike will enjoy feeding the kangaroos and wallabies, and cuddling up to a koala.
Lunch is a 40-minute drive away, but worth it for the platters of super-fresh seafood that await. The Oyster Farm Shop in American River also offers land-based oyster tours for foodies interested in learning more about the juicy morsels just devoured.Show more