Five days, the experience of a lifetime
Towering cliffs of limestone and coagulated magma, storm-blasted coastal scrub and massive arcs of bone white beach; this is the wildness that awaits you on the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. Few places in the world remain that provide such a setting for inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. Look around you and within — the opportunities for discovery are endless.
Day 1: Rocky River to Snake Lagoon
Day one commences at Rocky River and takes you through Black Swamp, the final resting place for many now-extinct megafauna species. The eucalypt woodland is flourishing with fresh green growth. Listen out for the calls of elusive bird species and watch for echidna diggings in the soft earth. Reaching the Pardalote Lookout you will see the meandering Rocky River far below you as it flows out towards the Southern Ocean. You will then pass through riverbank and mallee habitats where wildflowers provide stunning arrays of colour all year around, along with orchids and fungi in the cooler months. Traversing your way down from the ridge towards the river you will come across the spectacular sight of the Rocky River Cascades. The day comes to a close amongst tall sugar gums and old-growth cup gums at Snake Lagoon.
Distance: 10.5 km
Time: 4 hrs
Day 2: Snake Lagoon to Cape du Couedic
Day two takes you along the Rocky River towards its mouth at the coast. Not long into the walk you’ll be rewarded with your first breathtaking view of the mighty Southern Ocean. Here at the edge of the world there is nothing but the deep blue sea between you and Antarctica. The trail then heads south along the island’s wild and rugged coastline where birds of prey may be seen flying over the land and sea, while on the water bottle-nosed dolphins often surface as they hunt for fish. If you’re visiting between June and early October, you may even by treated to the majestic sight of Southern Right Whales on their annual migration to the Great Australian Bight. Upon reaching Maupertuis Bay you’ll head down from the clifftop onto the bone white beach below. Seafarers found this wild coastline unforgiving, with the remnants of shipwrecks that cost the lives of many still visible today. The trail eventually winds its way back up to the rocky clifftop, bringing you ever closer to the famous Cape du Couedic Lighthouse that sits atop the headland in the distance. Pause for a final look back on your day’s journey along the spectacularly beautiful coastline of Maupertuis Bay. When the trail turns inland you’ll be treated to softer conditions underfoot for the final stretch to Cape du Couedic. Venture to Admirals Arch to finish the day with a spectacular sunset in the company of playful seals and sea-lions.
Distance: 16 km
Time: 7 hrs
Day 3: Weirs Cove to Sanderson Bay
Take in breathtaking views from historic Weirs Cove before heading inland. The trail undulates over ancient sand dunes that provide views across Yacca Flat – now flourishing with towering flower spikes – and towards Remarkable Rocks and the pounding Southern Ocean.
Turn back towards the coastline and make your way to the incredible geological formations of Remarkable Rocks. Continuing on, the trail hugs the coastline and offers cinematic views that inspire both awe and contemplation – be sure to glance back from time to time for an ever changing view of the captivating Remarkable Rocks. As you near the end of the day’s walk you’ll find outcroppings of rocks hidden amongst lush eucalypts, the perfect space to sit and reflect on your journey. Just before you finish your trek, take a short walk down to the small secluded beach of Sanderson Bay to cool your tired feet.
Distance: 14 km
Time: 6.5 hrs
Day 4: Sanderson Bay to Hanson Bay Road
Day four offers high energy coastal trekking at its best, with massive swells, towering cliffs and extended views along the coast all the way from Sanderson Bay to the spectacular Cape Younghusband. Looking back you’ll continue to see Remarkable Rocks as it is rarely seen, framed by the surrounding wild landscape. When the trail heads inland along management tracks you’ll be treated to a dramatic change in vegetation from slowly recovering low coastal heath to tall mallee and tea tree. Keep your eyes peeled for goannas sunning themselves on rocky outcrops and echidna diggings near ant hills.
An optional side trip off the wilderness trail to the nearby Hanson Bay headland and the small settlement of Hanson Bay offers walkers an opportunity to dip their toes in the crystal clear water.
Distance: 10 km
Time: 6 hrs
Day 5: Hanson Bay to Kelly Hill Caves
The final day’s walk is somewhat more leisurely, but no less spectacular and beautiful. The trail passes through a diversity of habitats, from ‘karst’ cave systems to recovering woodlands and freshwater lakes. From Kelly Hill Caves, a relatively short walk through sugar gum woodland, rich with orchids and fungi in the wetter months, brings the trail to the stunning Wilderness and Grassdale Lagoons, where birdwatchers will be rewarded with sightings of local and visiting woodland and wading birds.
Wander through Cape Bouguer Wilderness Protection Area before concluding your walk by wading across the shallow waters of South West River where it flows into Hanson Bay.