5 of Kangaroo Island’s best wildlife experiences

5 of Kangaroo Island’s best wildlife experiences

If you vis­it South Australia’s Kan­ga­roo Island, make time to see its wildlife. Here’s some of the best experiences.

Bush­fires on Kan­ga­roo Island burnt about 200,000 hectares of land – near­ly half the island – since they broke out in Decem­ber 2019.

But as many peo­ple remark when they arrive on the island, it’s a big place – big­ger than they expect­ed. The third largest island off the coast of Aus­tralia, Kan­ga­roo Island is home to unique nat­ur­al beau­ty and a wide vari­ety of things to see and do.

There’s still so much to explore, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the nation­al parks that con­serve an array of nat­ur­al envi­ron­ments and pro­vide habi­tat to an abun­dant range of wildlife.

These nation­al parks were untouched by bush­fires, so make a great addi­tion to any itinerary:

Flinders Chase Nation­al Park, locat­ed on the fire-affect­ed west­ern end of the island, will be open soon for guid­ed tours.

Kan­ga­roo Island is cel­e­brat­ed for its extra­or­di­nary wildlife and has many oppor­tu­ni­ties to see Aus­tralian ani­mals in their native habi­tats. Here are five of the island’s best wildlife experiences:

1. Aus­tralian sea lions

Seal Bay is the only place in the world where you can see Aus­tralian sea lions at close quar­ters and walk on a beach where pups play, bulls fight for suprema­cy and rest­ing moth­ers suck­le their young.

There are no enclo­sures or cages here. You can walk to the heart of the sea lion colony on the beach with an expe­ri­enced guide who will teach you about these endan­gered animals.

If you pre­fer, you can set your own pace on the wheel­chair acces­si­ble 900m (return) board­walk, which mean­ders through the dunes to a num­ber of view­ing platforms.

2. Kan­ga­roos

Kan­ga­roo Island was named for its kan­ga­roos, which have evolved dif­fer­ent­ly from main­land kan­ga­roos since the island was con­nect­ed to the main­land 9500 years ago.

Kan­ga­roo Island kan­ga­roos often rest dur­ing the day under veg­e­ta­tion, com­ing out to graze in the ear­ly morn­ing and late afternoon.

Spot them on the Hog Bay Road from Prospect Hill to Baudin Beach. Take care when park­ing and ensure that your car is com­plete­ly off the road when parked.

3. Tam­mar wallabies

Kan­ga­roo Island has the largest remain­ing nat­ur­al pop­u­la­tion of tam­mar wal­la­bies. Much small­er than kan­ga­roos, Tam­mar wal­la­bies have a dark grey coat with red­dish-brown arms, feet and flanks, and white cheek stripes.

They’re best seen at dawn and dusk in Cape Gantheaume Con­ser­va­tion Park along the D’Estrees Bay Road up to Wheatons Beach; in the town­ship at Nepean Bay, via West­ern Cove Road; and in Baudin Con­ser­va­tion Park. Access to the carpark is along French­mans Ter­rae and south along Bin­neys Track.

4. Echid­nas

Kan­ga­roo Island short-beaked echid­nas appear to be abun­dant across Kan­ga­roo Island due to suit­able habi­tat and no sig­nif­i­cant preda­tors. They can be found across the island and are gen­er­al­ly soli­tary, feed­ing day and night and shel­ter­ing in hol­low logs, under piles of debris, in self-con­struct­ed bur­rows and among tree roots.

Echid­nas have excep­tion­al hear­ing and a good sense of smell. They’ll freeze when dis­turbed and then curl into a ball, often try­ing to bury them­selves in the leaf lit­ter or soil.

If you find an echid­na, watch qui­et­ly and patient­ly from at least 20m away. If they change their behav­iour while you are watch­ing then you are prob­a­bly too close.

5. Dol­phins

Kan­ga­roo Island’s pris­tine waters are home to a diverse and impor­tant range of marine life. The island is sur­round­ed by four marine parks that ensure increased pro­tec­tion to approx­i­mate­ly two-thirds of its waters.

Pennneshaw’s Hog Bay looks out over Encounter Marine Park and is home to a pod of dol­phins that cruise though every day. The per­fect spot to see them is from the rocks at the east­ern end of the beach, near French­mans Rock.

Slow down near wildlife

While trav­el­ling on Kan­ga­roo Island, slow down for native wildlife. Please reduce your speed because:

  • Echid­nas are slow mov­ing animals.
  • Goan­nas need to bask in the sun before becom­ing active.
  • Noc­tur­nal ani­mals are active at night.
  • Your head­lights can daz­zle noc­tur­nal animals.

Wildlife watch­ing guidelines

All native ani­mals in nation­al and con­ser­va­tion parks are wild and should be observed and pho­tographed from a dis­tance. This min­imis­es dis­tur­bance to the ani­mal and allows you to observe many of the nat­ur­al behav­iours exhib­it­ed by native ani­mals in the wild.

Always remem­ber:

  • Stay on the trail.
  • Put the animal’s wel­fare first.
  • Move slow­ly and quietly.
  • Observe from a distance.
  • Use binoc­u­lars for that close-up look.

Wildlife Recov­ery Fund

Love wildlife? Con­sid­er donat­ing to the Wildlife Recov­ery Fund. This fund sup­ports the re-estab­lish­ment of habi­tat for wildlife in the South Australia’s bush­fire-rav­aged areas.

World Wildlife Day, March 3 2020 

Want more infor­ma­tion on parks expe­ri­ences on Kan­ga­roo Island? Check out our guide toWhat’s open now in Kan­ga­roo Island’s parks.You can also down­load the Nation­al Parks of Kan­ga­roo Island Vis­i­tor Guide: Sep­tem­ber 2020to plan your trip.

To keep up to date with fire recov­ery and park open­ings check the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice SAweb­siteorFace­book.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living