Ranger tips: Flinders Chase National Park
Get insider tips on the best places to visit and ‘must do’ activities from park ranger Reece Boulden.
Located on the western end of Kangaroo Island, Flinders Chase National Park is the jewel in the crown of South Australia’s national parks.
It’s home to the iconic Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch, along with spectacular coastline, pristine beaches, two historic lighthouses and vast wilderness that’s a haven for wildlife.
There’s so much to see and do in the park, so we’ve asked local park ranger Reece Boulden for his insider tips for exploring this wilderness wonderland. Here’s what he had to say:
When is the best time of the year to visit the park?
Flinders Chase is teeming with wildflowers and new life in spring. Rare and elusive orchids begin to show their unique beauty around this time of year, young Cape Barren geese are busy exploring the grassy areas, and baby wallabies and kangaroos can be seen poking their heads out of pouches as well.
How much time will I need to spend in the park?
I feel like that question is limitless! I’ve been living and working in Flinders Chase for the past 3 years and still haven’t explored all the nooks and crannies of this vast wilderness.
To take in the iconic sites of Admirals Arch and Remarkable Rocks at a relaxed pace it will take about 2 hours from the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre. But keep in mind, travel from the bigger towns such as Kingscote and Penneshaw may take more than an hour each way.
Try and plan ahead and stay down the western end of Kangaroo Island for a night or two to really explore the area and walk some of the many hikes that the park offers.
What are your tips for anyone considering the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail?
My tip for anyone considering the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is to just give it a crack! There are so many options for being able to walk the trail, either as an independent walker with full gear or through one of the great tour companies offering transport and accommodation.
The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail covers such a wide diversity of landscapes and discovering the remote beauty of the trail is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Spotting hooded plovers on Maupertuis Beach, white-bellied sea eagles at Weirs Cover, platypus along the Rocky River, long-nosed fur seals at Admirals Arch, and waterbirds at Grassdale Lagoon are just some examples of the diversity of wildlife that you might see on the trail.
Where can I see a platypus?
The best spot to see a platypus is along the aptly named Platypus Waterholes Walk. This walk will take about 2 hours to complete at a fairly leisurely pace and visitors will also have the opportunity to see Cape Barren geese, kangaroos and wallabies.
The trail surface has been re-laid recently and is wheelchair accessible and perfect for families wanting to take their prams along the walk.
The best time to view a platypus is around the twilight hours of sunset and sunrise. Another spot, known to the locals as ‘The Cascades’, offers a more secluded and intimate platypus-viewing experience and can be found along the Rocky River Hike.
This hike can be accessed either from the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre or from the Rocky River Bridge.
Where can I see a koala?
The best spots to see a koala are in the carpark as you arrive at Flinders Chase and along the Heritage Walk. These areas contain the koala’s favourite food, the manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis).
Make sure you look high up in the trees as koalas will look for new growth on the tree, which is always at the very tips of the branches.
The Heritage Walk is a great walk for families and first-time visitors to the park as it offers picturesque wildlife opportunities and is only a short distance from the Visitor Centre.
What is your favourite walking trail?
My favourite walking trail is Day 5 of the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail.
This section of trail, also known as the Hanson Bay Hike, covers such a wide diversity of landscapes from coastal dunes to mallee woodlands, and visitors also have the opportunity to see rare and threatened waterbirds such as Latham’s snipe and the Australasian shoveler at the stunning Grassdale Lagoon.
Walkers can also view some of the island’s rich pioneering history, as the walk includes some cleared areas of land from the Edward’s family property, which has now become prime habitat for the Kangaroo Island kangaroo and the tammar wallaby.
What time of the day is best to photograph Remarkable Rocks?
Remarkable Rocks is truly remarkable at sunset. There is no greater feeling of peace and relaxation than sitting among the granite boulders and listening to the wind whistle through the gaps while watching the natural beauty and power of the Southern Ocean roll onto the coast.
Top tip: Check out our tips for taking great photographs on Kangaroo Island.
What’s the park’s best kept secret?
The park’s best kept secret is the West Bay campground. This campground is on the secluded west coast of Kangaroo Island and is only accessible by 4WD.
Featuring sheltered campgrounds and ideal for camper trailers, this campground hosts a total of only 8 sites and can book out quickly in busy periods.
In the warmer months, resident Rosenberg’s goannas can frequently be seen as visitors make their way to the remote and private beach that the campground is named after – West Bay.
Park of the Month
Throughout October, along with being National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia’s Park of the Month, Flinders Chase National Park is also marking its 100th birthday – so there’s plenty to celebrate! There’s lots of events and activities to get involved in – check the website for all the details.
Main image: Ranger Reece Boulden