Exploring Kangaroo Island: Choose your own adventure

Flinders Chase National Park cuts some eerie shapes by night
Flinders Chase National Park cuts some eerie shapes by night

This article is sponsored by SeaLink

When it comes to road-tripping, the holiday that springs to mind usually involves traversing the wide variety of terrain on our sun-bleached continent; rolling green vineyards, salty coastal cliffs or the deep reds of the outback.

One that usually doesn’t spring to mind is road-tripping across the ocean.

SeaLink ferries take just 45 minutes to cross the strait

SeaLink ferries take just 45 minutes to cross the strait

But why not? Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island, located south-west of Adelaide and is officially part of South Australia, though of course separated from the mainland by a body of water known as the ‘Backstairs Passage’ strait. And all you need to do is drive your car or caravan aboard a SeaLink ferry to get there. 

SeaLink ferries take just 45 minutes to cross the strait, ideal for those seeking the ‘road’ less travelled. 

The island is teeming with wildlife

The island is teeming with wildlife

If your idea of a holiday is fully immersive, enjoying the journey and the destination, then choose your own adventure on Kangaroo Island. There’s 1,600 kilometres of scenic road – some unsealed – for you to discover. 

The value of the self-drive holiday lies in the flexibility. You’re on your own schedule, not bound by lengthy wait times for flights or a squashy tour bus. Explore at your own pace and see as little or as much as you’d like – you’re at the wheel of your own holiday. 

DINE

Penneshaw Market Days ($)

Produce is locally-sourced and locally-made, showcasing the best of Kangaroo Island

Produce is locally-sourced and locally-made, showcasing the best of Kangaroo Island

Heading along to a local foodie market is a great way to experience the breadth of local purveyor goods including food and coffee - and without the hefty price tag. The island’s Farmer’s Market and Community Market combine to offer regional food direct from the producer, together with artisan crafts, arts and bric-a-brac. Must-do food tastings at the markets include locally-created olive oils, Island Pure sheep dairy and the delectable Ligurian honey, which Kangaroo Island is famed for. 

Penneshaw Market Days are a great way to experience a breadth of Kangaroo Island cuisine

Penneshaw Market Days are a great way to experience a breadth of Kangaroo Island cuisine

Held the first Sunday of each month, the market is just a few minutes’ walk from the ferry terminal. SeaLink offer special same day return Market Day ferry fare.

Dudley Wines ($$) 

Dudley Wines is a winery with a view

Dudley Wines is a winery with a view

Dudley Wines is perhaps Kangaroo Island’s most beloved winery and also boasts wood-oven pizza packed to the crust with local fresh produce. The must-do menu option is the Whiting Pizza, which receives rave reviews for the housemade base, Kangaroo Island whiting, capers, yogurt and fresh dill from the garden. 

Enjoy your wine on the grassy area in front and watch the golfers tee off

Enjoy your wine on the grassy area in front and watch the golfers tee off

Or feeling carnivorous? Try the locally-sourced cured beef with horseradish cream. And when I say locally-sourced, I mean it; the beef is straight off the property. 

Pair your meal with a wine-tasting, or grab yourself a bucket of golf balls and practice your swing on the golf course with the ambience of that coastal backdrop as complimentary. 

Sunset Food and Wine ($$$) 

The cuisine is perfectly complimented by that million-dollar view

The cuisine is perfectly complimented by that million-dollar view

Perhaps the only thing that rivals the chef-hatted cuisine at this modern bistro is the stunning outlook over American Beach. Enjoy the rolling blue vista with some Kangaroo Island oysters, served with local finger lime Duck liver parfait, knakabrood, pickled cucumber, toasted sourdough and whipped bone marrow.

Head chef Jack Ingram spent time working at Melbourne's Vue de Monde before setting up shop in Kangaroo Island

Head chef Jack Ingram spent time working at Melbourne's Vue de Monde before setting up shop in Kangaroo Island

Head chef Jack Ingram has worked in Michelin-star restaurants internationally and spent time further refining his fine dining expertise at Melbourne dining destination Vue de Monde before opening Sunset Food and Wine. He was drawn to Kangaroo Island for the region’s incredible local produce and passionate local producers. 

SEE

Visit Flinders Chase National Park ($)

The boulders at Flinders Chase seem straight out of a sci-fi flick

The boulders at Flinders Chase seem straight out of a sci-fi flick

Located at the western end of Kangaroo Island is a concentration of sweeping coastal landscapes bordered with wilderness areas and thriving wildlife. It’s known as Flinders Chase National Park and includes the iconic Admiral's Arch, home to a cheeky colony of long-nosed fur seals, and the natural wonder known as the Remarkable Rocks.

Walking tracks hug the craggy cliffs of the coast, perfect for wandering and admiring the turquoise bay inlets. Follow the bush tracks and say hi to the locals; you’re bound to spot koalas, echidnas, seals, goannas, kangaroos, wallabies and many more lazing around.

The uniquely-shaped towering boulders are other-worldly; like a gigantic hand has haphazardly squeezed them into shape. Be sure to bring the camera. ​

Do a safari at sea ($$)

The water surrounding Kangaroo Island is a strikingly clear turquoise colour

The water surrounding Kangaroo Island is a strikingly clear turquoise colour

Departing daily from Christmas Cove Marina in Penneshaw, a Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari is an exciting way to get up close and personal with the wildlife lolling about all along the pristine coastline.

Marvel at the keen playfulness of bottle-nose dolphins gliding alongside the boat, spot the hoards of fur seals and their pups relaxing on the shoreline and, if you’re lucky, witness the majestic southern right whales as they journey to the Great Australian Bight. 

The dolphins are friendly and curious - the dogs of the sea

The dolphins are friendly and curious - the dogs of the sea

Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari takes you on a 75-minute coastal and wildlife tour around the coastline of Kangaroo Island visiting places like Dolphin Cove, Cuttlefish Bay, Kangaroo Head and Snapper Point.

Take a scenic flight around Kangaroo Island ($$$)

Exploring the untouched coastline of Kangaroo Island is perfect for the keen adventurer.

Exploring the untouched coastline of Kangaroo Island is perfect for the keen adventurer.

See Kangaroo Island with the birds in a scenic flight operated by Chinta Air, with packages ranging from 30 minutes around Kingscote and Emu Bay to 90 minutes around the entire island. Soaring across the turquoise coastline and green landscape below truly steals your breath away; from the voluminous boulders of the national park to the rolling hillsides and the sparkling white sandy inlets. You’ll have a running commentary from your friendly pilot who will keep you informed and entertained as you cruise. 

Chinta Air were awarded a bronze medal in the Tour & Transport Operators (less than 15 employees) category at the 2016 SATIC Tourism Awards. Chinta Air were a finalist in the 2017 awards.

STAY 

Villas on the Bay Kingscote ($)

This waterside complex of villas is located within a fifteen-minute stroll of Kingscote Tidal Pool and the Hope Cottage museum. Villas are modern and clean, offering comfortable amenities including a furnished balcony, in-room kitchens and premium bedding. 

The three-and-a-half-star is an ideal stop on your Kangaroo Island road trip that won’t break the bank. 

Kangaroo Island Seafront ($$)

Overlooking the magnificent Backstairs Passage and located on the Esplanade just 500 metres from the Sealink Ferry Terminal and beach, Kangaroo Island Seafront is comfortable and relaxed four-star accommodation.  

Many of the rooms at Kangaroo Island Seafront have ocean views

Many of the rooms at Kangaroo Island Seafront have ocean views

There are 16 rooms and 12 villas to choose from; Seafront Rooms boast spectacular coastal views and private balconies, while Sorrento Rooms are located upstairs for peace and privacy. Retreat from it all in the sanctuary of a Deluxe Villa – choose a one, two or three bedroom. 

Lifetime Private Retreats ($$$)

Splurge on exclusive beachfront accommodation with Lifetime Private Retreats – there are five spectacular holiday houses to choose from. The Sky House, The Cliff House, The Settlers Homestead, Sheoaks and the Beach Retreat all offer a slightly different style of accommodation, but are united by a level of luxury perfectly complemented by soaring views. Each of the homes are nestled into the coastal location and surrounded by relatively untouched landscape.

They were lovingly renovated by three generations of the Holden and Hannaford family whose origins have evolved from leading restaurants, special events and entertaining. Be sure to book a Hannaford and Sachs luncheon, an experience which won Kangaroo Island’s ‘Best Dining Experience’ award. You can choose from three experiences depending on the time of year – dining al fresco amongst the fig trees, rustic dining in the sheering shed or dining in the beach taverna. It’s a beautiful way to round off your Kangaroo Island adventure. 

This article is sponsored by SeaLink