First impressions? Silence. The good kind: punctuated by the swell of the sea, the ‘whoosh’ of the wind in the leaves, and the twitter of birds. It envelopes you (if your baby’s snoozing in the car seat, that is) as you descend from the car ferry onto Kangaroo Island.
90 minutes drive plus a ferry ride from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island (‘KI’ to locals) is the sum of seven individual regions, each with a jewel in its own crown. It takes two hours to drive from one end of the island to the other, it’s agricultural at its heart (literally) and fringed with eye-poppingly stunning beaches. A third of its land is dedicated to nature reserves and its abundant in wildlife. With patchy mobile reception, limited wifi and peculiar weather systems; the place has a vibe of it’s own and it grows into your heart the longer you stay. My advice? Maximise your KI time, obviously.
HOW’S THE SERENITY
We lodge ourselves in a quaint, homely bush retreat (thanks AirBNB) just a few minutes drive from the lush Emu Bay (that’s 15 minutes to ‘town’; Kingscote). With it’s stone chimney, local jetty pylon features and polished concrete floors, it feels like the ultimate Aussie hideout. Surrounded by native landscape, the grass in the yard isn’t crawl-friendly (all bindis and fierce looking ants), but Miss 10 Months is obsessed with going up the two stairs between the lounge and kitchen whenever the mood strikes her. We relax here: cooking ourselves three hearty meals a day, sipping tea, reading trashy literature from the cabin’s bookshelf during baby naps, and stoking the fire just prior to the sun dipping behind the horizon.
This is our KI home base. It’s where we start, and end, each day; filled with something a little bit different in between.
If you can imagine all that’s iconic to Australia, you’ll find it at KI. Unique animals, wild landscapes, big oceans, picturesque farms, and friendly locals are just a brief collection of all you can expect. From Emu Bay we tackle a different experience on every second day (‘Stay Days’ for Miss 10 Months in between): from the unforgettable entertainment of Seal Bay and the beauty of a wander down Vivonne Bay, to exploring Flinders Chase National Park’s famed Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch (the Visitor Centre will happily recommend a baby-friendly driving route for you), there is so much on offer. These were a must-see for our travel gang and none if it disappointed. Our time viewing the seals was only limited by the patience of Miss 10 Months – Mr Travel Tales and I couldn’t stayed for hours. Sea lions are the flipping’ best.
With so much island to cover, we take the 1.5 to 2 hour trip each way during Miss 10 Months’ naps. We learnt during our Taste of Tasmania not to overcapitalise our itinerary to ensure we move at a rhythm that works for our family – and although we missed a couple of items we hoped to-do on KI, we instead enjoy a relaxing and soul-renewing break as a trio.
FOOD & FARE
Food is an important part of travel for us; we continue to explore the local food and fare on our adventures and aim to share this love with Miss 10 Months. We collect yummy items during the day to cook in the evenings at our home base, fire roaring as our backdrop.
We pick up St George’s whiting and oysters for dinner at The Oyster Farm Shop during a in American River on one day, we visit Bay of Shoals Winery for a tipple and stumble across the local farmer’s market as well. Island Pure Cheese is a great spot for local cheese (or, a whole board!), followed by brews and canola field views at Kangaroo Island Brewery just down the road. We make the 15 minute drive each way daily to get a solid cup of coffee at Chocol’art & Coffee in Kingscote. For parental fuel, naturally.
Even after seven days we feel as though we are just getting to know KI in all its beauty; we could easily spend another week hidden away in our little home amongst the gum trees eating local cheese and waiting for sunsets. Don’t cheat yourself by visiting for less time that we did, it hurts your heart too much boarding the ferry to return to the mainland. We’ll be back KI.
TOT TRAVEL TIPS
- Break down your journey: Regardless of your origin, getting to the island takes a bit of planning. Split each part into smaller pieces and strategise how to achieve them in order to reach your destination. It is definitely worth the effort to make it.
- Be strategic in your accommodation location: There are multiple places to stay on Kangaroo Island. There isn’t a magic bullet, a ‘best’ location, that can be recommended. Consider your length of stay and the activities you’d like to prioritise – this is the best way to determine whether to stay at Vivonne Bay, Kingscote (the main town), Penneshaw (the ferry town, and second largest town), or at any other of the island’s gorgeous beaches. We chose Emu Bay – and it delivered in spades as to what we wanted from our time at KI.
- Families galore: The island is very supportive or families and make it easy for you to enjoy all it has to offer within the parameters of your family rhythm.
- Time: 7 days + overnighting in Adelaide each way
- Accommodation: Self-contained cottage via AirBNB. We grocery shopped in Adelaide and transported it to KI (there is a supermarket at Kingscote).
- Transport: By car from Adelaide (1.5 hours each way) – it’s a spectacular drive!