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A Weekender's Guide to Kangaroo Island

The South Australian island's wineries, beaches, oyster farms and accommodation are still open and as beautiful as ever.
By Leisha Kapor
August 13, 2020
By Leisha Kapor
August 13, 2020

in partnership with

Kangaroo Island is known for its spectacular coastal views, wildlife, wineries and pristine beaches. And six months after last summer's bushfires damaged the island's west side, the bushland is coming back, and the areas east of Snelling and Vivonne Bay, which weren't affected, are as stunning as ever. So you have plenty to explore.

One of the best ways you can support the local businesses on Kangaroo Island is to visit (once you're able to do so) and put your cash into the local economy — almost half of the island's income is from tourism, so the locals are eagerly looking forward to welcoming back visitors. Kangaroo Island is easily accessible from Adelaide and is the perfect weekender if you're looking for some island adventure and a bit of luxury. This handy guide will help you make the most of all the beauty the island still holds.

From pristine beaches and bountiful wine regions to alpine hideaways and bustling country towns, Australia has a wealth of places to explore at any time of year. We've partnered with Tourism Australia to help you plan your road trips, weekend detours and summer getaways so that when you're ready to hit the road you can Holiday Here This Year.

Under current COVID-19 restrictions in Australia, there are limitations on where you can go on a holiday. Bookmark this for when you can explore once again.


Bay of Shoals Wine by Meaghan Coles


Straight off the ferry? Head to Millie Mae's Pantry for a full brunch made with ingredients from the kitchen garden, or pick up something to take with you for lunch while you adventure through the island. If you've stayed in Kingscote, start the day off with coffee from Cactus. It's well worth coming back later in the day for dumplings, tacos or whatever is on the menu that night.

A winery tour is a must while you're in town, so make sure to hit Bay of Shoals Wines, which boasts the closest vines to the sea in the southern hemisphere. Nearby, there's also The Islander Estate Vineyards for vino made by a renowned Bordeaux winemaker and, for balance, Kangaroo Island Brewery where you can stop for lunch and try a few local cold ones. Also worth checking out on the far east side of the island is False Cape Wines — known for its minimal intervention drops — and Dudley Wines, which has incredible views and live music on the first Sunday of the month. And you should check out the monthly farmers and community market day at Penneshaw Oval, which also happens on the first Sunday of the month (between October and April).

Penneshaw Hotel by Adam Bruzzone

For the island's best fish and chips, we have to recommend KI Fresh Seafood in Kingscote. It's attached to a petrol station, but don't let that put you off — take away and enjoy on the water's edge.

For a finer affair, head to dinner at Sunset Food and Wine. The modern bistro looks out over American Beach and is owned by Jack Ingram, former executive chef of Southern Ocean Lodge, a Kangaroo Island favourite that was sadly destroyed in the bushfires. The menu is stacked with fresh local seafood and produce, including rock lobster, kingfish sashimi and Kangaroo Island honeycomb. Otherwise, the Penneshaw Hotel is perched on a clifftop and offers a decent pub feed overlooking the wide open sea.


Chapman River


If you're arriving by ferry, you'll get into Penneshaw — and from there you can head straight to Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari to swim with dolphins. In Lashmar Conservation Park, you can also watch out for wildlife as you kayak along the Chapman River to Antechamber Bay, where you'll find a lovely private beach perfect for a dip.

Making your way west, seafood lovers should spend an afternoon at American River, where The Oyster Farm Shop will sort you out with fresh local oysters, marron, abalone and King George whiting, before you explore the protected wetlands of Pelican Lagoon.

Of course, one of the best things about Kangaroo Island is the beaches: crystal clear, blue waters, long stretches of glittery white sand and lazy days spent soaking it all in. The best ones? Emu Bay on the island's north coast, where you can drive your car right onto the four-kilometre stretch of white sand and spend a day in the tranquil waters, or — a little further west — Snelling Beach for an epic sunset.

Spend a day exploring the shops and sights of Kingscote, the island's largest town, just south of Emu Bay. Stop in at the Spinners and Weavers Shop for handmade natural fibre treasures, take a tour of Island Beehive and pick up some local honey, shop art at Shep's Studio and Fine Art Kangaroo Island, and visit Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil distillery. Be sure to make time for a two-hour blend-your-own-gin experience at Kangaroo Island Spirits.

Next, you should head southwest to Vivonne Bay for surf and to sandboard down Little Sahara with KI Outdoor Action. Join a quad bike tour to explore the grass and bushland before heading to the Seal Bay Conservation Park for a guided tour of the sea lion colony.


Ecopia Retreat by Stirling West


Kangaroo Island has lots of luxury accommodation and you can go off-grid in style at Stowaway Kangaroo Island. Imagine curling up in the window seat of a luxurious private cabin on the edge of Lathami Conservation Park and a privately owned sheep farm, soaking in views of the bush and ocean in the distance. Both of the cabins, aptly named The Nest and The Sleepy Hollow, come with a huge soaker bath with sweeping views, a hot tub out on the deck, a sauna and a local produce hamper.

Otherwise, make yourself at home at Ecopia Villas on a vast property in the middle of the island, complete with exclusive access to the Eleanor River and hundreds of acres of wilderness. Or you can book an all-inclusive package with bespoke 4WD tours at the Sea Dragon Lodge and Villas, or fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing against the cliffs of the island's eastern-most point at lighthouse keeper's cottages within the Cape Willoughby Conservation Park.

If you'd rather keep it simple (and cheap), pitch a tent at one of these gorgeous camping spots that are all mere steps from the beach and have their own toilets, barbecues and picnic facilities.


Whether you're planning to travel for a couple of nights or a couple of weeks, Holiday Here This Year and you'll be supporting Australian businesses while you explore the best of our country's diverse landscapes and attractions.

All images courtesy of the South Australia Tourism Commission. 

Published on August 13, 2020 by Leisha Kapor
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