Twenty reasons to visit Kangaroo Island

DILVIN YASA
Last updated 05:00 17/10/2013
Southern_Ocean-Lodge
southernoceanlodge.com.au
Southern Ocean Lodge on the south-west coast of Kangaroo Island is definitely one for your bucket list.

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1. THIS PLACE IS HUGE

Drive! Sometimes a journey can be as exciting as the destination itself and with 1600 kilometres of scenic road - mostly unsealed - to discover, this is certainly true of Kangaroo Island.

It takes two hours and 20 minutes to drive east to west on Australia's third largest island and 45 minutes north to south, so hire a four-wheel drive at the airport, crank your tunes and perform your own front-seat rock karaoke concert as you take in the soaring cliffs and sand dunes.

Your only witnesses will be the ever-present wildlife.

2. PURE SHEEP CHEESE

If, like most urbanites, your only interaction with sheep is buying it by the kilo at the butchers, you'll do well to visit Island Pure, a sheep dairy farm and cheese factory.

From 12 to 4pm daily, you can watch the woolly ones get milked and learn about life on the farm and dairy production, before popping in next door to feast on a wide range of delicious cheeses and yoghurts. See islandpure.com.au.

3. 18 ISLAND WINES

Declared a wine region in 2001, K.I. is home to 18 top-notch, homegrown wine labels but the vineyards of Frenchman Jacque Lurton, The Islander Estate, is one not to be missed.

Rated as a five-star "outstanding" winery by pre-eminent wine critic James Halliday, the wines are fermented in vats made by a French tomb-maker (seriously) and all three ranges are mouth-wateringly good.

Don't leave without a bottle of the Investigator Cabernet Franc. See iev.com.au.

4. SEAL BAY

Home to Australia's third-largest (and most accessible) colony of sea lions, a visit to Seal Bay Conservation Park gives you a rare opportunity to watch them frolic in their natural environment.

You have the option of taking a guided tour down to the beach to get up close and personal with the sea lions and their pups, or if you prefer, you can take the specially constructed boardwalk and watch them from a viewing platform. See environment.sa.gov.au/sealbay.

5. VIVONNE BAY

Often voted one of the best beaches in the country, this piece of azure paradise is the only safe harbour on the South coast of the island ideal for swimming, fishing and surfing.

It's also home to the Little Sahara sand dunes so if your idea of a good time includes sliding face-first down mountains of sand, hit up the Vivonne Bay General Store to hire a sand board and grab one of their famous whiting burgers to go.

6. DIVING PARADISE

The waters off Kangaroo Island provide some of the best temperate-water diving in Australia and there's no shortage of attractions either.

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There's the usual brightly coloured coral and multitudes of exotic fish certainly but the ocean floor off the coastline is also littered with wreckage from at least 60 recorded ship wrecks - some of them accessible to divers.

Visit Kangaroo Island Dive and Adventures for a tour. See kangarooislanddiveandadventures.com.au.

7. ISLAND CAVERNS

If you suffer from claustrophobia, you'd probably rather eat glass than visit this majestic subterranean wonderland of underground caverns (some running nine kilometres into Earth) and plunging sinkholes, but for everyone else, it's worth the trip.

You can take a guided tour of the impressive limestone formations and discover how they were formed, and the more adventurous can crawl - complete with helmet and headlamp - through an underground maze of smaller caverns. See environment.sa.gov.au.

8. SPIRITUAL NEEDS

Pop into quirky micro distillery Kangaroo Island Spirits and load up on award-winning gin, vodka and liqueur in a range of unusual and memorable flavours such as lime and ginger and honey and walnut.

This isn't a place to grab and go however; you need to sit back and enjoy the insanely good affogato, made from their own liqueur and handmade honey ice-cream. It's out of this world.

9. PELICAN MAN

Live out all of your Storm Boy fantasies by taking in a pelican feeding tour and talk down at Kingscote Wharf with none other than The Pelican Man.

He'll provide you with an entertaining discussion on the feathered ones as you photograph the birds as they swoop, feed and dive but be warned: he wears a hat for a reason. See kipenguincentre.com.au.

10. ROCK ARCH

Located at Cape du Couedic in Flinders Chase National Park, Admiral's Arch is a spectacular natural rock arch which has been sculpted by weathering and erosion from the sea over thousands of years.

A gorgeous backdrop for photos but what's so special about an arch, you say? It's also home to some 7000 New Zealand fur seals which can be seen swimming and sunning themselves on rocks nearby.

Walk the viewing platform around the cliff face and get your camera ready.

11. GIANT BOULDERS

There are photo opportunities aplenty at Remarkable Rocks, also at Flinders Chase National Park.

These giant granite boulders - said to be some 500 million years old - are perched over the sea and have been shaped by the erosive forced of wind and sea spray over time.

Go at sunset or sunrise when the light is at its best, and observe the safety signs - freak waves have caused fatalities before.

12. LOVE LAVENDER

We know lavender is good for your nerves, skin and digestive system, but who knew it would taste so good in fudge and scones?

At Kangaroo Island Lavender Farm, the first of its kind on the island, you'll get all of above and plenty more as 80 varieties of lavender are harvested and distilled annually. A wide range of products are on sale in-store but an appetite and open mind will serve you well.

13. 'THE CAPITAL'

The sleepy town of Kingscote is the island's capital and home to nearly half the island's population so it's well worth spending some time covering ground on foot while you're here.

Spend a morning visiting the boutiques and galleries to check out the local artwork before lunching on fresh local produce at Restaurant Bella.

Your daytrip will be complete only after an evening tour of the local penguin colony at the Penguin Centre on the wharf. See kipenguincentre.com.au.

14. PETTING PARK

Let's get one thing straight - animals are everywhere on Kangaroo Island but if you prefer them to be grouped and roped off for your convenience, a wildlife park is for you.

At Parndana Wildlife Park, the second largest park of its kind in South Australia, you have the opportunity to hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies, pat koalas and talk a walk through their aviary. Barbecue and picnic facilities provided. See parndanawildlifepark.com.

15. HIKING TRAILS

With its dense forests and green wetlands, Kangaroo Island is a hiker's dream and it certainly doesn't disappoint.

There are trails catering for all fitness levels and varying in length, from the popular two-kilometre Cape du Couedic coastal cliff top walk to the 18-kilometre (six hour) Hanson Bay Hike at Kelly Hill Conservation Park.

Download the Parks of Kangaroo Island walks booklet from tourkangarooisland.com.au

16. DOLPHIN DIPS

Kangaroo Island is home to pods of common dolphins that don't mind getting up close and personal with curious swimmers.

The waters off Kangaroo Island are dangerous however so you'll need to go out with an experienced professional.

Your best bet is taking in one of the tours offered by Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures where you can enjoy snorkeling, cruising, the aforementioned dolphins, plus a side of tea and bikkies. See kimarineadventures.com.au.

17. RIVER KAYAKS

Kayak up to five kilometres of the calm and meandering Harriet River, just off Vivonne Bay, and enjoy a pretty wilderness positively teeming with a variety of birds and other wildlife.

Parts of the river are ideal for swimming but the scenery can be better appreciated atop a kayak and you can hire these from Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action. They'll even help you launch. See kioutdooraction.com.au.

18. ORGANIC HONEY

One of the largest organic honey producers in the country, Island Beehive produces more than 100 tonnes of honey each year - not bad for what seems a smalltime production.

If you don't mind bees swarming around you as you walk (hint: dancing wildly does not help matters), you can take one of the guided tours and stock up on all things honey and beeswax related at the gift shop. See island-beehive.com.au.

19. RAPTOR SHOW

Kids young and old will love the "in-flight" birds of prey demonstrations at Raptor Domain.

Offering one-hour educational shows featuring everything from wedge-tailed eagles to owls and kookaburras, you'll get a rare opportunity to get up close to the birds.

Regardless which presentation floats your boat, don't leave without indulging in one of their delicious lobster burgers. See kangarooislandbirdsofprey.com.au.

20. SOUTHERN COMFORT

Finally, the number one reason many people (particularly honeymooners) choose to visit Kangaroo Island, is the indulgence that is a stay at Southern Ocean Lodge.

Floating atop a secluded cliff above the pounding surf, this luxury lodge offers magnificent views of the Southern Ocean from each of the 21 suites, and untold luxury.

Prices start from A$990 ($1123) per person, per night, and they include all dining, open bar with premium wines and spirits, in-suite bar, signature experiences and island airport transfers. One for the bucket list. See southernoceanlodge.com.au.

- FFX Aus

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