Discover the best of native wildlife and unspoilt rugged wilderness in this island sanctuary off the mainland of South Australia. By Max Anderson.
Cast yourself adrift
Australia’s third-largest island is inhabited by 4700 people, with most of them living in Kingscote. The rest of the 155-kilometre-wide island (including the 33,000-hectare Flinders Chase National Park, the 500 kilometres of coastline and the skein of country lanes) is yours to explore. Switch off the sat nav, stop the clock and go find yourself.
Indulge in marron, honey and gin
Or, more precisely, freshwater crayfish from the island’s marron farms, honey from the planet’s last remaining pure Ligurian bees and the award-winning Old Tom lemon-myrtle-infused gin made by KI Spirits at its rustic distillery at Cygnet River.
Dine in the Enchanted Fig Tree
Close to Snelling Beach is a 150-year-old fig tree with a footprint the size of four tennis courts. Inside the dense, gnarly space, food specialists Rachel Hannaford and Sasha Sachs have created magical “rooms” in which they serve a 10-course lunch of local produce ($115 per person). The tree is open from December to mid-April.
Go high or go humble
Southern Ocean Lodge, one of Australia’s finest luxury lodges, is built atop a cliff overlooking the powerful swells of Hanson Bay. If you don’t fancy the $2000-a-night tariff, try an Airbnb shack made with timber and love at Vivonne Bay for the quintessential sand-and-sea escape.
Surrender to the sea lion pups
On beautiful Seal Bay beach, park rangers lead tours among one of the world’s largest colonies of Australian sea lions. Stand metres from the animals as they bask, frolick and fight. You’ll no doubt nod earnestly while the ranger explains ecology and behaviour but at the sight of big-eyed sea lion pups, it’s perfectly okay to simply buckle and go “Awww!”
QantasLink will fly to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide and Melbourne from December.