Flinders Chase National Park, Nick Rains / Explore Australia Publishing

Population 1800

In the early days of Australia's European settlement, Kangaroo Island was a haven for some of the country's most rugged characters – escaped convicts and deserters from English and American whaleboats. These men formed gangs, hunted more than their fair share of whales, seals, kangaroos, wallabies and possums, and went on raids to the mainland to kidnap Aboriginal women. It was an island truly without law. Two centuries on, the only ruggedness to speak of is found along the island's southern coast, where the surf is Southern Ocean–style and the seals are now left in peace. The north shore is a rippling line of bays and coves, with grass-covered hills sweeping down into Investigator Strait. On the shores of the resplendent Nepean Bay is Kingscote, the island's capital and the state's first official settlement (est. 1836). Amidst the beautiful scenery and wildlife, Kingscote is also the island's main commercial and business hub.

Visitor Information

Kangaroo Island Gateway Visitor Information Centre, Howard Dr, Penneshaw; (08) 8553 1185 or 1800 811 080

Nearby national parks

  • Flinders Chase National Park

  • Innes National Park

    Innes National Park, at the south-western extremity of the Yorke Peninsula, comprises a coastal environment of saline lakes, salt flats,...more

  • Onkaparinga River National Park

    The rugged Onkaparinga River National Park features South Australia’s second-longest river as it slices through a steep valley and...more

Nearby towns

  • Edithburgh

    Edithburgh is located on the foreshore at the south-eastern tip of Yorke Peninsula. This is an area synonymous with shipwrecks and, although...more

  • Yankalilla

    Since the first land grant in 1842, Yankalilla has been the centre of a thriving farming industry. It is a growing settlement just inland...more

  • Yorketown

    Yorketown is a small rural community at the southern end of Yorke Peninsula. The surrounding landscape is dotted with many inland salt...more

In Town

Kangaroo Island Penguin Centre A visit to this interpretive marine centre is a must. The size and shape of the aquariums allow visitors to get up close and personal with the vast array of sea life, which includes big-bellied seahorses and giant cuttlefish. The Penguin Tour is the ultimate highlight, where you can observe the little penguins interact with each other. The penguins' breeding season is Mar–Dec, which is the best time to visit. There are 2 tours every night; times vary during the year. Pelican feedings and aquarium tours also on offer; the Wharf; (08) 8553 3112.

Hope Cottage Museum: this National Trust museum exhibits the town's long pioneering and maritime history through memorabilia and photographs; open 1–4pm Mon–Sun; Centenary Ave; (08) 8553 3017.

St Alban's Church: view the impressive stained-glass windows and pioneer memorials; Osmond St.

Kangaroo Island Gallery: beautiful local artworks from ceramics and glassworks to paintings and woodcrafts; Murray St; (08) 8553 2868.

Fine Art Kangaroo Island: traditional and contemporary artworks showcased in two renovated heritage buildings located in the main retail precinct; 10am–5pm; 80 and 91 Dauncey Street; (08) 8553 0448.  

Cemetery: SA's oldest cemetery; Seaview Rd.

Fishing: the jetty is a hot spot for keen anglers.


Seal Bay Conservation Park This park protects the habitat of the rare Australian sea lion, which faced extinction on the SA coast during the 1800s. Guided beach tours provide close-up encounters with the snoozing creatures. There are also views down to the beach from the 400 m boardwalk that runs through dunes to an observation deck; (08) 8559 4207; 58 km SW.

Flinders Chase National Park On the south coast of this vast park are the precariously positioned granite boulders called the Remarkable Rocks, gradually being eroded by wind and sea to form spectacular shapes. Nearby is the Cape du Couedic lighthouse, and a colony of New Zealand fur seals that can be seen from the boardwalk down to Admirals Arch, a sea cave. There are many walking trails throughout the park and a detailed map is available from the visitor centre at Rocky River. Watch for the Cape Barren geese around the visitor centre; (08) 8559 7220; 93 km SW.

Kangaroo Island wine region Be sure to take home some local wine. Visit the Bay of Shoals winery, offering great wine and a view; 3 km N.

Island Pure Sheep Dairy: tasting and sales of produce, and milking demonstrations; open 1–5pm Mon–Sun; (08) 8553 9110. Cygnet River; 12 km SW.

Emu Bay: excellent swimming at the beach with fishing from the jetty; 17 km SW.

Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery: sales of eucalyptus-oil products; open 9am–2pm Mon–Sun; Wilsons Rd, off South Coast Rd; 20 km S.

Clifford’s Honey Farm: sales and free tasting of Kangaroo Island's unique honey produced by pure Ligurian bees; (08) 8553 8295. Hundred Line Rd; 30 km S.

Prospect Hill Lookout: spectacular views from the spot where Matthew Flinders surveyed Kangaroo Island; on narrow neck to Dudley Peninsula; 35 km SE.

American River: a fishing village overlooking Eastern Cove and Pelican Lagoon, havens for birdlife; 40 km SE.

Parndana: a small town known as The Place of Little Gums, featuring the Soldier Settlement Museum; 40 km SW.

Murray Lagoon: well-known waterbird area with tea-tree walk; 40 km SW

Stokes Bay: natural rock tunnel leads to a rockpool, ideal for swimming; 50 km W.

Little Sahara: large sand dunes surrounded by bush; 55 km SW.

Penneshaw: a small town on Dudley Peninsula where the vehicular ferry arrives from Cape Jervis. The town features a National Trust folk museum and nightly penguin tours from the Penguin  Interpretive Centre at Hog Bay Beach; 60 km E.

Vivonne Bay: popular beach for surfing and fishing (beware of strong undertow – safe swimming near the jetty, boat ramp and Harriet River); 63 km SW.

Antechamber Bay: picturesque beach and area, excellent for bushwalking, fishing and swimming; 72 km SE.

Kelly Hill Conservation Park: sugar gum forest walks and guided tours of limestone caves; 85 km SW.

Western River Wilderness Protection Area: 2.5 km track to winter waterfall; 85 km E.

Scott Cove: from here you can view the highest coastal cliffs in the state, at 263 m; near Cape Borda; 100 km W

Cape Borda Lightstation: historical tours offered of 1858 lighthouse. Also here is the Cape Borda Heritage Museum. Cannon is fired at 12.30pm; 105 km W.

Fishing spots near town

Marion Bay 75 km

Situated at the bottom of the Yorke Peninsula, Marion Bay is angler central and offers access to spectacular offshore and beach fishing. Southern beaches from Marion Bay east to Troubridge, such as Butlers, provide top... Find out more

West Coast 87 km

Head to Innes National Park, at the southern end of Yorke Peninsula, to find two noteworthy places for anglers. The first is Pandalowie Bay where boats can be launched and, north of this, Browns Beach. The latter is well... Find out more

Eco-friendly activities around town

Diving and snorkelling off Kangaroo Island 33 km

The sheltered north coast of Kangaroo Island is favoured for water activities, and is home to some 270 temperate fish species – such as blue devils, boarfish and blue groper – along with seals, dolphins and... Find out more

Swimming on Kangaroo Island 55 km

Kangaroo Island’s many beaches and white sands are inviting but not all are safe so take extreme care when swimming. Those to the north of the island are usually the spots with the calmest waters. Do not miss... Find out more

Diving and snorkelling off the Fleurieu Peninsula 55 km

Some of the state’s best diving – particularly in-shore and around jetties – is on the Fleurieu Peninsula, with leafy sea dragons, shipwrecks, dolphins and myriad fish species. Second Valley is great... Find out more

Swimming along the Fleurieu Peninsula 90 km

There are plenty of great swimming beaches along the peninsula. Victor Harbor has a plethora to choose from – including Kent Reserve and Dump Beach – but there is also Horseshoe Bay at Port Elliot, and the... Find out more

Whale-watching on the Fleurieu Peninsula 95 km

Between May and October, southern right whales often cruise right next to the shore of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Popular viewing spots include Port Elliot, Goolwa, Middleton and Victor Harbor, but your best starting point... Find out more

Golf courses around town

Links Lady Bay Resort 65 km

‘A pleasurable golf course,’ Dr Alister MacKenzie once wrote, ‘is not necessarily one that appeals at first sight, but rather one that grows on a player like good music, good painting, or good... Find out more

Cafes & restaurants around town

Marron Cafe

Take a tour of this modern marron farm, just north of Vivonne Bay, home of Kangaroo Island’s famed freshwater crayfish. This bright and breezy cafe serves ultra-fresh marron with simple, tasty sauces, many tweaked... Find out more

Sorrento’s Restaurant

Part of the Kangaroo Island Seafront Resort, Sorrento’s well-appointed dining room and adjacent terrace are close to the ferry and enjoy fine ocean views across Investigator Strait. Local oysters, squid, crab and... Find out more

The Rockpool Cafe

This is the quintessential seafront kiosk, with laid-back, alfresco-style dining. Stokes Bay is one of the prettiest spots on the island’s north coast, with a fun ‘hole in the wall’ you pass through en... Find out more

Campsites around town

American River camping area 18 km

This pleasant council-owned waterfront site overlooking the channel leading to Pelican Lagoon and its abundant birdlife is an easy stroll to the boat ramp and good fishing spots on the town jetty. It’s reached from... Find out more

Browns Beach camping area 25 km

Assorted sites for self-sufficient campers are tucked close to this long beach, part of the sweeping shoreline facing Eastern Cove. It’s suited to all ages, with sheltered swimming, beachcombing and good... Find out more

Murray Lagoon camping area 34 km

The island’s largest freshwater lagoon is a peaceful haunt for birdwatchers, nature photographers and wildflower enthusiasts, especially after winter rains. The camping area is off Seagers Rd, 46 km south of... Find out more

D’Estrees Bay camping area 36 km

With beachside camping on the doorstep of some of the island’s most windswept shores, this dramatic outpost comes with reefs, craggy headlands, shipwrecks and wild surf – and good fishing. It’s 68 km... Find out more

Antechamber Bay camping area 41 km

Various sites are tucked among the bush to the west of Chapman River, signposted off Willoughby Rd, 19 km south-east of Penneshaw. The tidal waters are safe for kids. Bring wood and water, and preferably a gas/fuel... Find out more

Cobbler Hill camping area 48 km

Ridgetop camping on the park’s western boundary sits above wonderful Blowhole Beach, accessible by a steep 4WD track or walking trail. The campground is on Blowhole Creek Rd, 12 km south of Delamere, and is on the... Find out more

Eagle Waterhole camping area (walk-in camping) 50 km

Offering secluded bushland camping along the Heysen Trail, this walk-in site 2 km east of Cobber Hill also has a simple bushwalker’s shelter. Bring a gas stove, water, and a permit from the self-registration... Find out more

Trig camping area 52 km

This popular location in the heart of the park is sheltered and leafy, with good access to walking trails. It’s at the end of the steep Tent Rock Rd, 12 km south of Delamere. Bring wood and pick up a permit from... Find out more

Troubridge Hill camping area 54 km

The rugged limestone shore on the peninsula’s southern ‘heel’ was the scene of many a historic shipwreck. Nearby is the distinctive clay-brick Troubridge Hill Lighthouse. Camping is permitted all along... Find out more

Vivonne Bay camping area 55 km

These secluded sites are within easy reach of Harriet River and swimming areas by the town jetty, accessed from Jetty Rd. Beyond lies a vast sweep of windswept beach to explore, which is also a great spot for... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

Jetty Caravan Park - Normanville 65 km

This is a neat tourist park alongside the beach. Bookings are required during Christmas and Easter holidays and a minimum-stay period applies at Christmas, January, Easter and long weekends.... Find out more

Big 4 Port Willunga Tourist Park 88 km

In a quiet rural location about 4 km from Aldinga, this is a spacious park with well-established shady trees. Bookings are necessary at Christmas, January, Easter and long weekends and a minimum-stay period applies.... Find out more

Victor Harbor Beachfront Holiday Park 89 km

Right on the beachfront, this park is also within walking distance of the town centre (1.5 km). It is a quality tourist park with good facilities. Ideal for a few days or an extended stay, bookings are required during... Find out more

Moana Beach Tourist Park 91 km

Only a short distance from the Moana town centre and close to the beach, this park is also not far from Adelaide’s southern suburbs. Bookings are required at Christmas, January, Easter and long weekends. There is a... Find out more

Mount Compass Caravan Park 94 km

As neat as a pin, this newer caravan park in a rural setting has reached a high standard in its early years. It is a great inland base for exploring the Fleurieu Peninsula. Bookings are required in peak periods.... Find out more

McLaren Vale Lakeside Caravan Park 96 km

This is a spacious, quality park amid the vineyards of the McLaren Vale region. If you want to experience the great wines from the multitude of cellar-door outlets, you will find the park the best base on this part of... Find out more

Port Elliot Holiday Park 96 km

Located just 2 km from Port Elliot, between Victor Harbor and Goolwa in a fabulous beachfront position, this is an excellent place to stay year round. We feel this is one of the great seaside caravan parks on the... Find out more

Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Blue Seas Beach House

Beautifully crafted from local stone with a full-length glass frontage, this striking two-bedroom hideaway with unimpeded ocean views has a contemporary open-plan design that’s also ecologically sensitive and... Find out more

Cape Borda Lighthouse

Cape Borda is one of three heritage lighthouse precincts managed by National Parks & Wildlife South Australia on Kangaroo Island, each with cottages for rental. Cape Borda in the far north-west of the island is the... Find out more

Kangaroo Island Beach House

A glorious sweep of white-sand beach that’s sheltered for safe swimming and ideal for boating and fishing, Island Beach is the exemplary seaside holiday location. This elevated three-bedroom home has an absolute... Find out more

Sea Dragon Lodge

Coastal splendour and enchanting wildlife, blissful seclusion and fresh island fare – that’s the Sea Dragon experience. Nestled atop Kangaroo Island’s spectacular north-eastern shores near Cape... Find out more

Southern Ocean Lodge

An astonishing blend of coastal wilderness and absolute luxury, the remote location here is breathtaking: poised atop cliffs on the island’s wind-lashed south coast. And the lodge’s glass-walled main room... Find out more

Eco-friendly places to stay around town

Nautilus Lodge 32 km

This solar-powered, four-bedroom house is surrounded by Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park and is situated right on the beach. It can sleep up to 12 people.... Find out more

Eleanor River Homestead 39 km

This beautiful two-bedroom log cabin in the middle of the island is solar-powered, has rainwater and a sewage worm farm.... Find out more

Antechamber Bay Ecocabins 41 km

This low-key, out-of-the-way spot in the east of the island is next to a beautiful and isolated beach. There are two fairly basic self-contained and solar-powered cabins with room for up to eight people each, half a... Find out more

Ridgetop Retreats 54 km

Three funky, architecturally designed cabins sit in quiet seclusion in Deep Creek Conservation Park at the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula. They have solar hot water, composting toilets, two bedrooms, floor-to-ceiling... Find out more

Lighthouse cottages 95 km

Stay in eco-accredited lighthouse keeper’s cottages on wind-swept hills at opposite ends of the island: Cape Borda, Cape Willoughby and Cape du Couedic. There are also daily tours of the lightstations.... Find out more

What's on around town

Racing Carnival: Feb.


Street Party: Feb.

KI Field Days: Feb.

Art Exhibition: Penneshaw; Easter. 

Kangaroo Island Art Feast: Penneshaw; Oct.

Kangaroo Island Speed Shears: Parndana; Nov.

Kingscote Show: Nov.

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