We spent three days and two nights on Kangaroo Island over the Thanksgiving holiday and we loved every minute of it!
This was part of a three week trip to Australia, some of which was business for me, so we decided to splurge on a tour of Kangaroo Island. That was a great decision!
We flew into Adelaide from Sydney on Qantas and stayed at the HyattRegency. (See review.) The concierge directed us to the pedestrianized shopping area and we had lunch at a nice little Greek restaurant. After a walk along the river we returned to the hotel and repacked our bags. We did this because there is a weight limit for the flights to Kangaroo Island and we had brought two suitcases each (and an extra collapsible bag) with the intention of leaving the extra bags at the hotel and picking them up on our return.
The flight to Kangaroo Island was n a small turboprop airplane and lasted only about 25 minutes. We had booked the tour through Exceptional Kangaroo Island and were met at the airport by our guide for the day who was driving a 4 WD drive vehicle that could accommodate 6 people plus the driver.
The tour guide(s) were outstanding. They were very knowledgeable about the history, geology, flora and fauna of the island. They also knew where to go to see the wildlife. These were the primary reasons for coming to the island and the primary reasons for booking a tour instead of renting a car and finding our own way. We felt sorry for the couple who joined us at breakfast at the B & B as they complained that they had not seen much wildlife and the car rental contract prohibited them from driving on the unpaved roads (which are most of the roads on the island.) Over the three days we saw two of the seal colonies (including going down to the beach with the seals at Seal Bay), three koala, at least a hundred kangaroos, dozens of wallaby, several goannas, about 10 satin black cockatoos, the penguins, an echidna, wild turkey, the various types of ants, and assorted birds.
We also saw the Remarkable Rocks, stopped at a woodworking shop, went to the lighthouse (and got a fascinating lecture by the rather quirky national park service guide), and stopped at the eucalyptus distillery and a honey farm.
On the first day we toured with one couple, on the second we toured with two couples, and on the third it was just the two of us and the guide.
The food served by the tour company was outstanding. We had morning tea: press coffee, tea and freshly-based cakes. Lunch on two days consisted of cold salads, cheeses, and the like and on the other day it was a fish barbecue. Each was preceded by hot towels and served on tablecloths with plenty of local wine. All of the food was sourced locally. One of the lunch areas was on the other side of a sheep pasture in a special area rented by the tour company from the farmer. That's where we saw two of the koala. It is only accessible by 4 WD and through a locked gate.)
We stayed at a nice B & B (see review) and saw the penguins at Kingscote. For Thanksgiving dinner we were served free range chicken.
We’d like to add several other things. First, there are a lot of flies. They do not bite but they are a nuisance. Get over it. Second, large areas of Flinders Chase National Park have been burned. The guides were well-versed in fires and regeneration, so it did not really hamper our touring experience (although some of the trails remain closed.) The amazing thing about gum trees and yaccas is that they are virtually indestructible so even the areas that burned a year ago were showing significant green and were full of wildflowers and other color. This is in contrast with burned areas in the hardwood forests in the Western United States where the trees do not regenerate except from seed and the forest still seems horribly scarred five years after the burn.
Our flight back to Adelaide had a mechanical problem. They flew a mechanic out to the airport who unsuccessfully worked on the plane until dusk. By the time they flew the pilot back to Adelaide to get another plane, loaded us on, and flew us back to Adelaide we were 3 ½ hours late. (There is nothing to eat at the airport except vending machine crap but the airline brought in pizza for everyone.) Unfortunately, it was a Saturday night and at 10:30 p.m. there were no cabs at the Adelaide airport. We waited an hour and one cab showed up. Finally we got the hotel to send a car to pick us up. Lots of travelers were stranded that evening.
We truly enjoyed Kangaroo Island. It was remote, full of wildlife, and relatively unpopulated. We could drive for a half hour and not see another car or person, just wilderness or fields and the occasional kangaroo or wallaby. If given the opportunity, we would return in a heartbeat.