Escape To Kangaroo Island
Situated some 200 kilometres from Adelaide, just off the coast of Cape Jarvis, sits South Australia’s prized possession. Kangaroo Island has proven itself to be the ultimate getaway destination, surrounded by beautiful beaches, thriving wildlife and bursting with delicious grape varieties that produce undeniably unique wines. Here, Kirrily Ireland speaks with Sarah Greig, manger of Bay of Shoals Wines, and discovers everything there is to love about this incredible island.
Kangaroo Island’s rich history dates back to the early 1800s, when Reeves Point was South Australia’s first official European settlement. A hundred years later, after the second world war, the island became a home for returned servicemen, who farmed the land and exported goods. “Now, Kangaroo Island is known for being an eco-tourism treasure and a haven for wildlife,” Greig says. “It is Australia’s third-largest island, with beautiful beaches, natural bushland, rolling green hills over winter, and wildlife sanctuaries.” With plenty to do, see and explore, plus great wines, there’s truly something for everyone.
TIME FOR A VISIT
If you’re not sure where to go for your next holiday, whether it’s with the family, a group of friends or your special someone, the answer is easy – Kangaroo Island. Greig’s fondness for this spellbinding retreat is all the convincing you’ll need. “Kangaroo Island for me is all about life at a slower pace,” she says. “As a package it presents stunning scenery, outof- the-way beautiful beaches, close encounters with wildlife – both on land and in the sea – farm gates and delicious food at lovely places to eat. Add in boutique wineries, accommodation to suit a varied market, and lots of quiet dirt roads to take you there.”
According to the winery manager, “late spring is a beautiful time to visit”. Although the weather tends to vary throughout the year, spring offers warmth, longer days to laze around, and lush landscapes teeming with new growth.
Kangaroo Island is completely surrounded by water and can be reached by the ferry, which departs from Cape Jarvis, or a quick thirty-minute flight from Adelaide. Once you’re there, you can explore the island with your own car – one of the benefits of taking the ferry – or hire a vehicle for your adventures. Greig says, “For those who wish to sit back, relax and be guided, there are guided and tailored tours that include major attractions, lighthouses, extreme adventuring, heritage and history, boating, fishing, bush-walking and much more!”
A DAY ON THE ISLAND
While relaxing by the beach and taking it at your own pace are certainly a worthy agenda, “there is so much to see and do” on Kangaroo Island that planning out a few activities to enjoy during your stay is definitely recommended.
Since the very edge and corner of the island is bordered by water, there are more than 500 kilometres of coastline and endless beaches to enjoy. Greig advises that “you will find the whitest of white sandy beaches at Emu Bay”, where conditions are “calm, clear and gorgeous”. Here you can splash around in the water, build sandcastles and revel in the breathtaking scenery. “Stokes Bay is a hidden gem,” Greig adds, noting another favourite spot. “After arriving, you’ll weave through a hidden cave before emerging in a stunning and unexpected cove.”
After a trip to the beach, there are many townships to visit where you can stop for a bite to eat or continue the activities. Greig says that American River is one of the must-see towns, and is the pinnacle of Kangaroo Island’s oyster industry. “The village overlooks the Eastern Cove, an outer bay where locals and visitors can fish and sail. It is known for stunning views.”
If you’re visiting for the wildlife, then Kangaroo Island has plenty on offer. True to its namesake, the island is home to a sub-species of the western grey kangaroo, the gentlest of their type. The island is also “one of the few places in the world where you can observe a colony of Australian sea lions in their natural habitat” with a visit to the Seal Bay Conservation Park.
A busy day of exploring will call for a satisfying meal to finish it off. “There are many wonderful places to eat on the island, one of my favourites being Reflections in The Mercure at American River, and I love lunches at Emu Bay Lavender, sitting out in the gorgeous garden,” Greig says. “A unique seasonal experience is Gastronomo Dining at the Enchanted Fig Tree … Here, you can dine within the majestic limbs of a fig tree that is [more than] 120 years old.” This is an experience like no other.
Once you’ve explored the lands and feasted on delicious local food, you can rest your head before another exciting day at one of Kangaroo Island’s many diverse accommodation options. Between camping in national parks and luxuriating in private villas, there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes.
THE PLACE TO UN[WINE]D
Among the parks with their natural wonders, the welcoming farms with their local produce, and the guided tours through wildlife sanctuaries and scenic lighthouses, Kangaroo Island offers itself as a robust wine-making region, adding to the many reasons why every Australian should consider a visit in their lifetime.
“Kangaroo Island’s soils vary depending on the area,” Greig says, “they include sandy loams and clays over limestone. This means the island is well suited to growing cabernet, shiraz, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.” The winery manager adds, “The maritime climate and slow ripening of the grapes intensifies fruit characters in the wine, and being so close to the sea also means that we have never had a frost.” With generally pleasant weather year-round, the area is also able to sustain vineyards, helping winemakers and cellar doors produce fantastic varieties that attract wine enthusiasts from all over the country.
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur in search of an exceptional tasting experience, a lover of the sea, or simply on the lookout for your next great
escape, let Kangaroo Island be the place you choose to visit.
Photos courtesy of Meaghan Coles and Bay of Shoals Wines