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Kangaroo Island, South Australia

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Australia’s third-largest island stretches 155km long and 55km wide. It was cut off from the mainland about 9000 years ago, and since then a diverse ecosystem of native birds, mammals and flora has evolved. Much of the island remains wilderness, and 30 per cent of is now protected as conservation or national park. K.I.’s isolation means no feral foxes or rabbits.

To get there, take one of Sealink’s passenger and car ferries, Sealion 2000 or Spirit of Kangaroo Island, on a 45-minute voyage across Backstairs Passage from Cape Jervis, 100km south of Adelaide, to the pretty town of Penneshaw. Alternatively, fly from Adelaide to Kingscote, a 30-minute flight. Self-drive touring is a popular option. It’s best to allow three days, or longer, to take it all in.

K.I. is about the wildlife. The census of native birds and mammals goes on and on: koalas, tammar wallabies, parrots, goannas, snakes, echidnas, ringtail possums, fur seals and kangaroos. You can watch the island’s creatures in the comfort of their own bushland home at the island’s many sanctuaries. Bushwalkers at magnificent Flinders Chase National Park in the western part of the island emerge from the trails spellbound by their experience.

At Seal Bay you can pay your respects to the seal lions: up to 500 of these enormous and rather ungainly beasts - at least ungainly out of the water. For a close encounter, a guide takes groups right down on the beach. There’s a boardwalk, too, for viewing from a distance. Another highlight of any trip to K.I. is a nocturnal rendezvous with Little Penguins as they return to their hungry chicks after a hard day’s fishing. Both the Penneshaw Penguin Centre and the K.I. Marine Centre organise guided tours.

Geology is everyone’s favourite subject here. There’s the weather-sculpted Remarkable Rocks; the dramatic coastal cavern, Admirals Arch; the Little Sahara sand dunes; and the Kelly Hill Caves, with fibre-optic lighting that reveals the cave decorations.

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