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Kangaroo Island:
photos, observations, notes and thoughts

Created 2009/01/30, modified 2014/01/24
No advertising, no hidden agenda; Feedback welcome, email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com
The photos in this page were taken by the author and have been compressed for faster loading - this has reduced definition and quality to some extent.
The originals in most cases were from a 8MP Canon EOS 350D DSLR and a 6MP Canon Powershot S3 IS.

Kangaroo silhouettes
Kangaroos at Stokes Bay, sunrise

Contents

On this page...
Introduction
Penneshaw and the crossing
Cape Willoughby
Pennington Bay
Prospect Hill
Seal Bay
Little Sahara
Kelly Hill Caves
Hanson Bay
Flinders Chase Visitors Centre
Remarkable Rocks
Admirals Arch
Ravine des Casoars
Scott Cove
Western River Cove
Constitution Hill
Snelling Beach
King George Beach
Orange Lichen
Stokes Bay
Kingscote
American River
Cygnet River
Baudin Beach
Remarks
Wind farms on Kangaroo Island?
Index

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Remarkable Rocks
Remarkable Rocks

Introduction

Kangaroo Island is probably best known for its wildlife and this is well justified: kangaroos, wallabies, seals and penguins are common; echidnas, platypuses, goannas and snakes can also be found; then there are the birds...

However, it also deserves to be known for its scenery and its beaches (and probably its fishing, although that's not for me).

KI is about 120km SW of Adelaide in South Australia and 13km off the coast at the closest point; in size it is about 140km from east to west and 40km from north to south (about the size of Bali, although having a thousandth the population, 4200 against 4.2 million). About half the people of KI live in Kingscote.

My wife, Denece, and I have visited KI several times. This page has photos taken during our last few visits. To have some sort of order I have started this page with the ferry crossing from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw and gone from there clockwise around the coast.
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Ferry crossing
Looking back toward Cape Jervis and Starfish Hill wind farm
 
Cormorants
The first numerous wildlife we saw on Kangaroo Island, these cormorants were on the breakwater at Penneshaw.
 
Gum trees
A gum-tree lined back road just east of Penneshaw

Penneshaw and the crossing

Most people cross to the island on the ferry from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw, a distance of around 18km. In our experience the crossing is most often calm, but can be quite rough at times. Our most recent trip over, on January 22nd 2009, was the roughest that we have experienced.
We started seeing some of the wildlife even before the ferry had docked at Penneshaw; the breakwater was covered with pied cormorants. The photo at the right shows only a small part of the whole colony.
It might be a matter of taste, but I love these smooth-barked gum trees that form dense copses in some parts of the Island.

There are many scenic back roads on KI, you haven't seen the island unless you've got off the bitumen in many places; and you don't need a 2-tonne 4WD to do it, we got everywhere we wanted to go with no trouble in a little Honda Jazz.

We were surprised at the relatively small number of big 4WDs on the island; it seems the islanders have better priorities than buying needless polluting fuel guzzlers; good on them! Perhaps they care about the environment, climate change and ocean acidification more than mainlanders do?
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Cape Willoughby
Cape Willoughby light station accommodation and the south coast; the photo was taken from the top of the lighthouse
 
Cape Willoughby
More of the light-keeper's houses and a little of the north coast
 
Disused light

Cape Willoughby lighthouse light lens

This lens was used in the days when it was important that lighthouses have the absolute maximum visibility. In recent times ships are much more left to their own GPSs and radar to look after themselves.

We were told that the Cape Willoughby light now is visible from about 40% the distance that it used to reach.

Old light lens in storage

Cape Willoughby

Right at the eastern end of KI and of the Dudley Peninsula is Cape Willoughby and its well maintained light station.

The light is now automatic and unmanned - the days when lighthouses provided employment in remote regions are long past; but the old light-keeper's accommodation is available to travellers.
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Pennington Bay
Pennington Bay
 
Pennington Bay
A small part of Pennington Bay

Pennington Bay

KI has two parts, the small Dudley Peninsula to the east (about 30km x 17km) and the big bit (about 110km x 40km). On the southern side of the isthmus between the two sections is Pennington Bay, one of many beautiful bays on KI.

The southern coast faces the Southern Ocean and has big surf; there is no more land until Antarctica to the south. The northern coast is much more protected because it faces the Australian mainland.

Just north of Pennington Bay is Prospect Hill, a huge sand dune with a lookout on its top.
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Prospect Hill
Some of the steps up Prospect Hill
 
North from Prospect Hill
Looking north over Salt Lagoon and American River from Prospect Hill

Prospect Hill

Just north of Pennington Bay is a huge sand dune, named Prospect Hill by the explorer Matthew Flinders. Flinders approached the hill from the north coast and, when he climbed the hill, was surprised to see how close the south coast was (the isthmus is only 1km wide at this point).

Prospect Hill, which I think is the highest point on KI at around 85m, gives great views over Salt Lagoon and Pelican Lagoon to the north as well as a little of the south coast.
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Tourists on beach
The part of the beach visited by tourists
 
Group of seals
Australian sea-lions
 
Sea-lions and cliff
The smaller sea-lions are females and cubs, the big ones are males.
 
Sea-lion
Sleeping next to a board walk

Seal Bay

Seal Bay belongs to the Australian sea-lions that live there; tourists come second and have to keep out of the way of the sea-lions.

We were told that January, when we visited, is in the middle of the breeding season, which lasts about six months; the sea-lions have a gestation period of about 17.5 months and mate within a week or so of giving birth. (I fail to see how these data add up; seams to me the births would have to come outside of the breeding season if this were true.)
The sea-lions have largely learned that they can ignore the human visitors.
They come ashore to give birth, breed, look after their pups, and relax.
This seal was sound asleep right next to one of the board walks, showing that they are fully relaxed with the presence of humans.
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Kids on dune
Kids climbing dune to slide down again
 
Sand storm
The poor kid who can just be seen was getting thoroughly sand-blasted.

Little Sahara

Little Sahara is an area of bare white sand dunes close to the southern coast.

It is no more a desert than is any other part of KI, the dunes have started moving for some reason and have locally overwhelmed the vegetation, but you could imagine that you were in the Sahara.
Kids were sand-boarding down the biggest dune. Unfortunately for them the wind was strong enough at times to lift the sand; they packed up and went off soon after this photo was taken.
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Visitor area
Visitor's information and picnic shelter
 
Crow
Tame crow
 
Bush
Bush walk at Kelly Hill Caves
 
Helectite The cave itself contains some interesting formations such as these helectites.

Guided tours are available, as is adventure caving for the more active.

A helectite in Kelly Hill Caves

Kelly Hill Caves

If you are interested in caves, or even if you are not, Kelly Hill Caves is well worth a bit of time. There is a beautiful picnic ground and a sign-posted bush walk on which many of the plants are named.
When we were having lunch at the picnic ground this crow was hanging around looking for a hand-out; something that is not encouraged in national parks. He seemed to have been someone's pet that had been released into the bush and had found a good source of tucker.
Part of the bush walk. Denece and I were very impressed with the yaccas on Kangaroo Island.
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Hanson Bay
Hanson Bay

Hanson Bay

Another of Kangaroo Island's beautiful beaches. Again, being on the south coast, expect a lot of surf here
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Platypus
Platypus seen on Platypus Walk
 
Echidna
Echidna found on side of road to Cape Du Couedic
 
Cape Barron Goose
Cape Barron Goose near Visitor's Centre
 
Tammar Wallabies
Tammar Wallabies near Visitor's Centre
 
Tammar wallaby
Tammar wallaby at Western KI Caravan Park
 
Tammar wallaby
Tammar wallabies have the unusual habit of resting with their tails tucked underneath them.
 
Black snake
Black snake (appropriately) seen on Snake Lagoon Walk
 
Road The bush is regenerating from the December 2008 bushfires. This view is unusual in showing some trees along the Admiral's Arch road that retained their leaves following the fire.

(Even when Eucalypt leaves do not burn in a bushfire they are usually killed by the heat and fall to the ground in the following weeks.)

Bushfire damaged vegetation

Flinders Chase Visitor's Centre and vicinity

Visitors have to call in here to get permits to spend any time in the national park, but it is normally a great place to see wildlife in any case.

On our last visit (January 2009) there was still a lot of damage from the bushfires of December 2008 and several of the walks were still closed, including the Platypus Walk.

I recalled from the previous walk that there were many board walks on the Platypus Walk. The timber had probably been treated with copper-chrome-arsenate; I wonder what happened to these toxic metals when the board-walk burned?

(I have always been reluctant to use CCA treated timber because of concern about releasing the heavy metals into the soil. CCA has become less used recently because of this concern - it's use is one of the many ways that we interact with our environment unsustainably I suspect.)

At least we were informed on our last visit that, while we couldn't do the Platypus Walk, surveys had indicated that platypus numbers had increased.

The numbers of wild life than can be seen on any visit varies. We saw many more of all species in 2004 than in 2009.
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Remarkable Rocks
A conventional view
 
Into the sun
A less conventional view
 
Rocks and sunlight
Looking into the sun
 
Waiting for sunset


 Waiting for the sun to set
 
Ribbon of stone


 The strip of stone in the centre is almost ribbon-like

Remarkable Rocks

This is almost certainly the most photographed place on Kangaroo Island. It is the weathered remnant of a granite dome on the southern coast; the shapes combined with the proximity of the sea and the changing lighting are wonderful.

The challenge to a photographer is to try to get an original and imaginative perspective.
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Admiral's Arch
Admirals Arch
Two or three seals are just visible
 
Seals
New Zealand fur seals at Admirals Arch

Admirals Arch

Just off the road from Flinder's Chase Visitor's centre toward Cape Du Couedic is this beautiful sea-tunnel eroded through the limestone by the sea.

There are usually Australian sea-lions and New Zealand fir seals on the coast in this area.
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Bathroom
Bathroom at Flinders Chase Farm

Flinders Chase Farm

Flinder Chase Farm is a working farm with accommodation. It is out of the ordinary mainly for its tropical-style bathrooms; I have not seen anything like them except at Bali.

Denece and I stayed here for two nights. We were unfortunate to strike some exceptionally hot weather; normally the lack of air conditioning would be little problem on KI.

We were disapointed to see that the farm dogs, that were kept in small yards, were apparently rarely allowed out and consequently their yards were covered in shit. If not for this, I would strongly recommend a stay at Flinders Chase Farm.
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Casoars beach
The beach at the end of the walk
Note the fishing net washed up on the beach
 
Casoars cave There is a cave on the beach at the end of the walk. Visitors will need a torch.
Casoars cave

Ravine des Casoars

There is a beautiful walk in the north-eastern part of the greater Flinders Chase reserve; it ends in yet another lovely beach, this time on the western coast; the loanliest of them all.

Man's rubbish is to be seen here. There is no beach in the world that has not been polluted.

The walk is approached from the Cape Borda Lighthouse road.
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Scott Cove Looking west
 
Scott Cove
Looking east

Scott Cove

Some lovely views of the north coast can be seen from here. Approach from the Cape Borda Lighthouse road.
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W.R. Cove
The beach at Western River Cove
 
W.R. Cove
Western River Cove general view

Western River Cove

If it were anywhere else other than on Kangaroo Island I might rave about how beautiful it was, but on KI beautiful beaches are common. It is a charming little protected cove on the northern coast.

There are toilets and a shelter shed for picnics. Like most of the beaches it is approached by unsealed roads, these were in good condition on our visit, but some can become corrugated at times.
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Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill

There is nothing here for the tourist now but a magnificent view of gum trees, rolling hills, and the distant coast line. The Wind In Wings Gallery and Cafe, close by, that used to take advantage of the view, has unfortunately closed.

It is on the North Coast Road.
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Snelling Beach
Snelling Beach
 
Terns on Snelling Beach
Terns on Snelling Beach

Snelling Beach

A bay with a long clean white stretch of sand on the north coast. The North Coast Road passes right by.

When we were there in January 2009 there was a big flock of terns feeding their young.

There were also signs asking people to not drive cars on the beach because a rare species of plover nested there; there were several cars on the beach.
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King George Beach
Rocks bordering King George Beach
 
Tractor on King George Beach
Perhaps someone left this tractor a bit too long?

King George Beach

A small beach between rocks on a short road running off the North Coast Road. Well worth a visit if you have the time

Orange lichen

The orange lichen is worth a mention. It is common in KI and on the adjacent mainland between the high tide mark and up to some distance from the sea where there is less salt. Lichen is a particularly interesting plant because, like corals, it is actually two organisms living in a symbiotic relationship. Lichens are made up of an algae (a single-celled organism that photosynthesises [produces useful substances from sunlight]) and a fungus. Both organisms gain from the relationship; the algae produces food for the fungus, the fungus provides a congenial environment for the algae.
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Stokes Bay
Stokes Bay at sunrise
 
Kangaroo at Stokes Bay
Kangaroo at Stokes Bay
 
Kangaroos at Stokes Bay
Kangaroos at Stokes Bay; looking toward Knob Point
 
Stokes Bay
The hills behind Stokes Bay in the early morning

Stokes Bay

Denece and I stayed here for two nights.

There is a good swimming beach that is reached by a walk through a 'rock tunnel' (a path carved out of a big rock-fall at the base of the cliffs - an experience in itself), a little cafe, camping ground, and restaurant.

The rock-fall is at the far end of the beach in the photo at the right.

Denece and I stayed in one of the cabins at Waves and Wildlife for two nights and enjoyed it greatly. The cabins were well appointed, including a barbeque; they are a short walk from where this photo was taken.
When we were at Stokes Bay there were also lots of kangaroos; and they were tame enough that we could get quite close to them, as you can see in the photos.
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Sunrise at Kingscote
Sunrise at Kingscote
 
Feeding pelicans
Feeding pelicans

Kingscote

Kingscote is by far the largest town, and the 'capital' of Kangaroo Island.

There is a picturesque anchorage and bay, a good selection of shops, a good museum (at the top of the hill on the northern side of the town), cafes and a pub or two.
In 2003 the pelicans were fed with fish scraps around 5pm each day, for the tourists. I don't know if it still happens.
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Garden
Garden at American River home
 
Waterbirds
Waterbirds at American River
 
Pied Oystercatcher
Pied Oystercatchers at American River
 
Pelicans
Photographing pelicans at American River

American River

This is a popular holiday destination especially for fishermen.

The garden at the right is remarkable for its lushness. Few South Australians have gardens like this any more because of the climate change-induced drought.

Note the dead trees beyond the house; outside this garden American River is suffering like the rest of South Australia.
The American River inlet is home to big numbers of waterbirds. In the foreground are ibis, further away are black swans.
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Cygnet River gum trees
Some of the beautiful gums of Cygnet River
 
Cygnet River gum trees A view from among the Cygnet River gums

Cygnet River

Cygnet River is a locality rather than a town. I love the majestic gum trees there.

It is about 12km toward the centre of the island from Kingscote.
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Baudin Beach
Baudin Beach in the evening
 
Baudin Beach
Trying his luck in the early morning

Baudin Beach

Denece and I stayed at Baudin Beach for two days. It's a pleasant little place on the north coast 9km west of Penneshaw. There is a beach, small jetty, simple lookout on the coastal sand dunes, and a boat launching ramp - and you might well see a kangaroo or two on one or another of the streets if you go out in the early morning.

We stayed in a cabin at Baudin Budget, and would recommend it; simple, but quite adequate.
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Remarks

Wind farms on Kangaroo Island?

Kangaroo Island has a valuable wind-energy resource. I have discussed this in a little more depth in my page on Australia's wind power potential.

I could imagine that many people might think that wind turbines would be out of place in such an area where scenery and wildlife are so very important. My own feeling is that the wind turbines and natural values could co-exist comfortably. I discussed the matter with two people while on the island, one was strongly in favour and the other neutral.






Index

Admirals Arch
American River
Baudin Beach
Cape Willoughby
Constitution Hill
Cygnet River
Flinders Chase Visitors Centre
Hanson Bay
Introduction
Kelly Hill Caves
King George Beach
Kingscote
Little Sahara
Orange Lichen
Penneshaw and the crossing
Pennington Bay
Prospect Hill
Ravine des Casoars
Remarkable Rocks
Remarks
Scott Cove
Seal Bay
Snelling Beach
Stokes Bay
Top
Western River Cove
Wind farms on Kangaroo Island?
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