When it comes to tourism on Kangaroo Island you’re probably familiar with images of Remarkable rocks and Kangaroos. You might also be thinking of the empty white sandy beaches, but Kangaroo Island has so much more.
You could be after an adventure-packed holiday with your family. Or perhaps you are looking for a relaxing romantic getaway – just the two of you, with wine tours and local food delights. And of course, there are many nature-lovers out there seeking a wildlife safari style adventure. Whatever your desire, Kangaroo Island has it all.
This month’s guest blog has been written by local guide Becky Prime. It is all about the unique Kangaroo Island wildlife. Becky is a nature guide at Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours.
Wildlife is something I am deeply passionate about and a favourite topic of mine. Every day I am still amazed by the incredible wildlife that lives in abundance – all over the 155km long and 60km wide island. There are no foxes or rabbits present over here. Therefore, we have plenty of small native mammals such as the Southern Brown Bandicoot, the Tammar wallaby and even the endangered Kangaroo Island Dunnart. Sadly, after the recent bushfires there are estimated to be only around 100 of these left.
Animals found on Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is one of the remaining wildlife frontiers of the modern world. On any given day you may pass by a koala or 3 on the side of the road. You might even see an endangered Rosenberg Goanna searching for a meal. Then along comes a Kangaroo and her Joey munching grass, or a Wedge-Tailed Eagle soaring above you. All this may be on your drive down to the world famous Seal Bay. Here, you will be lucky enough to take a walk on the beach among the incredible endangered Australian Sea Lions – the males weighing up to 300kg!
Cheeky Sea Lions on Seal Bay
The cheeky antics of the juvenile Sea Lions will keep you entertained as the older females and males try to get some rest after fishing offshore. You may also spot the cutest little beach-nesting birds, the Hooded Plovers. These guys dart among the Sea Lions, trying to distract them from their well-camouflaged nest on the beach. Tiny birds such as these, are also an endangered species, yet they are commonly found on beaches all over the island – largely due to the lack of human activity on the beaches.
Resilient Echidnas on Kangaroo Island
Echidna’s are also a common sight on the island. They are an incredibly resilient animal and one of the two monotremes that call Kangaroo Island home. Echidna’s can live as long as 55 years and have the most incredible sense of direction. This reminds me of the story of a local gardener who removed an Echidna from his garden (it kept digging everything up!). Incredibly, he relocated it 30kms away. Just one week later, who did he find foraging around in the garden again, but the same Echidna!
The other monotreme, being the Platypus, is also found in the rivers in the far west. But these are a little harder to spot, unless you have plenty of time to sit by the river. Of course, this is not hard to do – especially when you consider that the beauty of the natural environment on KI has largely been untouched by man. It remains as it has been for thousands of years.
Kangaroo Island Glossy Black-Cockatoo
Kangaroo Island is a ‘birders delight’. There are over 267 species found in varying habitats across the island. The Glossy Black Cockatoo is perhaps one of the most famous known birds on the island. In 1995 there were only around 180 birds left and their population was rapidly declining. A program was introduced that involved nesting boxes and predator prevention. Also there was a mass planting of thousands of Sheoak trees – the Glossies exclusively feed on these. It was a tremendous success. The bird population was boosted to around 400 – that is, until the devastating bushfires of last summer.
Their current situation is unknown, as a huge amount of the Glossy habitat was burnt. A count will take place this September to see how the Glossy Black Cockatoo fared. However, there is a positive side to this story. Past strategies for boosting their numbers have been very successful. Therefore, we have a high chance of being able to do this again.
White bellied Sea Eagle Kangaroo Island
The majestic White Bellied Sea Eagle, although uncommon and a threatened species, is widely spread around the island’s wild coastlines. The sighting of a Sea Eagle on tour is a cause for celebration. Even though I live on the north coast, I regularly spot them flying over our local beach. It never fails to excite me if I spot one. I then watch everyone on tour enjoying the beautiful sight of this incredible bird soaring overhead. This is certainly one of the main reasons I do what I do.
We are equally amazed by birds of a much smaller size, including the Blue Wren, Honeyeater, Spotted Pardalote, Scarlet Robin and Red-browed Finch. Each have their own delightful antics and family groups and are commonly seen in all bushland across the island.
Nature Touring on Kangaroo Island
Touring with KI Wilderness Tours means you get the opportunity to get off the beaten track and into private property, if need be. That way, you can often see unique wildlife behaving naturally, well away from the more popular areas. Seeing the Western Grey Kangaroo grazing in large mobs on either the north or south coast is a really special experience.
Even if Kangaroo’s are quite common in your own neck of the woods, I find it can still be really fascinating to sit quietly and observe how they interact with each other. Kangaroo’s are very unique – not only how they use their bodies to get around, but particularly the female’s ability to put her pregnancy on hold. It helps that she has two teats in the pouch that can produce two different types of milk for their current two joeys (if they have two).
One milk provides more fat for the younger, developing joey. The other milk is a more watered down version for the weaning Joey. It’s just amazing to think how well-suited Kangaroos are for the environment and subsequent raising of their young. On tour, we see Joeys of every size all year-round. Being a sub species of the mainland Western Grey, our Island Kangaroos are smaller, darker, shaggier and in my opinion, much cuter!
Meet Koalas on Kangaroo Island
If Koalas are something you dream about getting close to in the wild then Kangaroo island is the place to be. I have never been out on tour and not seen a Koala in the wild, even after this summer’s bushfires. Koalas were introduced to the island around 100 years ago in response to the declining populations on mainland Australia and they have never looked back.
Before the summer’s events, they blossomed on the abundance of juicy Eucalyptus so much, that their numbers reached as high as 55,000. However, there is still a very healthy population on the island and most of their secret hotspots remain. Wilderness Tours Adventure tours still continue to roam beautifully green and abundant areas – home to the cute and cuddly Koala’s that we all dream of.
Wonders of the Southern Ocean
Not only do KI Wilderness Tours get off-road but we can also get offshore! Kangaroo Island is surrounded by some of the healthiest ocean ecosystems in the world. As a result, the island has quite an array of ocean wildlife. Whales migrate past the island during the winter months. Sharks abound all year round (doesn’t stop us swimming though!). There is a huge variety of smaller sea life around every underwater rock shelf.
A favourite with locals and tourists alike, are the mystical Bottle Nose or Common Dolphins. Heading out in a boat with these agile creatures leaping out of the water in front of you, is an experience you will never forget. There is even an incredible opportunity to swim with these wild animals – sometimes dozens of them surround you – that is an opportunity not to be missed. Not even a certain local tour guide would pass that up!
Penguins and other wildlife on KI …
From the depths of our oceans to the midst of our wild inner bushland, there is a wildlife experience on every light step you take. Of course, there are still creatures I haven’t even had the chance to mention. One of these is the gorgeous Little Penguin, who calls our rocky shores home. Another, is the deadly but shy Tiger Snake. These guys can be seen minding their own business on sunny days throughout the year.
The truth is, you can’t come to Kangaroo Island without having an epic wildlife experience and if you seek more you will find more. The guides at KI Wilderness Tours all have an innate gift for tracking and discovering wildlife at anytime of the year. They are all truly passionate and protective about what we have here on this unique island.
They each have their own personal stories about the island and its wildlife. These stories add to the authenticity of your trip when you travel to Kangaroo Island. We are here with our arms open wide (but at a distance) waiting for you, when you are ready to adventure with us on this magical place we call home.
Here are some more travel hints for planning your trip:
- Best time to travel Australia
- Best travel planning for Australia
- Australia Travel Check List
- Travelling between key locations
- Travel Facts about Kangaroo Island
- Accommodation options Kangaroo Island
- Experiences with a Private Guide on KI
- Kangaroo Island Regeneration after Bushfires
Happy travelling to Kangaroo Island!