Koalas, kangaroos and wallabies call it home. Craig Wickham gives the lowdown on hiking Australia’s new Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, including practical advice, when to go and top tips…
Kangaroo among island plantlife (KI Wilderness Trail)
Country: Australia (South Australia)
Length: 38 miles
Starts/Ends: Starts at Rocky River in Flinders Chase National Park and ends at Kelly Hill caves in Kelly Hill Conservation Park.
Number Of Days To Complete: 5 days
Coastal view along the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail (KI Wilderness Trail)
The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail showcases some of the most iconic coastal landscapes on Kangaroo Island, including Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch. But is also gets you to experience the most remote parts of the Island.
The trail traverses a broad range of habitats, with plenty of opportunity to observe the wildlife for which Kangaroo Island is so well known. Keen observers have the chance to see koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, platypus, fur seals, dolphins, echidnas, goannas, possums and a myriad of bird species.
The diversity of plant life is another big feature, with many of the 52 endemic Kangaroo Island species possible to see along the trail.
Day 1 follows the Rocky River through tall Eucalyptus forest, dense mallee and Banksia heath. Highlights are a quiet look for platypus for patient hikers and a lookout over the valley.
Day 2 is a long wild coast walk with views to Cape du Couedic. Side trips could include a morning hike to the mouth of the Rocky River and in the evening the lighthouse precinct, Admirals Arch and the fur seals.
Day 3 is a mix of mallee heath and some beautiful coastal scenery, where granite headlands bookend tight coves and the deep Sanderson Bay.
Day 4 journeys from tea tree-covered dunes through more open mallee, a river crossing and then into Grassdale, an historic farm that’s now the domain of kangaroos.
The final day heads inland through Kelly Hill Conservation Park passing by Grassdale lagoon, through undulating dune country and ending at Kelly Hill Conservation Park.
If you cannot afford the time for the whole five days then my recommendation is to do Day 2 and Day 3 to give you most exposure to the spectacular coastal sections
Kangaroo Island's rugged coast (KI Wilderness Trail)
September through November would provide the best chance to see the wildflowers and also some spectacular ocean swells on the coastline
Contact the team at Western Kangaroo Island Caravan Park, as they can assist with the logistics and also have an option where you can day walk with a porterage service for gear.
Beach and ocean view on Kangaroo Island (KI Wilderness Trail)
The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail commences at Rocky River in Flinders Chase National Park and concludes at Kelly Hill caves in Kelly Hill Conservation Park. Both parks are located at the western end of the island, approximately 1.5 hours from the ferry and airport arrival/departure points. Allow plenty of time to get to the island and the start of the walk, as well as the return journey.
It’s recommend to book a night’s accommodation close to the trail the day before you plan to start the walk and on the final day of the walk. That way you can kick things off with plenty of daylight hours ahead of you and finish the walk with time to explore the wonders of Kelly Hill Caves
A good level of fitness is required to walk the trail. You can expect to walk between 3.5 and 6.5 hours a day, not including side trips. This will also depend on your fitness level, weather conditions, how much weight you are carrying, and how long you stop for wildlife viewing and rest breaks. For your own safety, be willing to seek assistance if the walk is more difficult than expected.
Also consider the option of a private guided trip, staying off park in lighthouse keepers’ cottages or more formal accommodation. The lighthouse accommodation showcases classic Australian Federation architecture.
See www.exceptionalkangarooisland.com for more info.
Also check out www.kangarooislandwildernesstrail.sa.gov.au.
The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail launched in October 2016.
Main image: Hikers taking in ocean views on Kangaroo Island (KI Wilderness Trail)