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Stories from our backyard: Exploring the best of Kangaroo Island

Jul 29, 2021 | Australia, South Australia

exploring the best of Kangaroo Island
Remarkable Rocks. Credit: Lachlan Swan

Craig Wickham was a Ranger with the South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. His appreciation for places of natural significance together with being a specialist wildlife guide put him in good stead for his next venture which focussed on showcasing and exploring the best of Kangaroo Island, his childhood home. Exceptional Kangaroo Island is one of Australia’s leading tour operators and a founding member of Australian Wildlife Journeys whose key mantra is showcasing immersive wildlife encounters in the wild. The family-owned business has a deep connection to the Kangaroo Island community. Known as nature’s playground, Kangaroo Island has unique wildlife, mouth-watering food and wine and breathtaking scenery….in short, there is plenty for Craig and his team to showcase on one-day, multi-day or special-interest tours. Not only does Exceptional Kangaroo Island’s range of small-group luxury tours feature wildlife in the wild, but their tours have broadened their focus to also cover spectacular landscapes, warm hospitality, good food and wine and a unique local’s perspective on life on Kangaroo Island.  

Kangaroo Island is a 4 hour road/sea journey, or a 25-minute direct flight from Adelaide (the gateway city). It’s a large island located off the coast of South Australia. The main industries are agriculture, farming, and fishing. However, the island is most famous as a wildlife hotspot, with over a third of the land protected as nature reserves. Kangaroo island also enjoys a thriving food and wine industry. Think fresh seafood, sheep cheese, honey, olive oil, wine, and oats to name a few. But the island has suffered plenty of late, with the double whammy of the 2019-20 Bushfires and then the onslaught of the COVID pandemic. But in a strange way the pandemic has brought breathing space to Kangaroo Island, an opportunity to let nature do its thing and recover from the ravages of the bushfires where 42% of the island suffered fire damage as well as the horrific toll taken on life – sadly losing two community members, a significant number of domestic animals and the well-documented impact on terrestrial wildlife.

exploring the best of Kangaroo Island
Exceptional Kangaroo Island. Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

Interestingly, bushfires have played an integral part in shaping the Australian landscape for millions of years. There is a natural reset after a bushfire, and many of the native plant species are adapted to survive, regenerate, and thrive. Much of Kangaroo Island is demonstrating fast and promising regrowth with the help of the milder weather conditions experienced in 2020. And most happily the local terrestrial wildlife have also demonstrated resilience, with regular sightings of Goannas, Koalas, Eagles, Kangaroos and Echidnas, to name just a few of the local species.

exploring the best of Kangaroo Island
Tall sugar gums bouncing back from the bushfires

A promise of good food, good wine and wildlife in the wild…

Exceptional Kangaroo Island’s tours tick all the boxes for exploring the best of Kangaroo Island. Their tours are one of the highlights of a visit to Kangaroo Island as evidenced by all the awards the company has gathered since inception in 1990. The signature one-day Island Life Tour combines a range of wildlife encounters, some north and south coast landscapes, and an elegant barbecue at a private camp in the bush. Regular wildlife encounters include kangaroos, wallabies, sea-lions, echidnas, goannas, koalas, and some birds from a list of over 260 species. The tour is about stories and conversation. It features premium fresh local produce. Expect luxury vehicles and a maximum of 10 guests. It’s a window to the diversity of landscape on Kangaroo Island and a celebration of the community.

Gourmet Lunch awaits!

Observation not interaction…

Exceptional Kangaroo Island is more than a proud Australian wildlife tour operator with a window-view into the local wildlife. Wildlife encounters are central to the tours and the long-term survival and health of the wildlife are critical. The guides do not feed or handle any wild animals and the focus is entirely on seeing them in their natural environment. An ethos of “observation not interaction” is paramount. The company also encourages and supports wildlife researchers to join their tours. It’s a great way for the guests to both understand the research and get involved. Finally, Exceptional Kangaroo Island is also a supporter and donor of the Cygnet Park Sanctuary. A percentage of the tour fee contributes to the efforts of this Sanctuary which is in the process of revegetating a former sheep farming property to restore the original redgum forest. It is all about helping Kangaroo Island protect its precious wildlife and habitat for the generations to come.

exploring the best of Kangaroo Island
Koalas, Flinders Chase National Park Credit: Sam Morgan

So, with the combination of exploring the best of Kangaroo Island, as well as responsible eco-tourism, Exceptional Kangaroo Island are strongly supporting their environment, the native wildlife and the local community. It’s a purpose to be proud of. It’s a remarkable achievement for a family business in a very special corner of the world. Make sure to include a tour with Exceptional Kangaroo Island on your wish list for your next Australia holiday…. I know I will be doing just that 😊.


The summer season (December-March) is traditionally the most popular time to visit. The daytime temperatures range around 24 degrees Celsius and the nights are cooler with a 12 degree average. Perfect weather for all activities.

exploring the best of Kangaroo Island
Vivonne Bay. Photo Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

Good to know:

Kangaroo Island is seven times the size of Singapore. Think of native bushland, wildlife, gourmet food and wines as well as rugged coastlines. Expect a natural wildlife wonderland with plenty of Kangaroos, Sea Lions, Echidnas, and Dolphins. Explore the spectacular scenery of Flinders Chase National Park and meet the locals at Seal Bay Conservation Park. You could stay for 2 nights or more as there is plenty to do! Apart from the numerous tours with Exceptional Kangaroo Island, other top highlights include the opportunity to swim with wild Dolphins, sample the gourmet delights of the local food and wines, hold a wedge-tailed Eagle at a Conservation Centre, sample the freshest local seafood, and make sure to admire the stalactites & stalagmites on a Kelly Hill Cave Tour.   

exploring the best of Kangaroo Island
Viewing at Seal Bay Conservation Park

And finally:

AET Travel (formerly Australia Expat Travel) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details. Contact us.

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