Wildlife Spotting in Kangaroo Island

Not a shop, bar or club in sight. Or a plane, train or bus. Just wild Australia. A Kangaroo Islandkangaroo peers through the mangled mallee eucalypts to tourist-spot. And he’s strong, dark and longer-haired than his mainland brothers.

The isolated wilderness of this island; a patchwork of lush forests, tea-coloured lagoons and dune-flanked beaches foot-printed by elusive couples, make this the perfect secret getaway. But we are not totally alone. Eyes continually peep from hollows, burrows and nests, as the raucous screech of an endangered glossy black cockatoo, hidden in a she-oak, breaks the eerie silence.

Lovers may love to meet under the boardwalk, but we’re beaten to it. Beneath Admirals Arch at Cape du Couedic, canoodling New Zealand fur seals (in their thousands) cling to rocks. Ruthlessly laundered by the Southern Ocean, this Tolkienesque seascape is forbidding, and we can’t get anywhere near.

At Seal Bay we get much closer to the locals as a ranger guides us to the island’s Australian sea lion community. Clambering ungainly up the beach from their sea forages, mothers frantically search for their young. A pup roars heart-wrenchingly until wrapped beneath the safety of maternal flippers. As if in celebration, a white-bellied sea eagle soars above the dunes.

A late afternoon walk through prime koala country at Hanson Bay seals our bond on this weekend escape. We linger and admire, as the sun sinks to the rustles of nocturnal life, and this island sanctuary becomes our spiritual home.

A local sea lion, photo: South Australian Tourism

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