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Kangaroo Island, 13 kilometres (8 miles) off the coast of South Australia and 30 minutes by plane from Adelaide, is brimming with native animals, some of which aren’t found anywhere else. It is also home to an established artisanal food scene, and one of the world’s best hotels. More than one third of the island is protected by conservation area and national parks, while lush farmland and small towns make up much of the rest. The island, known to the locals as “KI”, is divided into seven regions, with four major towns: Kingscote (the island’s relaxed capital), Penneshaw (where daily ferries disembark), American River, and Parndana. Most major areas are connected by sealed tarmac roads, and there are gravel roads elsewhere.
Ningaloo Marine Park is a World Heritage-listed site found half way up the West Australian coastline. The crystalline water harbours the world’s largest fringing reef, a 260-kilometre (162-mile) long coral reef swarming with turtles, tropical fish, manta rays, humpback whales and the elusive whale shark. Nowhere on Earth do these majestic creatures reliably congregate in such large numbers as here, at Ningaloo Reef.
Pick up: Kingscote Airport, Australia
Drop: Learmonth Airport, Australia
3 Hours Before Flight Time
You can get up close and personal with many of them in our zoos and wildlife parks or, if you’re lucky, you might just spot them in their natural habitat.
Many of our native animals are only found here. We are one of the few continents to have all three groups of mammals – monotremes, marsupials and placentals – and are home to more than 800 species of birds, including the iconic emu. We’ve got two crocodile species, 4,000 fish species and 50 types of marine mammals. Discovering Australia’s animals is one of the highlights for many visitors to our country.
Arrive at the Kingscote airport, where you’d be met and transferred by our representative to Kangaroo island. Unpack at your self-contained accommodation on a marron and crayfish farm overlooking the Southern Ocean at Western River. Kick back and discuss tomorrow’s fishing options or take a walk along the rugged coastline around Western River. You can also drive a little further south to check out the aptly named Remarkable Rocks: a striking geographic formation towering above the ocean. An overnight stay follows.
(Overnight at Kangaroo Island)
Your day starts at the crack of dawn as you rise and eat a quick breakfast before being transported down to the tiny, man-made harbour to board your 20 metre (65 foot) charter boat. Sit back with a steaming mug of coffee as the spacious vessel will take you to the fishing grounds, which begin immediately outside the harbour entrance. Your list of target species will vary with the season and prevailing weather patterns, but it’s likely to include tuna, pink snapper, bright redfish, queen snapper, leatherjackets, samson fish and the yellowtail kingfish. Whatever you choose to chase, you’ll be amazed at just how rich these southern seas are.
Come back by dusk for an overnight stay.
(Overnight at Kangaroo Island)
After breakfast, you may choose to spend another half day at sea, attempting to tick off any remaining species you missed out on the previous day, or possibly chasing that elusive 60 centimeter (24 inch) King George whiting in shallower waters a little closer to island’s shore. After a lip-smacking picnic lunch on a secluded cove or beach such in Vivonne Bay Beach, head out and explore more of this surprisingly large and varied island, perhaps visiting the aptly named Remarkable Rocks, about an hour’s drive to the southern side of the Island.
Come back before sundown and call it a day.
(Overnight at Kangaroo Island)
Post breakfast, set out for the township of Exmouth, which sits between the red cliffs of Cape range National Park and the turquoise waters of Ningaloo Marine Park. Cool off at the beach, where you only have to swim (or snorkel) a few metres off the shoreline to see the tropical fish and multi-coloured coral of World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef. The most popular experience here is swimming with the whale sharks, the world’s biggest fish.
Enjoy overnight stay at the accomodation.
(Overnight at Exmouth)
Post breakfast, dedicate half a day to exploring the craggy landscapes of Cape Range National Park. Among many scenic hikes that thread through the area is the Badjirrajirra loop trail. On this moderate eight kilometre (five mile) hike you’ll traverse the top of Cape Range, taking in rocky gullies, colourful gorges, spinifex bushland and views of the spectacular Shothole Canyon and beyond to Exmouth Gulf. Hop into a guided experience, on a boat trip up the scenic Yardie Creek. In the afternoon, drive south to Coral Bay, where you can again swim at one of the town’s dazzlingly white, sheltered beaches, or snorkel on Ningaloo Reef right off the shore. Spend the night in local accommodation.
(Overnight at Coral Bay)
After an early morning swim, drive south to Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Detour off the highway to see the remarkable Hamelin pool, home to the oldest and largest living fossils on earth known as stromatolites and taking the form of dome-shaped rocks. Drive a little further to Shell Beach, which, as the name suggests, is made up of billions of tiny shells instead of sand, and admire the beach’s beautiful aqua water and bright white curve of beach, which stretches for more than 70 kilometres (43 miles). An overnight stay follows.
(Overnight at Shell Beach)
From Denham, it’s a 30-minute drive to Monkey Mia, famous for the wild, bottlenose dolphins that visit the shallow waters here every day. After years of being fed by local fishermen, the dolphins swim into shore to interact with humans, so expect to feed them, or even swim with them in the clear aqua waters of the bay. Along with dolphins, Monkey Mia is home to whales, manta rays, turtles, sharks, a huge array of fish and a 10th of the world’s dugongs, which you can spot while snorkelling, scuba diving or on a glass-bottomed boat tour. The animal encounters don’t end there: take your pick of riding a camel along Dolphin Beach, daily pelican feeding, or fishing for whiting, cod, snapper, mackerel and tuna.
In the evening, learn about local Aboriginal culture before calling it a day.
(Overnight at Denham)
This morning you’ll be picked up from your accommodation for a safari tour through Francois Peron National Park, where the red sand dunes contrast with blinding white beaches and crystal blue ocean. It’s also a haven for wildlife including rare lizards (such as thorny devils and racehorse goannas), and magnificent birdlife such as emus and fairy wrens. Spend the morning spotting manta rays, turtles and sharks at Skipjack Point before driving south to the dugong breeding area of Eagle Bluff, where there’s a boardwalk that extends over the ocean offering great views of grazing dugongs (known as sea cows for the hours they spend peacefully munching sea grass) as well as sharks, dolphins, fish and coral.
Come back to accommodation by dusk for overnight rest.
(Overnight at Francois Peron National Park)
Post breakfast, continue on your tour to the charming town of Kalbarri, a much-loved holiday destination for Western Australians approximately four hours south by car. Kalbarri is located at the point where the picturesque Murchison River meets the Indian Ocean, so you’ll find many aqua pursuits here. Swim or surf at Chinaman’s Beach or relax on the foreshore and watch pelicans being fed. Visit Rainbow Jungle, one of Australia’s most beautiful parrot habitats, and stroll through tropical gardens to see spectacular specimens such as purple-crowned lorikeets, eclectus parrots and macaws. Finish the day with a sunset wilderness cruise down the Murchison River.
(Overnight at Kalbarri)
Spend the day bushwalking through the stunning Kalbarri National Park, with its rugged ranges and rust-red rock gorges, and the Murchison River running between them. Between July and October, this park is decorated with more than 800 blooming Australian wildflower species including banksias, grevilleas, kangaroo paw and red-blossomed eucalypts. While there are several shorter walks available, one of the most scenic options is the eight kilometre (five mile) Loop Hike. Starting and finishing at the park’s most Instagrammed sight, a wind-eroded rock arch that frames the river view below called Nature’s Window, the path winds down to the banks of the Murchison River before climbing back to the top of the sandstone cliffs. Another favourite is the Four Ways Trail, which starts at the pretty lookout. For a bird’s eye view, consider taking a scenic helicopter flight over the park, coastline and breathtaking Abrolhos Islands.
(Overnight at Kalbarri)
After breakfast, check-out of the local accommodation and get transferred to the Learmonth Airport for your onward journey.
Sink into the everlasting recollections of your rejuvenating stay amidst Australian flora and fauna.