Kangaroo Island brims with such unique wildlife and pristine beauty that it’s hard to believe it is situated a mere nine miles (15 kilometers) from the shores of mainland Australia. To get there requires a quick flight from Adelaide or a leisurely ferry passage from Cape Jervis. Southern Ocean Lodge is located on the island’s southwestern coast, perched on cliffs above Hanson Bay, facing the Southern Ocean and, beyond it, Antarctica.
This wilderness area is home to an abundance of wildlife including fur seals, kangaroos, and many other species. The park is also known for its striking rock formations such as the domed Admiral’s Arch and the wind-sculpted Remarkable Rocks.
Whales, dolphins, and southern bluefin tuna frequent the waterways of this ocean park surrounding the western end of the island between Cape Forbin and Sanderson Bay. Guests interested in diving can spot these creatures as well as deep-water reef habitats and sunken fishing vessels. Above water, fur seals and white-bellied sea eagles stand out among the vibrant wildlife. Access to the marine park is through Flinders Chase National Park.
Although kangaroos and koalas are often seen as synonymous with Australia, they are not the only remarkable animals peppering the island. Fur seals, dolphins, whales, parrots, gliding marsupials, and white-bellied sea eagles number among the most memorable species. Guests can get a close look at these unique creatures on guided tours by foot, bike, and kayak.
Since the 1930s, researchers have been discovering prehistoric Aboriginal campsites around Kangaroo Island that date back as many as 16,000 years. It is still mysterious why and how those people left, though it seems tied to sea level rise that cut the island off from the mainland. Later, mainland indigenous peoples named the island Karta, which means “Land of the Dead.”
European settlers came to the island in the early 19th century and apparently found it uninhabited. They established farms on much of the eastern part of the island, but today about 30 percent still remains untouched. Modern citizens of Kangaroo Island number just a few thousand and are known to leave their doors unlocked in this small and peaceful community.
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