Welcome to Don’t Delay Your Stay, news.com.au’s campaign to support communities hard hit by this summer’s devastating bushfires. Many of these regions rely on tourism so one of the best ways to help is to visit and spend time in some of the most beautiful parts of our great country.
RELATED: Now is the time to book an Aussie holiday
South Australia’s Kangaroo Island is bruised from bushfires – but not beaten.
KI (as the locals like to call it) is very much open for business and in need of some tourist TLC – that’s tender loving cash – to get back on its feet.
Here’s a list of the best things you can see, do, taste and experience.
UNDERRATED REASON TO VISIT AUSSIE ISLAND
I FOUND AUSTRALIA’S NO. 1 ISLAND STAY
BEST PLACE TO START: PENNESHAW
Penneshaw is where the KI Connect and SeaLink ferries dock. You can go as a passenger or take your vehicle or hire one when you get there. If you prefer to fly, the airport is near Kingscote, the largest town on the island.
BEST FISH AND CHIPS: KANGAROO ISLAND FRESH SEAFOODS
An unlikely looking choice located in Kingscote’s Caltex service station but, try it and you won’t be disappointed.
BEST BEACHES: ALL OF THEM
So hard to choose just one. Vivonne Bay won this gong from Sydney University in 2003. It is still stunning – the waters turquoise and still, the sand bright white – despite being surrounded by charred sand dunes.
Emu Bay is protected and often visited by dolphins – and is where Chris Hemsworth stayed with his family, so it must be good.
Surfers love Pennington Bay.
My favourite is Stokes Bay – it’s also the best surprise.
BEST SURPRISE: STOKES BAY
Beyond the rock-covered beach at Stokes Bay and through a path in the cliffs, is a beautiful surprise … an expanse of white sand, blue waters and a rock pool perfect for children to swim in.
BEST BREAKFAST: CACTUS CAFE
Louis and Yen’s funky eatery is in the heart of Kingscote. Gold stars if you can get through the Big Breakfast or the Smoked Salmon. Top it off with freshly squeezed juice and a specialty brew … Cactus also wins Best Coffee stop.
BEST BURGER: VIVONNE BAY GENERAL STORE
Michelle Peacock’s Whiting Burgers are legendary on KI. Crispy, toasted buns on the outside, fluffy whiting fillet and tasty aioli inside. The store is now the last stop for fuel, food, alcohol and general supplies along the southwest corridor.
BEST PIZZA: SORRENTO’S PIZZERIA
Crisp bases, fresh toppings, good flavour combinations … great value for money. Located in Seafront Kangaroo Island hotel in Penneshaw.
BEST ALFRESCO DINING: AMADIO WINES
A balmy night, outdoor tables under leafy trees, the Best Pasta on the island and locally-made wines … bellisimo.
BEST ICE CREAM: EMU BAY LAVENDER FARM
It works! Lavender-flavoured ice cream … and scones and jelly. Lavender-infused everything from cosmetics to cleaning products.
BEST LOCAL PRODUCE: HONEY AND EUCALYPTUS OIL
Don’t miss honey made by the world’s purest strain of Ligurian bees, at Clifford’s Honey Farm and eucalyptus products made at Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Farm.
BEST WINERY: DUDLEY WINES
A winning combination at KI’s oldest winery – the wines, the view, the Best Lunch platters and the chance to hit golf balls into boats marooned on the side of the hill.
BEST SPIRITS (THE DRINKING KIND): KANGAROO ISLAND SPIRITS
Award-winning spirits – including O’Gin – named best contemporary gin at the 2019 International Wine and Spirits competition, and a successful tourist destination. Drop in for a taste or blend your own.
BEST BIRDS (THE FEATHERED VARIETY): RAPTOR DOMAIN
Three eye-popping shows featuring birds of prey, snakes and deadly critters. You meet characters like Casper, the barn owl who hops from lap to lap for a gentle pat, and Jedda, a wedge-tailed eagle who can crush the skull of a kangaroo when hunting.
BEST WILDLIFE ATTRACTION: SEAL BAY
Home to about 800 Australian sea lions, you can watch from a distance on self-guided boardwalk tours or get even closer on the beach with a guide.
BEST CUDDLE: KANGAROO ISLAND WILDLIFE PARK
A great spot in Parndana, to see the island’s wildlife – an even better spot to cuddle a koala, wombat … or snake!
BEST NEW DESTINATION: FALSE CAPE WINES
After making wine for 17 years on the Dudley Peninsula, the Helyar family has opened a cellar door. Made from stone found on the property and wood saved from an old cottage and Emu Bay jetty, it’s full of character and good taste … especially the wine.
BEST FARM EXPERIENCE: ROB’S SHEEP SHEARING AND SHEEPDOGS
Watch Rob’s dogs work the sheep while Rob works the crowd. Totally irreverent and entertaining.
BEST FUN IN THE WATER: KANGAROO ISLAND OCEAN SAFARI
Take a dolphin swim and snorkel and get up close and personal with some of the cutest creatures in the ocean. Swim with NZ fur seals and play with dolphins as they glide underneath you.
BEST SURFING SPOT: LITTLE SAHARA
It’s surfing with a twist … on sand. Grab a board, wax it up and hit the slopes.
BEST LUXURY ACCOMMODATION: LIFETIME PRIVATE RETREATS
Nick Hannaford’s collection of five cottages has something to suit all tastes – from the Sky House with panoramic views to Cliff House, perched straight over Snellings Beach.
BEST CAMPGROUND: WESTERN RIVER COVE
Picture-perfect spot at the base of rolling hills and deep valleys, alongside a river on the north coast. But only suitable for small vehicles (not caravans or large motorhomes).
BEST CARAVAN PARK: WESTERN KI CARAVAN PARK
This would have gone to Western KI Caravan Park for its bush setting and wildlife but fire damage has put that park temporarily out of action. Running a close second is the revamped Kangaroo Island Seafront Holiday Park at Penneshaw with sites looking out over Hog Bay, new shower facilities and glamping options.
THIS ISLAND IS HEAVEN ON A PLATE
WALKING THE KANGAROO ISLAND WILDERNESS TRAIL
THIS AUSSIE FLIGHT IS A GAME CHANGER