The town of Kingscote is the oldest settlement in South Australia, as the first settlers were deserters from English and American whalers and sealers.
After the official British settlers arrived via the ship the Duke of York, the town was named after Henry Kingscote, one of the founding directors of The South Australian Company. Town Hall and Council are in town to signify its administrative status on the island.
Kingscote is the main town on Kangaroo Island, as it is the largest and has the most amenities available. Aside from Kingscote, the other three towns on Kangaroo Island are Penneshaw, Parndana and American River.
You will first arrive at Penneshaw via ferry, and it is the second-largest town on the east of the island, closest to the mainland. It is a 45-minute drive from Penneshaw to Kingscote or take the Sealink Shuttle. The shuttle runs in the morning and evening and costs $21 AUD for adults, and $11 for children under 14.
There is no river in the American River, but it is known locally as The River. The town is between Penneshaw and Kingscote, and there is a wharf that American sealers built back in 1803. The wharf was used to transport salt, mallee wood and local produce to Port Adelaide. Now, American River is the best spot for fresh seafood at The Oyster Farm Shop.
Parndana is a town that sits in the middle of the island. The town has a few stores and a hotel and is the last place you can stock up on supplies before you head off camping at the nearby parks. The town’s other attractions include Soldiers Settlement Museum. From the town, you can head further west to Flinders Chase National Park.
Where Is The Best Town To Stay On Kangaroo Island?
For convenience and food, the best town to stay in on Kangaroo Island is the American River. It sits between Kingscote and Penneshaw, giving you the best of both worlds. From The River, you can easily head to different parts of the island.
However, if you are looking for hotels and backpacker hostels, you will find more in Kingscote. If you are hoping for more luxurious lodgings, American River has Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge, a hotel with a view of the coast and facilities like a swimming pool, tennis court and sauna rooms.
American River is the best town to stay in on Kangaroo Island because it has Kangaroo Island Council camping grounds. The camping ground is near the beach, and it has unpowered and powered sites with caravan access.
The sites are on a first come first served basis and cost $35 per night for up to 2 people for a powered site. An unpowered site is $22.50 a night for 2, with an additional $7.50 per person for both sites. There are toilets, dump Ezy, and barbeque facilities available, while a shower costs $2 per 3 minutes. The site has no playground for children, but you will explore the island instead.
Where Is The Main Part Of Kangaroo Island?
The main part of Kangaroo Island is the northeast part of the island, where towns Kingscote, Penneshaw and American are located. There are many sanctuaries around the island, and the 3 main ones are at that part of Kangaroo Island.
Kangaroo Island is a Ligurian Bee Sanctuary since 1885, where the purest strain of Ligurian bees are living at the Kangaroo Island Living Honey Bee farm in Haines. The bee sanctuary has a farm gate shop or you can pay for a tour at $18 per adult, and free for children under 12.
At night, visit Penneshaw to see Little Penguins return from the sea after a day’s hunt. While it costs $25 per adult and $14 per child, these little penguins are unique to Australia and New Zealand. You can watch penguins waddle past your feet as they head back to the burrows to feed their chicks and breed, and it is an experience you find nowhere else.
American River Aquatic Reserve used to be known as Pelican Lagoon Sanctuary Zone, the oldest marine protected area of South Australia. Even though you may not fish, you can still swim and watch the birds hunt. American River is also home to the only native Angasi oyster farm shop on the island.
What Is The Best Part Of Kangaroo Island?
The South Coast is the best part of Kangaroo Island, as it is home to wildlife parks and pristine beaches. Vivione Bay is 30 minutes drive from Parndana, passing by Little Sahara Adventure Centre before arriving at the beach. Little Sahara is a sand dune, and it can be up to 70 meters high. You can sandboard or toboggan down the dunes, or ride a bike or buggy.
While you are there, head to Eleanor River to spot some wild koalas and kangaroos before heading to Vivonne Bay for a surf. 30 minutes from Vivonne Bay and you will reach Seal Bay Conservation Park. The bay has been home to the Australian sea lion which is an endangered species. You can watch the seals from a distance, or join a tour to learn more about the Australian native.
The furthest west corner of the south coast lies Flinders Chase National Park. It is home to the long-nosed fur seal colony. Aside from seals, the iconic Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch are the perfect place for a photo. There is also the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, which is a 5-day hike along the shores. There are other easier trails that will take only an hour, allowing you to look for wildlife and birds that are native to the island.
The entry fee to the national park is $12 per adult, which includes permission to camp. You can use gas fires but not wood and solid fires. The National Park has suffered a bushfire and is still rebuilding. Hence, there are limited toilets, campgrounds and picnic areas available. Aside from seals, you can look out for whales when they arrive between May and October at select lookout points.
What Is The Biggest Town In Kangaroo Island?
Kingscote is the biggest town in Kangaroo Island, near Reeves Point, the first settlement in South Australia. You can find more information on what to do on the island from the Kangaroo Island Visitor Information Centre. It has a yellow “i” on blue background. If you are flying to the island, you will land at Kingscote, where you can enjoy food and a drink from local producers.
It is an hour’s drive from Kingscote to Flinders Chase, passing Parndana in the middle. You can easily make Kingscote your base as you explore around the island, as it is the most convenient town to stay in during your visit to Kangaroo Island.
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