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Kangaroo Island koalas

Thursday, September 18, 2008
Kangaroo Island is Australia's third-largest island after Tasmania and Melville Island. The island is 112km south-west of Adelaide at the entrance of Gulf Saint Vincent.

Even though it's only a 45-minute ferry journey from Cape Jervis, its isolation in the Southern Ocean has nurtured an environment teeming with native wildlife. It's like an Australian zoo without fences.

The Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is on the western side of the island, between the Kelly Hill Caves Conservation Park and the Flinders Chase National Park.

The sanctuary was once a sprawling sheep station and in the 1920s, when the koala population on the mainland was threatened with extinction, some were introduced to Kangaroo Island.

They were so happy there, numbers grew in no time from 20 to 30,000 and they were chomping their way through the gum trees, their only food source, at an alarming rate.

To control the population as well as saving Kangaroo Island's delicate ecosystem, a sterilisation plan was introduced by the South Australian Government. The koalas' ears are tagged as part of that plan.

The sanctuary is the best place possible to enjoy the unique natural environment and its residents — feathered and four footed. There are kangaroos, tammar wallabies, possums, echidnas and koalas. The bird-watchers' paradise is home to blue wrens, scarlet robins, lorikeets, crimson rosellas, black cockatoos, scrub wrens, bush stone curlews and Cape Barren geese.

During your stay you can join a guided daily Koala Walk where you get up close and personal with native marsupials. Nocturnal driving tours are also available.

There are six self-contained beachside log cabins right there at Hanson Bay. They have two bedrooms, a bathroom and open-plan kitchen and living areas. Each has feature windows so you can make the most of views of the rugged coast and Southern Ocean. Sea breezes are cool in summer, and a slow combustion wood fire keeps you snug in winter.

The Sanctuary homestead is also available for holiday rental. Built in the 1980s, the Hanson Bay farmhouse is ideal for groups of up to 12. It has two queen bedrooms with ensuite facilities and two additional bedrooms with a total of six single beds and sharing a bathroom. It has a formal dining room, wood fires, huge living room and games room with full size billiard table. The kitchen is fully equipped, and outdoors there is a barbecue and outdoor furniture.

Budget holidaymakers haven't been forgotten. The four-bedroom Backpackers Lodge has recently been refurbished and provides comfortable and inexpensive accommodation. Single and share rooms are lockable and linen is provided. Bathrooms are unusually spacious. There is an open-plan lounge/dining/kitchen area with wood fire, barbecue area and DVD player with a selection of movies.

You will see plenty of wildlife during the day and night, and the location is perfect for swimming, snorkelling, canoeing, fishing, bushwalking or just relaxing. Take along your swimming gear, fishing rods, bicycles and comfortable walking shoes.


Hanson Bay on Kangaroo Island of the south-west coast of South Australia.


Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary Koala Walk costs $2. It is open from dawn to dusk every day.

Hanson Bay Holiday Cabins cost $170 a couple, $30 for each additional adult and $20 for each extra child. Cabins can sleep up to five people, with a trundle bed. Linen, access to the Koala Walk and discount on Guided Nocturnal Tours are included. They operate year round.

Hanson Bay Sanctuary Homestead costs $132 a night with a minimum of three nights' stay. Each extra adult is $30 and $20 for each extra child.

Backpacker accommodation is $30 a night. Bookings are essential.

For further information

Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary & Accommodation
South Coast Road
Karatta 5223
Ph: (08) 8559 7344
Fax: (08) 8859 7303

Tourism Kangaroo Island
Ph: (08) 8553 1185

SA Visitor & Travel Centre
18 King William Street
Adelaide 5000
Ph: 1300 764 227

Check out our celebrity Getaway blog or our photo gallery for more Getaway adventure pics.

User comments
I watched the show last night and loved the report, but one thing that Catriona said has me with a question, she said that the koala walking across has MS, I didn't realise that Koalas could get MS, did she mean Multiple Sclerosis?
We have the cutest bear in the world and what is best is they would not harm a fly!
Really pleased South Australian government has put the effort and made this island a sanctuary 4 native animals and for the fact people can visit such the place. I,m delighted to hrar the koala population has been saved from extinction and to all those not to mention who look after the place their dedication and hard work need not be forgotton after all its an island of natural wildlife to the animals and people visiting there in harmony. I would definately recoomend this place as a vacation as not only its a holiday its also a chance to experience the wonders of nature, peace and harmony. Once again credit to all involved and to the South Australian government for making this place a natural paridise 2 the animals and people who go there in harmony....

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