Kangaroo Island is Australia's third largest island, after Tasmania and Melville Island. It lies at the entrance of Gulf St Vincent and is 13km offshore from Cape Jervis on the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula at its closest point to the mainland. Until around 10,000 years ago it was part of the mainland.
It has 509km of coastline and just over 4000 people live on the island, mostly in Kingscote. Over half of it has never been cleared of vegetation, and around one-third comes under National and Conservation Parks, including five Wilderness Protection Areas.
Throughout the 19th century various attempts were made to establish a viable industry on the island salt mining, eucalyptus oil stilling, yucca gum for lacquer and explosives, commercial fishing, gypsum mining and farmers tried to carve pastoral leases out of poor soils. Today Kangaroo Island's economy is from agriculture wine, honey, wool, meat and grain tourism and fishing.
There are loads of kangaroos, wallabies, possums, echidnas, fur seals native to the island and koalas, bats, frogs, platypus and emus to be seen, and the island is the last South Australian refuge of the endangered glossy black cockatoo.
Getaway discovered a marvellous way to get around in a 4WD Mercedes with portable accommodation on the back. That means you can create your own itinerary and go at your own pace.
Flour Cask Bay Sanctuary was once a grazing property and now offers remote and private camping sites with easy access to walking, cycling, fishing, canoeing, lots of wildlife and great scenery.
Their camper trailers have comfortable queen beds, quality linen and towels and every conceivable piece of equipment you could ever need. The main tent has a raised hard floor with space for two additional adults or up to four children. Up to four sleeping mats, sleeping bags with sheets and pillows are a standard provision.
They take just a couple of minutes to set up and around 10 minutes to pack up.
Our crew visited Sunset Winery in Penneshaw on the island's eastern side. It is the first purpose-built cellar door/winery on the island and part of their policy is that all fruit for their wines is sourced from Kangaroo Island vineyards.
The winery is on 14 hectares of native bushland. Birds and resident wildlife love the sanctuary, and the owners have planted 400 sheoaks as a food source for the glossy black cockatoo.
On Emu Ridge you can call in to the eucalyptus distillery, the only one still operating in South Australia. The primitive-looking equipment and processes are remarkably effective and produce a medical grade product. Visitors can take part in a tour and make purchases which contain the pungent oil. They are open from 9am to 2pm every day.