Through the Lens: Kangaroo Island Wildlife

Kangaroo Island Wildlife Spotting – Opportunities & Locations

Kangaroo Island is a location I had inexcusably neglected during the decade I lived in Adelaide.  But a recent and temporary return, with a newfound photography passion, has motivated me to explore the place I once called home…through new eyes.  I recently returned from five days in an island that may be small – it is only 155km long – but is overflowing with unique and protected wildlife, rugged and diverse landscape and activities and highlights to attract all types of travellers.

Kangaroo Island wildlife that co-exists with the local population is one of the highlights of visiting the island.  You don’t have to look far to spot wildlife in Kangaroo Island, and some of the following locations increase your chances:

Seal Bay

Seal Bay is home to a colony of Australian sea-lions and this popular attraction of the island is an easy 45 minute drive from Kingscote (via South Coast Road).  Beach access to the sea-lion colony is by guided tour only but sea-lions can also be seen from the 800 metre self-guided boardwalk.  I personally found the $AUD 32 entrance tour fee value for money, as visiting KI outside the busy summer months meant I had my own private tour!  Observing the sea-lions in their natural environment  with a guide who was both passionate and knowledgeable was entertaining and educational.  Did you know that these sea-lions have an 18 month breeding cycle, meaning they are present on the island all year round creating a high probability of seeing young sea-lions feeding from their mothers?

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Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary – Koala Walk

One of the best places to view a sustainably managed wild koala population on the island is the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, a short drive from Flinders Chase National Park, just off the South Coast Road.  Those who prefer self-guided tours, like myself, can enjoy a leisurely stroll through avenues of gum trees, spotting a koala the reward for a strained neck from upward viewing!  Again, visiting in May meant I had the place to myself, providing a great opportunity to soak up the silence, broken only by chirping birds or the rustling of leaves from a climbing koala.  For international guests, those with children or even wildlife-loving Australians, an alternative option is to join the 90 minute guided nocturnal walk.  Strolling through the 250 acre park under the wide open starry skies promises potential sightings of Koalas, Tammar Wallabies, Kangaroos, Echidnas, Bats and Possums.

Self-Guided Walks: $AUD 6 (adults), $AUD 3 (children)

Guided Nocturnal Walks: $AUD 24 (adults), $AUD 19 (12-18 yrs), $AUD 14 (<12 years)

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Spending my first and last night in Kingscote gave me the opportunity to enjoy the wealth of birdlife by the jetty – pelicans, gulls, cormorants and more.   As the sun sets, the tourist opportunities awaken and daily events include Pelican Feeding, Penguin and Aquarium Tours.  It’s quite possible that my recent Antarctica, South Georgia and Falkland Island adventures have ruined all of my future penguin sightings as I unfortunately found the prospect of a Little Penguin walk a little underwhelming and declined the opportunity.  But I did part with $AUD 5 to watch the Pelican Man’s entertaining performance as he fed the flocks of pelicans who majestically fly into the feeding platform in anticipation.  Pelicans really are beautiful creatures and it’s worth staying by the jetty after they feed to watch them in flight as they create vibrant silhouettes in the fiery red and orange sunset.

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Raptor Domain – Birds of Prey

The Raptor Domain Centre is strategically placed on the road to Seal Bay and as such I ended up visiting a location I had not planned on.  My heart sank as a tour bus followed me in and I realised I needed to pay $AUD 15 for a ‘show’.  I immediately felt I had fallen prey to the biggest tourist trap on the island.  I was wrong!  Yes it is a public show staged for tourists but it is informal, interactive and educational – and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The show provides the opportunity to get up close and personal with an array of birds including Australia’s largest bird of prey the wedge-tail eagle, falcons, kookaburras and owls.  The majority of the birds arrived at the centre orphaned or injured and their inability to survive in the wild has created an educational opportunity for visitors.  Highlights include an owl digesting a mouse for lunch and a falcon cracking open an emu egg with a rock, just to name a few.

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A Barn Owl's Lunch



Free Wildlife Viewing

The most exhilarating view of wildlife on Kangaroo Island is in the wild in its natural environment.  And the wealth of wildlife on the island means you don’t have to venture far to enjoy this.  Park your car, go for a walk, keep quiet, keep a respectful distance and simply look around you – it’s everywhere!  And if you haven’t seen anything during the day it won’t take long after the sun sets for the roads to come alive with active nocturnal creatures.

Some of the wildlife I enjoyed observing included:


(Hansons Bay – shortly before I was dive-bombed for unintentionally walking near a nest)


(on walking trail in Flinders Chase National Park)


(pelican in flight approaching Emu Bay)


(the deadly Tiger Snake, on a road in Flinders Chase National Park)


(New Zealand Fur Seals near Admirals Arch, Flinders Chase National Park)

You may be thinking this post is missing a picture?  Surely I didn’t visit Kangaroo Island without seeing a kangaroo?  You’re right, I didn’t!  But I saw so many kangaroos and wallabies, particularly on the roads as I drove to/from locations to photograph sunrise and sunset, that I grew complacent – and unintentionally returned home without any photos of them!  Oh the irony!



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Kellie is a traveller and photographer who is most at home when exploring the world beyond it. Through the intersection of her travel, writing and photography passions, she shares her experiences to inspire others to create there own. The desire to live life instead of existing through it has introduced Kellie to inspirational locations throughout seven continents and from this a passion for landscape and wildlife photography has evolved. She feels a particular connection to the polar regions and Africa. You can see more of her photography at


  1. Trevor Barre says:

    Excellent blog and photos Kellie, and you are dead right about KI being a beautiful location to visit. We were amazed that there was so much to see in what we considered to be a small island.

    • So true. My trip felt too short and I’m keen to return – there were a number of things I wanted to see that I didn’t make it to! I certainly enjoyed being there in May with less tourists. I wonder if my experience would feel different in the height of summer…

  2. You are a terrific photographer! Thanks for these pix and for the free e-book. Gorgeous.
    Oh, and hey, now you’ll have to go back sometime to get those photos of kangaroos, don’t you think?

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