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15 Jan 2020

Frequently Asked Questions about travelling to Kangaroo Island

1. is australia on fire?

No, Australia is not on fire. 3% of our country has been impacted, and our country is big. There's no doubt our country has suffered this summer. We have a big job ahead of us to help communities recover and we're eternally grateful for the emergency personnel and farm fire units for protecting us. The reality is that whilst we've suffered, we're a resilient people. There are people, places and communities that are welcoming travellers in with open arms, and nearly all of these have not been affected. For those parts of Australia that have been affected we stand as one to rebuild and our country is asking you to help us do this through tourism.

2. Is it safe to go back to Kangaroo Island?

Yes! All travel is unrestricted to Kangaroo Island. We encourage that most travel to Kangaroo Island is spent mostly in the east end from Cygnet River to Penneshaw where wildlife, food and wine, beaches, tours and incredible accommodation are all in abundance. The CFS have advised that it's safe to travel to Kangaroo Island but encourage travellers stay alert and monitor local conditions. Although there are small flare ups in the west end of Kangaroo Island, there is no threat to people or properties. The CFS are in attendance and are likely to be there for some time given the scale of the fire. The east end of Kangaroo Island (some 2,500 hectares east of the airport) is picture perfect, exactly like you'd expect it to be - entirely unaffected by fire. West of the airport you will currently encounter some road closures and burnt areas. We are not recommending any travel west of Vivonne Bay or Snellings Beach at this stage, unless necessary to reach open accommodation. Roads do continue to open up as conditions ease so please check here for the most up to date information.

3. What is the air quality like on Kangaroo Island?

Near perfect. The air quality on Kangaroo Island is almost as pure as you can get. The smoke from the bushfires have dissipated and there is no smoke that is affecting the air quality on Kangaroo Island right now. Instead, there are bright blue skies, pristine oceans and the air is clean. Find out more information about Kangaroo Island's air quality.

4. What will I see when I get to Kangaroo Island?

The stunning Kangaroo Island you’d expect to see! The east end of Kangaroo Island has not been affected and remains pristine and pure. In these areas you wouldn’t know that the Kangaroo Island bushfires have impacted much of the west end. You can still expect spectacular coastal views over rolling plains, abundant wildlife, pristine beaches, ocean safaris and dolphin adventures, wineries, conservation parks and local produce that Kangaroo Island is known and loved for. We recommend staying for two to four days exploring over 2,500 hectares in the east end of Kangaroo Island. From the west of the Kangaroo Island airport, there are areas blackened by the bushfire which you will encounter if you visit Seal Bay Conservation Park and Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park. We have a number of suggested itineraries that will help plan your trip to Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Hills

5. What is closed on Kangaroo Island?

As a result of the bushfires, there are some attractions and accommodation offerings that have sadly been impacted and are closed until further notice. These include:

1. Flinders Chase National Park including
2. Admirals Arch
3. Remarkable Rocks
4. Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Information Centre and The Chase Café
5. Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail
6. Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
7. Kelly Hill Conservation Park
8. Cape Borda Lighthouse
9. Southern Ocean Lodge
10. Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary Cabins
11. Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat
12. Western Kangaroo Island Caravan Park 
13. Vivonne Bay Lodge
14. The Woolshed Kangaroo Island

Some areas such as Parndana and Vivonne Bay are not accessible due to road closures. Please respect these road closures so emergency personnel and locals are not interrupted in their relief efforts. You can monitor these road closures on Kangaroo Island as they may change in the coming days and weeks. The good news that there is so much still open and operating as usual. See our full list of what's open on Kangaroo Island here.

6. When will I be able to go to the western end of Kangaroo Island again?

It’s unclear when tourists will be allowed into the western end of Kangaroo Island. As locals, CFS and Army personnel work to assess the damage and start to rebuild, it’s estimated that this area will remain closed for many months. We will update our information as soon as we know, but you can also reference the National Parks SA website.

7. How much wildlife is left on Kangaroo Island after the bushfire?

Kangaroo Island is a big island, so big in fact that it’s six times larger than Singapore. Whilst the sad reality is that a lot of wildlife living in the west end have perished in the Kangaroo Island bushfires, there is a substantial amount of wildlife and habitats left to thrive. You will see magnificent wedge tailed eagles, playful dolphins (that you can swim with), koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, goannas and more. Kangaroo Island is a mecca for wildlife and you’ll most definitely be able to see a lot in the wild, as well as at family friendly parks like Raptor Domain, KI Wildlife Park, KI Outdoor Action, KI Marine Adventures and KI Ocean Safaris. We recommend that you book a tour with one of the tour operators who will be able to show you parts of the island that are not accessible to the public; walk among habitats and ecosystems unlike anywhere else in the world. We don’t recommend driving between dusk and dawn as goannas, echidnas, kangaroos and wallabies are often crossing the road.

8. Will I be getting in the way of the recovery effort?

You are an important and welcome part of the recovery effort on Kangaroo Island and in the Adelaide Hills. Locals are welcoming visitors with open arms as it’s vital to these communities in the recovery and rebuild phase. Some operators and accommodation providers are open for business but are in the restricted travel zone so travel into these areas may be required if you have booked with these tourism businesses. Please respect the privacy and relief efforts that are in full swing in the western area of Kangaroo Island and do not travel into the no-travel zone unless necessary. View our maps below for this information in detail and download here.

9. Does tourism really matter when people have lost their livelihoods?

The loss of loved ones, wildlife, stock and property is devastating and our sympathies are extended to all who have experienced this tragic loss. Kangaroo Island’s biggest industries are tourism and agriculture, both of which have been substantially impacted by the fires. Tourism is also important to the Adelaide Hill's economy. Given the importance of tourism, the industry and the locals are campaigning together to encourage people to plan and visit. Every dollar spent in these communities is pumped back into their economy and keeps them afloat. Many volunteers bravely fought fires to protect and return to their businesses – tourism businesses. Your travel and spend in these regions allows businesses to pay staff, re-stock and invest with their local suppliers to help them sustain their operations. If tourists avoid these areas, and worse yet, cancel their forward bookings the outlook is grim both for the individual operators and industry. A good example is the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park who have been at the epicentre of the incredible rescue and emergency work with wildlife on the Island. To act so selflessly means they have set aside their tourism business, losing revenue during what is normally a peak time. Their income is derived from the park, and without it operating effectively, they will not be able to pay staff, maintain and re-order supplies from the (mostly) local businesses. There are so many examples this like across the regions, so getting out and supporting them during the rebuild is vital.

10. How many places are still open on Kangaroo Island?

A lot! There are more businesses that are open than closed on Kangaroo Island. The variety of things to see and do is vast. From wineries, distillers, honey farms, fishing charters, wildlife tours, to lavender farms, pristine beaches, lighthouses, Seal Bay and incredible accommodation, there’s still so much to see and do over a three or four day itinerary on Kangaroo Island. We have created an interactive map of the tourism businesses that are open on Kangaroo Island to help you plan and book a trip to Kangaroo Island.

11. I wanted to see Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch. Where would you suggest going now as an alternative?

A great alternative to Remarkable Rocks is Cape Willoughby Conservation Park. This park is home to South Australia’s first lighthouse and is rich in maritime history. You can even stay the night in the Cape Willoughby Light Keeper’s Cottage. The views and coastline from Cape Willoughby are spectacular and it’s in the east end of Kangaroo Island which has not been affected by bushfire.

A great alternative to Admirals Arch is Seal Bay. Seal Bay is a world-class nature-based tourism attraction which is home to a protected population of wild Australian sea lion colony. Take a guided tour to the heart of the colony to learn about these endangered animals, or if you prefer, take a self-guided tour along the 900-metre boardwalk. Either way, you’ll get up close and personal to seals as they sleep and nurse their pups in and among the dunes. 

12. How much does it cost to get to Kangaroo Island?

You can get to Kangaroo Island with your car by Ferry on Sealink, or you can take the express passenger-only ferry with KI Connect. Alternatively, you can fly direct from Adelaide or Melbourne with QantasLink or direct from Adelaide with Rex. Ferry and air fares vary depending on travel period and provider, however during our Bushfire Recovery campaign each of these operators have joined forces to offer the best deals possible to help encourage people to visit Kangaroo Island. Check our offers page for these travel deals.