Kangaroo Island: How this wildlife idyll revived after facing near extinction

One of the most remote places we are visiting around Australia is called Kangaroo Island – the country’s third largest island off a remote peninsula in South Australia.

View of the Kangaroo Island foreshore from our ship anchored in the passage

This island was once attached to the Australian mainland until the thaw following the last ice age created a sea passage between the island and Australia.

It has a chequered history.It’s first inhabitants were from Stone Age but never developed further after being isolated. It was the subject of Aboriginal stories and myths including one that the sea passage was created after a group of rebellious women fled a tyrannical leader who caused the sea to rise up and drown them.

At one time the island was deserted leaving its unique animals and birds to have no fear of humans. But then in the early nineteenth century a group of settlers and ex convicts moved in and there followed a massacre of its animals and birds for food and profits.

One species a dwarf emu became extinct just like the more famous Dodo as settlers ate them all. They then turned on the huge kangaroo population and decimated them. They also killed off most of the seals for their skins but ignored their valuable oil which meant eventually their community collapsed . ASA last gasp they started to kill off the whales of the coast but this was only seasonal.

One of the sandy bays on the island at Penneshaw

But it has a well stocked supermarket, petrol station,post office, cafes,a cricket pitch and a craft market and a number of tourist attractions. Also a number of new species have been introduced including koala bears and bees. Indeed the Ligurian bees on the island produce a unique honey as the population is isolated from any other bees.

Today’s island has recovered and many of its unique mammals are flourishing again.The main threat to them are wildfires which have destroyed a lot of the vegetation not people as the population is very small. Penneshaw the port where ferries link to the mainland has just 300 people.

Sculpture Trail and suspension bridge
Burnt out tree

There is a splendid open air sculpture trail on the island where hidden in the dense bush you can find wallabies and kangaroos if they don’t run off to hide. I have put up pictures of the trail below.

One of the sculptures
trail meets tree
Hidden in here is a wallaby hiding by a bush

When I was there the bush was tinder dry with a few flowers in blossom.Here is one below.

Sealink ferry connecting the island to the mainland