The many parks of Kangaroo Island are the National Parks SA Park of the Month for July 2018.
Kangaroo Island offers a variety of hikes and trails to explore the landscape and abundant wildlife.
Across Kangaroo Island there are 7 national parks and conservation areas that have 29 walking trails:
- Flinders Chase National Park and Ravine Des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area (18 hikes)
- Kelly Hill Conservation Park (2 hikes)
- Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park and Wilderness Protection Area (5 hikes)
- Cape Willoughby Conservation Park (1 hike)
- Baudin Conservation Park (1 hike)
- Western River Wilderness Protection Area (1 hike)
- Beyeria Conservation Park (1 hike)
We’ve outlined the 29 hikes below.
Easy walk, 400m, 10 mins return
This short walk will take you from the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre to the Walking Trail Information Shelter overlooking Black Swamp. Interpretive signs along the way will help hone your wildlife observation skills. Signs at the Black Swamp Lookout shelter give information about other hikes and walks accessed from here.
Easy walk, 1.5km, 30 mins return
With interpretive signs along the trail, learn about the life of the early settlers at Rocky River and the formation of the park as South Australia’s second national park as an island sanctuary for threatened species. A great walk for viewing koalas and other wildlife. The trail includes the Walking Trail Information Shelter overlooking Black Swamp.
Easy walk, 1km, 20 mins return
This is a sheltered stroll through sugar gum woodlands and acacia thickets. Listen for woodland birds along the way. The trail includes the Walking Trail Information Shelter overlooking Black Swamp.
Platypus Waterholes Walk
Easy walk, 4.7km, 2 hours return
Platypus are rare in South Australia, but with some patience you might be in with a chance of seeing some on this walk. Birdlife, kangaroos, wallabies, geese, echidnas and goannas are regularly seen on this walk.
A shorter walk, suitable for those with mobility issues, can be accessed from the trailhead off Shackle Road.
Remarkable Rocks Walk
Easy walk, 1km, 15 mins return
A short wheelchair accessible walk along a boardwalk to the stunning geological feature of Remarkable Rocks. The granite boulders appear as seemingly artistic sculptures scattered across a larger granite dome. Interpretive signs explain the formation of the granite boulders.
Admirals Arch Walk
Easy walk, 800m, 15 mins return
A short stroll from the carpark down the headland to reveal Admirals Arch, a significant geological formation. View the pounding waves of the Southern Ocean. As you walk down, watch out for long nosed fur seals basking in the sun on the rocks. The boardwalk descends stairs down into a bay before emerging in Admirals Arch, where viewing platforms allow you to watch the seals closer.
Only the first 3/4 of the walk is wheelchair and pram accessible along the wide boardwalk, before the path descends down stairs into the arch – the arch and the seals there cant be viewed from the boardwalk. You can see some seals from the boardwalk.
Lighthouse Heritage Walk
Easy walk, 600m, 10 mins return
Take a stroll around the Cape du Couedic Lightstation and immerse yourself in history with the many interpretive signs. Marvel at the magnificence of the tower and the endurance of the lightkeepers and their families.
Black Swamp Hike
Moderate hike, 7.9km, 3 hours return
Linked with the Platypus Waterholes Walk, this half-day hike takes you through the diverse habitats of Rocky River. The trail meanders through forest and woodland, providing picturesque views of the river and opportunities to watch for Platypus. Listen for honeyeaters in the forest canopy, and look for delicate orchids in winter and spring.
Rocky River Hike
Moderate hike, 13km, 3-4 hours one-way
Follow the shady paths along the pristine Rocky River through to Snake Lagoon. Experience the river bank communities, low woodlands and open forests. Even in the drier months spring-fed pools provide life giving water to birds, reptiles, insects and mammals. This trail is also the first day’s hike of the five day Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail.
Snake Lagoon Hike
Moderate hike, 4.2km, 2 hours return
This popular trail winds through Sugar Gums and mallee before descending into the Rocky River valley. The trail crosses Rocky River and meanders along its bank to the mouth, providing spectacular views through the valley and across the Southern Ocean.
Weirs Cove Hike
Moderate hike, 2.8km, 1 hour return
Hike to Weirs Cove to where fresh supplies were offloaded by boat for the lighthouse keepers and their families, and explore the ruins and flying fox that brought supplies up the 90 metre steep cliff.
Cape du Couedic Hike
Moderate hike, 1.9km, 40 mins return
After doing the Admirals Arch Walk explore the area around the lighthouse further on this Cape du Couedic Hike loop trail. The trail meanders along away from the crowds, with viewing lookouts over the ocean and on the hilltop. Interpretive signs along the way describe plants and the way of life for lighthouse keepers and their families that tended this remote outpost.
Sandy Creek Hike
Moderate hike, 1 hour 30 mins return, 3km
4WD access only – Follow the banks of Sandy Creek across the creek bed and dunes to a remote beach. Be aware of powerful seas, freak waves and rips. Creek crossing required in wetter months.
Access: this trail starts from the Sandy Creek car park on West Bay Road.
Cliff Top Hike
Moderate hike, 1km, 30 mins return
A short walk from the lighthouse to the clifftop. Look for seals, whales and dolphins. An alternative is to start the hike from the vehicle entrance gate, where there is a small carpark and connecting walking trail to the end of the Return Road Hike.
Return Road Hike
Moderate hike, 9km, 3 hours return
Follow the lightkeepers’ old cart track. Shorter option to return after 800m to the Lightkeepers Cemetery, or 3.4km to Scotts Cove Lookout.
Ravine Hike (Ravine des Casoars Hike)
Moderate hike, 7.4km, 3 hours return
This trail follows the ravine valley to the coast, passing along the creek bank and high above the valley floor, providing spectacular views.
Harveys Return Hike
Hard hike, 1km, 30 mins return
A short hike down to Harveys Return (the bay) following the original route used by the Cape Borda lightkeepers. Keen walkers can continue down the old trackway, which is steep and a rock scramble, down to the bay.
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail (5 days)
Trek, 73km, 5 days
Spend 5 days hiking the spectacular coastline of south-west Kangaroo Island. Follow the Rocky River, walk along the wild west coast, take a side trip to Admirals Arch and the Remarkable Rocks, and walk to Hanson Bay.
Burgess Hike and May Walk
Moderate hike, 1.2km, 30 mins return
This circuit hike explores the tall, cool sugar gum forest above Kelly Hill Caves. Watch out for the many craters in the landscape that drain into the caves below. The trail passes the original cave entrance.
Hanson Bay Hike
Hard hike, 18km, 6-7 hours return
Spectacular trail meanders from Kelly Hill Visitor Centre to Hanson Bay. It passes through banksia heath, Pink Gum woodlands, mallee and coastal heath, alongside freshwater lagoons, and over dunes to viewpoints that provide wonderful vistas inland and along the coast.
Although this hike is part of the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail it can be done by anyone – without the need for a Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail Pass or ticket. If walking just this section, allow a full day for the return trip or try to arrange a pick-up.
Timber Creek Walk
1.5km, 1 hour return
This walk at Murray Lagoon offers the visitor a tea-tree swamp experience. Waterfowl such as ducks, swans and waders flock to the lagoon to create a bird-lovers delight. Hawks and eagles prey upon the waterfowl, while chats and little grassbirds sing among the thickly vegetated shorelines.
Curley Creek Hike
11km, 4 hours (11km) return
This hike follows an old fire access track which skirts the edge of Murray Lagoon. Walkers will not only discover a large range of birdlife but also a variety of vegetation communities.
Bald Hill Hike
1km, 30 min return
Bald Hill provides spectacular views overlooking Murray Lagoon and is an ideal spot to observe a variety of wetland birds as they feed from the lagoon below. In the distance the visitor can see the dense bush and impressive sand-dunes of the Cape Gantheaume Wilderness Protection Area to the south.
Tadpole Cove Walk
750m, 20 mins
A short walk exploring an old threshing floor and lookout at Tadpole Cove. Whilst farmers were using the threshing floor, they would stay in the nearby hut, now a ruin.
Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek
Trek, 33km, 2 days one way
Hike along the wild and rugged coast of Kangaroo Island out to the headland of Cape Gantheaume to an isolated pristine beach with New Zealand fur-seals.
Cape Willoughby Lightstation Heritage Hike
Moderate Hike. 1.9km, 1 hour return
A walking tour with brochure exploring the original settlement 1km from the lighthouse, positioned near the landing and sheltered from the raging southerly winds.
Ironstone Hill Hike
Moderate hike, 4.2km, 1.5 hours return
Follow the start of the original bullock track to Cape Willoughby Lighthouse, with spectacular views across Backstairs Passage to the Fleurieu Peninsula.
The park is located on the outskirts of Penneshaw.
Waterfall Creek Hike (Billy Goat Waterfall, Western River Wilderness Protection Area)
4.2km, 2 hours return
A quiet secluded walk following a track to Billy Goat Waterfall. Crossing the creek on stepping stones, the walking trail winds through shady sheoak trees to end at a lookout with views of the waterfall. Although the waterfall is high, it only flows during winter or after rains.
1.1km, 30 mins
This walk is a delightful short stroll through Kangaroo Island Narrow-leaved Mallee with broombush understorey in Beyeria Conservation Park.