Resilient Kangaroo Island still top tourism destination despite bushfires

The boardwalk at Seal Bay.

David Hume

From late December 2019 through to mid-January 2020, South Australia’s Kangaroo Island experienced the most severe bushfires in its recorded history.

The first wave of fires was almost under control when lightning strikes on the 30th December brought a second wave. The deteriorating conditions that followed saw a total of over 200,000 hectares – almost half of the island – affected by fire.

Over 90 per cent of the famous Flinders Chase National Park was burned out, two people lost their lives and losses of native animals and livestock were immense.

A range of volunteer organisations worked alongside defence force personnel to begin remediation of the damage, and by late February the park had reopened.

The island’s unique natural environment made the fires a topic of media interest the world over, and community support bolstered a campaign to return tourism on the island to a semblance of normality. Then, of course, national and state borders closed in the face of the pandemic, and in late 2020 as South Australia’s situation regresses, the road to recovery seems an uncertain one.

SeaLink  KI ferry - drive on drive off from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw.
SeaLink KI ferry - drive on drive off from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw.
A regular vehicle SeaLink ferry service makes access to KI quick and easy.
A regular vehicle SeaLink ferry service makes access to KI quick and easy.
View from Penneshaw back to Cape Jervis.
View from Penneshaw back to Cape Jervis.
Roadside vegetation in Flinders Chase.
Roadside vegetation in Flinders Chase.
The view to Cape du Couedic.
The view to Cape du Couedic.
Looking across Weirs Cove to Remarkable Rocks.
Looking across Weirs Cove to Remarkable Rocks.
Remarkable Rocks.
Remarkable Rocks.
Spectacular view at Vivonne Bay.
Spectacular view at Vivonne Bay.
Lagoon in the Western KI Caravan Park.
Lagoon in the Western KI Caravan Park.
View east from Hanson Bay.
View east from Hanson Bay.
Picturesque Hanson Bay.
Picturesque Hanson Bay.
Take a dip at Hanson Bay.
Take a dip at Hanson Bay.
Part of the KI Wilderness Trail from Hanson Bay to Kelly Hill Caves.
Part of the KI Wilderness Trail from Hanson Bay to Kelly Hill Caves.
UV light highlighting rock formations in Kelly Hill Caves.
UV light highlighting rock formations in Kelly Hill Caves.
A cow and her pup resting in the shade at Seal Bay.
A cow and her pup resting in the shade at Seal Bay.
The boardwalk at Seal Bay.
The boardwalk at Seal Bay.
Kingscote’s tidal swimming pool.
Kingscote’s tidal swimming pool.
Pelicans at the Emu Bay jetty.
Pelicans at the Emu Bay jetty.
Pelicans are familiar and friendly with visitors.
Pelicans are familiar and friendly with visitors.
Stokes Bay on the north coast has a protected rockpool that suits children.
Stokes Bay on the north coast has a protected rockpool that suits children.
An evening swim at the rockpool, Kingscote.
An evening swim at the rockpool, Kingscote.

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