Once occupied by Australian Aborigines, the native population disappeared after the land became an island following rising sea levels several thousand years ago. It was subsequently resettled from the early 19th century onwards, at first casually by sealers and whalers, and then as part of the colony of South Australia from 1836.
Since then the island's economy has been principally agricultural, with a southern rock lobster fishery and with tourism growing in importance. The largest town, and the administrative centre, is Kingscote. The island has several nature reserves to protect the remnants of its natural vegetation and native animals, with the largest and best-known being Flinders Chase National Park at the western end.
Kangaroo Island is one of South Australia's most popular tourist attractions, attracting over 140,000 visitors each year, with international visitors, primarily from Europe, accounting for more than 25% of these visits.
Some of the most popular tourist spots are:
- Seal Bay with ranger guided walks among basking Australian sea lions.
- Flinders Chase National Park which includes Remarkable Rocks, Admiral's Arch, lighthouses at Cape Borda and Cape du Couedic, and multiple walking trails and camping areas.
- Cape Willoughby
- Kelly Hill Caves
- Little Sahara, huge sand dunes on the south coast.
- the lookout Mount Thisby (officially designated Prospect Hill in 2002 to honour Matthew Flinders' original naming) with a 360 degree view around the island.
- Murray Lagoon with its abundant aquatic bird life.
- Parndana Wildlife Park
- Kangaroo Island Penguin Centre (formerly Kangaroo Island Marine Centre) at Kingscote.
- Raptor Domain (In-flight bird of prey presentation and reptile show)
- The Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary koala walk and Nocturnal tour offer visitors a chance to see the local wildlife.
If you want to visit Kangaroo Island with us go to our Kangaroo Island Tour page.