South Australia (61km)
The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is a beautiful trail stretching from the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre at the western end of Kangaroo Island, east towards Kelly Caves. Almost half of it is coastal, giving beautiful views but minimal shelter in bad weather so come prepared with good windproof and waterproof clothing.
To read more about the highlights and what to expect on the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, check out my blog.
The trail opened in October 2016 and facilities are truly excellent, constructed in materials that blend well with the environment. The trail developers have thought of everything, providing cosy campsites for up to 24 walkers, communal seating areas tucked away in secluded areas, huge cooking shelters with picnic tables and even filtered water taps.
A special KIWT app provides a selection of audio guides to the trail but even if you don’t download these you’ll be given a print guidebook and waterproof map on arrival with everything you need to know. A brief induction is offered at the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre at the trailhead including a short five minute video covering safety measures (think bushfires, wildlife, etc). The trail’s signage is excellent too so you shouldn’t get lost.
There are no major climbs on this trail. While the path is generally well defined there are some sections of very rough, uneven and abrasive rock on the cliff tops so consider this when selecting footwear. Walking poles come in handy to keep your balance on this uneven ground especially if the wind should happen to be gusting near gale force as it did during my visit.
Walking times given in the trail description are very generous and allow for plenty of breaks and photo stops. You are really only walking half days and the booking system requires that you stay at each of the four campsites enroute so there is no need to rush. There is one major side-trip nine kilometres in length to Cape du Couedic lighthouse and Admirals Arch which is highly recommended. Several much shorter side trips are also on offer and are also well worth the detour.
The one decent challenge to this trail is actually getting there. Kangaroo Island SeaLink run the 45 minute ferry service from Cape Jervis on the mainland to Penneshaw on the island. If you have a car it’s a fairly straightforward matter to get to Cape Jervis and then onward from Penneshaw to the trailhead at the other end of the island, however if you don’t have a car then things start to get more complicated. SeaLink do offer land transfers to help you with your planning and it’s a friendly, well-run and slick operation. They’ll pick you up in Adelaide, take you to Cape Jervis (2 hours), put you on the ferry to the island, and then drive you from Penneshaw to the main town of Kingscote (around 30-60 minutes depending on the route taken on the day). From there you’ll need to organise a separate private transfer to Flinders Chase Visitor Centre (1 1/2hrs) which needs minimum numbers to run and costs over $100pp each way. If you’re a solo traveller arriving off a flight into Adelaide the various transfers required can soon add up, easily tripling the $161* cost of the hike itself. [*as at November 2016]
If the budget allows though it’s well worth the effort. The KIWT is a beautiful and easy hike with excellent facilities. If you have the time, why not make the most of your visit by taking a car and exploring the rest of the island.
And don’t forget the rest of the stunning Fleurieu Peninsula on the mainland. One of the most scenic sections of South Australia’s long distance walk, the Heysen Trail, starts at Cape Jervis and follows the coastline east. Add on some day hikes here or if you have the time just walk all the way to Adelaide, and beyond!