What is the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail?

The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is a world class, 61 kilometre, 5-day walking experience giving visitors access to some of the most rugged, remote and spectacular coastlines in South Australia. The trail is located in the south west of Kangaroo Island and encompasses new and upgraded trails through Flinders Chase National Park, Kelly Hill Conservation Park and the Cape Bouguer Wilderness Protection Area. Along with encounters with some of the island's most unique wildlife, the trail provides access to the iconic attractions of Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch, Weirs Cove, Hanson Bay and Kelly Hill Caves.

What are my walk options?

You can walk the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail as:

  • a self-guided walker using the campgrounds provided (you will need to carry your own equipment)
  • a self-guided walker using the campgrounds provided and a commercial operator will transport your personal equipment from one campground to the next
  • a customer of a commercial tourism operator either using the campgrounds provided or staying in private accommodation off of the trail

Why do I need to book my walk?

The booking system regulates the number of walkers departing each day. This is to avoid overcrowding, to preserve the wilderness experience for everyone, to reduce our environmental impact and to ensure sustainable management of the track and campground facilities.

How many people are allowed to depart each day?

A maximum of 12 independent, and 36 commercial tour operator, guided 48 walkers (including guides) are permitted to depart each day. These will be a mix of independent and guided walkers with some camping along the trail (campgrounds cater for 24 walkers) and some staying in off-trail accommodation. Of the commercial tour operator walkers, only 12 are permitted to camp overnight, meaning there are a maximum of 24 campers at each campground per night.

How much does it cost to walk the trail, what is included and why is there a fee?

The trail cost is AUS$161 per person for independent walkers. Included in this cost is your park entry fee, car parking at Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Centre, Trail Guide and Trail Map. A bus transfer from Kelly Hill Caves to Flinders Chase Visitor Centre is an additional $25 per person. This can be paid when booking for the walk.

Walkers booking through commercial tour operators will have this fee incorporated into the overall tour package.

Maintaining a long-distance walking trail with facilities in a remote area is expensive. Your fee contributes to maintaining and servicing the Trail to ensure it remains an exceptional world class tourism experience.

Do I need to pay a separate park entry fee?

No, the park entry fee has been incorporated into the charge for walking the trail.

Where do I collect my walking pass, map and trail guide?

Your walking pass, map and trail guide will be provided on registration at the Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Centre or can be posted to you on request. It is strongly recommended that you check-in no later than 1.00pm on the day of your departure to ensure you make the Cup Gum campsite at Snake Lagoon before nightfall.

What is the process for checking in to the trail?

On arrival at the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre you will be welcomed by our staff and provided with your walking pass, map and trail guide. You will then be shown a short safety video. Once the video is complete you are ready to start the walk. Before you head out you may want to indulge in a final hot drink or snack from the Chase Café.

What level of walking experience do I need?

The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is categorised as a Grade 4 walking trail under the Australian Walking Track Grading System, meaning that some sections are long, rough and very steep and directional signage is at times limited. Bushwalking experience is recommended. For more information on Grade 4 walking trail guidelines see the Users Guide to the Australian Walking Track Grading System.

How fit do I need to be to walk the trail?

A good level of fitness is required to walk the trail. You can expect to walk between 3.5 and 7 hours a day not including side trips, depending on your fitness level, weather conditions and time taken for breaks and wildlife viewing. If you need to build up your level of fitness prior to the walk, we recommend starting with a 30 minute daily walk and building up to 7 hours. Be sure to trial walking with the pack you intend to take so that you feel fully prepared.

Is the trail suitable for children?

The trail is not recommended for children under the age of 10 due to the distances travelled, exposed coastal environment and often adverse weather conditions.

When is the best time to walk?

The best time to go is March to November however every season on Kangaroo Island offers something different, so you’re sure to have an amazing experience whenever you visit. Kangaroo Island’s weather is variable year round and changes in temperature and conditions can occur suddenly and without much warning given the island’s exposed location. You’re likely to experience a bit of everything on your walk – sunshine, wind and rain. Walkers should be aware that on catastrophic fire days the park will be closed and walkers will be required to leave the trail. For more information on seasonal highlights and challenges view the Seasonal Highlight’s fact sheet.

What do I need to take with me?

Packing the right equipment will help you have a great experience on the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. We’ve made things easy by preparing a packing list with all of your essentials.

What type of accommodation is provided on the trail?

There are four campgrounds along the trail (Cup Gum, Hakea, Banksia and Tea Tree). Each campground has the following basic facilities:

  • 24 tent platforms (12 for self-guided walkers, 12 for commercial tour operator’s guests with some sites being doubled for small groups).
  • Unisex pit toilets
  • Water is available but is not suitable for drinking without treatment
  • Shelter for food preparation
  • Basic camp furniture

Can I stay more than one night at each campground?

No. Walkers are only permitted to stay one night at each campground to ensure the next group of walkers have access to their booked sites and that there are adequate facilities available for all walkers on the trail.

What map/guidebook should I take with me?

Two products are essential for independent walkers (both are provided on registration at the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre):

  • The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail Map
  • Trail Guide ‘Walk the Wild Isle’ produced by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources contains trip notes and interpretive notes on the landforms, flora, fauna, fungi and history of the island.

Are GPX, ESRI, KML, KMZ files available for the trail?

Yes. The following files of the trail are available for download:

  • Google Earth file (KML/KMZ).
  • GPX file for GPS units.
  • ESRI Shape file for GIS users.

Visit Data.SA Recreation Trails page to download GPX, ESRI, KML, KMZ files.

Is drinking water available along the trail?

Each campground has a rainwater tank which supplies non potable water so it requires treatment prior to drinking.

Is there mobile phone reception on the trail?

Mobile phone reception may be possible with a Telstra 3G or 4G phone service at some of the higher points along the trail, but it is not guaranteed. You should anticipate being out of contact with the outside world for the duration of the five-day walk unless you are carrying a satellite phone or a personal locator device such as an EPIRB.

Are there guided walks?

A number of commercial tour operators offer guided walks along the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. For more information contact the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre on (+61 8) 8553 4410.

Can I walk just one section of the trail?

Two sections of the trail are suitable for extended day walks: Flinders Chase Visitor Centre to Snake Lagoon and the Hanson Bay Hike (Hanson Bay to Kelly Hill Caves). For more information contact the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre on (+61 8) 8553 4410.

Can I take a group walking on the trail? (schools, community groups, incorporated clubs and commercial operators)

Yes. For information contact the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre on (+61 8) 8553 4410.

How do I get to Kangaroo Island and where can I stay?

Planning your trip Kangaroo Island is essential. It can transform your experience from a great walk to a trip of a lifetime. You can discover more about the Kangaroo Island experiences on offer, including where to stay, eat and play by visiting Tourism Kangaroo Island or by calling call 1800 811 080. For cave tour information visit the Kelly Hill Caves or call (+61 8) 8553 4464.