Trip preparation

A little research and planning can transform the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail from a great walk into the walk of a lifetime.

Know before you go

It is important to plan and prepare for your trip so that your Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail walk is safe and enjoyable. Here are a few guidelines that will help you to make the most of your experience:

  1. Plan your trip – book your trip well in advance, including your accommodation, transport and transfers to and from the start and end of the trail. Study maps and route guides ahead of the walk. A Wilderness Trail orientation is provided on registration and will include an update on weather conditions prior to departing.
  2. Know your limits – a good level of fitness is required to walk the trail. You can expect to walk between 3.5 and 6.5 hours a day, not including side trips. This will also depend on your fitness level, weather conditions, how much weight you are carrying, and how long you stop for wildlife viewing and rest breaks. For your own safety, be willing to seek assistance if the walk is more difficult than expected.
  3. Be prepared – take clothing and equipment to suit changeable weather and track conditions. Pack all your own food (including an extra day’s worth) and first day’s water supply.
  4. Safety in numbers – walk with a companion or a number of friends wherever possible.
  5. Share your plan – make sure you let a reliable person know your plans before you go, including what to do if you fail to return as planned.
  6. Be aware of the weather – weather on the trail is changeable and certain times of the year have a higher risk of bushfire and dangerous ocean conditions. Be aware of the dangers and check the forecast and weather warnings before you go. Depending on the conditions, you may need to change or adapt your itinerary. Visit the Bureau of Meteorology for the latest weather updates.

Ways to get here

Kangaroo Island is just 35 minutes by air from Adelaide Airport to Kingscote on Kangaroo Island, or 2.5 hours by coach plus 1 hour by ferry from Adelaide. It’s then a 1.5 to 2 hour drive to the start of the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail at the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre in the Flinders Chase National Park. When planning your travel arrangements we recommend leave plenty of time for registration and orientation and that you are ready to start your walk by 1.00pm to ensure you make the Cup Gum Campsite before nightfall.

Getting to Kangaroo Island

  • By air - REX (Regional Express Airlines) operates 35 minute daily flights direct from Adelaide Airport to Kingscote Airport (14km from the main town of Kingscote) on Kangaroo Island. REX has a maximum 15 kg per person luggage allowance and 7kg hand / cabin luggage for the 34-seater aircraft used to commute to the island. Additional charges apply if you would like to take extra luggage with you. REX offers the possibility to store excess luggage at the airport (only if you fly back to Adelaide with REX) at a small fee. Visit the REX Airlines website for more information.
  • By ferry - Kangaroo Island’s vehicle and passenger ferry service, Sealink, operates daily (except for Christmas Day) between Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula (two hours’ drive south of Adelaide) and Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island. There are four departures per day, with additional services during peak times. Bookings are necessary. Travelling time is a comfortable 45 minutes. Visit the Sealink website or call 13 13 01 (+61 8 8202 8688 from overseas) for bookings and more information.
  • Driving + ferry - Enjoy the leisurely 1.5 to 2 hour drive from Adelaide to Cape Jervis ferry terminal through the Fleurieu Peninsula. You will need to arrive at least half an hour prior to departure of the ferry for passenger check-in and vehicle loading, so it is best to allow 2.5 hours from Adelaide prior to your scheduled departure to ensure a relaxed drive and adequate time to check-in.
  • By coach - Soak up the window views all the way – book a bus seat. Mainland coach return connections are available twice daily to and from Adelaide and Goolwa to Cape Jervis to meet up with Sealink ferries. Visit the Sealink website or call 13 13 01 (+61 8 8202 8688 from overseas) for bookings and more information.

Getting to and from the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail

  • By car - You can travel in the comfort of your own vehicle from the mainland via the Sealink ferry and then on to Flinders Chase National Park, or you can pick up a rental car from Kingscote, Kingscote Airport or Penneshaw. Limited numbers of cars are available for hire on the island so advance bookings are recommended. A designated car parking area will be available at Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Centre for independent walkers.
  • Kangaroo Island Transfers Arrivals/Departure - If you arrive by ferry or air you will require a transfer to and from the Wilderness Trail. Kangaroo Island Transfers service departs from Penneshaw Ferry and/or Kingscote/Airport daily. Contact them on 0427 887 575 or Kangaroo Island Transfers to book.
  • Internal transfer - If required a daily bus from the end of the trail at Kelly Hill Caves back to the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre will be available. (This links with K I Transfers return to Kingscote and Penneshaw). Bookings are essential and can be arranged when booking your walk. For more information, contact the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre on (+61 8) 8553 4410.

Accommodation

Accommodation prior to and after the walk

The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail commences in Flinders Chase National Park and concludes in Kelly Hill Conservation Park. Both parks are located at the western end of the island, approximately 1.5 to 2 hours from the ferry and airport arrival/departure points. Allow plenty of time to get to the island and the start of the walk, as well as the return journey. We recommend booking a night’s accommodation close to the trail the day before you plan to start the walk and on the final day of the walk. That way you can kick things off with plenty of daylight hours ahead of you and finish the walk with time to explore the wonders of Kelly Hill Caves before indulging in the luxury of a hot shower and soft bed. Visit Kangaroo Island Tourism for accommodation options close to the trail. Advance bookings are essential.

Camping on the trail

There are four dedicated overnight camping areas 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 operators )
  • Unisex pit toilets
  • Rainwater in campground shelters
  • Shelter for food preparation and cooking
  • Basic camp furniture

Independent walkers are required to provide their own tent and sleeping equipment. See our packing list for ideas on what to take.

Accommodation off the trail

If camping is not your thing, accommodation options to stay off trail are available through commercial tourism operators. For information on the various options available visit Kangaroo Island Tourism. Advance bookings are essential.

Trip preparation

Seasons

Every season offers something different on the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, so no matter what time of year you visit you’re sure to have an amazing experience. Why not plan your trip around some of these seasonal highlights:

  • Spring (September - November): the season of rebirth and a wonderful time to see the island’s spectacular array of wildflowers, birds and mammals, including Cape Barron Geese nesting in native grasses to incubate their eggs.
  • Summer (December – February): wildlife retreats to bushland habitat to shelter during the heat of the day, summer wildflowers and the new growth of native trees add colour to the landscape, fur seals start to breed and cool sea breezes provide relief on hot days.
  • Autumn (March – May): a time of transition with modest rainfall bringing waterways back to life and providing new growth for wildlife to feed on, newborn seal pups make their debut in the colonies along the coast, platypus sightings are easier to come by and sea winds are calmer.
  • Winter (June – August): orchids and fungi are prolific, rivers are flowing, winter swells crash into towering cliffs providing a breathtaking spectacle, echidna’s form ‘mating trains’ where up to eight males follow a female around, majestic Southern Right Whales pass the shores and high rainfall produces lush, green vegetation. The months of October through to March also offer the longest daylight hours. For more information on seasonal highlights (and challenges!) refer to our Seasonal Highlights fact sheet.

Weather

The weather on Kangaroo Island 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 the walk – sunshine, wind and rain.

Fitness

A good level of fitness is required to walk the trail. You can expect to walk between 3.5 and 6.5 hours a day not including time for side trips. Walk durations will also depend on your fitness level, weather conditions, how much weight you are carrying, and how long you stop for wildlife viewing and rest breaks. 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 6.5 hours. Be sure to trial walking with the pack you intend to take so that you feel fully prepared.

Equipment checklist

Packing the right equipment will help you to have a great experience on the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. When deciding what gear to take remember that you are likely to experience a variety of weather conditions on the trail, so you’ll need to be prepared for both sunny and calm conditions as well as wet and windy weather. Opt for high quality, lightweight options wherever possible as the lighter you pack, the more comfortable your walking experience will be. We’ve made things easy by preparing a packing list with all of your essentials.

Download our audio tour app

The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail Audio Tours mobile application includes over thirty guided audio tours to enjoy while you walk. Each tour is rich in immersive soundscapes and narration making the stories of the trail come to life. For each day, there is a geo-enabled map which offers walkers the ability to track your location even without an internet connection. Be sure to download the app and each of the five tours before starting your walk as internet connectivity is severely limited on the island. 

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