Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kangaroo Island, a Wildlife Fortress

Australia’s third largest island, with a surface of 4400 square km (1698 square miles), is considered one of world’s few unspoiled wildlife refuges. Located 110 km (70 miles) south-west of Adelaide, the island can be reached by ferry or plane. The island was first visited in 1802 by the English explorer Matthew Flinders giving it its name due to the abundance of kangaroos. And it’s not only kangaroos; you will also find many koalas, seals, wallabies, platypus or echidnas.

Considering the island’s surface, you will probably need more than one day to see and experience all the island has to offer. Tens of thousands of people come to the island each year for the beaches, the wildlife or its natural wonders. You can see many of the animals up-close, since most of them are used to human visitors. Over 50% of the island’s surface has never been cleared of vegetation, while more than a quarter of the island is conserved in several national or conservation parks.

The tours offered on Kangaroo are usually for two to five days, so that visitors have enough time to explore the island. Apart from the wildlife, you can also enjoy a visit to the KI Marine Centre, the local aquarium, or go on the Koala Walk and see koalas and wallabies in the trees up-close. For more wildlife, check the Penneshaw Penguin Centre or the Seal Bay Conservation Park.

Wildlife spotting surely is the major attraction here, each season having its own stars. For summer, during December through February, you get to see kangaroos, wallabies, sea-lions, koalas or penguins. Autumn (March to May) is the time when Glossy Black cockatoos and Black swans begin their courtship. Winter, lasting from June to August, comes with a spectacular lush green, perfect for waders, echidnas, kangaroos and koalas, while the summer (September to November) gives way to an abundance of wildflowers, eucalyptus and Cape Barren geese.

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