Head to South Australia’s ‘Galapagos’ and you might see more sea lions than people

Head to South Australia’s ‘Galapagos’ and you might see more sea lions than people.
Head to South Australia’s ‘Galapagos’ and you might see more sea lions than people!

There are ‘roos and koalas everywhere on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, and if it’s vast and beautiful landscapes you’re after then go inland to the natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound

Described by many as Australia’s ‘natural zoo’, Kangaroo Island is one of the few places where you can see a spectacular array of Australian wildlife in its natural habitat.

With almost 30,000 kangaroos on the island, sea lions playing in the sand, echidnas, wallabies and hundreds of koalas high on eucalyptus leaves, Kangaroo Island is an animal-lover’s paradise.

A true escape, the island boasts vast parks and native bushland, shimmering lagoons, towering dunes and mile upon mile of stunning white sands.

Seal Bay is on the southern central coast of the island and it’s a privileged spot, being one of only two places in the world where you can walk among rare sea lions on the beach. They’ll pretty much get on with life, hanging about on the sand and nurturing their little furry pups as you stand and watch.

A paradise for bird-watchers, the island’s magnificent bush and expansive wetlands are home to cockatoos, Australian ravens, wedge-tailed eagles and over 200 other species including the endemic glossy black cockatoo. Visitors will also find the island teeming with flowers and fauna all year round.

Flinders Chase National Park

For those looking for spectacular seascapes, head for Flinders Chase National Park on the western part of the island to the Remarkable Rocks. These towering granite boulders have been battered by wind and sea over 500 million years and the exposed formations provide visitors with stunning photo opportunities.

Admirals Arch, another captivating natural wonder, is at Cape du Couedic. Sculpted by wind and sea, this jaw-dropping natural rock formation is accessed via a boardwalk cut into the cliff face. With the weathered arch framing the ocean, visitors can also spot New Zealand fur-seals on the rocks and their pups playing near the rock pools beneath the arch.

If you want to get even closer to nature, head back to Adelaide and west to the Eyre Peninsula. Here, you can swim with dolphins, spot tuna and look out for the leafy sea dragon and Australian cuttlefish, both native to South Australia.

Feeling brave? Then try cage diving with sharks. Being surrounded by great whites is terrifying, but well worth it. It’s the 40th anniversary of the release of Jaws in 2015, so really it’s rude not to!

Flinders Ranges

A few hours north of Adelaide you’ll find the Flinders Ranges, South Australia’s largest mountain range. This National Park boasts some of the most spectacular scenery of Southern Australia with the iconic natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound as its centerpiece.

Wilpena, a remnant valley floor from an ancient range of mountains, can be seen along one of the bush-walking trails, or you can take to the skies and appreciate the vastness of this rocky landscape on a scenic flight tour. From the air, it is like looking back in time to another world.

North of here is Lake Eyre, a vast salt pan with salt crystals that glitter under the hot sun. Australia’s largest salt lake, this body of water has only filled to capacity three times in the last 150 years, but seasonal rain attracts waterbirds including Australian pelicans, silver gulls and gull-billed turns.

Want to swap koalas for crocodiles? Head up to the Northern Territory where the wildlife really is wild, with the largest salty croc population in the world.

South Australia’s natural highlights

• Visit Kangaroo Island, South Australia’s great nature destination, for an abundance of free-roaming wildlife in its natural habitat. Not to be missed is a walk on Seal Bay, the location of a rare Australian sea-lion colony

• Hop on a catamaran and swim with dolphins in Glenelg, Adelaide

• Take in the stunning national landscape of the Flinders Ranges as you search for the rare yellow-footed rock wallaby climbing the region’s peaks and gorges

• Visit Port Lincoln in the Eyre Peninsula and you can swim with playful sea lions and bluefin tuna. If you’ve brave enough, try shark cage diving

• Birdwatchers should head to Gluepot Reserve – a 50,000 ha virgin mallee scrub containing 190 species of birds, including six nationally-endangered species

Do the ‘wildlife wonder’ itinerary, created by Austravel, including Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Kakadu National Park and Darwin. Nine days from £1,269 per person. Book at Austravel.com/oceans-to-outback.

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