Kangaroo Island is located 14 kilometres (9 miles) off the South Australian coast, approximately 120 kilometres (66 miles) south-southwest of Adelaide.
The question “Where is Kangaroo Island” can be answered in many ways.
Physically the 145 x 55 km (90 x 35 mile), the island lays east-west 14 km (9 miles) from the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula, separated by a narrow strait called Backstairs Passage. Further west the Investigator Strait separates the north coast from the Yorke Peninsula and far to the west, is Eyre Peninsula.
Located 36 degrees south of the Equator, this places it on the same parallel as Malta, Gibraltar, Nashville, Monterey, or Nagano, Japan in the Northern Hemisphere. It has the only north-facing beaches at this latitude. To the south is the high-energy, cold Southern Ocean and north are two relatively warm, protected shallow gulfs. The final taper of the tropical Leeuwin Current comes in from the west. All of this results in a weather pattern and marine environment which is globally unique. Recent ocean surveys discovered many marine plants and animals never recorded by science.
Climatically the two significant drivers are: cool, moist air from the Southern Ocean which keeps things fresh with any winds out of the south; and the Outback to our north brings warm to hot, dry air with any winds from that quarter. Cool changes from low-pressure systems provide climatic variation. In summer (Dec – Feb) cool changes are mild, less frequent and centred well to our south; and in winter (Jun – Aug), are more intense, higher frequency, and often centred much closer to the mainland.
Geologically, the Island is an extension of the adjacent Fleurieu Peninsula and shares many characteristics with the Mount Lofty and Flinders Ranges to the north. Terrestrial plants and animals have close relationships with the adjoining mainland but also share some species and key groups with the south-west of Western Australia and Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria.
This is an interesting one. At least three Aboriginal groups (Kaurna, Narungga, and Ngarrindjeri) maintain an active cultural reference to Kangaroo Island, and there is plenty of evidence of a long pre-contact occupation of Kangaroo Island. However, no-one remained on the island at the time of European exploration in 1802. The Indigenous interest in Kangaroo Island from both a spiritual and physical perspective remains strong.
Politically Kangaroo Island is part of South Australia, and it forms part of a broader electorate for both the Federal and State Governments. From a Local Government perspective, the Island has its’ own autonomy – the Kangaroo Island Council. Despite the triple layer of governance, Islanders retain a strong sense of independence. Investigations into allegations of smuggling in 1843 found Islanders had little regard for distance bureaucracy. It seems nothing has changed!
Find answers to your questions about Kangaroo Island.
Learn more about Kangaroo Island’s brief but interesting history.
We have compiled a gallery of videos and images highlighting the amazing experiences Kangaroo Island offers.
Check out our list of recommendations for Kangaroo Island, South Australia and more.
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Exceptional Kangaroo Island has recommenced private and small group touring operations, operated in a COVID-safe manner.