Kangaroo Island is Australia's 3rd-largest island (after Tasmania and Melville) with land area approx 4405 km2 (1701 mi2). Kangaroo Island is part of South Australia (state) and located approx 112 km (70 mi) southwest of Adelaide (state's capital). The closest mainland Australia location is Snapper Point in Backstairs Passage (approx 14 km / 8 mi from Fleurieu Peninsula). Island's total population is around 4,500.
Cruise ships visit Kangaroo Island since 2003. Season 2018-2019 was Penneshaw's record-high with scheduled 28 ship calls and projected annual growth of 20% in the coming years.
Kangaroo Island's primary port is Penneshaw - port town on Dudley Peninsula's northeast coast, approx 107 km (66 mi) south of Adelaide. Penneshaw is Kangaroo Island's cruise and ferry port serving regular crossings from Cape Jervis (Fleurieu Peninsula's western coast). Penneshaw (population under 300) is best-known for its Maritime-Folk Museum and tours to the penguin colony near Kingscote (the only penguins breeding in Australian waters). Island's largest town (administrative centre) is Kingscote - located approx 119 km (74 mi) southwest of Adelaide. Kingscote has government offices, hospital, supermarket, school, sports complex.
The island was previously connected to mainland Australia and occupied by aborigines. However, all natives disappeared after the land became an island due to rising sea levels. The island was resettled from early-19th century onwards, initially by whalers and sealers. Island's current economy is largely based on agriculture, fishing (Australian Southern Rock Lobster fishery) and tourism.
Kangaroo Island has several nature reserves established to protect its native flora and fauna. The largest and most popular park is Flinders Chase (at the western end). The island has 12 wineries and 30 winegrowers. The first vineyard was planted close to Eastern Cove in 1976. The first wine was made in 1982 (KI-Barossa blend from Eastern Cove Wine cellar). The island is also well-known for its honey and Ligurian bees, having world's only disease-free and pure-bred population of this bee species. Exporting queen bees is a major industry, imposing quarantine restrictions on bringing bee-handling equipment and bee products onto the island.
So far, lightning strikes caused two major bushfires on the island - in 2007 (December 6-16) and 2020 (January 3-6). The fires in 2007 burnt over 1/5th of the Island (~900 km2 / 220000 acres), with the most affected being Flinders Chase NP (630 km2 / 85% of park's total area). The fires in 2020 destroyed !~1500 km2 (370000 acres) and Parndana was evacuated (via SeaLink ferries and buses). Due to the uncontrolled bushfires, several scheduled cruise ship anchorage calls to Penneshaw were cancelled.
Kangaroo Island cruise terminal
Cruise ships to Kangaroo Island dock (anchor) at Penneshaw - port town on the eastern coast. Large cruise liners anchor at sea and transport their passengers to Penneshaw (town's pier) via ship's tender boats.
SeaLink operates regularly scheduled ferryboat service (vehicle and passenger) with daily crossings between Cape Jervis (south of Adelaide) and Port Penneshaw. There are two SeaLink ferries to Kangaroo Island - "SeaLion 2000" and "Spirit of Kangaroo Island". The cruise lasts about 45 min, with crossing distance 16 km (10 ml).
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