Useful guide for first time visitors to KI
Kangaroo Island is an unspoilt wilderness in a remote location. Many of the things you might take for granted on the mainland (like mobile phone/TV/internet reception, GPS access, street lights/traffic lights, department stores, supermarkets, evening restaurant dining or easy access to petrol, cafes and groceries) may not be part of your experience here. Actually, that is part of the charm of Kangaroo Island. So be prepared to plan ahead and to let go of the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
How many people live on Kangaroo Island?
Despite a population of only 4,417 people – over 140,000 people visit Kangaroo Island (or "KI" as the locals call it) each year, making it one of the most popular destinations in South Australia.
Approximately one third of Kangaroo Island is declared as national park or for wilderness conservation. Most major attractions are situated in the South Coast region of the island.
Serenity Cottage at Vivonne Bay is centrally located along the South Coast and a convenient base to explore the island that is no more than 75 minutes to anywhere on the island.
How big is Kangaroo Island?
Distances can be deceptive. First time visitors to the island are often surprised how large the island is and how long it takes to drive from one attraction to the next. Kangaroo Island is in fact the third largest island off the coast of mainland Australia (following Tasmania and Melville Island). At 155km long and up to 55km wide, Kangaroo Island covers an area of approx. 4,415 square kilometres. To put it into perspective, Kangaroo Island is seven times the size of Singapore!
How long should I plan to stay on Kangaroo Island?
As a guide, 3 days on Kangaroo Island will give you a good taste, 5 days will show you the sights, but 7 to 10 days will allow you to truly discover the magic of this natural wonderland and give yourself the opportunity to truly unwind. The number one regret we hear is "I wish we'd stayed longer!" shortly followed by "We'll be back!"
What's the weather like on Kangaroo Island?
With warm summers, mild winters, and temperate autumn and spring – Kangaroo Island is perfect to visit all year round.
What are the most popular attractions on Kangaroo Island?
Two of the most popular attractions on Kangaroo Island are a) Seal Bay and b) Flinders Chase National Park where you can explore the iconic Remarkable Rocks and experience a colony of New Zealand Fur Seals at the base of Admirals Arch.
What is the main town on Kangaroo Island?
Kingscote is the largest township on Kangaroo Island with a full range of services and shopping available. Fuel and light grocery items are available 7 days a week. Main shopping is 5 1/2 days a week, with most shops closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.
What's the best way to get to Kangaroo Island?
There are no bridges from the mainland to the island.
If you are planning a self-drive, self-catered holiday on Kangaroo Island. You can:
a) bring your own car on the ferry
b) fly from the Adelaide Airport to Kangaroo Island; and pick up your hire car from the KI Airport
c) hire a car from the Adelaide Airport and drive to the Cape Jervis ferry terminal
d) take a coach from the Adelaide Central Bus Station to the Cape Jervis ferry terminal on the mainland. Then collect your hire car from the Penneshaw ferry wharf when you arrive on the island.
International and Interstate guests can catch the SeaLink Connection coach service which departs Adelaide twice daily from the Adelaide Central Bus Station to the Cape Jervis ferry terminal.
To get from the Adelaide Airport to the Adelaide Central Bus Station you can either catch a taxi or the free Adelaide Airport Shuttle Bus.
I'm planning to catch the ferry to KI. Do I need to book in advance?
Yes. It is nesessary to pre-book all your travel arrangements to Kangaroo Island. Although the SeaLink ferry operates daily (except Christmas Day), some time slots can fill up well in advance. You will need to book the number of passengers plus your vehicle.
How long does it take to drive from Adelaide to the Cape Jervis ferry terminal?
Allow approx. 2 hours to drive (107km) from Adelaide to Cape Jervis. See route on Google Maps. The journey may only take an hour and a half, however better to allow up to 2 hours.
Remember to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled Sealink ferry departure.
Once you arrive, park your vehicle in the queue. Then go inside the terminal to collect your pre-booked ticket/s.
Only the driver is allowed inside the vehicle when the car is driven onto the Ferry. All other passengers will walk on, and meet the driver inside.
The cars are carefully 'packed like sardines', however an attendant will be there to assist and guide the Driver.
Please note: Your mobile phone will not get reception at the Cape Jervis ferry terminal (SOS emergency calls only), however wi-fi is available once you arrive at the Penneshaw ferry terminal on Kangaroo Island.
How long does the Sealink ferry crossing take?
The ferry takes approx. 45 minutes to cross the Backstairs Passage between Cape Jervis on the mainland and Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island.
Refreshments, maps and tourist information are available both onboard the ferry and inside the ferry terminals at either end of your journey. You may even be lucky enough to spot dolphins on the way. See route on Google Maps.
How long does it take to drive from the Penneshaw ferry terminal to Serenity Cottage at Vivonne Bay?
Once you arrive on the island, you'll disembark the Sealink ferry at Penneshaw. It will take approx. one and a quarter hours to drive (100km) to Serenity Cottage at Vivonne Bay. See Route on Google Maps.
However, if you have not brought your groceries across with you from the mainland, allow time to call into the supermarket at either Penneshaw or Kingscote along the way. See Route on Google Maps.
At the end of your stay on Kangaroo Island, remember to arrive back to Penneshaw at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled ferry departure.
How long does it take to get from the airport to Serenity Cottage?
Providing you pre-book, you can pick up a hire car from the Kangaroo Island Airport. The drive from the airport to Vivonne Bay is approx. 40 minutes (48km). See route on Google Maps.
Will I need extra hire car insurance to travel around KI?
Yes. Please check the insurance implications of bringing a hire car over to Kangaroo Island on the ferry. There may be limitations regarding driving on unsealed roads and no insurance cover for driving between dusk and dawn.
You will save on the cost of ferrying the vehicle both ways, if you collect your hire car on the island. Providing you have pre-booked, you can collect your hire car from either the Penneshaw Wharf or Kingscote Airport.
There are only two hire car companies on Kangaroo Island. We recommend you book early and take all the extra insurances required for Kangaroo Island.
Allow all their vehicles on unsealed roads.
No insurance cover for driving between dusk and dawn.
Call (08) 8553 3133
Allow their 4WD vehicles on unsealed roads or take extra insurance for a standard car.
No insurance cover for driving between dusk and dawn.
Call (08) 8553 9144
Do I need a 4WD vehicle to tour around Kangaroo Island?
No. You can drive to most of the main towns and tourist destinations via sealed roads. However, minor roads tend to be dirt roads that may be heavily corrugated.
Always be on the lookout for native or farm animals on the road, especially between dusk and dawn. For your own safety and to protect the native wildlife, we would recommend that you avoid driving at night, where possible. Plan your trips, and adjust your speed accordingly.
Where are the kangaroos?
Keep your eyes peeled and you'll see all kinds of wildlife on the Island. However, the best time to spot a wallaby, kangaroo or possum is at dusk. There are a number of places on the island that host nocturnal experiences and guided tours to enable you to see the Australian wildlife up close and personal. It is not uncommon to discover a Tamar Wallaby in the garden during your stay at Vivonne Bay. More info: www.tourkangarooisland.com.au/wildlife
Is the property pet-friendly?
Sorry, No. Pets are not allowed on the property under any circumstances - as the surrounding bush is home to an abundance of native birds and animals.
What should I do if I encounter a bat during our stay?
Kangaroo Island bats are one of the many nocturnal creatures you may experience during your stay. If you arrive at the cottage after sunset, please keep the house doors closed whilst you unpack your vehicle because bats do occasionally fly into the houses at Vivonne Bay. If a bat gets into the house, you can open the doors to the side deck to allow the bat to fly out. If you are unable to remove the bat please contact our caretaker for assistance.
Is off-street parking available?
Yes. Follow the driveway down to the carport at the rear of the property where under cover parking is available.
Where can I buy petrol?
The Vivonne Bay General Store is the only nearby place where you can buy petrol/fuel. So be sure to top up as you head out for day trips because distances can be deceptive on Kangaroo Island.
24 hour petrol is available at Kingscote and Penneshaw. During the day you can also refuel at Parndana, Island Beach and the KI Wilderness Retreat just outside the entrance to the Flinders Chase National Park.
Important: Remember to top up your tank on the Island before you head back on the ferry. During day time hours, petrol may be available on the mainland at Cape Jervis, Delamere, Normanville and Yankalilla. However, if you depart on a later ferry service, the nearest open petrol station may be Aldinga (64km north of Cape Jervis)!
Where can I charge an electric vehicle?
Electric vehicles are available for hire from the Kangaroo Island Airport and can be charged at charge points located at the Airport, Kingscote (Council car park), Penneshaw (adjacent Community Busines Centre), American River (camping ground adjacent to entry to boat ramp) and Parndana (adjacent Parndana Town Hal). Please note: electric vehicles are not suitable for your stay at Vivonne Bay because there are no charging stations on the south or west coasts of the Island.
Is there a grocery store nearby?
Your stay at Serenity Cottage will be a self-catering holiday with a fully equipped kitchen.
We recommend bringing your groceries with you in an esky or cooler bag, as the nearest supermarkets to Serenity Cottage are 30 to 50 minutes drive away.
The nearby Vivonne Bay General Store & Bottle Shop, located on the South Coast Road, is the only commercial hub at Vivonne Bay and very handy for top-up supplies, light meals, alcohol, or petrol during your stay.
Open 9am to 6pm, 7 days per week. Kitchen closes at 5:30pm.
See route (from the cottage to the store) on Google Maps.
This convenient rest point is the only retail hub at Vivonne Bay.
- Eat in or takeaway
- ATM (withdraw cash)
- Public phone
- Postal services (send a post card or parcel)
- Fresh bread and milk
- Local honey, eggs, cheeses and jams
- Fruit and vegetables
- Local wines
- Beers and spirits
- Fishing tackle, rods and bait
- Snorkelling gear
- Sandboard hire
- Gas refills
- Locally made souvenirs
For the best range and prices you can purchase groceries on the Island from:
- Penneshaw IGA
This grocery store is located in the township where the ferry docks on the island.
Very handy for picking up your groceries before you head off towards Vivonne Bay.
Open 8am to 8pm, 7 days per week
- Foodland Supermarket at Kingscote (the largest town on Kangaroo Island and the nearest town to the airport)
Open 7 days per week. View opening hours.
If you have time to kill on the mainland, prior to catching the ferry, you can also pick up groceries from Victor Harbor, Yankalilla or Normanville.
However, please buy local where ever practical. You'll discover that Kangaroo Island has the most amazing local gourmet produce, honey and wine.
- Kangaroo Island Farmers Markets
Delicious seasonal, local and farm gate produce.
Penneshaw Oval - 1st Sunday of the month (from 9am to 1pm)
Kingscote School Courtyard - 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month (from 9am to 1pm)
Where is the nearest place to eat out or get takeaway?
During the day there are a few cafes along the South Coast where you can order lunch. The nearest places for a bite to eat are Vivonne Bay General Store, Rustic Blue Gallery & Cafe, Seal Bay Cottages & Cafe or Andermel Marron & Two Wheeler Creek Wines.
Raptor Domain offer a mobile food van and the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary serve coffee, lunch and dinner.
The Parndana Hotel, located in the centre of the island, offers a family friendly experience. The licensed Chase Cafe at the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre is open from 9am for breakfast, and serves lunch until approx. 3:30pm, with coffee and cakes available until 5pm every day of the year except Christmas Day.
Read reviews about the best restaurants on Kangaroo Island.
TIP: Please note evening meals are not usually served on the south coast of Kangaroo Island after 5pm. So planning ahead is essential.
Where's the nearest place to hire a kayak, sandboard or toboggan?
KI Outdoor Action can provide single or double kayaks, for up to 4 hours, as well as sandboards and toboggans for either an hour or a day. You can also pick up a sand board from the Vivonne Bay General Store and hit the slopes at Little Sahara.
How many guests does the cottage sleep?
The cottage only has one small bedroom with a Queen sized bed which comfortably sleeps two guests.
Is the only access to the cottage via the stairs?
Yes, unfortunately the only access to the house is via the front or rear steps.
Will my mobile phone work on Kangaroo island?
At home you may rely on your smart phone. On the island expect that mobile coverage will be patchy to non-existent. However, if your phone plan is with Telstra you may be able to make and receive calls from Serenity Cottage. From the time you arrive at Cape Jervis to board the ferry it is likely that you will have SOS coverage only for emergencies. Public (coin operated) phones are located in all centres and some attractions.
Important phone numbers
For life threatening emergencies call 000 (triple zero)
or call 112 if using a mobile phone.
Ambulance .................... 000 (Call 112 from a mobile phone)
Fire ................................. 000 (Call 112 from a mobile phone)
Police attendance ....... 13 14 44 (Local 8553 2018)
Hospital (Kingscote) .... 8553 4200
Doctor ............................. 8553 2037
Dentist ............................ 8553 3117
Vet .................................... 8553 2485
Tow Truck - Call KI Crash Repairs on 8553 2170 (after hours 0409 532 170)
RAA Emergency Road Service .................................................... 13 11 11
State Emergency Service (Storm & Flood Response) ........... 13 25 00
Country Fire Service - Bushfire Information Hotline .......... 1300 362 361
Will my GPS work on Kangaroo Island?
Don't rely on your GPS to find your way around the island. It may not work!
Pick up a free map of the island from the Sealink ferry terminal at Cape Jervis before you board the ferry or from the Kangaroo Island Visitor Information Centre at Penneshaw.
Can we get internet access at Vivonne Bay?
Many parts of Kangaroo Island (especially on the South Coast) have no internet coverage.
At Serenity Cottage, you may have enough coverage to receive and make phone calls on your Optus or Telstra mobile phone.
Will we get TV reception at Serenity Cottage?
What TV channels can I get on Kangaroo Island?
Serenity Cottage has good television reception thanks to VAST Free-to-air satellite TV.
You'll notice the ads are often from regional areas outside South Australia.
Learn more about available channels here: www.myvast.com.au
Is there a radio station on Kangaroo Island?
You can tune into the local community radio station KIx FM 90.7
Are there any quarantine regulations on KI?
Yes. Please be aware that you cannot bring any honey or bee products (bees wax candles etc) or unwashed potatoes to Kangaroo Island due to quarantine regulations.
Is the cottage on mains water?
This property relies soley on rain water tanks for our water supply.
Please use water sparingly, especially during the summer months.
WATER SAVING TIPS
Please limit your showers to 4 minutes
Turn off the water while you brush your teeth or shave
Half fill the laundry tub if you only need to wash a few items.
Don’t flush things down the toilet to dispose of them. Please throw tissues and other bathroom waste in the garbage bin.
Do you accept credit card?
Yes. You can book online and make a secure payment by credit card.
Please note: payment is required in full for credit card bookings.
If you prefer to pay by bank transfer, please email us your preferred dates.
We will respond with our bank account details for payment by electronic bank transfer.
A minimum 50% deposit is required to secure your booking.
Please note: your reservation is not confirmed until cleared funds have been received into our bank account.
The balance is due 30 days before arrival.
Payment signifies acceptance of our reservation policy.
What if I need to change the dates or cancel my booking?
Please notify us as early as possible. Read more about our cancellation policy.
What is provided?
To make your stay at Serenity Cottage comfortable we will provide:
- Bed linen, pillows, quilt, electric blanket & alarm clock
- Bath towels, hand towels, face washers, soap, toilet paper & a hair dryer
(Please bring your own beach towels)
- Full equipped kitchen (microwave, kettle, toaster, cutlery, crockery, glassware, baking utensils and ovenware)
- Stove & oven (No dishwasher)
- Dishwashing liquid, sponges and tea towels
- DVD Player
- CD player and radio
- Bluetooth speakers
- Reverse cycle air conditioner (heating & cooling)
- Laundry tub, dryer, iron & ironing board, pegs (No washing machine)
- Gas barbeque (BBQ)
- Outdoor table & chairs
- Undercover carport
What do I need to bring?
We would suggest bringing along:
- Food/groceries, drinks or alcohol
- Esky and/or ice packs (to keep food & drinks cool for day trips)
- Beach towels
- A good book
- A torch
- Clothes and toiletries
- Bathers and sun hat
- Water bottle
- Sun screen and insect repellent
- Music CD discs and/or DVDs to watch (a small selection is provided)
- Charging cables for your mobile devices
- Telstra modem or mobile phone (expect limited coverage at Vivonne Bay)
Feel free to contact us if your question is not answered here.
© Serenity Cottage
© Keith Hooper
Rustic Blue Gallery & Cafe
© Serenity Cottage
© Serenity Cottage
Laundry tub, dryer & ironing facilities
(No washing machine)