How to spend a day in Flinders Chase National Park

Want to make the most of your visit to this iconic park? We’ve got you covered with this one-day itinerary.

Located on the western end of Kangaroo Island, Flinders Chase National Park is one of the crown jewels of South Australia’s national parks. 

Founded in 1919, the park was recognised as a special place to conserve for future generations, with its wild and rugged beauty, and being a haven for our native flora and fauna. 

Now, the park is celebrating its 100th anniversary – and it’s still famed for its iconic scenery and wildlife encounters. 

To help you immerse yourself in the magic of Flinders Chase, one of SA’s most biodiverse parks, Flinders Chase National Park Senior Ranger Michael Penhall has put together this itinerary for a memorable day: 

Morning

Start your day at the Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Centre at Rocky River. If you haven’t already purchased your park entry pass online, you’ll be able to buy it at the visitor centre. 

Check out the interpretive display where you can learn more about Kangaroo Island's diverse flora and fauna. 

The friendly staff can provide you with information about the park, and if you’re looking for a bite to eat or some supplies to take on the road, you can sample local food and wine at the Chase Café. 

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While you’re in the area, take a stroll on the popular 45-minute Heritage Walk that starts at the visitor centre. Mornings are a great time to catch a glimpse of Kangaroo Island kangaroos, koalas and tammar wallabies sunning themselves. 

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If you have a little more morning spring in your step, take the 2-hour return journey on the Platypus Waterholes Walk. 

Although elusive, platypuses can be sighted all year round from one of the many viewing platforms dotted around the waterhole loop – but, remember to be patient. 

As you wander through the riverine ecosystem, interpretive glass panels will highlight the biology and habits of the parks’ platypus population, which has grown to more than 200-strong. 

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Top tip: If you’re spending a few days on the island and planning on visiting other local parks such as Seal Bay, Kelly Hill Conservation Park, Cape Borda Lightstation and Cape Willoughby Lightstation, consider purchasing a Kangaroo Island Tour Pass. The 12 month pass entitles unlimited entries on many of the guided tours and to Flinders Chase National Park. The pass is cheaper than purchasing individual entry passes for each of those parks. 

Lunch

Pack a picnic and take the opportunity to head out for lunch with a view. The Snake Lagoon Hike is your ticket to dining paradise, but it’s as much about the journey as it is the destination. 

Traversing through coastal mallee woodland packed with birdlife, you descend into the Rocky River valley, crossing the river itself before making your way along this majestic river to the Southern Ocean. 

Jaw-dropping from any vantage point, the Rocky River mouth and its spectacular beach offer a perfect place for a lunch stop and to soak in the view. As the afternoon sun warms the river banks on your return trip, keep your eyes peeled for cheeky tawny dragons grabbing a tan on their favourite river rock. 

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Afternoon

No visit to Flinders Chase National Park would be complete without dropping in at two of the most iconic geological features in the Southern Hemisphere: Admirals Arch and Remarkable Rocks. 

As you venture into the deep southwest of the park, the red-capped magnificence of the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse greets you, with the spectacle that is this great cape and the Casuarina Islets beyond. 

A short stroll on the boardwalk gets you into the heart of the local long-nosed fur seal colony, with many generations of animals readily visible, sheltering among the rock shelves and shallow pools. 

As you round the corner, the perfectly framed panorama of Admirals Arch comes into view. Grab a photo, then head east along Boxer Drive for the grand finale. 

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As the afternoon light starts to fade, make the most of this beautiful time of day and wind up your adventure with a sunset to envy all sunsets, as you perch up on the granite dome of Remarkable Rocks. 

Keep your eyes open for our nocturnal park residents as you head back to your accommodation. They’re a great sight, but their street smarts are a little light on! 

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Getting to Kangaroo Island 

Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island and lies off the southern coast of the South Australian mainland. The island is bigger than most people think, so if you are planning on visiting you should allow a few days to make the most of your visit. 

Access to the island is either by air or sea. Kingscote Airport on Kangaroo Island is serviced by two airlines – Regional Express Airlines (REX) and QantasLink. Daily direct flights are available between Kingscote and Adelaide. QantasLink also operate seasonal flights between Melbourne and Kingscote. 

If you are arriving by air, you’ll either need to arrange a hire car or book tours through a local tour operator. 

Otherwise, the SeaLink Ferry operates multiple sailings each day between the Fleurieu Peninsula township of Cape Jervis (approximately 90 minute drive south of Adelaide) and Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. The ferry can carry passengers and vehicles, and takes about 45 minutes to make its 16km journey on-water across Backstairs Passage. 

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SeaLink Ferry Travelling between Cape Jervis and Kangaroo Island (image courtesy of the South Australian Tourism Commission/Adam Bruzzone)

Staying on Kangaroo Island 

If you want to make the most of your time on Kangaroo Island, you might like to stay in one of the many accommodation options available in Flinders Chase National Park. Why not book a stay at heritage homestead, the former lighthouse keeper’s cottages at Cape du Couedic and Cape Borda or one of the park’s many campgrounds. 

Interested in learning more about this spectacular park? Check out these tips from Park Ranger Reece Boulden. 

Main image: Casuarina Islets, Cape du Couedic

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