Environment SA News

Boost for Kangaroo Island as key national park attractions reopen after bushfire recovery

Visitors to Kangaroo Island can enjoy even more attractions this summer with the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail and Kelly Hill Conservation Park to fully reopen in time for the school holidays.

Boost for Kangaroo Island as key national park attractions reopen after bushfire recovery

National parks infrastructure destroyed in the 2019-20 bushfires has been re-imagined and rebuilt as part of a $4.2 million investment in the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail and a $2.3 million project to enhance Kelly Hill Conservation Park.

The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is a world-class, 61km, 5‑day walking experience giving visitors access to some of the most rugged, remote and spectacular coastlines in South Australia.

Four campsites along the trail reopened on Saturday 16 December, each with a slow-combustion fire, extra protection from the elements, solar lighting and a cooking area.

People can now access the trail independently to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Walker numbers are limited each day and bookings are essential.

The trail, in the southwest of Kangaroo Island, passes through Flinders Chase National Park, Kelly Hill Conservation Park and the Cape Bouguer Wilderness Protection Area.

Kelly Hill Conservation Park also reopened on Saturday 16 December. The park is known for its limestone cave system, which is an amazing reflection of the islands’ geology.

A new visitor experience at Kelly Hill includes an audio-visual tour of the caves, which features specially designed lighting to showcase the ornate stalagmites and stalactites.

Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the caves, above-ground self-guided tours, walks and picnic facilities.

Kangaroo Island Tourism and Commercial Services Manager Alana Binns said staff were excited to welcome people back to the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail and the improved visitor experience at Kelly Hill Conservation Park.

"It’s taken a lot of work to replace and upgrade the infrastructure that was destroyed in the bushfires," she said.

"These two attractions are an important part of the tourism offering on Kangaroo Island and the school holidays are the perfect time to explore the island’s pristine environment and wildlife."

Kangaroo Island’s tourism industry contributes about $187 million each year to the regional economy, employing about 1500 people directly or indirectly.

Lonely Planet and the New York Times have both named Kangaroo Island on their lists of the world’s top destinations to visit.

The 2019-20 Kangaroo Island bushfires burnt 211,474 hectares of land ­- almost half of the island - and destroyed much of the built infrastructure at Flinders Chase National Park and Kelly Hill Conservation Park.

Construction of a new Flinders Chase Visitor Centre is progressing ahead of its opening in 2024.

The $19.5 million centre will include immersive displays of the island’s unique stories, national park visitor information and a cafe and retail space in an ecologically sustainable building.

For Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail bookings, visit https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/experiences/kiwt

To book tours of the Kelly Hill Caves, visit https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/parks/kelly-hill-conservation-park