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Stunning new Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Centre to bolster KI tourism

The new Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Centre located at Karatta on Kangaroo Island’s wild west coast has been officially opened, replacing the former Rocky River centre destroyed in the 2019/20 bushfires.

Stunning new Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Centre to bolster KI tourism

The $19.5 million ecologically sustainable, fire resistant facility will be a gateway to some of Kangaroo Island’s most iconic attractions including nearby Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch.

The centre will be run by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and includes a café and souvenir shop, The stunning structure will significantly boost the island’s visitor experience and will ensure Kangaroo Island remains one of South Australia’s premier tourism destinations.

Interactive displays allow visitors to learn about the park, including the plants and animals, and the spectacular landscapes, rock formations and bushwalking trails.

The centre compliments other recent upgrades including to nearby Kelly Hill Caves, the KI Wilderness Trail and the Remarkable Rocks Boardwalk.

To reduce the risk of possible future fires affecting the new centre, it has been built on a previously developed site closer to the park’s entrance with frames made from bushfire-resistant Australian timbers.

The design integrates technologies including solar panels, batteries, electric vehicle charging stations and energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

Kangaroo Island’s tourism industry contributed $219 million in the year to March 2024. It was ranked the second must-visit destination in Lonely Planet’s global 2024 Top Regions Hotlist. More than 100,000 people visited Flinders Chase in 2022-23.

NPWS National Parks Programs Director Jason Irving said that, despite all the challenges caused by the bushfires, the Kangaroo Island community had rallied to help this rebuild happen.

"This will be a world-class visitor hub for all people who visit this unique area, which is home to some of our most beautiful natural environments," he said.

"This vital piece of visitor infrastructure sets a new benchmark for sustainability, including its ability to minimise energy use and filter waste and stormwater on-site.

"This will not only stimulate tourism on the island, it will also provide locals with new amenities they can enjoy with family and friends all year round."

The Karatta site is also home to the $2 million Flinders-Baudin Research Centre, a collaborative project between the University of Adelaide and the Department for Environment and Water. The research centre has a laboratory, admin area and accommodation for nine people, and is for ecological and conservation research.

The marine content displayed in the centre was a collaboration between the Department for Environment and Water and Parks Australia.

Other recently completed projects include:

  • $4.2m upgrade to the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail
  • $2.3m to enhance Kelly Hill Conservation Park and Kelly Hill Caves
  • $2m to construct a new boardwalk at Remarkable Rocks
  • $0.95m to rebuild May’s Homestead and Postman’s Cottage