**Update: As of April 2021 Kangaroo Island is getting back to its old self, there is SO much regeneration, Flinders Chase National Park is open and our local eateries and cellar doors are back to business as usual.**
Absolutely! I would be surprised if there is anyone in any country in the world that has not been horrified by the devastation to the national parks, wildlife and farming land inflicted by the December/January fires that have raged across the western end of Kangaroo Island. The extreme images published through out all forms of media are just that, the very worst parts of this event. It is certainly not a reflection of reality for large parts of Kangaroo Island or Australia for that matter.
Anyone following this fire event on mainstream and social media would be led to believe there was not a single kangaroo or koala left to see. Yes, many have perished but gosh there are SO many left, our Stowaway dams and pasture have been inundated by kangaroos and wallabies post bush fire looking for refuge and finding it. We are even trail feeding grains to supplement their diets until the green shoots start to appear.
So what is actually burned?
The biggest attraction that has been damaged by the fire is Flinders Chase National Park. Home to the famous Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch, it is certainly a disappointment to not be able to currently visit. There were a series of boardwalks which protected the ecology of the site which will have to be rebuilt to provide the up close access enjoyed pre fire. Still want to see the rocks? Why not charter a flight to Flinders Chase and observe the full scale of the bushfire and Remarkable Rocks from the air? As devastating as it is, it’s a once in a lifetime sight to see. This is the third time in my lifetime I have seen bush fire burn out Flinders Chase and I am looking forward to watching it regenerate over the coming months and years. We must remember that Australian flora is adapted to bush fire and we are already observing signs of recovery among the yakka trees and eucalypts. Chinta Air and Wrights Air operate charter services from Kingscote Airport.
Kangaroo Island is well known for is very densely vegetated roadsides, some of these have been burned and actually acted as corridors to spread the fires eastwards during the bush fires. This is really the only other way the visitor experience to Kangaroo Island has been changed. Even within the marked areas burned on the CFS map there is large pockets of unburned areas, which are acting as refuges for surviving wildlife as well as livestock.
What is left to do?
EVERY Cafe, restaurant, winery, cellar door, local pub and wildlife encounter experience (including the infamous Seal Bay) is STILL OPEN, unaffected by the fire and their owners and staff are waiting to make your experience an amazing one, you might even be hugged by random strangers who know you have come to visit at a time we really need you. We have have two brand new food and drink experiences False Cape Cellar door and Millie Maes Pantry which have opened in December and they are fantastic. Even KI Outdoor Action whom offer the iconic quad bike nature tours and were in the heart of the fire activity are now open and over half of their tour routes are unaffected by fire. They are also taking tours through the fire ground showing the amazing regeneration that is already happening.
When is the best time to visit?
We are taking bookings from the 1st of February and there is still plenty of great beach going weather to be had this summer and autumn, why not book a fishing charter and see Kangaroo Island from another perspective? Autumn is also when the tuna start running on the north coast for any keen anglers reading this!
The absolute best time to visit would be in winter. You can ask any local when their favorite season is on Kangaroo Island and it would be cool winter months when the farmland is a brilliant green of rolling hills to the sea. When the paddocks are full of tiny little white lambs and the wildlife are out and about making the most of the plentiful pastures as well. Our Stowaways have been built for winter – sauna, hot tub and real wood burning fire are the trifecta for a cosy romantic getaway. The winter months are traditionally the quietest for visitation to Kangaroo Island, so post bush fire it would be so amazing to reverse this for 2020.
We are are not shying away from the fact Kangaroo Island has been bruised. Yes, there are a lot of burned trees in some areas that you will drive through, but the beauty of Kangaroo Island is more than the sum of it’s parts. It still has the amazing beaches, authentic food and drink experiences, wild and untamed landscapes and of course lots and lots of wildlife. If you are thinking about a visit in 2020 then don’t hesitate, I can personally guarantee that everything people love about Kangaroo Island is still here.