Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island national park attractions spring back to life as bushfire recovery continues

The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail and Kelly Hill Conservation Park are set to reopen their doors to visitors, offering a chance to rediscover the island’s stunning natural attractions.

As the Kangaroo Island community continues its recovery from the devastating 2019-20 bushfires, there’s news for nature enthusiasts and adventurers.

The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail and Kelly Hill Conservation Park are set to reopen their doors to visitors, offering a chance to rediscover the island’s stunning natural attractions.

“Kangaroo Island’s remote landscapes and abundant wildlife make it one of the best nature-based tourism destinations in the world,” Deputy Premier Susan Close says.

“The reopening of the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail and Kelly Hill Conservation Park means more people will be able to experience the beauty of the island and learn about its ecology and geology.”

Today’s reopening marks a significant milestone, made possible by substantial investments in revitalising these national park treasures. A $4.2 million upgrade has been dedicated to enhancing the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, while Kelly Hill Conservation Park underwent a $2.3 million transformation.

The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is an extraordinary 61-kilometer, 5-day hiking experience that provides access to some of South Australia’s most breathtaking and remote coastlines. Winding its way through the southwest of Kangaroo Island, the trail spans across Flinders Chase National Park, Kelly Hill Conservation Park, and the Cape Bouguer Wilderness Protection Area.

With its reopening, four trailside campsites are ready to welcome adventurers. These campsites are equipped with slow-combustion fireplaces, extra protection against the elements, solar lighting, and cooking facilities. To ensure a pristine and intimate experience, daily walker numbers are limited, and advance bookings are essential.

For those fascinated by geology and subterranean wonders, Kelly Hill Conservation Park reopens its limestone cave system to the public.

The caves, a fascinating reflection of Kangaroo Island’s geology, have been enhanced to offer a captivating visitor experience. An audio-visual tour brings the caves to life, illuminating the ornate stalagmites and stalactites. Visitors can also partake in guided cave tours, self-guided above-ground explorations, scenic walks, and enjoy picnic facilities.

The reopening of these natural treasures is not only a boon for nature enthusiasts but also a positive step for Kangaroo Island’s tourism industry. The island’s tourism sector contributes approximately $187 million annually to the regional economy and provides direct or indirect employment for about 1500 people.

Moreover, international recognition from renowned publications like Lonely Planet and The New York Times has placed Kangaroo Island among the world’s top destinations to visit.

“We are very excited to welcome people back to the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail and the improved visitor experience at Kelly Hill Conservation Park,” Alana Binns, Kangaroo Island Tourism and Commercial Services Manager says.

“It’s taken a lot of work to replace and upgrade the infrastructure that was destroyed in the bushfires. 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.”

The 2019-20 Kangaroo Island bushfires wreaked havoc, scorching 211,474 hectares of land—nearly half of the island—and causing extensive damage to the infrastructure at Flinders Chase National Park and Kelly Hill Conservation Park. However, the community’s resilience has shone through, and reconstruction is progressing steadily.

A notable highlight on the horizon is the $19.5 million Flinders Chase Visitor Centre, set to open its doors to visitors in 2024. This centre promises to be a hub of discovery and education, welcoming travellers with the island’s unique natural wonders and stories of recovery from adversity.

The 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 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.

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