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Hoppy days; SECOND GUIDE TO KANGAROO ISLAND, AUSTRALIA.

Byline: BRIDGET MCGROUTHER

Why skip to Kangaroo? As its name might suggest, Kangaroo Island is jumping with wildlife. Known as Australia's Galapagos, not only does it have its own sub species of kangaroo, but rare animal, bird and marine life, including koala bears, the shy duck-billed platypus and sea lions. The scenic island is a must-see for nature lovers. Once upon a time... At 155km long and 55km wide, Kangaroo Island is Australia's third largest and seven times the size of Singapore.

As it was separated from the mainland 10,000 years ago, animals and plants have evolved differently over this time - creating unique species not found anywhere else. On the right tracks Kangaroo Island is best explored as part of a guided 4WD tour from nearby Adelaide or with a local company (www.tour kangarooisland.com.au).

There's plenty to explore on your own and you can hire a self-drive car, but many of the roads are unsealed and tracking rare breeds can require help from experts. Seal the deal At Seal Bay Conservation Park, you can get up close and personal with Australian sea lions basking on the beach or swimming in the surf. Rangers will even take you for a walk amongst the animals. Rock and roo The Flinders Chase National Park is one of the best in Australia. Its visitor centre has maps, walking routes, a cafe and exhibitions.

Rocky River is packed with wildlife, including curious kangaroos and wallabies, which you're asked not to feed, while there's also a chance to glimpse a duck-billed platypus.

Deserted dunes Little Sahara got its name due to its rolling, white sand dunes several miles from the sea. Climb to the top for great views and slide down on sand-boards, hired from local stores.

Further west, sweeping Vivonne Bay has been voted one of the top beaches in Australia but swimming is not advised due to strong rip tides.

Quite remarkable The Cape du Couedic lighthouse stands over a large colony of New Zealand fur seals and Admiral's Arch, an impressive landmark sculpted by the sea.

Mother Nature's artistic handiwork can also be admired at the Remarkable Rocks a few miles further on - huge, weather-shaped granite boulders perched on a cliff.

Sunny side up Enjoying a 'Mediterranean' climate, the warm, dry summers and mild winters make it a year-round destination.

The warmest and driest time to go is between November and March. It's coolest from June to August, when it can be rainy, but these months are best for wildlife. A whale of a time From June to August, southern right whales pass close to shore and dolphins can often be seen. Black swans have amazing courtship rituals and even echidnas get 'horny', forming mating trains.

Children will love the antics of little penguin tours or feeding pelicans. Snorkelling, fishing and diving are also popular. A foodie's paradise Renowned for its culinary attractions, the Food and Wine Trail offers a tasty tour of some of the island's best producers, including honey, cheese, olive oil, seafood and marron (like a crayfish). Enjoy fish suppers like you've never tasted before - grilled, beer-battered or crumbed - while there are also giant scallops and prawns. Where to stay? Accommodation suits all budgets from sleeping in swags or camping, to backpacker hostels, eco-cabins, a lighthouse, self-catering, guest houses, hotels and the luxurious Southern Ocean Lodge, which costs around $2000 per night! Hopping to go? Regional Express Airlines (www.regionalexpress.com.au) and Air South (www.airsouth.com.au) both fly daily from Adelaide to Kingscote (KI). Sealink (www.sealink.com) operates ferries between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw and buses between Cape Jervis and Adelaide.

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Bask... See sea lions in the sun Sights... Meet the locals Unspoilt... Coastal view
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Feb 5, 2012
Words:625
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