KI for Families with Children

 

The best family days are often the simple ones…not rushed, no stress, and the only objective being to have a good time together!  Almost everyone finds that the whole family sleeps better on the Island – it must be all of the fresh air and outdoor activities.  Here are a few ideas for families whilst on the Island and as you'll see, they're almost all nature-based.  No shopping malls and certainly no fancy theme parks, a family trip to KI is all about time together and connecting with nature. 

  • Check out the parks and playgrounds on KI. http://www.kangarooisland.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=1717

  • Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park is a great day out for families.  You can call into the Parndana Bakery Cafe either before or after your visit.  Allow 2-4 hours and the kids will love feeding the kangaroos and there are koala holding opportunities.  Drinks and basic snacks sold, or drive 5 minutes to the Parndana Bakery for lunch or coffee. 

  • The main Kingscote Playground is very good with a picnic shelter, clean toilets and fully fenced.  The grown-ups can grab a coffee from nearby Cactus Café . You can follow on with a walk along the fenced boardwalk near the wharf (you can’t miss it).  There are usually seals around the jetty area which is quite exciting to see. 

  • Dudley Winery: Apart from wine for the grown ups, there's play equipment (new in 2018 ‘nature-inspired’ playground) and toy corner for the kids, golf driving range and tasty food for everyone.  They don’t have a separate kids menu, but they’ll make a kid-friendly pizza and there's certainly things on the menu to fill up little bellies! On the last Sunday of the month, there is usually live music (almost always booked out for lunch that day, so get your booking in early) - it's a lovely lazy day out with the family. 

  • Almost all dining places are casual and family friendly, so enjoy a few meals out together without the washing up. 

  • Honey Ice cream and honey tastings at either of the two Honey Farms.  Island Beehive has a little coffee shop with toy corner & is very close to the accommodation (great if you have an hour to spare) and sells a good range of souvenirs.

  • Visit one of the Island's Lighthouses. Cape Willoughby Lighthouse is at the eastern tip of the Island on the Dudley Peninsular, and is nice to visit combined with Dudley Winery (it will take you about half an hour to drive to from Penneshaw). 

  • Cape Borda Lighthouse is at the Western end of the Island, about a 1 3/4 hour's drive from Kingscote, including about half hour on a graded dirt road. It's beautiful and remote, good for photos, an old lightkeeper's graveyard and there are some walks nearby (be aware that the Harvey's Return walk is strenuous though - from personal experience - but good for doing with older kids!), don't miss the turnoff to Scott Cove, where you can get some stunning photos (sheer cliffs though, so don't leave the kids unsupervised). You'll likely see kangaroos, wedge tail eagles and often echidnas.  Even though this end of the island is quite remote and a big (slightly tiring) drive though, it's not a bad option if you need the kids to have their afternoon nap :), and you could do it in an afternoon after visiting KI Wildlife Park in the morning. 

  • Reeves Point Historical Site just out of Kingscote (about 2 minute's drive): Playground and BBQ / Picnic Facilities, walking trails, early settler’s graveyard and a big hill to climb (great if you’d like the little-people to sleep extra-well that night!).

  • Seal Bay you may prefer to just do the self-guided boardwalk tour if you have little ones, as the 1-hour guided tour may be a little hard for them to focus on.  But if you really do want to get onto the beach with the seals, then the guided tour is essential. You might like to buy a family 'Park Pass' if you're visiting Seal Bay, Flinders Chase etc.  

  • Flinders Chase National Park. There are a few smaller bush-walks available and there is a sand pit ('fossil dig') area at the Visitor's Centre Cafe.  Keep an eye out for koalas in the carpark trees.  The whole family will enjoy the famous Remarkable Rocks and Admiral's Arch - just hold their hands or supervise very closely please.  

  • Hanson Bay Koala Sanctuary enjoy the walk spotting koalas.  Basic refreshments available.  The 45 minute Guided Walk Tour during the day is great if you'd love to see Koalas in a natural environment.  Note: I wouldn't suggest driving in night back to Kingscote from the nocturnal tour. 

  • KI Marine Adventures – either the 1 hour trip with younger children to see dolphins and other marine wildlife (and sometimes whales) from the boat, or the 3 hour dolphin swim with older children.

  • Kelly Hill Caves – great option if the weather is very hot or wet etc.  I probably wouldn't suggest doing with a baby, but we've done it from when the kids were toddler-aged.  Nice picnic shelter. 

  • Little Sahara Sand Dunes – try tobogganing (fairly easy) or Sandboarding (which is very hard!).  Best to avoid days where there is any rain as the sand isn’t as slippery and ideally choose a day that isn’t too hot or windy.  TIP: Take along goggles for the kids to wear so that they don’t get sand in their eyes. You probably don't need to hire more than 1 toboggan per 2 people-it's a very energetic activity!  

  • Kayaking – either hire a family kayak or join a tour (KI Outdoor Action).  This activity isn't far from Little Sahara.

  • Stokes Bay Walk through rocks to the 'secret beach', fossick around the rocks looking for little crabs, and play in the rock pool.  We like to take a little inflatable boat to use in the rockpool (the Mitre 10 Hardware in town sometimes sells some inflatable ‘pool toys’). Be careful if swimming in the main bay area (ie outside of the safer rockpool area), as rips can be strong.  It's a favorite family day out to visit Stokes Bay.

  • The Rockpool Cafe at Stokes Bay is very casual (shoes are optional :) and at the back of the cafe there is an enclosed little kid's play area, so parents can sit and enjoy their meal and a drink whilst the kids play. Great for either before or after visiting the 'secret' beach at Stokes Bay!

  • Raptor Domain: Very interesting and interactive bird and reptile shows daily; toys for kids to play with inside and outside, including a sandpit etc. and very casual food and refreshments available.  If you're able to book one of the private 1-hour shows, it's excellent value considering how much 'hands on' experience you get with the birds and reptiles, and we personally had the most amazing time doing this private bird experience, absolutely worth paying a little extra. Another advantage is that you can book a private show for 9:15am before the park opens to other visitors, and then continue on to do the other group shows or other attractions in the area (such as Seal Bay, Little Sahara or on to Kelly Hill Caves and Flinders Chase, or even the KI Wildlife Park). 

  • Tidal Pool at Kingscote.  Take along inflatable toys or a snorkel and look at the fish, or just go for a swim.  Fish for squid off of the rocks at the tidal pool (ocean side only, no fishing in the tidal pool).

  • Emu Bay – drive right onto the beach, set up a beach shelter, take a picnic and just ‘hang out’ for the day.  There are often some little pools of warmer water left behind when the tide is going out, great for little ones to play in shallow water.  There is a little playground on the foreshore area, together with grassed play area and BBQ Shelters with picnic tables. There's often a drinks van open for refreshments (licensed for the grown ups), but don't rely on this as there aren't any shops at Emu Bay.  This is where the dolphin tours usually depart from.  Generally, the water is quite calm and an enjoyable swimming beach, probably one of the best swimming beach on the Island for families.

  • Set some crab nets off of the Kingscote Jetty.  The big spider crabs aren’t worth eating, but lots of fun to catch! You can buy crab nets at the Petrol Station, supermarket or hardware shop.   Note: general fishing off of the Kingscote jetty isn't that successful in recent times - the resident seal population seems to be better fisherman than humans!  If you are lucky, please clean the fish before returning to the accommodation, as we don't have fish cleaning facilities there. 

  • Fish for Bream or picnic at Chapman River: easy to catch the little fish, the bigger ones are harder but still a fun way to spend a few hours!  Good fishing for little kids, as they don’t usually need to wait long to catch something. You can hire a rod from the Penneshaw Tourist Information Centre (you'll drive past it on the way to Kingscote from the ferry). Convenient to do after visiting Cape Willoughby Lighthouse and / or Dudley Winery.  Or, you can just throw a little bit of bread or tinned corn kernels into the water and you'll usually see some little fish taking a nibble.  This is located on the Dudley Peninsular, another good spot to combine with the lighthouse, Dudley Wines, Penneshaw etc. 

  • Will’s Rare Breeds Farm at Stokes Bay (good idea to wear rubber boots in wet weather). Rustic, authentic and not at all ‘touristy’.  Kids love the animals and they might even get to hold some little chicks, pat the cows and sheep. Call or message first to book a tour, as these are usually private tours just with your family (unless someone else happens to want the same time).

  • If you order dinner at the Ozone Hotel, there’s a great kid’s playground across the road (one nominated parent can even wander over with the little one’s whist the other waits for dinner!)

  • Wander over to the Brownlow beach from the Cottages – it’s really close – and the water is usually very calm, gently lapping at the shore.  If you look carefully, you might see some seals or dolphins and almost always some big pelicans, especially at low tide. It's a nice beach for a walk, but Emu Bay is nicer for swimming.  There's a nice pathway that leads into town - if you're relatively fit it's not a problem to walk the whole way, or alternatively just enjoy a stroll until you've had enough - there are a few seats along the way and some nice photo spots.

  • At the Kingscote Jetty area, there is a little concrete section where seals sleep during the day – free to view!

  • KI Brewery has a lawn area that kids can play on whilst parents enjoy a local craft beer, KI Spirits often has children playing whilst adults try some local gin (there's a tame magpie bird that kids love there), and most of the wineries are frequented by families.  Maybe take along a ball for them to play with. 

  • Kingscote Market  is held at Bay of Shoals Winery on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month, 10am-1pm.  It's a simple little country-town market, enjoyable to browse, the produce and stalls vary.  Take cash (not all stalls take cards)

  • Penneshaw Markets are held on the 1st Sunday of every month (9am-1pm) and when cruise ships visit (9am-2pm).  This is a pleasant way to spend an hour or so (take cash though, as most stalls won't take cards).  The Fat Beagle cafe at Penneshaw nearby is  kid-friendly.

  • The Sculpture Trail at Penneshaw is a nice walk with a new 'swinging bridge'.  You'll usually see wallabies and kangaroos when in this area.  

  • Frogs and Roses Cafe near Kingscote has a rustic garden area for kids to play in and they can take a look at the chickens too.  Very casual, but a nice relaxed spot to call into for some refreshments.