Kangaroo Island receives high-speed catamaran service between Penneshaw and Cape Jervis

Speedy: The James Cowell, shortly to be offering the return journey from Penneshaw to Cape Jervis, with a travel time of only 30 minutes. Photo: Supplied.
Speedy: The James Cowell, shortly to be offering the return journey from Penneshaw to Cape Jervis, with a travel time of only 30 minutes. Photo: Supplied.

A new high-speed ferry service using a wave piercing catamaran, capable of delivering 95 passengers from Penneshaw to Cape Jervis in 30 minutes will soon be operational.

Kangaroo Island Connect (to be known as ‘kic’) will be operating a 25 metre, Crowther-designed catamaran, The James Cowell, with limited operations commencing prior to Christmas 2017 ramping up over the 2018 summer, and will have the capacity ferry up to 800 people a day.

The vessel is named for James Cowell, who died in 2003, farmed on KI for over 40 years, and was an advocate for competition on the crossing route for nearly 20 years.

The operation will be based at American River and the vessel will leave American River every morning, operate between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw during the day, then return to the River in the evening.

Kangaroo Island Connect (kic) will work with local service businesses and establish its own integrated hire car service for travellers.

Kangaroo Island Connect has also purchased the American River Airpark from long-time island residents, Dean and Judy Johnson, aiming to develop the site into a sport aviation, scenic flights and a general aviation service centre at American River.

When the initial passenger ferry and aviation businesses settle down, kic is committed to establishing an integrated freight service between American River and Cape Jervis. This service will specialise in the efficient movement of bulk grain, livestock and dangerous goods.  

The family of David Harris, Managing Director of Kangaroo Island Connect Pty Ltd has an unbroken association with KI going back to the early ‘20s. The extended family still own and use the original timber cottage built in American River in 1923.    

KI Mayor Peter Clements said, “This is very exciting news for KI and I am confident that Mr Harris will make the Fast Ferry Service work judging by the successes of his company over many decades.

“The State Government and in particular the Department of Transport have been central to making this new service happen after listening to our pleas to have a more competitive sea transport system.”

Mayor Clements continued, “I thank them for their input into this initiative.  

“Mr Harris presented to a recent informal meeting of elected members prior to making the news public and the matter received much praise, particularly as it provides greater options for travel to and from the island.  

“We have been very fortunate to have a highly professional and reliable service from Sealink for many years and no doubt this will continue as the visitor market grows with this new service.  

“Council and State Government will be watching very closely the activities of the transport service providers over the next few years with a view to ensuring that a level playing field is maintained for the good of the community and for our visitor growth."

Kangaroo Island Connect said that there is good consensus across all levels of government for the increased competition and segmentation of transport services to KI, with support provided by SA DPTI, SA Tourism, Yankalilla and KI Councils and the KI Commissioner.