Bumper tourist season experienced on Kangaroo Island

HILL CLIMB: A large group of visitors climb Prospect Hill on Kangaroo Island during the busy holiday period. Photo: Tara Fatehi

HILL CLIMB: A large group of visitors climb Prospect Hill on Kangaroo Island during the busy holiday period. Photo: Tara Fatehi

Kangaroo Island has seen one of its busiest December tourist seasons ever, according to local tourism officials.

The influx of visitors, mainly from Adelaide and within South Australia, as well as Victoria, has not been without its issues.

There have been reports of long lines at all local restaurants, cafes and attractions, while toilets and public amenities at Emu Bay and other locations were also put under pressure.

There have reports of less people at Seal Bay, normally popular with internationals. Flinders Chase had been steady and the rebuilt Western KI Caravan Park had also seen good numbers.

BEACH DISTRESS: Emu Bay locals provided this photo of a dead wallaby and tyre tracks into the dunes, which occured over the weekend.

BEACH DISTRESS: Emu Bay locals provided this photo of a dead wallaby and tyre tracks into the dunes, which occured over the weekend.

Locals have been distressed by the poor behaviour of some visitors at locations such as Emu Bay, with reports of speeding, rubbish and injured wildlife.

Mayor Michael Pengilly said police have been active on the beach and he had heard of only very isolated speed matters.

"Locals, particularly families, have been monitoring the situation," he said. "Toilets have been okay apart from at the campground despite being cleaned daily, but two portaloos set up at campground appear to have sorted that."

Chairman of the newly rebranded Kangaroo Island Tourism Alliance, Pierre Gregor said this had been one of the busiest, if not busiest, Decembers.

There had however been complaints from visitors that not enough restaurants and cafes had been open and the association planned on doing a debrief to see how things could be improved.

Tony Coppins operates the Kangaroo Island Gateway Visitor Information Centre in Penneshaw and founder of the new group KI Tourism or KIT.

He said December and January had always been busiest months but the demographic was different this year due to COVID.

Self-driving tourists from SA and Victoria had replaced international visitors, changing the demand for services, he said.

While demand for his and other bus services had been down, his Ocean Safari tours had been busy as had restaurants and holiday accommodation around Penneshaw and KI.

The visitor centre had also been very busy with tourists wanting local tips on where to go, and he had been flat out referring people to attractions such as Raptor Domain and KI Outdoor Action.

Mr Gregor meanwhile on Monday participated in a phone hook up with other regional tourism chairpersons, where he heard that other regions such as Eyre Peninsula and the Flinders Ranges, had also experienced a similar boom in tourism numbers with associated overcrowding and anti-social issues.

One tourism issue unique to KI is the closure of one of the Island's two laundry cleaning businesses.

Mr Gregor said the business was still for sale and at a reduced cost, providing an excellent opportunity for someone.

In the meantime, holiday accommodation providers have had to scramble to find alternatives to have linen and towels cleaned and pressed.

VACSWIM at Emu Bay. Photo: Kylie Velder

VACSWIM at Emu Bay. Photo: Kylie Velder

Your comments from Facebook:

Chris Stoeckel: Drove past the Oyster Shop at American River Wednesday last week- counted 27 cars parked across in front of tennis courts and customer's queued up out the door - then into Wharf area and cars parked both sides of parking area for The Deck Cafe on the Wharf!!!!!! Also 4 cars parked out the front of American River Tells a story Gallery!!!! American River is rockin' it!!!!!!

Lyndal Taylor: We were down at Remarkable Rocks on Saturday. For a while we were the only ones on the Rock. Definitely quieter than usual.

Megan Hughes: We have a house at American River and regularly come over this time of year. We couldn't believe how busy it was this year, compared to other years we have come. If you want photos of crowds, head to KI Tru Thai on a Thursday or Saturday night!

Bec Houston: Raptor Domain were running both sessions (birds and reptiles) outside due to the high numbers they were having. Stokes Bay Rockpool Cafe looked flat out this their orders as well. Carpark was full from beach down to Lightburn (shack) road.

Jo Todd: This year we are camping a lashmar conservation park, it's been busy but we have found quite a few people who have booked sites don't turn up , frustrating for those who want a site!!

Linda White: I think it seemed busier this year. We were in Penneshaw our usual 28 th Dec until 9 th Jan. Seemed busier to me. The number of cars parked at CapeJervis too was amazing. (Walk-ons to the ferry?)

Krystal Hamilton: Please keep in mind that the tourists are all jammed into camp spaces and accomodation closer to town, as all the ones out West are still closed, making it busier in the east. Definitly busy, but only because they have nowhere to spend their time in the NP.

Maggie Patterson: Emu bay beach was absolutely packed New Year's Day more cars than I have ever seen.

Sue Mary: We fortunately booked KI Tru Thai the 2 times we went there as they booked out (covid restrictions didn't allow for usual numbers) - but the food came out super fast regardless! Fire and Smoke pizza were too busy to take orders by phone, and apparently the in person wait was over an hour! Good to see people enjoying the island and businesses thriving tho - only downside was visitors putting rubbish in our private roadside bins so no space left for our own rubbish and then incoming guests. Ah well, not sure what can be done about that!

Nari Rayvnn Lola: Kingscote caravan park in Brownlow was pretty full.


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