Blog

Everything you need to know about Kangaroo Island

Check out our latest Blogs below for information about Kangaroo Island and the Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge.

    • American River

    Your Guide to American River

    • Coastline

    Must See and Do on Kangaroo Island

    • Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge

    History of the Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge

    • Sealink ferry

    How to get to Kangaroo Island

    • Canola fields in Autumn

    Weather on Kangaroo Island

Your Guide to American River

About

American River was the birth place of tourism on Kangaroo Island and has long been one of the island’s best kept secrets. The wharf was home to some of the first industries on Kangaroo Island with salt, gypsum and mallee wood being shipped to Port Adelaide. The wharf is located in the town centre and is still a working wharf. Here you can view ship builng activities and try the delicious fresh oysters at the Oyster Farm Shop. Visit one of the nearby cafes and restaurants and enjoy a peaceful bushwalk around the bay to see the native fauna and birdlife. 

History

Known by locals as ‘The River’ American River sits on the western shore of Eastern Cove and is named after the American sealers that stayed on this part of the island back in 1803. While the area was named ‘American River’ by explorer Matthew Flinders, it’s actually an ocean inlet, however, it boasts impressive coastline views.

Top 10 Attractions

1. Rebuild For Independence Group (RIG) Boathouse

The Rebuild for Independence Project is located at the RIG boathouse at American River and is run soley by volunteers. Stop by to see the original Schooner vessel being rebuilt and learn about the “Union” and “Independence”. You can find the boathouse at The Wharf, Tangara Drive and it’s open most days around 10:30am to 3pm.

2. The Oyster Farm Shop

Listed as one of SeaLink’s top ten reasons to visit KI, a trip to the Oyster Farm Shop in American River comes highly recommended. Showcasing Island Aquaculture and Sustainable Seafood, you’ll be able to taste the freshest oysters on the island (from their farm across the road), Green Lip Abalone, King George Whiting, Marron, Sheoak Smoked Oysters and sustainable local fish.  This funky little farmgate is a delight to spend time at. Share one of their famous aquaplatters and enjoy a bottle of local wine, beer or cider with friends. 

3. Walking Trails

Take the interpretive trail around the Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge which tells the tale of the flora and fauna located in this area, including a flock of the endangered Red Tailed Glossy Black Cockatoo that inhabits the Sheoak Trees around the property. You’ll see why this region is known for bird-watching.  There are also walks along the foreshore out the front of the Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge.

4. Pelican Feeding

Every second morning (so as not to encourage daily binge fish eating by the birds), the pelicans are fed by the staff from the Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge using fish scraps from the restaurant. Come and get some eyeball contact with the balmy air force. It happens around 9.15am at the Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge for guests.  Stay 2 nights to ensure you get to experience this!

5. The Deck Cafe

Nestled alongside the Rebuild Independence Group (RIG) Boathouse, overlooking the beautiful American River bay and wharf, the Deck Café offers visitors to American River and locals alike a spot to sit and relax absorb the serenity of Kangaroo Island’s waterways, bird life and boats. Enjoy some locally caught King George Whiting, fresh coffee, beer and wine at this licensed venue after visiting the RIG Boathouse.

6. Reflections Restaurant @ Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge

Offering an unforgettable dining experience, the award-winning Reflections Restaurant at the Mercure KI Lodge is a must-visit when staying in American River. Enjoy the best of the region’s finest meats, produce and wines, with impeccably presented dining. Sit on their alfresco patio or warm up with a drink inside by the fireplace.

7. Boating and Fishing

Boating and fishing is one of the most popular activities in this area, due to the sheltered waters which are home to fantastic fishing grounds, especially for the prized Australian King George Whiting. The best way to explore them is with a local who’ll take you out in their boat to all the good spots. Local Kangaroo Island charters have many years’ experience and offer full day and half day charters which usually include lunch, transfers, bait and tackle and fish cleaning. If you have your own boat, there is a boat ramp at American River, too.

Another way to view the quiet waters of American River and Pelican Lagoon is to take your own or hire a kayak and travel to the reaches of the Bay into Eastern Cove and along to exclusive Island Beach. Stop for a swim or just bask on the white sands of this gorgeous beach.

8. Pennington Bay

This is Kangaroo Island’s premier surf beach, and has to be seen to be believed. American River to Pennington Bay is a 15 minute drive and you are basically going from one side of the island to the other as you traverse the narrowest part of the island! Ride the plank or simply marvel at the shifting forces of nature as the swell rolls in and out. Why not make an outing of it and take a picnic.

9. Climb Prospect Hill

Located close to American RIver, head to the Prospect Hill Track for a walk up the case of 500 steps. You’ll marvel at the look out over the most narrow section of Kangaroo Island. Allow just over half an hour for your return walk.

10. KI TruThai Restaurant

On Thursday evenings make your way to the TruThai for a superb Thai feast and a very local KI experience. Each Thursday you’ll find their restaurant in Willowbrook with live music, a fully licensed bar and a great atmosphere. You’ll also see their mobile van getting around the island, especially at local events.

Other Nearby Attractions

A short drive of 20-30 minutes will take you to Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery, Clifford’s Honey Farm, Kangaroo Island Spirits, Kangaroo Island Brewery and many of the local wineries and cellar doors such as Bay of Shoals Wines, Dudley Wines, The Islander Estate Tasting Room, Amadio Wines, False Cape Wines and Springs Road Wines. 

* Please check with the local establishments direct or via their website for opening times

Must See and Do on Kangaroo Island

Top 10 to See and Do on Kangaroo Island

1. Seal Bay Conservation Park

At Seal Bay Conservation Park, take a ranger guided tour to walk among a colony of endangered Australian sea lions or a self guided walk along the boardwalk.

Seal Bay Conservation Park

2. Wildlife Spotting

Kangaroo Island kangaroos, tammar wallabies, echidnas, brush-tailed possums, bottle-nosed dolphins, Australian sea-lions, Australian and New Zealand fur-seals and many of the 260 birds listed for the Island can be seen year round in their natural habitats.  Winter is a great time to view wildlife with Echidna mating trains occasionally seen across the Island during winter with one female doggedly pursued by up to ten males. Kangaroos and wallabies have their joeys emerging from the pouch and starting to explore in August.

3. Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch

Located in Flinders Chase National Park at the western end of Kangaroo Island, Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch are two unique natural formations not to be missed! Perched above the sea, the impressive Remarkable Rocks form what appear to be a cluster of precariously balanced granite boulders. Admirals Arch is a natural rock arch created by amazing forces of nature. You can take an easy walk on a boardwalk around the cliff face. This leads you to a viewing platform overlooking the arch. The arch is sculpted by weathering and erosion from the sea over thousands of years. 

Flinders Chase National Park

4. Beaches

Kangaroo Island’s dynamic southern coastline is a “best kept secret” for surfing enthusiasts. There are five main surf bays that produce gentle swells to beach breaks all the way from Antarctica.  The northern coast offers protected bays suitable for swimmers.  Check out Stokes Bay, Emu Bay and Hanson Bay, favourites of the Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge.

5. Cellar Doors

There are 25 wine growers in Kangaroo Island and around 150 hectares of vines, with visitors able to choose from 18 home-grown labels, five of which are being exported to the UK, USA, Europe and Asia.  Vines aren’t new to Kangaroo Island, grown as far back as 1836, but it was only in 2001 that Kangaroo Island was declared an official Australian wine region. 

6. Honey Farms

Kangaroo Island was declared a bee sanctuary in 1885, one year after the South Australian Chamber of Manufacturers imported Ligurian bees from Italy. Importation of bees and honey products are now prohibited to Kangaroo Island.  "Bee" sure to visit Cliffords Honey Farm and Island Beehive to sample the honey and to purchase the local products.

Cliffords Honey Farm

Island Beehive

7. Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery

Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery has been a popular Kangaroo Island tourist attraction since 1991 and is the only commercial Eucalyptus Oil distillery in South Australia. They produce a 100% pure Australian Eucalyptus Essential Oil that is unique to the world produced from the Kangaroo Island Narrow Leaf Mallee along with a large range of natural products.  Take a tour and peruse their local products.

Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery

8. Hiking

There are many hiking trails located in Flinders Chase National Park.  Walkers can experience the island’s rugged coastal beauty on a hike along the 61km Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail.

Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail

9. Outdoor Action and Adventures

Up for some action and adventure?!  Kangaroo Island has plenty to get the adrenalin pumping including sandboarding, quad biking, marine tours and fat bike tours.

Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari

Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action

10. Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park

Last but not least, support one of the businesses instramental in saving hundreds of wildlife on Kangaroo Island during the recent bushfires. The Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, located in Pardana, is run by Sam and Dana Mitchell and has over 150+ native special and over 600 animals.

Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park

* Please check the local websites for opening and closing times as many businesses are closed due to the KI Fires and Covid-19.

History of the Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge

History of the Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge

Excerp from "The Linnett Story" by Phyl Turner

.... Like many large and successful undertakings the beginning was extremely simple.

Jack Linnett was an entreprenurial genius, a man of faith and strong character, someone who didn't know the meaning of "it can't be done". 

Jack and Valerie Linnett had a neighbour, a fisherman, Nils Ryberg, who sometimes had 2-3 fisherman friends as paying guests.  One day Jack suggested to Valerie that they go into the accommodation business.  Valerie, already with the nucleus of a family of eight Linnetts and little else said "Well, we have a large table".

So, with the supreme confidence of youth and the priceless attribute of a will to work hard was born the great ediface of tourism that became "Linnett's Guest House", then as it grew, "Linnett's Pleasure Resort" and lastly as "Linnett's Island Club.

It was surely the most humble of beginnings that would prove to be, almost 100 years later, the most impressive tourism icon on Kangaroo Island.  It is a matter of history that Jack and Valerie in 1913 took over Nils Ryberg's small corrugated iron dwelling and business commenced.

Circa 1959, Jack Linnett had died.  Valerie and the family now ran the place which had become a huge establishment covering over 30 acres.  Around 1970, upgrading of the entire complex began.  Business was booming, Airlines of South Australia had established a service close to American River and the Report purcahsed a small bus to ferry guests back and forth.  When desires in sightseeing changed later, this bus also did wilderness safaris that were very popular.

Some of the most important amenities were added at this time including the swimming pool and children's paddle pool.  At the grand opening of the swimming pool, champoin swimmer Dawn Fraser declared the pool open by diving in to the cheers and applause of an appreciative crowd.  Later two wings of accommodation were added which overlooked the pool.  These are now known as our Poolview rooms.

The next wing to be built was what is today know as our Bayview rooms.  These 16 rooms had been built to over look the water frontage and were within a few short steps of the water.

A major and costly construction in 1985 was the building of 12 complex rammed earth units, some equipped with spas.  Self contained kitchens and private bathrooms were added some time later.  This accommodation overlooking the ocean is still the most sought after and are now known as our Waterview rooms.

It was at this time that Linnett's was being run by Jack and Valerie's son, Leon and his wife Dorothy.  However Leon and Dorothy were fast approaching retirement and wanting to sell the popular resort.  In 1999 a conglomerate of 3 successful South Australian businessmen took ownership of Linnett's.

Over the years, Linnett's has changed names and today is know as the Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge.  There have been many changes and updates to the property over the years however it still maintains its historical feel.  To date, the same 3 South Australian businessmen still own this successful enterprise.

How to get to Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island is reached by ferry or air.  Two ferry operators depart from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw.  Qantaslink operate from Adelaide Airport to Kingscote.  There are no taxis or public transport on Kangaroo Island so you will need to have a vehicle or be on a tour.

Transfers from the airport and ferry terminal are available through the Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge.  Please contact us for more information res@kilodge.com.au.

Sealink

Sealink is a one-stop shop for travel to Kangaroo Island.  Not only do SeaLink operate a ferry service to Kangaroo Island, but they also offer a range of tours, activities and adventure experiences.  You can take your vehicles on Sealink's ferries.

Sealink

KI Connect

Kangaroo Island Connect (kic) operates the new Kangaroo Island ferry.  They offer a faster service which is only for passengers, vehicles cannot be taken on their ferry.  KIC also offer car rental on Kangaroo Island, including car hire, ute hire, campervan hire and mini van hire for larger groups.

KI Connect

Qantaslink

Qantaslink offers flight services from Adelaide and Melbourne (seasonal) to Kangaroo Island.

Qantas

Weather on Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island has a mild temperate climate making it enjoyable to visit all  year round.

Its climate is broadly comparable to the Mediterranean climate.  Kangaroo Island has relatively warm and dry summers and mild but wetter winters.

The moderating influence of the surrounding ocean, together with the small size and low elevation of the Island mans that Kangaroo Island has a more equable climate than most other parts of South Australia.

Between May to September the Island receives two-thirds of its annual rainfall.  The rainfall varies considerably across the Island with the annual average varying from 450mm to 900mm.

Summer

1 December - 28 February

Summer on Kangaroo Island is when the widlife retreats to bushland habitats for shelter in the heat of the day.  This is also the time of year when the beaches are at their best.

Autumn

1 March - 31 May

Autumn on Kangaroo Island is a time for transition, a stunning time of the year with warms days and calm seas.  The rain starts to fall providing the wildlife with fresh water and grass to feed on.  The perfect time to go hiking and bird watching.

Winter

1 June - 31 August

Winter on Kangaroo Island brings lush green countryside where the rivers are full and wildlife is plentiful.  Lush greenery, flowing rivers and a plethora of wildlife.  July is the Island's wettest month.

Spring

1 September - 30 November

Spring on Kangaroo Island brings on the rebirth of the wildflowers, birds and other animals.  There are around 40 endemic flower species that are in full bloom in the spring and the Eucalyptus trees are truly magnificent at this time of year.

Average Temperatures and Rainfall

January - high of 24, low of 15, 15mm average rainfall

February - high of 24, low of 15, 17mm average rainfall

March - high of 22, low of 14, 19mm average rainfall

April - high of 20. low of 13, 35mm average rainfall

May - high of 18, low of 11, 59mm average rainfall

June - high of 15, low of 9, 73mm average rainfall

July - high of 15, low of 8, 78mm average rainfall

August - high of 15, low of 9, 65mm average rainfall

September - high of 17, low of 9, 47mm average rainfall

October - high of 19, low of 10, 36mm average rainfall

November - high of 21, low of 12, 23mm average rainfall

December - high of 22, low of 14, 19mm average rainfall

* temperatures are all in degrees celcius and are averages of the month