Kangaroo Island


 

Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island and sits 13km from the coast of mainland Australia at its closest point. It is accessible by air (into Kingscote) and sea (ferry into Penneshaw) and covers a total area of 4405km2.

It is an island of immense natural beauty with a great array of wildlife including the native Kangaroo Island kangaroo, wallabies, echidnas, seals, penguins, mighty wedge-tailed eagles, platypus and koalas.

The earliest inhabitants were Australian Aboriginals who are believed to have disappeared from the island about 2000 years ago. Questions remain over how and why they disappeared but the island was uninhabited in the early 1800s when Europeans "discovered" it. The first settlers were an intriguing and formidable band of rogues - sealers, sailors and escaped convicts who traded animal skins and salt for tobacco and spirits.

Kangaroo Island was named by Captain Matthew Flinders for its abundance of kangaroos, which provided excellent nourishment for captain and crew after their journey on  HMS Investigator charting Australia’s southern coastline in 1802. He narrowly beat the French explorer Nicolas Baudin to the island, however Baudin was responsible for charting the island in great detail, giving many places French names along the way. Names such as Cape du Couedic and d’Estrees Bay add a distinctly French feel to the island.

This French feel was enhanced nearly 200 years later when French winemaker Jacques Lurton established The Islander Estate Vineyards near Parndana, a farming community in the Heartland District of the island. Farming has long been an integral part of life in and around Parndana and critical to the development of the area for agriculture were the Soldier Settlers. These men and their families worked incredibly hard preparing the land for farming and faced significant hardship not only from the land with its stubborn Yacca plants and towering gum trees, but also the bureaucracy of the Adelaide-based government. Lengthy delays were common in approving land grants or assisting with the provision of adequate services. The key figure in pushing for the Soldier Settlement of Kangaroo Island was Rowland Hill, better known as ‘Old Rowley’.

Jacques was so taken by the remarkable persistence and fortitude shown by these Soldier Settlers that he named his Estate Range of wines to honour their achievements.

 



 
With foundations laid for agricultural development in the mid 20th century, the island has since developed an enviable reputation for producing food and wine of outstanding quality. Seafood, honey, grain, dairy and livestock have been the pillars of KI’s produce, and the last 20 years has also seen the exciting development of Kangaroo Island’s wine industry.
 
The Islander Estate Vineyards leads the way and is rated as a 5-star “outstanding” winery by Australia’s pre-eminent wine critic James Halliday. Several other producers are building their own excellent reputations as well. These include Rookery, False Cape, Sunset Wines, Bay of Shoals, Dudley Wines, Kangaroo Island Estate and Two Wheeler Creek.