Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail
AUSTRALIA BOASTS MANY fine long-haul walks, but few are livelier than this five-day, 66km coastal track. It barrels along a remote shoreline where the juiciest prize is the stride-by-stride sensation of being in cahoots with wildlife. Few other Australian walks lure you into such proximity with so many species – be they on land, or in the sea or air. For this we can thank the island’s natural defences and a mob of far-sighted Adelaide scientists, birdos and botany buffs.
From 1891 the Field Naturalist’s Society lobbied hard to secure Kangaroo Island’s undisturbed western end, for its intrinsic worth and as an ark-like refuge. Finally, in 1919, Flinders Chase became South Australia’s second national park. Over the next 40 years, a gaggle of creatures at risk of extinction on the mainland were bundled offshore to the sanctuary of the Chase.
Kangaroo Island wildlife – nature versus nurture
It was a mixed blessing. Many species didn’t survive. By contrast, introduced koalas grew so numerous they almost wiped out the types of eucalypt they dined on. Other exiles, including platypuses, brush turkeys and Cape Barren Geese, found happier niches. This legacy is one echo of the Chase’s curious past. Although billed as a Wilderness Trail, it repeatedly crosses paths with hands-on human history adding heart to trekking the airy expanses.
See the full story in AG#134.