Head to this beautiful island just off the South Australian coast where you can tour wineries, taste great local produce, or hit the ocean in search of the elusive King George whiting – a local fish that can grow up to 60 centimetres (24 inches).
By Steve Starling
Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island and is full of natural wonders, local wildlife and incredible produce from cheeses to cool-climate wines. But for those who like fishing this is the perfect spot to head out into the deep sea and chase tuna and King George whiting.
Drive your hire car onto the vehicle ferry at Cape Jervis, 100 kilometres (60 miles) south-east of Adelaide, for the 40 minute crossing to the historic port town of Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. From here, it’s a one-and-a-half hour scenic drive across “KI” (as the locals like to call it) to your self-contained, cottage-style accommodation at Western River. Break up the drive with visits to one or more of the island’s six wineries with cellar doors, art galleries or restaurants attached.
Arrive at your self-contained accommodation on a marron and crayfish farm (yes, you can taste the daily catch) overlooking the Southern Ocean at Western River and be met by hosts Gavin and Candina of Kangaroo Island Fishing Adventures. Kick back and discuss tomorrow’s fishing options or take a walk along the rugged coastline around Western River. You can also drive a little further south to check out the aptly named Remarkable Rocks: a striking geographic formation towering above the ocean.
Your day starts at the crack of dawn as you rise and eat a quick breakfast before being transported down to the tiny, man-made harbour to board your 20 metre (65 foot) charter boat. Sit back with a steaming mug of coffee as Gavin expertly pilots this spacious vessel to the fishing grounds, which begin immediately outside the harbour entrance. Your list of target species will vary with the season, prevailing weather patterns and advice from Gavin, but it’s likely to include tuna, pink snapper, Bight redfish, queen snapper, leatherjackets, Samson fish, yellowtail kingfish and the number one culinary prize in this part of the world: King George whiting (best from March to April). Whatever you choose to chase, you’ll be amazed at just how rich these southern seas are.
After a long day on the water hooking, fighting and landing a seemingly endless procession of fish, you’re sure to be ready for a rest but the fish cleaning comes first. Gavin will pitch in right beside you in his spotlessly clean and insect-proof fish cleaning area, showing you how best to fillet and skin your catch. You’ll return to shore with all the ingredients for a truly memorable seafood banquet.
You may choose to spend another half day at sea, attempting to tick off any remaining species you missed out on the previous day, or possibly chasing that elusive 60 centimetre (24 inch) King George whiting in shallower waters a little closer to island’s shore (and yes, they regularly grow that big here). Or you might prefer to head out and explore more of this surprisingly large and varied island, perhaps visiting the aptly named Remarkable Rocks, about an hour’s drive to the southern side of the Island.
Pack a picnic lunch and find spot on a secluded cove or beach such as Vivonne Bay Beach. Afterwards, drop into one of the 13 wineries on the island for some tastings. Some, such as Dudley Wines, have a light lunch and grazing menu as well. Kangaroo Island is also celebrated for its honey, so don’t miss a visit to one of the local farms, such as Island Beehive in Kingscote. But give yourself plenty of time. Kangaroo Island always surprises first-time visitors with its size: it takes more than a full day to circumnavigate the island by car.