Why go to Kangaroo Island?
Kangaroo Island is home to abundant wildlife and boasts stunning natural landscapes
It takes a long time to travel from one sight to the next, so an organized excursion is usually the way to go
This island is an intensely beautiful destination, but don't expect to see it all in one day
Kangaroo Island Cruise Port Facilities?
Your cruise ship will anchor offshore and deliver you via tender to a jetty at the recently upgraded SeaLink ferry terminal, used by the local ferry service to the mainland. More than likely, you will be met by a delegation of helpers and volunteer guides with pamphlets and information for you. Here's an opportunity to buy a last-minute shore excursion in case all were sold out on the ship. You may even save a dollar. There are washrooms at the terminal and your pre-booked shore excursion transport will be waiting here, too.
The small hamlet of Penneshaw (pop. 300) is a delightful location with a large grassy foreshore park ideal for just relaxing with a seafood snack from one of the cafes, such as Fish, while you enjoy the view. It's easy to stroll around the town and take in the main attractions like the pub, information centre and folk museum. The local community will often set up a fairground-style display at the sports field with stalls of regional produce, arts and handicrafts.
Should you need, there is a chemist/drugstore, small supermarket, ATM, post office and several cafes should your coffee craving kick in. Wi-Fi is most reliably obtained from the cafes, the visitor centre or via the mobile phone network.
Good to Know?
Don't be all taken aback if you get 'the finger' from another driver on the roads of KI. It's actually a popular local greeting. Just gently lift your fore or middle finger off the steering wheel as the oncoming vehicle approaches. You can accentuate the gesture with a short nod making a quaint and endearing acknowledgement of your fellow road user. Not sure it will work back in the big smoke.
On Foot: If you're not on a booked shore excursion, then you are likely strolling the streets of Penneshaw. Most everything is just a couple minutes one way or the other, but the Tourist Information Centre and Maritime Museum is a little bit further out, past the Christmas Cove marina.
By Shuttle Bus: On cruise days, the local school buses are commandeered for shuttling visitors between the terminal and the visitor centre. The free service runs at regular intervals throughout the day.
By Car: with some pre-planning, you may be able to hire a car and self-drive for a few hours. Both Hertz and Budget have desks in Penneshaw serving visitors arriving by ferry.
Note: there are no longer any bicycles for hire, and there is no taxi or Uber service
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
While most stores will happily accept credit cards and EFTPOS transactions, Australian dollars in cash can be obtained from either of the ATMs in the Penneshaw Hotel or IGA Supermarket. The big town, Kingscote, is an hour by road and your tour (if you're on one) may not stop there.
English is the official language all over Australia, but sometimes visitors from overseas will have trouble understanding the thick drawl sometimes invoked by truckies, tradies and footy fans. It has been claimed (usually by South Australians themselves) that theirs is the clearest and most 'correct' English spoken anywhere in the country and a few little nuances will give it away. Like castle said 'CAR-sell' (not CASS-sell). And 'croweaters' (the slang name for South Australians) will go swimming in 'bathers', not 'togs', 'swimmers' or 'cossies' as they do in the other states. South Australian 'schooners' (the most common beer glass) are actually equivalent to Eastern states' 'middies', so don't look shocked if your draught lager has shrunk. If you want the big one, ask for a 'pint'.
Where You're Docked?
The newly built tender jetty at the Penneshaw Ferry Terminal is where you will get off the transfer from your ship. Straight away you will see eager ground handlers waiting to whisk you away on pre-booked shore tours. But there's even a second chance in case you missed out as there's a desk where local community operators will also offer supplementary tours and excursions, sometimes at substantial saving. There are washrooms here, too. The town centre of little Penneshaw is just a few hundred metres up the gentle slope.