Kangaroo Island is less than one hour ferry ride from the mainland of South Australia, yet here you’ll feel a million miles away.
The Galapagos Islands of Australia, this is one of the world’s greatest nature based destinations, and with more than one third of the land preserved in conservation parks, the island acts a sanctuary where native Australian animals roam free.
People travel from all over the world to see sea lions basking on unspoiled white beaches, koalas dozing in lofty eucalyptus trees, and bottle-nosed dolphins and fur seals jumping from the sea. Though more than 260 bird species also call Kangaroo Island home, and it is here that you have the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with Australia’s most impressive birds of prey.
How We Got Up Close With Australia’s Birds of Prey
You can hover over this (or any image) to quickly pin it!
One of the best things to do on Kangaroo Island is a visit to Raptor Domain. It is by far the most incredible wildlife experience South Australia has to offer; a rare opportunity to witness and interact with Australia’s most extraordinary raptors up close.
You will meet Hobbit the hobby falcon, Casper the barn owl, Wally the tawny frogmouth, Banjo and Clancy the laughing kookaburras, Jedda the wedge-tail eagle, and other birds of prey. Though this isn’t your average bird show, and there is nothing in cages to see.
An environmental and educational rehabilitation center for sick, injured, and orphaned raptors from all over Australia, owners Dave and Leeza Irwin allow visitors unprecedented access to their birds, extending an invitation to join their keepers as the raptors are fed and exercised by flying around the arena and hunting mock prey.
The aim is to release as many recovered birds back into the wild as possible, though the sad reality is that not all raptors who find sanctuary here are able to be rehabilitated. Those who can’t be released become “ambassadors for their species as part of the In-Flight Birds of Prey Presentation”.
In-Flight Birds of Prey Presentation
The ‘In-Flight Birds of Prey Presentation’ is a one hour presentation which runs at 11.30am and 2pm each day. Tickets cost $18.00 for adults and $12.00 for children, which is exceptional value for money.
Seated in an outdoor arena, raptors are presented by very knowledgeable and passionate keepers, who offer a great deal of information and interesting facts about each species. Comfortable with human interaction, each bird shows off their incredible aerial skill, and then happily lands on your arm or lap as you pet them or hold them on a glove.
After the show, you can pay an additional $10 fee to hold and have photographs taken with a majestic wedge-tail eagle, the cost contributing to the care of rescued birds.
To witness the impressive birds of prey in action, and at such close proximity, is a reason worth making the trip to Kangaroo Island alone. This is one of the most interactive wildlife experiences in Australia, and a fantastic chance to learn more about the birds and their role in the environment.
Raptor Domain also has a Fang-Tastic Reptile Encounter that is equally interactive, educational, and entertaining, as well as a Venom Pit which offers an interactive show and tell in a safe environment with some of Australia’s most venomous critters.
Visitors are escorted to and from the arena at the start and end of each show. You are unable to walk around the grounds freely, though for those wanting to spend the whole day, you can start with the Venom Pit at 10:30am, then Birds of Prey at 11:30, stay for lunch, and then join the “Fang-Tastic” reptile presentation at 1:00pm. ($38 for adults or $28 per child for the full day). But if you can only catch one show, make sure it’s the Birds of Prey.
The afternoon presentation is when the majority of tour buses pass through, so aim for the morning if you can. We attended the morning presentation with only 7 other people, which meant a lot more time for each individual to interact with the raptors.
Raptor Domain is open every day (excluding Christmas day). Located just off Seal Bay Road, it is approximately a 45 minute drive from Kingscote and only 10 minutes to Seal Bay Conservation Park and the Little Sahara sand dunes. Visit the Raptor Domain website for bookings and more information.
How to Get to Kangaroo Island
Getting to Kangaroo Island is a short 45 minute ferry ride from the mainland. SeaLink Kangaroo Island run daily departures between Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula (two hours drive south from Adelaide) and Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island.
This is both a passenger and vehicle ferry, so you can travel to Kangaroo Island in the comfort of your own car, or book a return coach service to/from Adelaide to meet the ferries.
Not only do SeaLink operate the ferry service to Kangaroo Island but they also offer a huge range of accommodation, tours, activities, adventure experiences and more. If you book your accommodation and ferry as a SeaLink self-drive holiday package you will save money on your ferry fares.
For up-to-date pricing and timetable information, as well as details on self-drive packages, and tours, jump over to the SeaLink Kangaroo Island website.
INSPIRED?! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS ↓
That looks awesome! I really like raptors, we’ve got an awesome conservation group here as this is a huge migration point for them. http://montanaraptor.org/
We had a spectacular day! Thanks for the link to Montanaraptor – will check it out!
Close encounters with animals are always amazing and feels like this is a great place to have them. I think I’d pick the birds over the reptiles though. Thanks for sharing.
Kangaroo Island is one of the best places in the world for close animal encounters :) Was such a memorable experience spending time with the raptors!
I wish I had known about this when I was in Australia. I like the idea that the aim is to return them to the Wild. I rarely visit zoos because I often feel sorry for the animals, but here it’s different
Totally different visiting a rehabilitation center than a zoo – we’re the same, we’re more interested in experiencing wildlife in the wild. Though these kind of experiences are really fantastic because they’re not about keeping animals in cages and are 100% concerned with rehabilitating them back into the wild :)
What an interesting place and one I would definitely love to visit. I really enjoy wildlife and certainly up to getting as close to them as possible.
Those names are so funny! Great to hear about their work the birds, helping the sick and orphans.
Another place for my Australian to-do list!
Glad we could put Kangaroo Island on your radar Hugo – definitely a place to keep in mind if you’re a fan of wildlife. Has some of the best wildlife experiences in Australia here :)
Still haven’t been to Kangaroo Island, but I really want to! Once again your photos are incredible! I’d definitely visit Raptor Domain and pay the extra $10 for a picture and hold of the birds! Thanks for all the info!
Thanks Kim-Ling! You should absolutely put Kangaroo Island on your radar for your next trip. We did a roadtrip from Canberra and spent two weeks – went from Canberra to Mildura, did some of the Vic/NSW outback, and then down through Adelaide to KI.
Was a really fun itinerary – we spent 5 days on KI :)
That looks fun! We almost did a falconry course while on Malta, but didn’t have the time. Would love to do something like this!
Definitely make sure Kangaroo Island is on your list if your travels bring you to Australia then!
This sounds like a place I need to see. So many amazing species. Kangaroo Island, I hope I get there sooner than later.
I hope you do too Holly! You’ll LOVE it on Kangaroo Island, it’s a truly special and unique spot on the globe :)
These birds are amazing. It is really cool that you got to see them up close. I love getting to see birds of prey fly. They are such amazing creatures.
They’re such spectacular birds – it really was such a wonderful day. Witness them in action, and at such close proximity, was an opportunity too good to miss!
I didn’t know it was possible to get up close with birds of prey! I love that their purpose is to get them back into the wild, and that they continue to care for those who can’t. Those photos are definitely worth the $10 contribution to the centre!
They have a really wonderful purpose at the center, and it’s a great way to raise funds and promote education to allow the public access to the shows :)
This looks like such an incredible experience! I’ve lived in Melbourne for nearly 4 years and still haven’t made it to South Australia – let alone Kangaroo Island! Its on the list for sure!
You should definitely plan for a roadtrip then! Could do the Great Ocean Road along to Adelaide and then jump down from Adelaide to Cape Jervis and take your car on the Sealink ferry across to KI :)
Wow that’s an amazing wildlife experience, I would love to try this and get the chance to get close to these beautiful birds.i have beem to a birds park but not allowed to touch them.
The rehab center is very hands on which is a fantastic chance to learn more. The idea behind the interactive approach is that this creates fascination and appreciation which then leads to a desire to contribute to conservation :)
Wow, they are truly amazing creatures I will have to do this one day.
They truly are! Hope you have the chance to visit Kangaroo Island soon :)
What an amazing experience! I will definitely put this on my list of to do’s when I travel to Australia next month!
You’ll love it Steven! Happy travels! Feel free to reach out if you’re after any other tips about Kangaroo Island :)