Eighty miles across the Gulf St. Vincent from Adelaide sits Kangaroo Island, 1,700 square miles of rolling terrain crowded with wildlife. The isle's namesake thrives in the brushy interior, and the southern coastline shelters fur seals, fairy penguins, and sea lions. But it's koalas that rule: Since being introduced from the mainland in 1928, the marsupial's population has boomed to 30,000 on KI, giving it some of the highest koala densities in the country.
WHERE TO STAY: When the Southern Ocean Lodge opens for business on a craggy south-shore bluff in early March, the mod, 21-suite eco-retreat—constructed with materials such as local limestone and recycled timber—will put the island on the international luxury map. The lodge has a refined, edge-of-the earth feel, with nothing but 2,500 miles of ocean between you and Antarctica (doubles from $1,595, including all meals and local guiding; southernoceanlodge.com.au).
WHAT TO DO: Your best authority on all things KI is naturalist Craig Wickham (exceptionalkangarooisland.com), who's been running wildlife safaris for 18 years. Craig and his team will lead you through Kelly Hill Conservation Park, a swath of grassland that's literally hopping with kangaroos; on a ten-mile hike along Cape Gantheaume; or on a koala-tracking trip through the eucalyptus groves of Flinders Chase National Park.
GETTING THERE: It's a 20-minute flight from Adelaide to Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, via Regional Express ($141 round-trip; regionalexpress.com.au). Air South operates a four-passenger charter from $1,320 (airsouth.com.au).