RDA Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu and Kangaroo IslandEconomic profile
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RDA Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island

About the area

Name origin

Kangaroo Island Council is named after Kangaroo Island, which was named Kanguroo Island by Captain Matthew Flinders when he explored the island in 1802 and saw several brown kangaroos.

Location and boundaries

The Kangaroo Island Council area is located off the south-eastern tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia, about 110 kilometres south-west of the Adelaide CBD. The Kangaroo Island Council area is surrounded by the Southern Ocean, located about 15 kilometres from the South Australian mainland.

Included areas

The Kangaroo Island Council area includes the localities of American Beach, American River, Antechamber Bay, Ballast Head, Baudin Beach, Bay of Shoals, Birchmore, Brown Beach, Brownlow, Cape Borda, Cassini, Cuttlefish Bay, Cygnet River, De Mole River, D'Estrees Bay, Dudley East, Dudley West, Duncan, Emu Bay, Flinders Chase, Gosse, Haines, Island Beach, Ironstone, Kangaroo Head, Karrata, Kingscote, Kohinoor, MacGillivray, Menzies, Middle River, Muston, Nepean Bay, Newland, North Cape, Parndana, Pelican Lagoon, Penneshaw, Porky Flat, Sapphiretown, Seal Bay, Seddon, Stokes Bay, Stun'Sail Boom, Vivonne Bay, Western River, Willoughby, Willson River and Wisanger.

Economic region
Kangaroo Island Council

Land use

The Kangaroo Island Council area is predominantly rural, with significant conservation areas. The main townships are Kingscote, American River, Parndana and Penneshaw, with smaller settlements at Baudin Beach, Brownlow, Emu Bay, Island Beach, Nepean Bay and Vivonne Bay. The Council area encompasses a total land area of 4,400 square kilometres. Land is used mainly for agriculture, particularly sheep grazing and grain growing, with fishing and forestry also being important industries. There is also some cattle grazing and crop growing. Tourism is an important industry.


The Kangaroo Island Council area is served by the Playford Highway, the SeaLink Ferry between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw, and Kangaroo Island Airport.

Settlement history

European settlement dates from 1836 when Kingscote was established by the South Australian Land Company as a free settlement, being South Australia’s first site of European settlement. Land was used mainly for sheep grazing and grain growing, with some eucalyptus oil distilling. The population reached about 1,500 in 1947. Some growth took place in the post-war years, aided by a war service land settlement scheme, with a population of about 2,200 in 1954 and 3,500 in 1981. The population increased gradually from the 1980s.