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The Kangaroo Island Survival Guide with Danielle Symes

If you live in South Australia then chances are you already follow Danielle Symes and her journey of motherhood, photography and all the exciting trimmings in between. A former fashion designer and stylist, nowadays Danielle is more commonly recognised for capturing and bringing to life all those important milestones. From weddings to pregnancy shoots, Danielle captures each frame in the most intimate and inviting of ways. This is a skill she brings to her own Instagram account, opening the doors to her life and work to more than 40 thousand dedicated followers.

In more recent times, the busy mum of two has been documenting her journey of the caravan life. Because if running a business and chasing two young ones was not enough, Danielle and her husband Brad took on the challenge of renovating a 1982 Windsor Statesman Caravan or better known as #OllieTheVan. Providing the perfect excuse to pack up the kids and explore South Australia’s exquisite terrain, Danielle recently took Ollie and family to Kangaroo Island.

Using the trip as an excuse to attend the SeaLink Kangaroo Island Racing Carnival and play dress ups for the day with the family, Danielle also showed that the journey over doesn’t need to be such a daunting prospect.

While many of us have dreamt of and spoken about packing a caravan and making the trip over, Symes has shown that it can be done with two young kids in toe, with ease. So take out your note pads and make note, because this endless wanderer has created the ultimate Kangaroo Island guide for you.     


How to get your van there....

From Adelaide, it is about a 2-hour drive out to Cape Jervis. It would most likely be quicker if you weren’t towing a van and didn’t have to change a number three-diaper situation on the way. Once you arrive it is pretty much self-explanatory… you drive up, check in and then wait for the ferry. And if like my husband you are not confident to reverse a caravan onto a boat squished in with hundreds of other cars the crew are more than happy to help and could do it with their eye’s closed. The ferry ride over is a nice change up from being stuck in the car and if it's not too windy it's amazing to head up to the top and lap up some of that sea breeze whilst spotting for dolphins. Before you know it you have arrived at Kangaroo Island and its GO GO GO for about 10 minutes before you are off on your travels.


For families travelling with kids, make sure you don’t leave without:

You seriously don’t need much, the ferry has you covered if you want things like snacks or drinks (and a really good coffee too)… they even have sick bags if the ride is a bit choppy which we all took advantage of on our journey back.


For the perfect lookout, make a base at: 

We stayed in Penneshaw and because we had the caravan we found a really great, self-serve caravan park that looked right out over the ocean. There is a lookout only a short walk from where we stayed so we headed there most evenings to watch the big ships come in. I might be biased but Penneshaw had so many great spots to sit down and have a wine whilst looking out over the island... including the Dudley Cellar Door Winery which has a cellar door that looks right out over the ocean.


For a fun day of activities with the little ones go to:

Everything is so close to KI so if you make a day trip of it you can see a lot. We drove from Penneshaw to Emu Bay and on the way stopped at some great little spots to run around and take some pictures. After having a picnic right in the middle of a dried up lake (just out of Emu Bay) we headed to Bay of Shoals for some beach time before heading back to our caravan park. There is wildlife absolutely everywhere you look; wallabies literally hop right past you. We even had some hang out in front of our caravan eating all of the kid's scraps.


The perfect picnic location can be found at:

I feel like you could pull up stumps anywhere in KI with the abundance of lookout points, beaches and bushland to choose from. For something a bit different the dried up lake we found just near the Discovery Lagoon Caravan Park was incredible and Harper explored every nook and cranny including the old abandoned boat they have set up there.


When you don’t feel like cooking, head to:

We are not overly fancy pants when we travel so we appreciate things like a good batch of fresh fish and chips... and you don’t get much fresher than the fish on Kangaroo Island!


For a spot of shopping without the kids:

We were lucky enough to stumble across some local markets when we arrived off the ferry and they were selling everything from local honey to handmade jewellery. I was stoked to stumble across a little boutique called Miss Meadows Store where she hand sews all her own pieces out of vintage fabrics. I naturally got myself a jumpsuit with a little matching dress for Charlie!


What to do if the weather doesn’t permit you to leave the caravan?

Cabin fever can set in quickly so we consumed a lot of hot chocolates, viewed (a lot) of Harper's interpretive dance routines and at one stage turned the whole van into a doctors surgery for Harper’s teddies’.


Tell us about the most memorable part of your trip:

The KI Cup was an absolute highlight, especially being able to judge the Fashion At The Races with Harper. He loves fashion so he was in his element getting to choose the prettiest dress and getting to put the sash on the winning girl.


The KI Cup with kids is:

A really relaxed vibe and you are surrounded by really friendly country folk so we always felt safe. We are lucky enough that it was a really sunny day so we could sit out on the grass with some food and drink and watch as the horses walked past the gates.


The kids enjoyed (at the KI Cup):

Well, apart from being able to judge the Fashion At The Races competition it was just the simple things like having an ice cream whilst watching the horses. It’s a really intimate setting so when the horses pass through you can pretty much touch them. Harper has never in his life been that close to a horse so it was incredible for him to be able to see them so up close and personal.

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