Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 11/29/2019

Reading time: 3 mins

See wild koala up close and personal in their natural habitat. Found at the western end of Kangaroo Island, the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect place to see some of Australia’s coolest critters.

No where else on the island can you see a sustainable population of koalas in the wild! Choose to self-guide your visit or book on one of their guided tours for the best chance of spotting these cool creatures.

Learn about Kangaroo Island’s wildlife and discover the secrets of their survival on this small island. Find out how wildlife helps to maintain a balanced ecosystem. Learn about the devastating effect that the extinction of even one small species could have on the whole island’s environment.

The sanctuary describes themselves as a ‘zoo without fences.’ The sanctuary is home to koala, tammar wallabies, kangaroo, echidna and possums. Keep an eye out for the rare albino echidna or join an evening tour to spot bats and other nocturnal species.

Take a guided koala walk to ‘supervised only’ areas within the park and see Aussies furry grey cuties. The sanctuary promises you’ll see at least 25 koalas on your visit, so bring your camera because there is no better place to try and find these sweet animals!

The sanctuary is also home to an array of native bird life. Watch as they dance above your head in the sky. Keep an ear out for the singing and chittering of birds nestled high in the eucalyptus branches.

Koalas on Kangaroo Island

Though native to Australia, koalas were not initially found on Kangaroo Island. During the early 20th century hunting of koala on the mainland lead to concerns for the overall population. In order to create a backup population, it was decided to send a small collection of koalas to Kangaroo Island. 18 koalas were sent to the island, fast forward to today and the population is estimated to be approximately 50,000. They were so abundant that they became a pest and mass sterilisation was occurring in an attempt to control the population growth.

In 2019 however, mainland koala populations are facing a new threat, lack of genetic diversity. As chlamydia devastates the mainland koala population, those without the disease are at risk. As populations decrease, they run into the issue of incest when breeding, this could further devastate the population. The koalas on Kangaroo Island might be key to diversifying the genetic pool. Due to their isolation they have not contracted the disease. This makes them the potentially perfect solution to Australia’s dwindling koala problem.

Though it won’t be as simple as plonking a few Kangaroo Island koalas in the middle of a mainland population. However, the realisation the population is disease free is a great start along the road to survival.

A visit to the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary will teach you this and so much more about not only koala but a range of unique Australian animals. Be sure schedule a stop at the sanctuary on your next trip to Kangaroo Island!

Related article: Can you swim at Kangaroo Island?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.