Unless you fly to Kangaroo Island, there is a good chance you’ll pass right through the coastal town of Penneshaw. Though not large by mainland standards, the town of Penneshaw is definitely active with the comings and goings of visitors—many of whom are renting vehicles to explore the rest of the island.
The town of Penneshaw itself, however, has enough charms to shake the feel of being just another port town by the coast. Learn the history of centuries of shipwrecks at the Penneshaw Maritime and Folk Museum, or scour the nearby beaches by night in search of Little Penguins. Standing 13 inches when fully grown, the “Fairy Penguins”—as they’re known in these parts—are officially classified as the world’s smallest penguins and mate along the Penneshaw shoreline.
When you aren’t searching for penguins by night, soak up the sun on the sands of Hog Bay and its long, white sand shoreline, and splash in the water of the Backstairs Passage looking back towards the Australian mainland. From here, the inviting wilderness of Kangaroo Island literally sits on your doorstep, and it’s the first stop most visitors will experience on this famous “zoo without fences.”
Ferries from Cape Jervis on the Australian mainland drop passengers and cars in Penneshaw, regularly making the 10-mile crossing in less than 45 minutes. Nearly all tours of Kangaroo Island begin at the ferry dock in Penneshaw, or you can either ship your own car on the ferry or rent a car in town.