Kangaroo Island. Cool name for a place, eh? You can call it KI if you want to – that’s what the locals do.
This week the ABC program Media Watch exposed that celebrities (I’m using that term in its loosest possible sense) had been paid $750 to tweet about Kangaroo Island. Supposedly they were just meant to tweet about how much they want to go there, in an organic, natural kind of way and then quietly pocket their $750 and go on their celebrity way.
The social media marketing scheme was dreamed up by the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) to help back-up an advertising campaign they have going at the moment to try and lure people to the island.
Here’s the advert. It’s all ethereal light and barefeet cartwheels and hippy hair braids on a beach, backed by the lovely vocals of the lovely (oh so lovely) Eddie Vedder:
To their credit, the SATC (anyone else seeing Sex and the City in this acronym?) didn’t deny it when they Media Watch called them out on their Twitter cash-for-comment plan.
But why did they even need to do this in the first place? If I’m following celebrity chef Matt Moran or Australian Idol runner up Shannon Noll (and I’m not) and I read a tweet like this:
Excited about going to kangaroo island tomorrow! First time and about time I saw all that amazing produce that I've been using for years!—
Matt Moran (@chefmattmoran) April 20, 2012
I want to know if it’s a paid post or not! I get that “celebrities” earn a good chunk of their money for endorsing products, and good on them. I’ll watch George Clooney in a Norwegian bank ad any day of the week. But in that case it’s obvious that George is advertising and getting paid. This cash-for-tweet scenario blurs the lines between deception and advertising for me.
Anyway I’ll move on from that rant because despite my dislike of the Twitter advertising campaign I do like KI. And unlike Matt and Shannon I’ve been there. Once…which is one more time than they have.
About four years ago now I visited some family who live on KI. My visit was just after some very serious bushfires that claimed one life, and the island was still regrowing its vegetation and recovering. I was there in September, Australian spring, but it was still quite chilly and very windy and there were heaps of annoying flies. It was also stunningly beautiful. The coastlines are rugged, dangerous and wildly untouched. A third of the island is national park and with less than 10,000 humans in residence there is plenty of room for the environment and wildlife to grow and flourish. If you want to see a good selection of native Australian wildlife hanging out in their natural habitat (yes, including kangaroos) head to KI.
My family lives just outside of Kingscote, which is the “capital” of the island. One of the best attractions Kingscote has to offer, aside from the charming-ness (it’s a word) of the little town is the penguins tour, where you get to watch the fairy penguins come in from a hard day’s swimming in the ocean and head to their little homes on the beach. They are incredibly cute. It was also super smelly and freezing, so make sure you check the weather and wrap up if needed!
If you’re going to do this tour (or anything to do with wildlife on the island) make sure you do your research first about when they run – they’re all subject to seasons and weather – you don’t want to get all the way there and find out there is no penguin tour that day!
We also spent some time in Flinders Chase National Park. It’s home to the Remarkable Rocks:
And Admirals Arch:
Also in the south coast area is the Seal Bay Conservation Park where you can see endangered Australian Sea Lions. This was probably one of my favourite activities. You can get so close to them – they just hang out on the beach sleeping and walking around.
We also checked out the stalagmites and stalactites at the Kelly Hill caves:
So that’s the gorgeous Kangaroo Island. If you can deal with the fact that you’re in a very remote place – there is literally nothing but ocean between KI and Antarctica, a fact I found rather disquieting – and you’re into wildlife, hiking and seeing some of Australia’s most untouched landscapes, KI is the place for you.
I’ll have my $750 now. Thanks.