Where is it? A two-hour cruise by Sealink ferry from Adelaide's Glenelg Beach, South Australia. Dolphins lead the way as you skirt 100-year-old shipwrecks and ease through the steely blue swells. Why go? Solitude and reflection. Plenty of time to ponder the meaning of life along the desolate, cave-pocked coastlines, foaming surf beaches and lush pastures. Once home to early European pioneers and now a major sheep-farming and beekeeping centre, the island is 155km long and 55km wide. It still resembles a primeval oasis to many city slickers, and heaven on Earth to a growing number of urban escapees. The birdlife is prolific, fish are thick in the water, and grazing kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and goannas (a species of large lizard) can be viewed at arm's length on morning strolls. Quaint B&Bs and rustic colonial cottages are bed options that can be arranged through South Australian Tourism. But a tent will put you back in nature's hands if camping's your thing. Will it rain? Tumultuous weather is no stranger to islanders, although from early October onwards, once winter storms have fizzled out, temperatures rise for an explosion of wildflowers across the pastures. While the mainland labours through hot summers, island temperatures remain several degrees cooler. Are the natives friendly? Most of the more than 4,000 inhabitants appear to be. Sealers, whalers, and the odd escaped convict have etched their roguish characters into the island's turbulent past. You can rub shoulders with their descendants in the Kingscote Hotel, in sleepy Kingscote port, at weekends. What's that smell? Seal Bay is a wide sandy arc of coastline where colonies of New Zealand fur seals and Australian sea lions loll and cuddle, and where, under the guidance of park rangers, you can cop a whiff of possibly the worst tuna-breath in the world. Cape Du Couedic lies further south, marking the island's southeastern most point. A red-tipped lighthouse and cottages, built in 1909 after three shipwrecks claimed 79 lives, rise from the saltbush to remind visitors of the perils of paradise and the hardships of early settlers. Take a pair of binoculars and scan Nautilus Rock, one of the island's five seal-breeding grounds visible from the lighthouse. You might witness, as the odd tourist does, the macabre spectacle of sharks pulling hapless seals to their murky deaths. Nightlife or wildlife? A schooner of Cooper's Ale and a window stool at the hilltop Penneshaw Hotel, in Penneshaw, is as cosy as it gets. Whales sometimes pass offshore. At night, fairy penguins nod their way to rookeries along the coast, as pub customers nod to classic Rolling Stones tracks. There are plenty of smooth stones at Rocky River park headquarters from which campers can star gaze within Flinders Chase National Park, the largest of the island's 18 wildlife reserves. Wake-up calls are raucous bird noises - courtesy of honey-eaters, cockatoos and Cape Barren geese. Ecotrek: Bogong Jack Adventures offers five-day walking tours of Kangaroo Island for A$1,090 (HK$5,989). E-mail: ecotrek@ ozemail.com.au, website: www.ecotrek.com.au , tel: (61-8) 8383 7198, fax: (61-8) 8383 7377. Barefoot Executive Tours runs one-day, four-wheel-drive tours, including lunch and morning and afternoon tea, for A$700 per person. E-mail: barefoot@ kangaroo-island-au.com, website: www.kangaroo-island-au.com/barefoot . Useful links: www.kangaroo-island-au.com ; Kangaroo Island Sealink, www.sealink.com.au ; South Australian Tourism Commission, www.southaustralia.com .