Seafood, sealers and shipping at American River
Explore wildlife, walks & waters
Your first taste of this region will be a stop at Prospect Hill, the island’s highest point. Climb the 500 stairs for an unbelievable 360-degree view across Pennington Bay, the Dudley Peninsula, Pelican Lagoon and beyond. Explorer Matthew Flinders climbed this hill in 1802 to get his bearings.
From atop Prospect Hill you will see the Pennington Bay, along the South Coast, and the meandering Pelican Lagoon on the North. A drive along the lagoon unveils the quiet and quaint town of American River.
Things to do at American River
The seaside fishing village of American River, Kangaroo Island, or 'The River' as the locals call it, is surrounded by bushland. Alongside Pelican Lagoon’s peaceful shores, it is a nature-lover’s paradise with several hiking trails within the town. Walk the independence trail heading south from the town centre, or head north to the Cannery trail along the coast. Look out for kangaroos and wallabies, and endangered glossy black cockatoos, often seen around town.
The Independence, the first ship to be built in South Australia, was constructed here and there’s a replica at the turnoff to the town. Visit the green shed on the wharf to see the ship being rebuilt by volunteers. Explore the wharf and look out for dolphins or a cheeky long-nosed fur seal or spot the abundant water birds. Watch local fishing boats unloading their haul, part of American River’s thriving aquaculture industries.
The town was named for American sealers who thought they were camped on the banks of a river, not realising the lagoon was an ocean inlet. Nowadays, Pelican Lagoon is a marine sanctuary, and motorboats are prohibited. Enjoy its tranquility in a kayak or other non-motorised watercraft and watch sunrise and sunset from its shores.
If you are planning your visit to Kangaroo Island, then here are our essential guides and maps to help your itinerary
How to get to Kangaroo Island and how to get around the Island, essential information for you to know.
Learn about our Islands history and heritage, keeping the Island special and our iconic wildlife
Learn when to visit Kangaroo Island for abundant wildlife, wildflowers, fantastic local produce and seafood and the best natural attractions each season
American River is home to the Kangaroo Island Dragon Boat team. You'll see them out paddling on Wednesdays and Sundays. One of their hand painted boats is on display by the campground.
Feral cats, Feral end
Feral cats are a real problem on Kangaroo Island. The island is free of rabbits and foxes but since cats were introduced in 1844 the feral population has grown to an estimated 5,000. The cats have decimated wildlife and are threatening the island's sheep industry with disease. The KI Landscape Board are currently undertaking an eradication program on the eastern end of the Island.
Barry Green, an environmentalist, has been trapping, skinning and tanning the hides of feral cats on Kangaroo Island for the past 25 years.