Kangaroo Island has many spectacular beaches but none is more cherished by locals and visitors alike than Pennington Bay. Just a two-minute detour off the main road from Penneshaw to Kingscote, the bay is easily the most accessible vantage point for views of the south coast.
The ‘reveal’ is always compelling as you crest the rise and glimpse the sweep of ocean framed by big limestone cliffs. Part of the bay’s mystique is that this wild vista sits at the narrowest part of the island. Just to the north lies the relatively placid waters of Pelican Lagoon and the sleepy township of American River. Pennington Bay, by contrast, is a window on the vast, untamed realm of the Southern Ocean and the dramatic shoreline it has wrought along the underside of the island.
With this aspect and its craggy geology, the bay itself offers a diverse mix of experiences. The main beach to the west is a long arc of dunes and surf. When conditions are right it’s a favoured haunt for surfing and salmon fishing. And whatever the weather, this stretch is a popular for a long stroll to beachcomb and savour the atmosphere.
To the east, Pennington’s limestone bluffs form a series of sheltered coves with sandy beaches and broad wave-cut platforms. At low-water in calm weather these tidal aprons are wondrous worlds to explore with their rock pools and seagrass meadows – especially on the hot north-wind days when there’s shade from the cliffs and cool water to paddle in.
For islanders, Pennington Bay has become a place of family and memory, a site where many generations have learnt to fish, swim and surf; not to mention a venue for weddings, birthdays and reunions. Little wonder then that the bay is a rich source of art and legend, a site where the past is ever-present in the nature that unfolds here.