South Australians have flocked to Flinders Chase on Kangaroo Island to witness its regeneration following the catastrophic summer fires that decimated about 96 per cent of the national park.
Nearly 4,000 people have toured Flinders Chase in the two weeks since it reopened on July 4 – more than the park usually attracts in the entire month.
Park entry is free while clean-up work continues and some areas of the park remain closed, including the visitor’s centre that was destroyed in the fires.
Visitors to Flinders Chase last week included Adelaide accountant Tamara Johnston and her family, who last visited the park in 2008.
They returned to Kangaroo Island to support the local economy and made the drive out to the national park to witness the regeneration first hand.
Stopping for photos with her husband and sons at Remarkable Rocks, Johnston said she found entering the park confronting.
“It’s just black and raw, it doesn’t have the soft green edges that it had (last time),” Johnston said.
“But then the regeneration is pretty awesome to see… especially the yukkas – they are a real symbol of endurance and resilience.
“For the boys, they’ve driven through lots and lots of national parks but never seen anything like this… it’s great to see so many people coming back and supporting Kangaroo Island.”
Environment Minister David Speirs confirmed the record numbers in a statement to InDaily.
“It is fantastic to see visitors, as well as locals of Kangaroo Island, flocking to the park to witness the recovery journey, and check out the tourist drawcards of Remarkable Rocks, Weirs Cove, Cape du Couedic lighthouse and Admirals Arch,” Speirs said in the statement.
“Not only is park visitation smashing previous years, local South Australian visitors are now making up the majority of visitors to the park, compared to past years where South Aussies only made up 25 per cent of tourists to the island.
“We are witnessing a great level of state-wide interest to see, experience and support the recovery of the internationally renowned park post-bushfire, and it’s great that South Australians are getting out and exploring our regions like Kangaroo Island.”
Pictured, Tamara Johnston and her family visited Flinders Chase last week and found the regeneration "a real symbol of endurance and resilience."
Originally published on the Lead: Flinders Chase rebounding with record visitors