Seal Bay has been home to an Australian sea lion population for thousands of years and offers one of the most exceptional nature-based experiences in the world. It is the only place in the world where you can see Australian sea lions – an endangered species – at close quarters in their home environment.
The majority of visitors to Kangaroo Island visit Seal Bay and along with Flinders Chase National Park, is one of the island’s top attractions.
It is timely – in light of the opportunity to reimagine the connected parks and wilderness areas of western Kangaroo Island to also consider what could be reimagined at Seal Bay to integrate all of these locations into a world-class, cohesive and authentic Kangaroo Island experience.
Reimagine Engagement Program
This once in a lifetime planning opportunity to reimagine the visitor experience for Seal Bay involved community and stakeholders in a wide-reaching and collaborative process the outcomes of which became a vision, key themes, guiding principles and opportunities for Seal Bay.
The first phase of engagement involved focus group session. These were about big picture, visionary ideas and guiding principles – not decision-making. We wanted to gather insights about what park users, stakeholders and visitors would potentially like to see in future, identify parameters and issues for consideration and understand likely benefits and interrelationships with the local community, economy and environment. Representatives from stakeholder groups including, but not limited to, Friends of Parks, tourism operators, primary producers, local businesses, park visitors, local parks staff and more have participated in a series of focus group sessions to reimagine the visitor experience across both the western Kangaroo Island parks and Seal Bay. We have also held one on one and small group meetings and held drop-in sessions.
Following the focus group sessions, two Community Reference Groups were established (one for the western Kangaroo Island parks, one for Seal Bay) with membership comprising a representative cross-section of focus group participants. These Community Reference Groups will worked through and refined the ideas raised and the key themes we have heard from almost 600 community members and stakeholders through our engagement activities. The end product was two documents – one for the Western end Kangaroo Island parks and one for Seal Bay - that summarise a vision, key themes, guiding principles, opportunities and ideas.
With phase one and two of the engagement program now complete, careful consideration is being given to the community input and final framework documents from the reference groups as we develop the master plan for a reimagined visitor experience for KI parks.