Luxury Adventures are doing a series of interviews with some of our key suppliers looking at the different aspects of their lives and how these influence the experiences they offer. From the Baillie Lodge portfolio hails Southern Ocean Lodge, Australia’s first true super lodge. Poised above the Southern Ocean atop a secluded cliff lies Kangaroo Islands finest accommodation choice – Southern Ocean Lodge.
For those that haven’t been – tell us a little about Kangaroo Island as a destination, why visit there other than to stay at Southern Ocean Lodge? Kangaroo Island is renowned as Australia’s Galapagos – a sanctuary for wildlife amidst pristine natural beauty. It’s the perfect place to disconnect from the world and reconnect with what and who is truly important to you. It’s truly a zoo without fences and wildlife abounds; the ocean is teeming with fish and sea lions – stand on the shore in the cooler months and watch migrating southern right whales and their calves. On land there is a plethora of rare bird life, tammar wallabies, short-beaked echidnas and plenty of kangaroos and koalas. Offering the best of the mainland on a smaller scale, Kangaroo Island offers a quintessential experience of Australia.
Adelaide is the gateway to Kangaroo Island. How long does it take to fly to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide, and how regularly do they fly? Kangaroo Island is 25 minutes flying time from Adelaide – the island is serviced by Regional Express who fly scheduled services between two and five times per day depending on the season. Kingscote Airport is about 14km from Kingscote, the main town on the Island. The airport is 80km from Southern Ocean Lodge and we collect all guests staying at the lodge and returns them to the airport for their departure flight. Alternatively we can arrange private air charters from almost anywhere to Kingscote and then private transfer to the lodge or even direct helicopter transfers from Adelaide Airport directly to the lodge.
What 5 key activities do you recommend guests participate in whilst there? The tariff includes Signature Experiences with naturalist guides – in addition, we have a range of Bespoke Experiences for those wishing to explore more:
· “Wonders of KI” is a half day excursion into the vast Flinders Chase National Park to see the natural icons of the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch. A great trip with plenty of history, wildlife as well as some geology.
· “Seal Bay” – we visit the Australian Sea Lion colony at Seal Bay where our guides take the guests down onto the beach. A perfect opportunity to get close enough to these intriguing animals to be able to take some incredible photos with the right zoom on the camera.
· “Kangas & Kanapés” is a short trip from Southern Ocean Lodge to a place where kangaroos congregate at dusk to feed. A lovely social event for guests to meet each other over a drink out in the open at sunset while at the same time learn about the island’s namesake.
· The “Coastal Clifftop Walk” is a wonderful way to immerse into the wilderness – this gentle 1.5 hour guided stroll along the ridge line provides a wonderful sense of place and a fantastic chance to learn about the coastal flora on the island. At the right time of year (June to early August) maybe spot a southern right whale passing through on its migration from Antarctica.
· One of the Bespoke Experiences we strongly recommend is the Nocturnal Tour. Many of the animals are most active at night and the best way to see them is to get out there in the bush with one of our guides and a torch to spotlight the animals in the dark.
Would you recommend visitors hire a vehicle whilst on Kangaroo Island to explore and if so what is there to see? It really depends on the duration of guest stay as to whether vehicle hire is required. On a three night stay, there is little need for a hire car as the signature touring includes all transportation (and generally, return airport transfers). Should guests wish to hire a vehicle, Southern Ocean Lodge has a Hertz Rental Toyota Landcruiser Prado which can be rented for a whole day or half a day. If guests are staying longer than 3 nights and wish to explore the north of the island, a hire car is a good option.
Meals are included at Southern Ocean Lodge and the cuisine selection sounds very enticing. Employing the ‘locavore’ philosophy (Fresh in season ingredients sourced locally) your food and beverage has a local flavour. With this in mind what are a few dishes that you highly recommend our guests try? The Island has some amazing producers and Executive Chef, Tim Bourke, visits many of them personally to chose ingredients for his dishes. The Island’s fresh water marron (similar to crayfish) is spectacular and the Kitchen team make their own marron cream to garnish. “Steamed Kangaroo Island marron, spring leaves and vegetables, marron and rocket cream” is on the menu at present. There are also hand dived Kangaroo Island scallops and the new season island strawberries, local yoghurt, Ligurian honey with dried black olive is to die for!
What type of guests do you think Southern Ocean lodge is best suited too? The lodge offers the perfect escape for those who seek an authentic Australian experience – especially suited to nature and wildlife lovers, purveyors of fine food and wine and those who appreciate great design.
Most of our guests would have a max of between 3-4 days to spend at Kangaroo Island before moving on to another destination. Is this enough to take in the highlights of the area? A three night reservation is recommended as the classic stay; this provides guests with optimum time to undertake our signature tours, spend some time relaxing in the Lodge and also experience something from our Bespoke experiences range or a luxurious spa treatment in our Southern Spa.
Generally our guests have between 2-3 weeks overall to spend in Australia – what other 2 destinations would you personally recommend as must see? Generally, Adelaide is utilised as a connection point but we definitely recommend staying for a couple of days. The wine regions of South Australia are on Adelaide’s doorstep and the food culture is very mature. The Adelaide Central Market is a highlight – located right in the heart of the city – it is more than a place to buy food but an attraction in itself.
When in your opinion is the best time of year to visit Southern Ocean Lodge, or is it an all year round destination offering different things for different seasons? Southern Ocean Lodge is definitely a year-round destination. Whilst the mind set is perhaps to visit in summer, the island comes alive during the cooler seasons with dramatic sea scapes and lush, green interiors teaming with wildlife. Distinct seasons offer different experiences.
John Hird and Alison Heath are the lodge managers at Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, Australia.
Tony Townley is a luxury lifestyle specialist and owner of Luxury Adventures. Talk to us about planning your next visit to New Zealand, Australia or the South Pacific Islands.