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Escape Media Famil

Category - Southern Ocean Lodge

I may have just had a delicious welcome to the lodge lunch but when I see the fresh lamingtons in my suite I know what I have to do. I pop on the kettle, look over the selection of Adelaide’s T Bar teas before deciding on the Quince Sencha, and as the water comes to a boil I take in my surroundings.

My Flinders Suite at Southern Ocean Lodge is a picture of light filled serenity with a king bed, walk in robe, in-suite bar and ensuite with oversized rain shower on the entry level and a curved sunken lounge and outdoor terrace a few steps below.

Thanks to the floor to ceiling glass I have a perfect view of the Southern Ocean, whether I’m in bed, on the lounge or even in the shower, but when the tea is ready I take my cuppa and lamingtons outside and sit on my day bed to watch the waves. As I’m to discover this is something that never gets old.

The wave watching magic starts the moment you walk into the lodge and first see the ocean framed by the windows of the Great Room. Having dreamt of staying at Southern Ocean Lodge for years I’d seen many photos of that room and that view but they don’t capture the true power of the scene when the waves are rolling in. Over the coming days I watch the waves for hours, hypnotised by the way the colours in the water change, the way foam explodes like fireworks against the rocks, the way rainbows dance in the spray. Even in the pouring rain the waves are beautiful and I give up on trying to read a book on my couch after re-reading the same paragraph dozens of times between wave gazing. It’s not just the way they look, it’s the way they sound. These are not the gentle lapping wave sounds you might have on a relaxation tape. Here they crash, and as I lie in bed one night during some wild weather it feels like my bed is gently moving in time with each crashing sound.

When I mention the strange sensation to lodge managers John Hird and Alison Heath over pre-dinner drinks John tells me it’s not just my imagination. ‘It does move because there are hollow limestone caves underneath. So in a number of the rooms when the waves hit the limestone you can feel the reverberation.”

For the founders of Baillie Lodges, James and Hayley Baillie, when a 100 hectare site on the wilds of Kangaroo Island’s south coast became available they knew they’d found the location of their second lodge. After starting with Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island the husband and wife team wanted to create a world class retreat on Australia’s answer to the Galapagos where our native animals have flourished thanks to the absence of dingoes and foxes. The couple turned to award-winning architect Max Pritchard, who was born on Kangaroo Island, and the result was a 21-suite eco-lodge that gently flows along a cliff top at Hanson Bay. The suites, which are named after Kangaroo Island shipwrecks, all face the water, and start with eleven Flinders Suite and move up through five Ocean Retreats, two two-bedroom Ocean Premium suites, two Remarkable Suites, and one Osprey Pavilion with a plunge spa on the private outdoor terrace.

Having opened in 2008 the lodge is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, and while it recently went through a freshening up that involved replacing soft furnishings and a new coat of paint, previous guests will be relieved to hear that it looks just the way it did ten years ago. The only small changes being the way the kangaroos have hopped up and now appear on the cushions rather than the rug in the suites, and the welcome addition of USB plugs and wireless access points in each room.

In July the lodge also unveiled its exclusive guest lounge at Kangaroo Island Airport, which reopened following a $21 million upgrade. The lounge is also the creation of Max Pritchard and features some more of the beautiful leaf mandala artworks by Kangaroo Island artist Janine McIntosh that hang on the limestone walls of the lodge’s restaurant. It’s also a last chance to enjoy some of the locally sourced snacks and drinks that are served in the lodge, with no concerns about whether it’s too soon for a glass of Kangaroo Island wine. In the lodge, helping yourself to a glass of wine, or anything else that you would like to drink is encouraged. There are staff on hand to offer suggestions or mix a cocktail for you, but the long, very well stocked, bar is open for guests at all times.

As well as familiar favourites from around the world, guests can try the full range of Kangaroo Island Spirits’ native botanical gins, including the Baillies 9, which was made for the lodge and can only be found in Baillies Lodges around Australia. On an average month guests consume 1200 bottles of premium South Australian and Kangaroo Island wine, and while a particular wine is recommended with each meal we are free to explore the walk-in cellar and pick something for ourselves. Except for a select cellarmasters list of vintage SA wines and French Champagne, everything is included, and when I discover the cellar is stocked with Kangaroo Island bottles of my go-to red, Malbec, my day gets even better. Every evening guests gather for sunset drinks and swap tales from their day, and it feels like we’ve all been invited to the most amazing holiday house and are getting to know friends of friends.

As well as being on hand to assist with any request, it turns out the staff also have a talent for pleasant surprises. When one member of staff overheard friends of mine at dinner saying it was a shame they’d miss the final episode of a show that night because they didn’t have a television, by the time they returned to their room a TV had appeared. While there is a television in the Nicholas Baudin room, which is open to all and becomes popular during football grand finals, most rooms with the exception of Remarkable Suites and the Osprey suite don’t have televisions. Instead they’re stocked with other things to enjoy.

The minibar is packed with full size bottles of Petaluma Croser Vintage bubbles from the Adelaide Hills, Chardonnay and Shiraz from The Islander Estate Vineyards on Kangaroo Island, juices, soft drinks, strawberry hibiscus Mojo Kombucha and still, sparkling and coconut water. Snacks include handmade chocolate kangaroos by Bracegirldle’s House of Fine Chocolate in Adelaide, a jar of Anzac biscuits made to the chef’s mother’s recipe, and an artisan nut mix including South Australian pistachios, macadamias and Kangaroo Island saltbush. Coffee fans can choose between pods and making a fresh pot with coffee grounds, while as a member of Team Tea I loved having four blends of Adelaide’s T Bar loose leaf teas to try including Earl Grey Blueflower and Immortali-T. There’s even a little bowl just for used tea-leaves and coffee grounds.

A short boardwalk away from the main Lodge, the Southern Spa pampers guests with LI’TYA products and uses natural ingredients from the island including pink clay, lavender and Ligurian honey, and it would be very easy to spend days going no further than your feet could carry you from your suite.

But with so much natural beauty to see on Kangaroo Island there’s also a strong case for taking advantage of the Lodge’s excursions to see the Remarkable Rocks and fur seals at Admirals Arch, and watching the sunrise with Australia’s third largest sea lion colony. Southern Ocean Lodge has exclusive access to the Seal Bay Conservation Park before it opens for the day, and so as a young seal pup comes out of the surf to call for its mother there’s only a handful of us standing on the beach, hoping to hear its mother call back.

After our private seal watching session we head to nearby Bales Beach where Southern Ocean Lodge executive chef Asher Blackford is waiting for us. As Asher cracks sous vide eggs onto the outdoor barbecue to create his take on froached eggs, he tells us to tuck into the generous spread in front of us, including zucchini and haloumi fritters, artisanal bacon from Skara in Adelaide, and freshly baked banana bread. As a subscriber to American author Michael Pollan’s ‘You are what you eat eats’ philosophy Asher says he pays attention to the food chain and works closely with Kangaroo Island’s producers. A keen forager, he was also thrilled to find patches of ice plant, a succulent chefs love, and to return with seven kilos on his first day of foraging on the island after having paid $32 for twelve small florets at other mainland restaurants.

Asher says with the exception of beef, he gets most of his protein from Kangaroo Island itself, including lamb, partridge and kale fed pheasant. “All of the seafood apart from king fish is caught in local waters and then comes to port here before it goes over to Adelaide. So we get first pick from all the boats.”Not only are the dishes inspired by the island, their presentation is too. “We’re aiming for flavour, not fluff, and the inspiration for the way we plate is what you see outside the lodge window. When you look outside there are no straight lines, there’s no two of the same shape anywhere. That view of nature is so intense that we want the flavour to follow that as well.”

On my last afternoon I settle into one of Ghost Chairs in the Great Room and savour that intense view for a final sunset. With a glass of red in my hand and a blanket over my lap, I watch the reflection of the lights inside start to show against the twilight outside and for a short but beautiful time I can see both scenes at once. The reflections of the lamps look like they’re floating over the sea, and the ceiling lights, which have been scattered to look like Southern stars, are dots in the night sky. Too soon it’s time for a final supper and the long walk down the corridor to my suite for the last time.

When I enter my room I spot a small package on my bed. The box says ‘Hooroo!’ and explains that it’s an Australian way to bid a friend farewell. And when I find a travel candle from Kangaroo Island’s Drift on Bliss inside I smile, knowing I’ll be taking a little piece of the island home with me. If only I could take that view too.

The writer travelled as a guest of Southern Ocean Lodge and the South Australian Tourism Commission.


Rates at Southern Ocean Lodge start at $1200 per person per night and include all dining, open bar with premium wine and spirits (cellarmasters list additional), signature experiences and island airport transfers. From 1st May 2019 until 30th September 2019, solo travellers can pay only the twin share rate on a pay three stay four nights. Ph: 02 9918 4355


Fly QantasLink and Regional Express from Adelaide to Kingscote on Kangaroo Island. Over the summer peak period December 16, 2018 to January 29, 2019, QantasLink will also offer direct flights between Melbourne and Kangaroo Island. Self-drive options are also available via the SeaLink ferry.

Source: Escape