Southern Ocean Lodge

Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Australia Book from

Reviewed by Lara Dunston
This fabulous low-rise eco-resort and spa blends beautifully with remote Kangaroo Island's pristine bush environment - and its furry residents
It's 90 minutes through natural bushland and gently undulating farmland from Kangaroo Island’s easternmost point and quaint port of Penneshaw to the rugged southwest of Australia’s second-largest island. As you leave the sealed road and start on the private dirt track to the lodge, you’ll start to spot fluffy grey koalas in a silvery-grey gum tree. The teddy bear-like creatures recline easily on the slender branches, baby clinging to mum, calmly munching eucalyptus leaves. Minutes later as you pull up at reception, a baby wallaby bounds by.

Opened in 2008 by James and Hailey Baillie on Australia’s answer to the Galapagos Islands, the eco-lodge is located on an isolated headland overlooking the Southern Ocean. 21 sleek and luxurious suites are complemented by eco-friendly design and casual-chic style, which matches KI’s unspoilt environment and laidback holiday vibe. Compelling tours and activities, from birdwatching walks to wildlife-spotting drives, are included.

Highs

  • There's an impressive array of wildlife - koalas, kangaroos, Tamar wallabies, echidnas, sea lions, seals, sea eagles and more - right on your doorstep
  • The welcoming staff and relaxed atmosphere create a 'home away from home' vibe, and you help yourself to anything from the open bar (wine, gin and tonic, cocktails)
  • The stylish décor, light airy spaces and clever design create intimacy while allowing privacy
  • There's local flavour everywhere, from fresh regional produce and friendly staff from the island to the art and ceramics by local artists
  • The design is very eco-friendly - no other accommodation on the island allows you to get so close to the wilderness with such little impact

Lows

  • The 2-night minimum stay might not suit everyone, but it makes sense, as there’s so much to see and do (and eat!)
  • It is expensive, but the rate includes all tours, activities, meals and drinks (though spa treatments cost extra)
  • The property could do with a decent-sized pool and private plunge pools for all suites; there's a small heated plunge pool for all guests on the main terrace
  • It's a long haul to get here (either a 30-minute flight followed by a 50-minute drive, or a 45-minute ferry journey then a 90-minute drive) but it's worth it for the breathtaking setting and spectacular lodge

Best time to go

This is a year-round destination, though spring (September-November) and autumn (March-May) are best for bushwalking and photography. Winter (June-August) is suited to active travellers who enjoy crisp temperatures, invigorating walks and reading by a fireplace. Summer (December-February) gets hot but not uncomfortably so. There are spectacular wildflowers during September, October and November.

Our top tips

Bring walking clothes, swimwear and hat for warm weather, or sweaters, a coat and a hooded wet-weather jacket for the cooler months. There’s little the Lodge hasn’t thought of, from water bottles and a backpack in your room to the well-stocked gift shop, so if you forget something you can buy or borrow it.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Eco
Beach
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Luxury Lodge
  • 21
  • Restaurant and bar
  • Over 10s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Osprey Pavilion

Rooms

The 21 suites are located in one wing, opening off a breezeway, and have heated floors, kingsize beds, enormous airy bathrooms, walk-in wardrobes, and sunken lounge spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows and spectacular ocean vistas. There’s WiFi and a sound system with CDs, but most rooms don’t have televisions.

Thoughtful extras include fluffy bathrobes, slippers, a hairdryer, magazines, books, and backpacks for excursions. You even get to take home a souvenir water bottle. Complimentary minibars are crammed with delicious local specialties and Kangaroo Island wines.

The spacious ‘standard’ suites are anything but: the 11 Flinders Suites boast kingsize or twin beds, a curved sunken lounge, an outdoor terrace with daybeds and stunning views. The 5 Ocean Retreats feature kingsize beds, lounges with fireplaces, bathtubs, and decks with daybeds.

The Ocean Family Suites have an extra bedroom and bathroom, and a separate lounge with a TV and DVD player, while the 2 Remarkable Suites have separate king bedrooms, an open fireplace, entertainment systems with a TV and DVD player, enormous bathrooms with a handmade timber bathtub, and an outdoor terrace with loungers and a spa bath.

The vast Osprey Pavilion at the end of the breezeway is the only suite with 180-degree ocean and bushland views. It also has a laptop computer, a bathroom with a hand-sculptured bath, and an outdoor terrace with daybeds and a spa bath.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Complimentary mini-bar
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Phone
  • Plunge pool
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

Eating is a real highlight here. The chef uses fresh regional produce (much of it sourced locally) to create elegant contemporary Australian cuisine that’s so light you won’t feel heavy even after a 3-course lunch or 4-course dinner.

You get your first taster on the 'Kangas and Kanapés' tour, when you’ll enjoy scrumptious hors d’oeuvres with sparkling wine (or icy beer if you like). On the morning KI Wonders tour, your guide sets up a table overlooking the sea and serves tea with freshly baked muffins.

For breakfast you can order a hot dish off the menu. There’s also a buffet with fresh fruit, juices, breads, pastries, honeys and preserves.

The leisurely multi-course lunches and dinners are always a delight. The chef draws up the short menus daily depending on the local produce available, but if you don’t fancy anything (unlikely), the kitchen will prepare something different for you. All are served with delicious Australian wines.

When we visited we enjoyed tartare of yellowtail kingfish with vietnamese dressing and butter-poached marron caesar salad, then feasted on roasted fillet of blue eye trevalla for the main. On our second night we began with tortelloni of goat curd, date puree and buerre noisette before moving on to chicken terrine with piccalilli and tarragon, and locally farmed Angus beef with roasted mushrooms and confit shallot. We finished up with a selection of South Australian cheeses, local honey gateau with malted milk ice cream, and a consommé of organic berries and yoghurt sorbet.

Pre-dinner cocktails and nibbles are set up on the bar but you can help yourself at any time. The flexibility is refreshing: you can dine at the restaurant, on the outdoor deck, or in your room. Arrive out of normal meal times and staff will whip something up for you.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Enjoy a long list of activities on offer, from guided birdwatching (there are 267 bird species on the island) and botanical themed bushwalks to escorted small-group tours by comfy 4WD (or hire one yourself) or (for the more adventurous) quad bike. Once the Lodge’s enthusiastic Experience Manager knows your arrival time she suggests a schedule but it’s up to you what you do

  • Take one of the free mountain bikes and cycle the medium grade mountain bike trail through the bush and along the coast

  • Watch kangaroos dine on their supper as you graze on delicious hors d'oeuvres and sip sparkling wine on the 'Kangas and Kanapés' tour. Taking in the historic Grassdale property and Edward’s Cottage, it’s timed for sunset so you can enjoy the tranquility of the mallee landscape and the lovely late-afternoon light

  • Take in the highlights of Flinders Chase National Park on the guided 'KI Wonders' tour: the striking formations of Admiral's Arch and Remarkable Rocks, the historic Cape du Couedic Lighthouse, an abundance of native flora, and hundreds of fur seals basking on the rocks

  • Learn about native flora and birdlife on the Coastal Clifftop Walk, while taking in the aquamarine ocean

  • Delight in the playful antics of rare seal lions that frolic on the sandy beach at the Seal Bay Conservation Reserve, Australia’s third largest colony

  • Join a gentle kayaking tour from Hanson Bay, winding north through narrow waterways and along the South West River

  • Gaze at the magical constellations of the Milky Way and Southern Cross from a remote star gazing platform and learn about the ancient mythologies derived from the Southern night sky

  • Fish in solitude from a secluded beach (reel, tackle and bait are provided) with just the dolphins to keep you company, then enjoy your catch transformed into a gastronomic delight by the chef

  • Indulge in a signature treatment or massage at the on-site Southern Spa overlooking the sea. Treatments draw on the wisdom of ancient Aboriginal medicines and spirituality, using the locally produced Li’Tya spa care products and lavender, eucalyptus, honey, sea salt and pink clay. We loved the sound of the 'Li'Tya Kodo Rocks' indigenous Australian stone therapy, the 'Spirit of the Sea' massage and the wild lavender and milk wrap

  • Diving is more than possible, although dependent on local conditions; enquire during your stay

  • Beachcomb on pristine beaches with powder white sand and nary a soul in sight

  • Taste the island’s celebrated produce on an Epicurean Adventure, visiting KI’s best sheep, dairy and marron farms, as well as dairies, distilleries and wineries

  • Get inspired on an Art of Nature tour; you'll see the island’s finest art galleries, artists studios and craft shops

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Scuba diving
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wildlife

Kids

The Lodge welcomes children 10 and over. Kids who are into nature and the great outdoors will love the wealth of wildlife on the doorstep. Big family parties would be better off booking the whole place or a few suites together.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

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