Jetset Travel Rose Bay

(02) 9371 8166

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Luxing it up with the Wildlife

It’s almost 10pm on a late summer’s night. The moon is starkly lit in a cloudless sky, and we’ve had our eyes glued to the antics of a young female koala for the past 15 minutes. She doesn’t seem to care that she’s bathed in glaring torch light with our I-Phones busy clicking away on her persona. She is busy demolishing a mallee tree, slowly but surely, like a grazing bulldozer. Koalas can eat up to one kilo of eucalyptus leaves a day, What’s more, they have fussy digestive systems, so they only end up eating one third of the eucalyptus leaves they tear off the tree, so imagine how much these children leave on their plates.

Armies of beloved koalas are happily munching their way through our forests but we tourists don’t seem to be too worried. So long as we can still catch a glimpse of our beloved Aussie icon “in the wild”, what else matters?

Koalas are not even native to Kangaroo Island. They were brought over from the mainland in the 1920’s due to an outbreak of chlamydia which decimated their numbers. Today the island is something of a “haven” for the wildlife, and indeed for any animal lover, this is the place where you can watch our Aussie creatures going about their daily business in what little remains of their natural habitat.

In one day we have been lucky enough to observe fur seals frolic in rock pools bursting with surf from the Southern Ocean; crept up close to a golden echidna cuddled up to a tree trunk, and now we’re hooked on the koalas’ nocturnal romp to the tune of the distant warbling of an osprey.

All these amazing wildlife experiences are offered on the daily personalized menu at Southern Ocean Lodge. This nocturnal walk is offered as a “bespoke experience extra”, which should really hit the must see button as so few international visitors realise that marsupials usually come out to party at night.

The tamar wallies put on a great show on the way down here to Hanson Bay tonight, jumping out in unison in two’s and three’s across the road to test our driver Sam’s nerves. They virtually line the roads at dusk, yet given warning, can vanish in a flash at 3.5 hops per second.

We have come to Kangaroo Island to indulge our two major passions: food and nature. And if you wish to lux it up with the animals, then the best place to do it is at Southern Ocean Lodge, where the focus is on the wildlife in a spectacular setting with an amazing gourmet touch.

Coming from our perch in Dover Heights, we are quite at home lunching in the gentle gale from our cliff top table with the seas thumping below. When the wind gets too angry and works into a tailspin, we can always wander indoors to the enclosed pavilion, a hall of glass which makes up the main foyer and dining room, superbly designed to boast views from every lounging spot possible.

We have struck gorgeous weather. Today the waters at Hansen Bay are a beautiful deep turquoise contrasting sharply against white sands. Yet the beach is deceiving. “No swimming at Hansen Bay” warns John, our delightful GM. “unless you want to become part of the food chain”. The killer whales are in town making a quick meal of the dolphins and salmon. Cold waters harvest huge supplies of fresh fish with their vast amounts of oxygen and that brings in the big boys…

March is certainly one of the best months to visit when sea mists are rare.
The title of each suite is an ominous reminder of the island’s dark history. Each room has been named after a famous shipwreck and this coastline was not short of a dozen dating back to the mid 1800’s. We are in the Stella Suite dating back to a tragic story with a loss of 27 lives on one ship just after World War II.

The starkly clear view stretches 3,000 miles over and beyond the horizon to Antarctica. We shudder at the beauty and power of the pounding Southern Ocean below.

Although this fabulous wilderness retreat was designed to maximize the experience of the environment and the creatures it wishes to protect, the guests could keep themselves very busy 24/7 like the koalas with the three delicious three course meals on offer each day in the all inclusive package. Breakfast, lunch and dinner merge into one long feast with scarcely a moment to spot a kangaroo in between.

The Lodge works closely with local suppliers to ensure traditional bush produce lands freshly on the plate. Chances are that the loins of Sea Rock lamb for lunch rolled in from the hills of small family owned farm at Ante Chamber Bay, the fresh water crayfish for dinner is the local Marron variety, and the lavender panacotta soaked in Ligurian honey for dessert is from the purple fields at Emu Bay.

Tim, the chef originally from Capella Lodge, produces a top notch menu from the local fare. He works with the local food producers using only quality ingredients and keeps the menu interesting and dynamic whilst still supporting the local economy. King Island organic honey has been named the best organic product in Australia and tonight it’s served up sprinkled delicately over a manchego cheese salad.

We happily imbibe the spirit of the island with his gourmet organic cuisine. Drunk on Kangaroo Island olive oil drenched in fresh sourdough, sheep salad and lemon myrtle donuts with a splash of local Rookery red wine, we laugh at the dream to bottle this gourmet experience to bring back home for the rest of our days.

“Food and Wine coupled with the Joy of Nature” makes happiness bottled.

I’m certainly taking home a bottle of Lilly Pilly jelly for my mother in law, a cuddly Flying Doctor teddy bear for my grandson and a stack of gorgeous photos for our digital album. The memories of this wonderful wilderness will last a very long time.

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