UPDATE: Sadly, Southern Ocean Lodge was destroyed in the bush fires that engulfed Kangaroo Island in 2019. All staff and guests are safe, and the team plans to rebuild. For progress, keep an eye on their website.

On the Southernmost edge of Kangaroo Island, South of even South Australia, is a lodge so in tune with nature that from afar, even the most discerning eye can barely pick it out from the rock ledge on which it sits.

Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island.

Room with a view

When owners James and Hayley Baillie first walked the cliff path high over this bay adjacent to Kelly Hill Conservation Park, lined with fragrant juniper and eucalyptus bush, they knew they had to build here. Getting permits was onerous, as the land was in conservation. “I’d say ninety percent of the island was against it, and 10 percent was for it,” says John Hird, manager. “And now ninety percent are for it, and the rest, well, you can never please everyone.”

Architect Max Pritchard, an Islander himself, comes as close as possible, however. It’s clear the island is in his blood: the luxury eco-lodge is anchored by a 328-foot wall of glowing local limestone, the 21 guest suites undulate gently down the slope from the main building overlooking the Southern Ocean. The view goes on forever ~ no land out there until South America ~ and the glass expanses on all sides take full advantage.

Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island.

Tough Choices

Using recycled wood and stone, the lodge runs independent of island services ~ water is collected off corrugated roofs and electricity and wastewater treatment are generated on site. The staff village is tucked discreetly out of sight, and the entire lodge is designed to accommodate only 46 guests.

“I think once people saw that we weren’t going to attract hundreds of holiday makers, that is when it started to turn around,” says Alison Heath, lodge manager, “and the lodge then uses local produce and other services.”

“The impact we’ve made is huge,” agrees Hird.

Southern Ocean Lodge.

Boardwalk to the Beach

The lodge clearly benefits from the arrangement as well. Local bounty appears throughout the menu: honey and yogurt feature prominently at breakfast, the yogurt creamy and velvety thick, with a sweetsour tang. Local lamb (sheep used to outnumber Islanders 3 to 1) is another mainstay, as well as seafood. Australian wine and local spirits star at the bar, where guests can self bartend at the amply stocked bar. Try the Baille’s 9 gin, made by Kangaroo Island Spirits, fragrant with local juniper, needing only to be kissed with tonic. The food philosophy here is stellar ingredients, simply prepared, and it suits the landscape and mood exquisitely.

Resort tariffs are high, but inclusive of food, wine and tours. A typical itinerary will include sunset cocktails with the kangaroos who graze at a nearby wilderness area, a visit to conservation areas of Flinders Chase to see New Zealand Fur Seals, and Seal Bay, where populations of the once nearly extinct Australian Seals are growing. Cuddly koalas sleep and chomp on the eucalyptus trees of neighboring Hanson Bay.

Southern Ocean Lodge.

Suites named for shipwrecks

Some activities, like fishing, spa treatments and certain wines are additive, but it’s advisable not to crowd up the days too much, leaving time to stroll down the boardwalk to the sandy beach in search of gekkos, or lounge near the hearth and indulge in a game of chess, or a novel. A good afternoon could be spent in the living room of one of the serene guest suites, or on the terrace, just watching the mesmerizing surf, as the weather comes across the vast Southern Ocean.

Getting there: The only access to Kangaroo Island is by boat or plane. SeaLink Ferries run daily from Cape Jervis (50 km south of Adelaide driving through the beautiful Fleurilieu Penninsula) every hour on the hour, and return from Penneshaw, on Kangaroo Island, on the half hour. It’s possible to take a car on the ferry, for a price, or rent a car there. Many tour operators will also customize an itinerary if you have no transport.
Southern Ocean Lodge

Hanson Bay Road, Kingscote SA 5223, Australia

+61 2 9918 4355


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