As someone who spends as many non-office hours outdoors as I can wrangle, I was beyond delighted when I recently got the chance to head to Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia, to experience some of our country’s most beautiful wilderness first-hand.
I left my grubby backpack and cramped tent behind and traded them in for a few nights stay at the luxurious Southern Ocean Lodge, a remote clifftop retreat perched amongst dense bushland and overlooking one of the most dramatic and mesmerising coastlines I’ve ever seen.
Stepping off the plane and into the car onto the way to Lodge, I immediately got the sense that the Island is literally brimming with wildlife. Our guide had us on the look-out for the native Tammar wallabies who might be peeking out of the shrubs as we drove along.
As we approached the entrance to the Lodge, the building seemingly emerged from the vegetation, effortlessly immersed in its surrounds. Now celebrating 10 years since it first opened, Southern Ocean Lodge was designed by Kangaroo Island-born architect Max Pritchard. From every angle, I found that the building appeared to recede into its surrounds, creating a sense that it has always been there, and always will be. ‘We were conscious that we were building in a beautiful undisturbed environment and the success of the project hinged on allowing guests to experience untouched nature,’ recalls Pritchard. ‘Southern Ocean Lodge may be termed an organic concept strongly determined by the site’s topography, views, and unique native vegetation’.
Many of the materials for the build and interiors were sourced locally, with Adelaide-based designer Khai Liew creating bespoke furniture and lighting, including an incredible sculptural bench seat at the entrance to the Lodge. The hand-carved limestones walls in the building’s Great Hall were collected on a nearby property by Kangaroo Island Stone Mason Scott Wilson and create a beautiful sense of warmth that is reflected throughout the space.
As someone who is used to hiking for days and expecting to have to camp to see such pristine wilderness, the whole experience had me in awe. On one hand, Southern Ocean Lodge is the epitome of luxury with its fine-dining, breath-taking architecture and relaxing spa treatments. But on the other hand, I found that it was the simplicity of the moments in nature that made my stay so special – spending a morning on a secluded beach with only a herd of seals, waking up early to watch the sunrise as it washed over the building, and stumbling upon an echidna as it ambled along its path. It was this intimate connection to nature that made the whole experience truly unforgettable.
Southern Ocean Lodge is located off the coast of South Australia on Kangaroo Island, a 20-minute flight from Adelaide airport. Find more information about Southern Ocean Lodge and its luxury experiences here.
Alice stayed as a guest of Southern Ocean Lodge, with flights to the Island provided by the South Australian Tourism Commission and Qantas.
Photographer Kara Rosenlund also visited Southern Ocean Lodge during this time – suss her travel diary here, and you can also purchase prints of her photographs!
Setting out on a clifftop walks to soak up Kangaroo Islands’ stunning scenery. Left to right: Southern Ocean Lodge Guide Ben, Alice Johnson, Kate Hird, Rhiannon Taylor, and Sarah Shields. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.
Southern Ocean Lodge designed by local architect Max Pritchard. A view of the guest suites at sunset. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.
The flora and fauna of Australia’s third largest island is breathtaking. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.
One percent of the total 102 hectares purchased by Baillie Lodges was used for the construction of the lodge. The remaining 99 percent is protected to guarantee its pristine state for future generations to enjoy! Photo – Kara Rosenlund.
One of the Islands seal pups, making its way up the beach to see its Mum. This was part of the Southern Ocean Lodge ‘seal bay at Sunrise’ tour and was one of the most incredible parts of the trip. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.
The Spectacular Southern Ocean Lodge at sunrise, view of the guest suites. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.
The Great Hall, with lounge suite by renowned designer Khai Liew. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.
The Dining Hall, with lighting by Khai Liew. All the food served at the Lodge is sourced locally on Kangaroo Island or nearby mainland South Australia. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.
The Lodge recedes into its surrounds. Looking out onto the guest suites from the terrace outside the Great Hall. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.
‘Southern Ocean Lodge is the epitome of luxury,’ says Alice. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.
Alice Johnson, TDF’s partnerships manager. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.
The dramatic coastline. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.
One of the sweetest koalas sleeping in a tree. Kangaroo Island is literally teeming with wildlife! Photo – Kara Rosenlund.