HALF MOON BAY, Calif., January 10, 2013 — If you want to make people jealous of your itinerary while on vacation in Australia, tell them you’re going to Kangaroo Island. Of all the destinations on my recent Australia trip, the island — named for one of the continent’s best-known animals — is the place that got the most people saying they wish they could come along.
One of my most-loved themes in my travels is wild and remote places. Destinations beautiful and rugged, where your cell phone doesn’t always work, are the best places to get away and forget all those things you thought were so important before you left home. And Kangaroo Island, off the coast of South Australia, has it all in spades.
Seriously. Stand among the Remarkable Rocks at dusk and see if you remember the name of that colleague who always gives you the stink-eye. Who cares about her when you have Kangaroo Island?
Often referred to as Australia’s Galapagos, Kangaroo Island is home to a wealth of native wildlife and natural attractions. More than a third of the island has been reserved as a Conservation or National Park, allowing visitors to see some of the best of the country: koalas, kangaroos, echidnas, ospreys, Australian sea lions, New Zealand fur seals, and more.
At Seal Bay, get up close to Australian sea lions as they hang out on the beach. Tour guides escort visitors through the dunes to watch the sea lions surf in the offshore waves and to spy mothers and pups getting some time in the sun. The Flinders Chase National Park allows you to get great views of New Zealand fur seals, as well as breathtaking rock formations. Want to see the animals you always imagine when you think of Australia? Kangaroos, wallabies, and echidnas are there, too.
Kangaroo Island isn’t just a wonderful wildlife experience, it also lures foodies. Be sure to stop at the Island Pure Sheep Dairy for tasty cheese; Island Beehive for organic Liugurian honey; Kangaroo Island Spirits for locally distilled beverages; nearly everywhere for fresh lobster, oysters, and fish; and any of a handful of wineries.
One of the best ways to see Kangaroo Island is with someone who knows it well: a guide from Exceptional Kangaroo Island tours. I was not only able to get the inside story from a local about practically everything on the island but also enjoyed a delicious barbecued lunch in the middle of a field of lounging kangaroos. That was one of my favorite meals of my entire Australia trip.
Where to Stay
See what it’s like to live on a working farm with a stay at the Stranraer Homestead. I was lucky to be there during sheep-shearing time, so I awoke early and headed out to the shed to watch. But that’s not the only benefit to spending time here. The homestead’s four rooms are comfortable, allowing you to feel that you’re staying someplace special and not in a huge hotel. Rates are $380 AUS per couple per room, which includes a gourmet breakfast and a nocturnal tour of the property to see the wildlife.
For the ideal front-row seat, head straight to Southern Ocean Lodge, on Hanson Bay on the island’s southwest coast. The Southern Ocean is straight out the windows of the vast public lounge and dining space and the 21 luxe suites. Set on a cliff above the sometimes-pounding surf, the lodge’s every view is a rich one. Suite interiors feature king beds, a sunken lounge, a glass-walled bathroom and an outdoor terrace with comfortable seating. There’s a two-night minimum at the all-inclusive resort, and you practically need those two nights to just spend time in and around the property to enjoy it thoroughly. From now through March 2013, rates start at $990 AUS per person per night, based on double occupancy and $1,485 AUS per person for two nights, based on single occupancy. The Southern Ocean Lodge’s all-inclusive offerings include: all dining, open bar with premium wines and spirits (wine from the cellar master’s list is available for an additional charge), in-suite bar, select guided Kangaroo Island experiences, and island airport transfers.
Jill K. Robinson is an award-winning journalist and adventure seeker. Follow her adventures on dangerjillrobinson.com and Twitter @dangerjr. Jill is an avid kayaker and owner of Half Moon Bay Kayak Company.
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