The waters around South Australia’s Kangaroo Island can be treacherous — treacherous enough indeed to be littered with more than enough shipwrecks for the island’s ultra-luxurious Southern Ocean Lodge to name each of its 20-or-so rooms after a doomed vessel.
I’m staying in Eva, named after a steam launch lost in 1903 in Antechamber Bay, on the eastern end Kangaroo Island. It was purposely beached by the captain during a ferocious storm but broke up during the night when the storm worsened.
But I’m sure that no matter how much the weather deteriorated, guests would still feel more than adequately catered for in an oasis chosen as much for its interior comforts as its naturally exciting surrounds and discovering attractions such as Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch, the sea lions of Seal Bay and other wildlife abundant enough to present a hazard on the island’s roads after dark.
The lodge’s Executive Chef Asher Blackford greeted me, metaphorically, with an entrée of very local American River oysters, served with a spicy, lemony, umami-laden yuzu kosho sauce and a perfect salsa.
The oysters are plump and delicious, and would easily have passed the taste test in their own right, but they benefit from the accoutrements and become, if that’s possible, even plumper and more delicious.
They’re followed by a perfect piece of locally caught King George whiting, which really doesn’t need the customary capital letters to do it justice. The accompanying kohlrabi, sweet corn and spiced-lime dressing did that.
For those with a sweet tooth, dessert could have consisted of a dark-chocolate parfait, but I was more than satisfied by a more savoury offering of three South Australian cheeses, headed by the devilishly creamy Cremeux blue from the Adelaide Hills.
Then it’s time to bid goodnight and retreat to the decadent comforts offered by Eva — but please remember that it’s just the name on the tile at the door to my magnificently appointed room.
And just time enough to confirm my participation in the following morning’s excursion to see some of Kangaroo Island’s wildlife and other natural attractions. I’ve written about that adventure previously so I won’t bother with further details here.
At $1200 per night per person twin-share for one of the resort’s ‘basic’ Flinders Suites, you would expect something special, and you certainly get that — a hugely comfortable king-size bed, separate lounge room, plentiful hot water and decadent towels, all the mod cons and trimmings that you’d expect and more, and really stunning views of the Southern Ocean from both the bedroom and the lounge area.
And please remember, you do get three genuinely gourmet-standard meals in that per-day charge, transfers to and from the airport, plus drinks and most activities.
The complimentary drinks include those from the regularly replenished in-room bar. Try spinning that one the next time you’re checking out of a hotel.
Take out the value of all that and you’re left with what most top big-city hotels would charge for a room — and that’s without putting a value on the spectacular outlook.
The next day brings a continuation of Southern Ocean Lodge’s culinary delights. Well, someone has to taste test these things, and it might as well be me.
They say that an army marches on its stomach and, I think, so does a travel writer. Perhaps the collective noun should be ‘destinational researchers’, a term that a colleague once used to us and our lot.
And so it is that I start my day with a couple of poached eggs on toasted sourdough, with a few bits of excellently flavoured and cooked bacon on the side.
It’s certainly enough to break though last night’s cobwebs and empower me through the strenuous activity of touring some of the island’s attractions.
I use term ‘strenuous’ simply because that’s how an aging body feels about any exercise, even strolling along well formed, gently sloping boardwalks to watch the cutest of seals or see the truly remarkable formations of Remarkable Rocks.
The ensuing lunch and dinner continue the excellence of the gastronomic feasts I’m rapidly becoming accustomed to.
Indeed, the lunch entrée of roasted pears, blue cheese, walnuts and chickpea shoot is a standout taste sensation — and provides, though its explosive presentation, a wonderful pictorial opportunity that certainly isn’t wasted.
And the dish goes very well with a glass of the chosen wine for lunch, an Adelaide Hills sauvignon blanc by Pike and Joyce.
All said and done, a stay at Southern Ocean Lodge, the opportunity to taste its incredible cuisine and the chance to see first-hand the beauty and diversity of Kangaroo Island shouldn’t be missed, even if you do need deep pockets.
IF YOU GO
Southern Ocean Lodge: Hanson Bay Rd, Kangaroo Island, South Australia; phone Baillie Lodges, (02) 9918 4355; visit www.southernoceanlodge.com.au.
For general South Australian tourist information, visit www.southaustralia.com.
John Rozentals was a guest of the South Australian Tourism Commission and Southern Ocean Lodge.