A Home at the Almost-End of the World

Imagine a modern house that’s far more fabulous than your own abode. (Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

Set it near the bottom edge of the Earth, above a dense forest and beside a remote and turquoise ocean. Fill it with art, wine and cozy fabrics made by the neighbors, and invite kind people to cater to your every whim. Put in a button to heat your floors and a long boardwalk that leads to a table for two by the sea, and call it a day.

Welcome, my friends, to the Southern Ocean Lodge.

The farthest south I’ve yet been in the world is to South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, and it really does feel different than things that are, well, north. Sunlight is brighter, and a grey day feels more steely than soft. The sand is pale and smooth, as though unused to being tread upon by anything but wind. The seawater looks like someone’s grand experiment with melting precious gems.

In this wild landscape, at the end of a long ribbon of red dirt cut through a solid sprawl of eucalyptus scrub, the Southern Ocean Lodge offers a chance to feel both swaddled and off the grid. Its streamlined architecture doesn’t compete with its setting, but instead slides right in. Intent on leaving a light footprint, it employs solar power, composting waste management and rainwater conservation.

If the idea of being so isolated that the next nearest land mass is Antarctica (a mere 3,000 miles away), ask yourselves the following:

Do you miss seeing the stars at night? Been awhile since you stood outside and heard only your heartbeat, an occasional crashing wave, and the chirp of a bird you didn’t even know existed? Yeah, I thought so. Nothing here can hurt you, so feel free to fall off the edge of the world for a while.

You’re invited to wander to the ocean or just gape at it from indoors

As the creation of a young couple who come from a family of Australian hoteliers (and beautifully managed by yet another young Australian couple) the Lodge feels like Aussie immersion therapy. It lures you to what feels like the middle of nowhere and then brings all of Kangaroo Island – and Australia – straight to you. The food, wine, staff, furniture, art and everything in the shabby/chic gift shop — it’s all from Down Under, and much of it’s from just up the proverbial road.

All fabrics and artwork at the Lodge are Australian-made

There are 21 rooms here, flanking the Southern Ocean in a curving row, each one named after a different local shipwreck. (KI is, by the by, colloquially known as “Shipwreck Island.”) With one side of the lodge entirely open to potentially prying eyes, privacy is maintained by 1) strict use of an interior hallway between guest rooms and the rest of the lodge, and 2) in-room, remote-controlled shades.

So, feel free to rinse off in your curtain-less shower (or in some rooms, your window-side tub), canoodle in your sunken living room, or traipse back and forth in the all-together in front of a bank of floor-to-ceiling windows. Your secrets shall remain safe.

All rooms are named after shipwrecks, but feel calm and warm inside

While at the Lodge, be sure to experience:

– the full-service spa, perched on a promontory above the Lodge and featuring couples treatments
(as well as wallpaper by famous Australian interior designer Florence Broadhurst)

The soothing spa is a separate building, with some of the Lodge’s best views

– the wine cellar, small enough to feel cozy for two

happy hour, where you can try the cocktail of the day or sip a local honey-walnut liqueur

The daily happy hour selection, and a wine cellar for two

-an excursion called Kangaroos & Kanapés, a short sunset trip (with champagne and elegant snacks in tow) to historic Edward’s Cottage, where hundreds of kangaroos and wallabies gather to graze

Yours truly with bubbly, an Australian homestead, and a few of several hundred kangaroos

– the infinity hot tub on the public deck, which offers an unfettered ocean view

You might find yourself on the deck for your whole stay

– anything that anyone offers you to eat on the daily-changing menu, as the chef here is a genius

– a snuggle by the community woodstove, beneath a ceiling of lights scattered like stars

The sprawling living room at the Lodge features a new-fangled fireplace

One of the most expensive hotels I’ve ever experienced, a night at the Southern Ocean Lodge starts at (wait for it) $990 US per night, with a two-night minimum. This includes everything you’ll eat (like the gourmet contents of your in-room fridge and pantry), just about everything you’ll drink, a few Kangaroo Island experiences, and hour-long transfers to and from the airport. Also included: bragging rights, sheer fabulosity and possible/worthwhile debt.

In other words, if you’ve been looking for a once-in-a-lifetime splurge at the almost-end of the world, then oh…have I got a place for you.

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My trip was sponsored by the South Australia Tourism Commission
and Qantas Airlines, but all opinions are my own.

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See also

Hopping Around Kangaroo Island
Eyre Peninsula: Tuna, Dunes and Kangaroos
Barossa Valley: Old and New, Part Deux
Barossa Valley: Old and New and Koalas, Too
Adelaide Hills: Day(s) of Wine and Chocolate
Adelaide: From City to Bay
Discovering Down Under: South Australia
Flying High Above South Australia
TWT Travel Binder: Australia

Comments

  1. Wow, I didn’t realize Kangaroo Island was further south than Patagonia. This place looks incredible.

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