In the wake of the Black Summer bushfires that devastated almost half of Kangaroo Island, luxury developments have sprouted from the ashes – and boutique and sustainable is leading the charge
With the New York Times declaring Australia’s third-largest island one of the places to visit in 2023, the impending re-opening of Southern Ocean Lodge this December after a $55 million rebuild, and increased inbound Qantas flights from October, green shoots of positivity are sprouting everywhere on Kangaroo Island.
These next-generation conscious boltholes not only tread lightly on the land on which they stand but can be elevated with private chef experiences, wine masterclasses, and more.
Wander on Kangaroo Island
Expect to pull on the handbrake for multiple photo stops as you approach your sustainably-built Wanderpod, perched high above Snellings Beach on Kangaroo Island’s north coast. Undulating mountains – cloaked in green or gold, depending on the season – fall away into deep valleys studded with sheep and kangaroos in equal numbers and rugged gums line the white gravel road leading to your destination.
Wander on Kangaroo Island is the second iteration for the relatively new company (the first is in Queensland’s Scenic Rim) and offers the same off-grid, conscious design with warm interior styling, Cultiver linen bedding, Leif body products and wood-burning fireplace. But it’s what’s on offer through the floor-to-ceiling glass that impresses most. On a clear day, the view runs east all the way to North Cape and the mainland beyond.
Upon check-in, those savvy enough to have pre-booked a Taste of the Island Pantry Box, will find ingredients already packed into the fridge so all you have to do is run the outdoor bath – it’s big enough for two – and pour yourself a G&T, made with the complimentary Kangaroo Island Spirits gin. Queue up a playlist on the Marshall speakers or just enjoy the silence – a rare luxury these days.
CABN X Kangaroo Island
You’ll want for nothing from the moment you arrive at your CABN X on this private property at Cape St Albans on the island’s east coast, a 30-minute drive from the Sealink ferry terminal at Penneshaw. An upmarket incarnation of CABN’s suite of tiny homes peppered throughout South Australia, the five CABN X pods which opened here in June 2023 dial up the luxury factor with private saunas, A.H. Beard king-sized beds, and full-size bathrooms with instant frosting glass – if you want to keep prying kangaroo eyes off you in the tub. One cabin offers all abilities access.
Wander down the hill and you’ll find Kona Beach, where you can turn left and rock-hop your way to the sands of Antechamber Bay. Or just take it all in from the outdoor tub on your front deck with complimentary False Cape wine from just down the road. Once night falls, roll out the Glamswags on the deck and take the supplied telescope for an intimate encounter with the Milky Way above your head. If you prefer indoor comforts, there’s a stargazing window above the bed, along with a gas fireplace.
Self-catering is the name of the game here, with indoor and outdoor kitchens, and generous breakfast provisions supplied (think local eggs, honey, milk and Barossa bacon). Tours led by Kool Tours and Intrepid Travel are also in the works to introduce guests to the First Nations history of the island.
Sustainable new growth is also taking hold at Ecopia Retreat, an off-grid eco-retreat set on a private wildlife conservation, just 25 minutes from Kingscote Airport. While aesthetically different on the outside, the new accommodation is complementary to the two existing rammed earth villas, which cater to couples, allowing larger groups to experience a luxurious nature-immersion. The loft-style two-bedroom retreat marries polished concrete with a spiral staircase, a chef’s kitchen with day beds against large picture windows, and a dreamy outdoor bath set amongst the yukkas (grass trees).
Nothing feels cookie cutter here. Interiors and amenities have been consciously chosen for the story behind them – organic Rohr Remedy body products infused with bush medicines, or the owners’ personal collection of First Nations artworks, for example – and appliances and finishes selected for their minimal impact and long-lasting appeal.
While food hampers, private chefs dinners and wine masterclasses are an easy add-on, the experience outside your villa or retreat is the real drawcard here – a soul-stirring encounter with endemic kangaroos and glossy black cockatoos, waking to find tammar wallabies nibbling on the grass outside your window and hopefully spotting an echidna or two as you explore the 60ha property, which runs to the Eleanor River.