Jeremy enjoyed a trip to Southern Australia...
The State of South Australia, wedged between Victoria and Western Australia, is often seen as a destination for second or third time visitors to the country. However, having just returned from this region I could not speak strongly enough of the attractions of this area and its appeal for people who want to have a variety of experiences with a manageable amount of domestic travelling.
The small city of Adelaide is the access point for South Australia. Sydney may have it’s harbour views and Melbourne its art scene, but what Adelaide has is a laid back charm coupled with a buzzy café and food culture which can rival any city in the world. From the city my journey took me five hours north, travelling through the picturesque wine regions of The Barossa and Clare Valley’s. These vineyards are a wine lover's dream and offer plenty of options for a long lunch en route. However, my destination was The Flinders Ranges, one of the oldest landscapes on earth with dramatic mountain ranges, tree-lined gorges, spectacular wildflowers and all this on the edge of the outback.
I had decided to challenge myself and embark on a 4 day/3 night guided walking experience called The Arakaba Walk. This is one of The Great Walks of Australia covering around 10-15 kms per day and takes place in The Flinders Ranges National Park, traversing the spectacular Wilpena Pound and across the ancient Arkaba private wildlife conservation area. The walking season in this part of the world finishes in spring before it get’s too hot. I had managed to catch the last walk of the season, with the promise of very hot weather and I was not to be disappointed! Around mid afternoon on day 1, I found myself walking in temperatures reaching 37 degrees. However, the spectacular scenery and the abundance and variety of wildlife made it all worth while.
The great thing about this walking experience is that it offers the opportunity to spend the first two nights camping out under the stars. Your bed is literally a raised decking platform, with a swag (sleeping back) placed on top. It’s just you and the stars in the clear night sky for company. This, coupled with quality food prepared by the chef back at the homestead base and premium wines, make sure every evening is memorable! The third and final night is spent at Arkaba Homestead, a traditional Australian 1850s homestead building that has been lovingly restored to its original beauty.
My next destination was to offer quite a contrast to the rustic experience of wild camping – staying at the iconic and luxurious Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island. This 'small' island is situated off the coast of Southern Australia and is a short 35 minute flight from Adelaide. Southern Ocean lodge opened five years ago and is considered to be Australia’s first true luxury lodge. It’s a stunning and intelligent piece of modern architecture, with twenty one luxurious suites that snake down from the main lodge lodge/restaurant area and appear to float above the cliff top.
The lodge is situated on Hanson Bay, with beautiful sweeping beaches and pure turquoise waters. The main draw to the island is however the wildlife. I can’t think of anywhere else in Australia where it’s possible to see such an abundance of kangaroo, seal and koala in the wild. This coupled with the many dolphin, and at the right time of year whale in the waters in front of the lodge, mean it’s easy to see why locals call it Australia’s Galapagos.
I can’t think of a more perfect end to a trip to this part of the world then standing on the veranda at Southern Ocean Lodge after a hard day's 'sight seeing', with a glass of wine watching the sun set over the beautiful Hanson Bay and knowing there is nothing but thousands of miles of sea between you and the Antarctic.