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Roo little beauty

JENNY ROWLAND hops over to Kangaroo Island to discover a culinary paradise where food and wine rule.

Taste buds will be rejoicing all over the world now ‘The Flying Kangaroo’ is winging its way back to South Australia’s delicious Kangaroo Island.


Dosa with KI haloumi, Hannaford & Sachs


Food glorious food, wine wonderful wine, gin gorgeous gin – and all in the most spectacularly beautiful scenery.


This pristine island – the third largest off the coast of mainland Australia after Tasmania and Melville – is punching way above its weight when it comes to local producers, organic food, wine and hospitality.


Already renowned as an iconic wilderness experience it is fast becoming a gastronomic gourmet extravaganza, so if you love great beaches, memorable scenery and wonderful wildlife paired with some of the best food and wine ever, you need to hop over to KI (as the locals call it).


KI has long been on my Aussie bucket list so I jumped at the invitation to a recent two-day trip as I was keen to see for myself what all the fuss was about.


I am happy to report that this place definitely lives up to its reputation and my two days were a perfect entrée into a much bigger feast that I intend to treat myself to in 2018.


Enchanted Fig Tree Dining


Hosted by Kangaroo Island Odysseys, who have recently introduced their new seasonal food and wine tours, I packed my cossie along with my elasticated pants and enthusiastically allowed myself to be turned into a beached whale!


We started with a sumptuous 10-course lunch in a fig tree. Yes, in a fig tree! This place isn’t just about what you eat but where you eat it and the catering specialists Hannaford and Sachs have come up with some very inspired and innovative dining venues.


The fairy tale enchanted fig tree experience is a foodie fantasy that simultaneously assaults all your senses. Seated between the ancient boughs and gnarled branches in a green room like no other and being fed such delicacies as scallop ceviche, polenta flash fried squid, grilled Spencer Gulf prawn jungle curry and the juiciest, most tender 10-hour slow roasted beef ribs had me loosening my belt buckle... and we had only just begun!


Replete but vexed as to how I was going to perform at the Beach Taverna dinner in the evening, an afternoon nap at the Settlers Homestead (part of LifeTime Private Retreats) did help to deflate and prepare me.


Cliff House Bedroom


LifeTime Private Retreats

Owned by the Hannaford family, LifeTime Private Retreats consists of five spectacular boutique luxury holiday houses. These include the Sky House, Cliff House, Settlers Homestead, Sheoaks and the new Beach Retreat.


They all have their own unique character but share the Hannaford touch of quality, originality and style. Guests can choose the ‘House Only’ accommodation option (and cook for themselves in the retreat’s fully equipped kitchen) or choose one of their ‘House and Dining’ packages.  


Dependent on the time of year, the ‘House and Dining’ adventures can include ‘The Enchanted Fig Tree Lunch’, your own private chef, or a private candlelight dinner set in an historic shearing shed that was built from sugar gum trees. My stomach definitely recommends the latter.



The ‘Beach Taverna’ experience began with cocktails on Snelling Beach around a candelabra-decked table that saw me expand my waistline even further, but the ‘paper chops’ that Rachel barbequed for us using her grandfather’s recipe just about put me over my calorie intake for the whole year – but they were worth every juicy mouthful.


Beach Taverna, Snelling Beach


Kangaroo Island Spirits

If you’re a jolly gin drinker you must drop into this fantastic, boutique gin distillery. The charm and quirkiness of this cellar door is as compelling as the award-winning (internationally I might add!) gins, vodkas and liqueurs.


Their philosophy of ‘slow spirits’ (think slow food) using only the best quality seasonal and local ingredients is a real ‘tonic’...


The Islander Estate Vineyard

I have a bit of a thing about Frenchmen – it’s that sexy accent. I am also very partial to French vino, so I was beyond excited to discover that Jacques Lurton was actually ‘in the house’ when we visited.


This very affable Frenchman from wine making royalty in Bordeaux explained how “breaking the rules” of winemaking in the new world coupled with the rugged beauty of KI prompted him to establish this vineyard back in 2000. He now divides his time between KI and Bordeaux but prefers KI!


Enjoy a private tasting experience in the barrel room and learn how the Kangaroo Island climate and soil is perfect for making fine wine and if you are lucky you might meet the man himself. Magnifique! 


Down to the Sea
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Published: 19 February 2018

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