No, it’s not the shoulder-bumping pull of Wan Chai at midnight.
Nor the crisp handshake of a Notting Hill pub.
Not the erotic caress of dusk-filled Paris streets.
No, Kangaroo Island is more subtle, the soft call of the siren singing you in.
Here we were on that sultry January day, just four hours from Adelaide, standing on pristine white sand, pelicans overhead, an expanse of teal green waters lapping lagoon-like from left to right, with more than a whiff of pacific island paradise in the air, and only only a handful of beach goers were in sight.
Pristine environment. Protected. Secure. Wildlife free to roam and the produce free to grow. It made for some pretty awesome experiences for every taste.
We were hooked. Line and sinker.
So now back from our second trip and I thought I would share some of the highlights of our time on the Island.
It wont be our last.
Island Pure Sheep Dairy and Produce Shop
“Cheese from the ewe, milk from the goat, butter from the cow”. Spanish Proverb (courtesy of Island Pure)
The delightful Island Pure Sheep Dairy, just 10 minutes from Kingscote, was a great experience for our whole family.
From driving into the property we were up close and personal with the clearly-contended woolly ones, listening to them bleat; watching them watching us; taking in the sights and smells of the land.
We did the guided tour, including milking, tasting and just the right amount of detail covering farm gate to plate.
Cheese standouts for me were the Ravine Des Casoars (Haloumi) – light saltiness, moist, dense but not over-firm – and the Du Couedic (Kefalotiri) a lovely creamy havarti textured cheese, with a slight lemon piquancy. Although I loved what Kate Sumner did with the Cygnet (Semi Matured Manchengo) during our Cooking Class later later that week.
We also came away with a tub of the Ligurian Bee Honey Yoghurt, a greek style yoghurt infused with honey, aromatic but not overly sweet.
Andermel Marron, Two Wheeler Creek Winery & The Marron Cafe
We popped over to Andermel Marron for a taste of the three-for-one Marron farm, winery and cafe.
Easy to spend a good couple of hours here – viewing the freshwater Marron in their sorting tanks, tasting the range of Whistler Creek Wines and then over to The Marron Cafe to sit down to a meal of both.
Now the only commercially farmed Marron on the Island, Andermel Marron enjoys steady demand from local and national markets, including the cafe, to the tune of 6 tonne a year.
All the Marron are treated humanely, grown organically and out of necessity are chemical free. And it shows in taste.
The Marron Cafe has a relaxed open vibe set amongst the grasslands, and no surprises that Marron features strongly (think chili and lime marron, ‘marron-ara’…).
We opted to share a Poachers Platter, offering a nice mix of baked and poached marron, prawns, scallops and a selection of sauces. A glass of the Two Wheeler Creek Sauvignon Blanc perfectly matched.
Don’t come expecting the rich brineyness of it’s saltwater counterpart – the marron has a mild flavour that carries the flavoursome sauces well. It’s a personal thing, but I’d go for the firmer-textured poached version any time.
The Bush Tucker sauces made on premises are worth a mention. I came away with The Lemon Myrtle Tartare Sauce, lovely lemony myrtley zing, and the Savoury Chilli Sauce with Kangaroo Island Honey, which packs a punch in the heat stakes but within sweet caremelised honey taste.
For the kids an enormous marron shaped honey biscuit. Super, super cute.
While not the cheapest place to eat on the Island, but enjoyable on many counts.
You can also shop online here (yes, that does include live marron to Adelaide and surrounding areas).
Isola Pizza is a welcoming little place. Moreso since its revamp in the 12 months between our visits.
I really like it’s style.
Small yes but now more open with an eclectic mix of tables and displays. Open fronted, the damp air sweeps in from Penneshaw Bay, fanning the appetite.
There are rustic work benches and industrial lights. My favourite piece is a cross cut barrel housing a mirror, encased in fairy lights; perhaps a nod to the season.
But the food alone would swing me.
The pizzas are italianesque thin with toppings from the expected (Margherita, Pepperoni) to the not (Kangaroo Island Oyster Farm Shop Oysters topped with cheese, spinach and lemon aoli).
We chose an Island Pure Ravine des Casoars (Haloumi) with fresh tomato, chicken, proscitto and rocket. And a Hawaiian for the kids,perhaps a little more pineapple for their more finicky tastes and they would have thought it spot on. But try catering for kids and its a slippery slope.
There are a range of salads as well, with a selection of baguettes for lunch. Along with a small but tempting range of local produce, including honey, oils and biscuits. Kept to a minimum, it supports the nice homely feel to the place.
Fish (and Two Birds and a Squid Catering)
Fish is probably one of the more expensive fish and chippery’s you will go to, but I wouldn’t miss it. We scoffed ours at a picnic table facing the same blustery Penneshaw breeze.
Don’t expect massive serves but it will be very fresh fish cooked very well.
The range varies but think locally caught Garfish and Flathead, King George Whiting and Atlantic Salmon, Prawns Scallops and Kangaroo Island Oysters.
A word from the wise that the fish does sell out; and the shop only opens from mid October to the end of April. Great life if you can get it.
Owner Sue Pearson also does catering as Two Birds and a Squid.
Google it – a lot has been written.
Kangaroo Island Source Farmers Market Tour and Cooking Class
A highlight of this last trip. Read more about it over here.
KI Bakery – Wholemeal Bread
Stone ground home baked goodness. Just try it with butter and vegemite.
It’s a bit more of a hike to get there (well, only 60km from Kingscote), and we managed to strike it on a forty degree day. But the drive and walk to Seal Bay on the South Coast of the Island is so absolutely worth it.
Our two were a bit young to venture down onto the sand, but even from the boardwalk the view is impressive. Australian Sea Lions and New Zealand Fur Seals just hang about on the beach, baking in the sun, playing in the surf and generally having a pretty good time. It’s so impressive to see them outside an enclosure, just doing what seals do.
Can’t forget the big old Sea Lion bunkered down under the boardwalk keeping keep out of the sun. Right underfoot. Probably snoring if seals could.
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park is a great little park that specialises in Island Wildlife and up-close wildlife experiences for visitors.
A lot of the animals are rescued, whether injured or through quirk of nature, such as the albino kangaroos. Many of the animals and birds you can feed by hand.
Must ask them the story of the crocodile on next visit.
Where we Stay
Each time we’ve visited we’ve opted for a private rental on Island Beach, found through Stayz.
The beach we love for it’s easy-paddle waters, and it often seem often sheltered from the worst. It still feels like it’s very un-developed: the road isn’t sealed; the mallee is dense and lots of wildlife is roaming about. There’s also a local store with the basics, our source of bread, milk and the daily paper.
At the same time you’re close to Penneshaw (15mins) and American River (10mins) with Kingscote (45mins) in easy access.
* Bring your Car. Yes you pay extra on the ferry but the accessibility to places will make you glad that you did.
* Stock up on Staples. Bring the basics with you so that you aren’t reliant on the local supermarkets; shelves are limited and prices are steep. But if you have a place where you can cook this will pay off. Southrock Lamb are also doing a home delivery now so this should come in handy.
* Sit at the Back. Top Ferry Tip from the locals. Not the side. Not the front. Go right down the back. We’ve had good crossings, and some less so. But it’s still been the best bit of advice.
* Pack for all seasons. The temperature drops, even on the warmest days in summer, so nights can be cool, and sometimes summer days – best to bring a few layers for all seasons.
* Go. We’ve only just scratched the surface.
Kangaroo Island: getting there and getting around
KI Feastival is coming up (24-28 April) and would be a great time to visit for the Food Lover
Good Food Kangaroo Island has a lot of useful info including producers, regions and Foodie related Kangaroo Island dates.
Kangaroo Island Wine Region is a good source of information
Sourcing Products: Kangaroo Island Online as well as individual producer websites
Read my post about Kangaroo Island Source Farmers Market Tour and Cooking Class here