Here we go – my latest Travel Diary and this time we are visiting rugged Kangaroo Island, just off the South Australian mainland.
Before we begin, I must warn you, it’s a long post, filled with lots of epic and emotional landscapes for you to enjoy.
I was invited to photograph Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island, a remote wilderness lodge on the cliff edge of the Southern Ocean. I had been wanting to visit Kangaroo Island for years, especially eyeing off Southern Ocean Lodge. So it’s safe to say I jumped at the opportunity to visit and photograph the lodge.
It’s not a huge island, only just over 4000 people live here. However getting there is super easy, you fly into Adelaide airport and then either catch a connecting flight on a small plane straight to Kangaroo Island’s new airport, or you can catch the vehicle ferry across.
Once you arrive on the island it takes about an hour driving south to reach Southern Ocean Lodge. The drive feels very Australian, with a blur of browns and khakis flying by out the car window, as the road snakes through the gum trees and yakka lined terrain.
It also feels familiar, very familiar. Even though this was my first visit to the island, the light and the landscape really stirred my nostalgic senses.
Just before I left home for this assignment I came across a quote on instagram by Jane Goodall which really set the tone for this trip:
“Spend time in nature and try to stop circling thoughts, so you can hear the insects and the birds singing, and that still, small voice within. Be in touch with the natural world“– Jane Goodall
This is the vista which originally captivated my curiosity about Southern Ocean Lodge. Being able to stay in such a secluded and natural location is my kind of experience.
There is literally nothing else around besides unspoilt nature.
And this was the ‘other vista’ which also captivated my curiosity. The Great Room of Southern Ocean Lodge.
After the drive through the scrub you walk straight into this room, and this is the very first glimpse of that blue Southern Ocean you see.
The interiors have a way of staying true and echoing what is happening outside in nature, either through the gentle colour palette brought into the interior space or the rugged textures from within the landscape of the island, leading the direction for finishes and details.
Even when you are inside, you feel as though you are still connected to the outdoor elements.
This was my guest suite. All of the guest suites are named after local shipwrecks, and there were plenty of shipwrecks back in the day due to the wild and unpredictable coastline.
Whenever I go away on a job I always set up a bit of a temporary office within the room. There is always lots of work to do in the evenings after the sun has gone down, so you want to feel comfortable when the days are this long.
The first of many Southern Ocean Lodge and Kangaroo Island experiences was to visit a local mob of kangaroos grazing in the late afternoon, where you can get up close to observe the ‘Kangaroo Island’ Kangaroo.
The local kangaroo looks very different to the mainland kangaroo. It’s stockier and shorter and has a much darker and thicker coat. But still as curious as all kangaroos.
I couldn’t get enough of the colours of the trees. Every time I photograph gum trees it feels so emotional. Hard to describe I suppose, it just goes straight to the heart. And this time was no different. My body is always full of goosebumps when photographing gum trees.
This photograph on the right is titled ‘Eucalyptus’ and is one of my new prints in my print shop.
After spending time with the kangaroos it was back to the lodge. I went for a bit of a wander, to get my bearings as to which direction the light comes from exactly and to see that ocean again. Hypnotised.
Seeing the lodge so close to the cliff face and then seeing no distractions around the lodge really is a phenomenal sight.
Southern Ocean Lodge only takes up 1% of the entire land lot, leaving the rest to the wilderness.
Dusk was my absolute favourite time here. When the sun drops down and the lanterns are lit, and the sky turns a gentle shade of pink and mauve.
You can hear the echoes of the ocean below, crashing into the limestone sea cliffs at any given time. So much force.
I just love it when the sky turns on these soft feminine colours as the day comes to a close. When the night air starts to fall from the wide pretty sky above.
This is one of my new limited edition photographic prints available in my print shop. titled ‘Night Air’.
The first night I couldn’t really sleep. In my dream like state all I could hear throughout the night was the waves crashing against the cliffs, and the waves sounded huge!
I slept with my doors open to really let the elements in.
I woke very early the next morning, just before the sun came up and headed down the boardwalk and coastal scrub to where I could hear the thunderous waves crashing against the cliffs. My face was tingling with the cold air.
The cliffs were engulfed in heavy fog and salt haze. You could feel the natural power of the waves crashing inside your body.
With each forming wave that came in, so much force came along too, breaking right in front of me in such an artful manner.
So wild. It was probably my favourite experience of the whole stay. Nature performing. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the horizon, waiting for another to roll in, then another, then another.
Their rhythm, and the loud crash of the breaking wave, so addictive to watch. Very emotional.
Then the morning light started to filter through the fog, changing the atmosphere with layers of soft pinks and warm tones lighting up the sky.
This one is also a favourite and is a new limited edition print, titled ‘Dawn’.
I really do think I’m at my most happiest when being this close to nature, being immersed in so much raw beauty. To be this close is a true luxury.
Opening your heart up to the ever changing light and elements, hearing, but also listening. In our modern world you can’t always find the time to be able to do this.
The morning light turned electric. The landscape bathed in golden light, with the fog hanging in the air and making the coastline even more dramatic.
Even back at the lodge the fog had drifted in and the morning light was illuminating all the rooms in such a beautiful manner.
Then it was time to get amongst it and start the day by visiting some local wildlife, the koalas!
I never usually have any luck coming across koalas in the wild. I have seen one, once, in my whole life. So my expectations weren’t high when we set out to find koalas.
And, I was wrong. Turns out koalas are thriving on Kangaroo Island. Fancy that! They were introduced to the island in the 1920s to insure the mainland species.
This one was having a rest in the fork of an eucalyptus tree. I received many emails about this photograph after I posted it on instagram, and yes, I have made it part of the photographic print collection. It’s so sweet. It is available here and it’s titled ‘Koala’.
After the high of seeing koalas in the wild, it was time to hit the 15km of coastal walking track, winding through the islands south west in the Flinders Chase National Park.
Admirals Arch is one of Kangaroo Island’s most impressive and unusual natural landmarks. It took thousands of years of erosion and pounding Southern Ocean to create this distinctive rock bridge.
It is also a local hang out of New Zealand fur seals.
The coastal walk track leads you through such varied landscape, from being out on the fringes of the limestone cliffs and taking in the beautiful blues of the sea, to then heading into the dense eucalyptus trees and yakkas.
Coming across Remarkable Rocks on the coastal walk felt rather otherworldly, kind of like seeing Stonehenge. Giant granite boulders on the edge of a cliff. So surreal in comparison to the surrounding landscape.
It took 500 million years for rain, wind, and pounding waves to create these granite boulders.
Then the next day was a very special sunrise experience, where Southern Ocean Lodge arranged a personal guided encounter with the sea lions.
You leave the lodge before sunrise and arrive at Seal Bay for private access where the entire beach is yours to observe the sea lions at play.
So cute and the pups so little. This mother sea lion had just arrived back to shore after spending 3 days at sea, bringing food home for her pup. They only ever have one pup at a time. She was so exhausted. She called out for her pup, who ran down to greet its mum.
Sometimes this meet up between baby and mother doesn’t happen, as there are great white sharks in the waters with enormous appetites for sea lions. Ohhh.
Then after the sea lion excitement, it was a gourmet bbq breakfast in the sand dunes.
This is Alice from Melbourne, she also was staying at Southern Ocean Lodge.
Just before leaving I had a chance to have some quiet time and sit down on the edge of the cliff and take it all in, while going through my diary and shot list, making sure I had covered everything off.
I thought I was completely alone in that moment, turns out, not at all. An echidna was sitting right next to me the whole time, pushing sand around looking for insects. I couldn’t believe my luck! Love!
And then that was it, it was all over and time to head home after three incredible days spent experiencing all what Southern Ocean Lodge and the wild landscape of Kangaroo Island had to offer.
I really hope you enjoyed this Travel Diary, it was a bit of an epic one, but the landscape really deserved it. I can’t think of anywhere in the world quite like this. If you would like more information for travelling to South Australia, then hit the link here.
P.S If you have seen a particular photograph and would like to acquire it, I can arrange a ‘Print Your Favourite’ piece here