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Travel Diary

Southern Ocean Lodge

Above left: inside my suitcase / Above right: the early morning view from 8A on the plane.

©Kara Rosenlund

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.

Above: driving through the iconic Australian landscape of Kangaroo Island

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 worldJane Goodall

Above: Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, South Australia, over Hanson Bay

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.

Above: the Great Room and fireplace of Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, designed by Kangaroo Island born Max Pritchard

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.

Above left: my KR Wootten bag with one of the many Khai Liew pieces of furniture / Above right: a native yakka

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.

Above left: Southern Ocean Lodge in the late afternoon / Above right: interior of the Great Room

Above left: limestone form / Above right: interior of the Great Room

Above left: my temporary office inside my suite, with my KR Wootten bag / Above right: me, in the bathroom

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.

Above left: a must for the landscape, my Blundstones / Above right: bedside table details, including some sprigs of native rosemary collected on a coastal walk

Above left: en route to the Kangas and Kanapes experience, where you see a mob of kangaroos in the late afternoon

Above left: The Kangaroo Island Kangaroo, shorter, stockier and thick darker coats than mainland species  / Above right: iconic gumtrees of Kangaroo Island, also available as a print within my print shop, titled ‘Eucalyptus’

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.

Above left: gum trees os Kangaroo Island / Above right: me, in the reflection of the landscape

Above: secluded Southern Ocean Lodge on sunset, over Hanson Bay

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.

Above left: coastal heath grasses in the sunlight  / Above right: the Great Room with the fire

Above: the terrace on dusk overlooking the suites, gently nestled within the coastal landscape

Above left: the terrace on dusk overlooking the suites, gently nestled within the coastal landscape / Above right: the clifftop where Southern Ocean Lodge is nestled above Hanson Bay below. This is also part of my new photographic print release titled ‘Undertow’.

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.

Above left: salt haze and fog on dusk over Hanson Bay / Above right: the terrace on dusk overlooking Hanson Bay

Above: ‘Night Air’, the pink hues of dusk, and also a photographic print available in my print shop

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’.

Above: dawn at Southern Ocean Lodge, on the rugged clifftops over Hanson Bay

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.

Above: the thunderous force of the waves of the Southern Sea

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.

Above: the thunderous force of the waves of the Southern Sea

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.

Above: the thunderous force of the waves of the Southern Sea

Above: the thunderous force of the waves of the Southern Sea

Above: the thunderous force of the waves of the Southern Sea

Above: ‘Sea Mist’ photographic print. The thunderous force of the waves of the Southern Sea

Above: the thunderous force of the waves of the Southern Sea

Above: Limited edition photographic print titled ‘Dawn’

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’. 

Above: as dawn breaks and the warm tones gently break through and light up the sky and the Southern Sea

Above left: me, photographed by Rhi Taylor/ Above right: the artful inky swells of the ocean

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.

Above: me, at work and in my element, photographed by Rhi Taylor

Above: as the sun comes up and illuminates the salt haze and the heavy fog over the sea cliffs

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.

Above: sunrise breaking through the coastal grasses, illuminates the salt haze and the fog over the landscape

Above left: the terrace of Southern Ocean Lodge bathed in fog and morning light / Above right: a coastal landscape detail

Even back at the lodge the fog had drifted in and the morning light was illuminating all the rooms in such a beautiful manner.

Above left: the iconic gum trees which populate the island / Above right: looking out to Hanson Bay from the Great Room

Above left: the Great Room, featuring Khai Liew lamps / Above right: Limestone wall created by Kangaroo Island resident and stone mason Scott Wilson, each piece hand carved and positioned

Above left: comfort details at every turn reflecting the islands colour palette  / Above right: Gum trees, the colours of the island

Above left: limestone on the coastal walk / Above right: the dining room of Southern Ocean Lodge

Above left: creme fraiche parfait, McLaren Vale apple spiced sourdough streusel prepared by chef Asher Blackford/ Above right: the dining room and the limestone wall, artwork by Janine Mackintosh

Above left: sand and rock, in a gentle colour palette which is reflected within the interior / Above right: reading and relaxing nooks within the Great Room

Above left: the terrace, bathed in electric blues / Above right: ‘Southern Mist’ cocktail

Above: a corridor of Eucalyptus Trees

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.

Above left: the thriving koalas of Kangaroo Island, resting in the fork of a eucalyptus tree, also available a photographic print in my print shop, titled ‘Koala’ / Above right: native Yakka

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’.

Above: the Kangaroo Island Coastal Walking Track, winding through the wilderness of the island’s remote south west coast within Flinders Chase National Park

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.

Above: the rugged landscape of Flinders Chase National Park

Above left: coastal landscape native, Pomaderris / Above right: a New Zealand fur seal taking in the landscape at Admirals Arch, a rock formation from the pounding waves of the Southern Ocean, within 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.

Above left: the many inlets on the 15km coastal walk within Flinders Chase National Park / Above right: the coastal heath landscape

Above: the Coastal Walking Track, through a variety of terrains, from the fringes of the limestone cliffs, to dense eucalypt forests

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.


Above: the Coastal Walking Track, through a variety of terrains, from the fringes of the limestone cliffs, to dense eucalypt forests

Above left: coastal heath landscape / Above right: detail of the native flora

Above: the rugged coastline with its many inlets

Above: Remarkable Rocks, granite boulders within Flinders Chase National Park

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.

Above: Remarkable Rocks, granite boulders within Flinders Chase National Park

Above: Remarkable Rocks, granite boulders within Flinders Chase National Park

Above: the view from Remarkable Rocks of the vista

Above: sunrise over the walking track within the sand dunes of Seal Bay Conservation Park, Kangaroo Island, on a private and exclusive beach experience, to be alone with the seals

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.

Above left: a mother and pup sea lion / Above right: a sea lion pup coming out of the ocean

Above left: an exhausted mother sea lion, returning to the beach after three days at sea, calling out for her pup / Above right: a pup and mother sea lion

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.

Above left: the bbq breakfast among the sand dunes / Above right: writer Alice, enjoying the gourmet breakfast

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.

Above: the road back to Southern Ocean Lodge, lined with red dirt and trees

Above left: sea cliffs overlooking the most brilliant turquoise water / Above right: my diary with a shot list and some native cuttings

Above left: Short Beaked Echidna at Southern Ocean Lodge / Above right: me, while shooting the landscape and lodge, shot by Rhi Taylor

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!

Above: the sunlit boardwalk through the coastal heath

Above: Southern Ocean Lodge on sunset, before leaving

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.

If you would like to see my latest photographic prints from Kangaroo Island you can head here, and to celebrate I have turned on Free Shipping for everything in my shop til Sunday.




P.S If you have seen a particular photograph and would like to acquire it, I can arrange a ‘Print Your Favourite’ piece here


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17 Comments to “Southern Ocean Lodge”

  1. That certainly looks like a place worth visiting on our next trip to Australia. Thank you for the wonderful photographs and the interesting commentary. You have certainly done both the lodge and the fantastic scenery justice!

  2. What a beautiful place and your evocative photography really does it justice! Stunning!
    I live in Adelaide and although I have travelled all over the world I have never been to Kangaroo island. Seems the perfect travel destination is right on my doorstep!
    I was wondering if you could tell me about your jacket? What brand is it? Looks perfect for travel outdoors! My favourite kind of travel.
    Cheers, Kath

  3. Lovely!

    I’m curious about which Blundstone style you’re wearing? It looks like the dress boot but I wonder how stable those feel on the rocks you were on.


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