As excited as I was to go to the Australian Open and see Melbourne, after the turmoil that Oprah’s visit caused to my trip, the thing that kept me going (literally) was the week at the end in South Australia, especially my trip to Kangaroo Island. Everyone I met who had ever been there couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful it was and every photo I had seen confirmed it. Still, seeing is believing and I quickly became a believer.
It was a quick 20 minute flight on Rex Regional Express from Adelaide to Kingscote. Rob, my tour guide from Exceptional Kangaroo Island was waiting for me in the airport. He had gotten the message that I was interested in going to some wineries and visiting the distillery, but since my tour was private (the company will do anything from small groups to fully customized individual itineraries) he asked me what I really wanted to do. It didn’t take me long to blurt out, “go to the beach!” Rob responded that there were about 50 beaches to see on the island and he would get me to as many as possible. I couldn’t have been happier as I was on week three of my Australian adventure and the only beach I had seen was the few minutes at Glenelg the previous day.
Kangaroo Island is much bigger than I had imagined. It is actually the size of the Long Island I had grown up on. The difference here was that the population (not counting the kangaroos, koalas, wallabies and other non-humans) was only about a tenth of that of the New York peninsula! This allowed for plenty of open space and a place where people that lived 50 miles apart to easily know each other.
Just a mile from the airport we stopped to see a sleeping koala in a River Red Gum tree, known to the marsupials as home. There are six varieties of koalas on this island and their population went from 18 in 1923 to 35,000 in 1997, when the island began sterilizing and relocating them to other parts of Australia before they destroyed all the trees. It was a perfect 85 degree day and that meant the koalas would enjoy partaking in their ritual 20 hours of sleep so we were off to more exciting places.
Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS). I’d be lying if I said the distillery was an attraction to miss (it’s really just a small building), but the spirits are worth a visit. John has a KIS Wild Gin made with a wild juniper that is just full of herbs. KIS Mulberry Gin is the first flavored gin that I’ve tasted and I loved it. The grape-based KIS Vodka is available plain and in samphire, a salty plant that tastes a bit like pickles or relish, making a great dirty martini. The Anisette reminded me of the one my grandfather used to put in his espresso and the KIS Chili Vodka is a spicy as it sounds! There is also a selection of liqueurs.
Bay of Shoals Winery. They produce a nice selection of typical Australian wine, including Chardonnay, Riesling, Rose, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc. It was the Sauvignon that caught my eye (or rather, my taste buds), with enough tropical and peach tones that it didn’t need to be too sweet.
False Cape Wines.
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat.