Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangeroo Island: an eco hotel on Australia’s Galapagos

Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangeroo Island: an eco hotel on Australia’s Galapagos

A phoenix-like rebirth, after devastating bush fires in 2020, means the much-loved Southern Ocean Lodge is back — and even better than before

Where is it?

A twenty-minute flight from South Australia’s Adelaide, on Kangaroo Island. Considered Australia’s Galapagos, Kangaroo Island is home to a dizzying array of wildlife and a truly beautiful rugged landscape. Southern Ocean Lodge’s 23 rooms extend caterpillar-like, long, and low along cliffs overlooking the ocean.


At the request of founders, James, and Hayley Baillie, the original architect of Southern Ocean, Max Pritchard returned with his team to recreate 2.0. The original Lodge, which was the flagship of luxury collective, Baillie Lodges, was devastatingly burnt to the ground in bush fires in 2020, bar a sculpture of a kangaroo which sat in the lobby. More than a decade on, Pritchard has taken the opportunity to install cutting edge technology, setting new benchmarks for environmental sustainability in the tourism industry in everything from rainwater capture to solar power. 45,000 biodiverse native plants have been propagated on-site and planted to form a natural buffer from the surrounding wilderness. And of course, there is vastly upgraded fire prevention infrastructure.

A Flinders Suite lounge overlooking the sea
Baillie Lodges

Interiors are dominated by mellow limestone and glass walls which reveal the mesmerising outside landscape at every twist and turn. Complementing the scheme is art from local Janine Mackintosh, whose remarkable ‘leaf mandalas’ are made from eucalyptus leaves which she gathered from the island. A new layer of luxe has also been woven through the rooms in the form of eco-smart fireplaces, as well as blinds and lights that rise and fall at the touch of a button. But the biggest change is that Pritchard re-oriented all the rooms to the south-east, giving guests a direct view from their bed onto one of nature’s most impressive landscapes, or from the indulgent bath tubs which sit behind the glass walls.

Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island


Food & drink

It starts in your room, with the very drinkable wines from Kangaroo Island’s The Islander winery, in your complimentary mini bar, alongside local cheeses. At sunset every evening there is an open bar in the Great Room, where you can order a cocktail or explore South Australia’s wines. The Lodge’s acclaimed cellar has an open-door policy so guests can go in to select a wine to have with their dinner.

Food comes courtesy of Chef Tom Saliba, who worked here before the fire, and is back delivering dishes which draw on the local bounty. Expect dishes like local smoked snook with caperberries, Parndanna Barramundi or Saltbush gnocchi.


A new addition to the Lodge is a Spa just off the main building in the same calming, mellow limestone, with a sauna and hot and cold plunge pools outside and three treatment rooms inside. Products used are the Australian-made Alkeme spa care range. There is also a swimming pool at the top end of the property with wonderful views onto the sea beneath.

The relaxing scheme in a spa treatment room at Southern Ocean Lodge
Baillie Lodges


Although Southern Ocean Lodge is a destination in its own right for luxury travellers in search of wilderness, the majority of people come to experience the wildlife of Kangaroo Island. The Lodge offers five signature Kangaroo Island experiences within your stay, from a guided nocturnal tour to see Koala Bears in their habitat to visiting Seal Bay which has one of the biggest Sea Lion populations in Australia.

The chance to see sea lions at Seal Bay is one of the big draws for visitors to Kangaroo Bay
Alamy Stock Photo

If that doesn’t quench your thirst for the natural world, book a tour with Exceptional Kangaroo Island (from £310, who should be able to find some endangered glossy black cockatoos for you to see as well as Tamar wallabies, monitor lizards and if you are very lucky, echidnas. The bounce back of the flora and fauna after the 2020 wild fires is impressive with new green growth now almost reaching the charred tree tops. Species of wildlife which were thought to be extinct have also been seen of late, and the koala population can be found in eucalyptus trees all over the island. A very happy state of affairs.

Which room?

All the rooms are lovely. The standard Flinder’s Suites have sunken seating areas with a curved sofa in front of the fire place, an outside terrace where you can sit and listen to the pounding waves and bathrooms with showers and tubs and a view. If you want to go all out, you could go for the Remarkable or Osprey Suites which come with a private plunge pool. Families are now well served by the new Baillie Pavilions which offer two two-bedroom houses, with a private swimming pool, which can either connect or be used separately.

The view from an Ocean Pavilion West bedroom
Baillie Lodge

Best for

On the top of so many bucket lists the world over, this is one for well-heeled lovers of nature, who will want to return and return, not just for the Lodge but for the island which offers different pleasures every season. It is also a perfect honeymoon destination, with its magnificent sunsets and luxurious rooms, from which you can watch whales passing by in the ocean beneath.


Rates at Southern Ocean Lodge include all dining, the renowned open bar, five signature Kangaroo Island nature experiences and airport transfers and start from AU$3,400 (£1,700) per couple, per night.

Mary travelled to Australia as a guest of Tourism Australia. For more information please visit