Kangaroo Island offers clients
classic Australian animal sightings.
At the end of a rutted dirt road, our guide Craig Wickham unlocked
the gates to the old Edwards’ estate, and we drove onto the
property. We waited all day for this we were on Kangaroo Island,
after all and now that it was dusk, the light was incandescent and,
all around us, animals were beginning to stir.
We walked across a vast meadow covered with tall grass and
there, against a big sky that reminded me of Africa, were dozens of
kangaroos, some nearly six feet tall, others hugging the sides of
their mothers, and not one of them afraid of us.
We were at the end of the earth, literally. A 30-minute flight
from Adelaide, South Australia’s incredibly sophisticated capital,
and we were in the bush. We’d seen koalas in the eucalyptus trees,
spiny echidnas on the roadside, wallabies everywhere.
Wickham owns Exceptional Kangaroo Island, a tour company that
lives up to its name. His clients get to walk right onto the sands
at Seal Bay and receive lots of other access that make seeing
Kangaroo Island with him, well, exceptional. Even officials from
the Smithsonian, the Audubon Society and the American Museum of
Natural History choose Wickham when in Australia.
For lunch, Wickham grilled King George whiting in the middle of
a forest. Another day he took us to Andermel Marron Farm where we
tasted marron, the world’s largest farmed crayfish, and drank wine
from one of Kangaroo Island’s 28 vineyards. He introduced us to
honey made by the world’s only pure strain of Ligurian bees,
originally brought from Italy to the island in the 1880s.
In between sightings and tastings, as we criss-crossed the
island from top to bottom, Wickham regaled us with tales of growing
up on a 2,500-acre sheep station on the island’s north shore that
his parents ran for Sir James Holden, owner of Holden
“They’re like the Fords of Australia,” is how Wickham described
Now, two generations later, on the 100 acres of the station that
remain, Sir James’ grandchildren, Rachel and Nick Hannaford, run
Lifetime Private Retreats. Part luxury hotel, part haute fantasy,
Lifetime consists of three architecturally dazzling villas,
overlooking Snellings Beach, a perfect white sand crescent
stretched lazily along a turquoise sea.
When you arrive at Lifetime, you step into another world. Nick,
a celebrated event planner, and Rachel, a yoga teacher and chef who
has cooked for superstars like Mick Jagger and the Dalai Lama, have
pulled out all stops in creating this magical milieu. Dinner could
be a Middle Eastern feast, served beneath the bowers of a gigantic
fig tree or paella in a shanty on the beach with a bonfire
If five-star hippie chic isn’t your clients’ style, Kangaroo
Island also offers simpler accommodations. The Kangaroo Island
Wilderness Resort, at the entrance to a national park, has a
terrific restaurant, wine list and al fresco dining among the
wallabies. The rooms are spotless and spacious.
Leaving the serenity of Kangaroo Island was bearable only
because we were off to Adelaide, with its sumptuous central market
and nearby Barossa vineyards. With a new Air New Zealand flight
from L.A. to Adelaide (connecting in Aukland), it’s the moment to
send your clients the ones who’ve been to Sydney and Melbourne and
now long to explore more remote parts of the continent to the food-
and-wine lover’s paradise known as South Australia.
Kangaroo Island is a great place to start.
Exceptional Kangaroo Island offers agents 10
percent commission across the board on flights, accommodations,
meals and touring.
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Resort offers 10
Lifetime Private Retreats offers 10 percent
An hour by small plane from Adelaide in the heart of the desert
Outback, the opal-mining town of Cooper Pedy has to be one of the
weirdest places in Australia. For one thing, the surrounding
landscape is positively lunar, with vast, rocky plains and
thousands of abandoned mines dotting the barren earth.
Since the 1920s, adventurers from all over the globe have come
to this outpost, which produces 80 percent of the world’s opals.
Most left broke, but others actually found the fiery stone. Now the
place is a multicultural community, albeit an eerie, run-down one,
where inhabitants live in underground houses (dugouts) to escape
the desert heat.
It’s definitely worth a daytrip, if only to stay at the Desert
Cave Hotel, billed as the world’s only underground hotel. And check
out Australia’s Dog Fence, which stretches through the town’s
outskirts as far as the eye can see. Constructed to keep the dingos
from migrating into southern sheep territory, at 3,300 miles, it’s
the world’s longest fence.
Desert Cave Hotel