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Kangaroo Island’s Southern Ocean Lodge open for guests

Abbie Tiller

Kangaroo Island tourism icon re-opens following devastating bushfires

Tourism in Kangaroo Island marks a major milestone today with the rebuilt $55 million Southern Ocean Lodge officially opening to guests.

After almost four years in the planning, design and construction since it was razed in the 2020 bushfires, the new-look luxury accommodation on the south coast of Kangaroo Island will once again draw visitors from around the world.

The flagship property of Baillie Lodges, the new iteration of the globally acclaimed Southern Ocean Lodge holds almost the same footprint as the original. It features 23 guest suites each with a private deck and reoriented to open towards the south-east, taking in views of the Southern Ocean.

The re-creation of Southern Ocean Lodge has been led by the property’s original architect, South Australian Max Pritchard and his team. It includes all the features once loved by guests, combined with some new additions “designed for a new generation of travel to Kangaroo Island” with a greater focus on sustainability.

New to the property is the Ocean Pavilion, offering a single four-bedroom owner’s residence or two separate two-bedroom suites to create options for families and friends travelling together. The Great Room terrace now features a wet-edge pool, while new surrounds for the Southern Spa allow for three treatment rooms, a gymnasium, sauna, and hot and cold plunge pools.

More than 40 per cent of Kangaroo Island was impacted by the bushfires in January 2020,  just months before COVID restrictions took hold.

Tourism on Kangaroo Island has since made a remarkable recovery, with the region’s visitor expenditure hitting a record-high $294 million in the year to June 2023.

A key destination for international visitors, the region attracts the highest overseas visitor spend outside of Adelaide, with 35 per cent of jobs on Kangaroo Island related to tourism.

Member for Mawson, Leon Bignell, said the impact Southern Ocean Lodge has had on Kangaroo Island’s visitor economy is incredible and goes far beyond attracting high-end travellers from around the globe.

“From the moment the original Southern Ocean Lodge opened its massive door, hospitality workers from around the world and across Australia came to the island, provided premium service and, in many cases, went on to open their own businesses on the island offering food, drinks and accommodation to visitors and locals alike,” he said.

“Early January 2020 was a devastating time for the island and for SOL owners James and Hayley Baillie and managers John Herd and Alison Heath, whose dreams were reduced to ash and rubble.

Staff and guests had made it out without injury and almost immediately James and Hayley were talking about coming back with an offering even better than the internationally top-ranked SOL.

Today we celebrate their vision and determination as we welcome back Southern Ocean Lodge as a beacon of luxury that sits so perfectly in its natural environment on the stunning south coast of Kangaroo Island.”

James Baillie, founder Baillie Lodges, said the re-opening was ‘full-circle moment’, bringing some closure to the past, as well as an optimistic look towards the future and an even more sustainable, leading experiential tourism offering for South Australia.

Photo – Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari

Cruise Season full steam ahead on Kangaroo Island

With Cruise Season full steam ahead, three cruise ships will stop in on KI this week. The P&O Pacific Explorer was in Penneshaw Tuesday, while the Silverseas’ Silver Whisper and the P&O Pacific Adventure will also visit for the the first time. The three back-to-back cruise visits will bring a combined up to 5,423 passengers and 2,326 crew to the island over the three consecutive days.

Last cruise season, Kangaroo Island welcomed 29 cruise visits, injecting more than $33 million to the region’s economy.




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