From eating freshly shucked oysters and wetting the whistle with a gin paddle, to sampling local lavender delicacies and rare native honey. Kangaroo Island sure doesn’t disappoint the travelling foodies.
You might know Kangaroo Island for its pristine beaches, enchanting landscapes and heaps of native wildlife. But it’s also a paradise for foodies, wine lovers and craft beer connoisseurs. What better way to wrap up a day of exploring the coast, spotting fur seals or hiking around Flinder’s Chase National Park than watching the sunset with a glass of vino and some delicious food.
Kangaroo Island’s mild Mediterranean climate and fertile soil make it a prime spot for growing Bordeaux-style grapes – AKA Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Shiraz. The cool ocean breeze means the grapes have a slow ripening period and winemakers can get creative with blends. As well as top-notch wine, the island is surrounded by rich waters and bountiful farmlands that inspire the local restaurants’ menus. Whether you want to indulge in a seafood platter, fill up your picnic hamper with local artisan goodies or tuck into a grazing board, Kangaroo Island promises to be a treat.
1. The Oyster Farm Shop, American River
The Oyster Farm Shop has certainly made its mark on the island’s seafood scene. Their story began in 2005 when owners, Amanda and Ken Rowe packed up their life and moved to KI to give their girls a ‘free-range kid’ life. They said goodbye to the corporate world and hello to a totally new business (and life) venture. And it turned out to be a roaring success! The menu changes daily depending on what’s been harvested. But you could be tucking into freshly shucked pacific or native Angasi oysters – either au naturel with a squeeze of lemon or grilled with delicious toppings. Or feast on a sharing plate of King George whiting, marron, abalone and calamari. There’s no deep fat fryer here! This is as fresh as it gets.
2. Kingscote Farmers & Artisan Market
What better way to start your weekend on Kangaroo Island than a morning down Kingscote Farmers & Artisan Market? Rub elbows with friendly locals as you meander the stalls. If you’re feeling peckish there’s plenty of savoury and sweet treats including freshly baked bread, pastries and cakes. You’ll also find stalls selling everything from artisan cheese, preserves, chocolate, plants, homemade clothes, jewellery and more. The market runs every 2nd and 4th Sunday at Kingscote Wharf.
3. Emu Bay Lavender Farm, Emu Bay
If you thought lavender was only used in essential oils, candles and body wash, think again. Emu Lavendar Farm spans 51 acres of land with over 7,500 lavender plants. Summer is when the flowers are in full bloom when you can walk through endless rows of purple and fill your nostrils with the sweet aroma. Surprise your tastebuds with things like orange and lavender cake, scones with lavender jelly and fresh cream, white chocolate and lavender cookies or a lavender gin and tonic. It sounds a little funky, but it works.
4. Dudley Wines, Dudley Peninsula
Dudley Wines had humble beginnings in 1994 when co-owner, Jeff Howard and two mates tried their luck at planting vines on some empty land (known by locals as Porky Flat). With some help from the community, they made their first batch of Cabernet Shiraz. Fast forward a year – and with too many grapes to warrant personal consumption – they made their first commercial vintage. These days they have an impressive 14 wines in their portfolio which can be enjoyed from Dudley’s Clifftop Cellar Door with sweeping views of the coast. Pair your wines with a platter loaded with cheese, cured meats and other savoury treats. Dudley Wines is also conveniently located only 12km from Penneshaw ferry terminal… just in case you fancied popping in for one last hurrah before jumping on the ferry back to the mainland.
5. Kangaroo Island Spirits, Cygnet River
If gin is your go-to tipple, then you best head over to Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS). KIS was Australia’s first official gin distillery, and with an abundance of natural resources and some of the most fertile grounds in the country, it’s no surprise the gin tastes so darn good. Pop in for a gin-inspired cocktail in the pretty Gin Garden or go all out with a distillery tour, gin tasting flight or a cocktail making masterclass. They have all sorts of interesting concoctions to sample including Mulberry Gin (amazing with blood orange soda), Old Tom Gin and Whiskey Barrel Aged Gin.
6. Bay of Shoals Wines, Kingscote
Bay of Shoals is a vineyard, winery and cellar door. And it’s quite possibly one of the island’s most picturesque spots for a glass of vino (or two). Located above Bay of Shoals with stunning views of the ocean and Reeves Point, you can literally taste how the cool sea breeze makes it such a prime location to grow grapes. Pop into the cellar door to sample the wide range of wines including their Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Island Blend. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling or Arinto, you might like to treat yourself to one of the seafood platters to accompany the light and fresh notes of the wine. Wine not?!
7. Kangaroo Island Brewery, Kingscote
There’s plenty of wine, gin and liqueurs on Kangaroo Island, but what about the beers? For all of the craft beer enthusiasts, you’ll be happy to pop into Kangaroo Island Brewery for a cold one. From the hop selection to the brewing, everything is hand planted and crafted on site. If it’s chilly, get comfy in the brewhouse around the fire with an authentic style pizza. If it’s warm and sunny, find a spot outside on the lawn with a refreshing pint and some tunes. There’s a solid range of beers to choose from including IPA, summer ale, golden ale, pale ale, wheat beer and sheoak stout.
8. Clifford’s Honey Farm, Kingscote
Are you ready to taste un-bee-lievably good honey? Clifford’s Honey Farm is run by Dave and Jenny Clifford. Dave started making honey as a hobby back in 1973. The hobby became a small farm-gate store which became the success it is today. So what makes this honey so tasty? It’s produced by the purest strain of ligurian bees and Kangaroo Island is said to be home to the last remaining colony. Take a tour of the farm and learn all about the art and science of beekeeping before tasting honey straight from the comb. There are several varieties to try including cup gum honey, sugar gum honey and coastal mallee honey. If it’s warm, quench your thirst with some honey ice cream or honey wheat ale.