Kangaroo Island Accommodation Options

Some travellers will visit Kangaroo Island as a day trip from Adelaide. However, many will stay for 2-3 nights in the island. This blog looks at the different Kangaroo Island accommodation options that are available to visitors. Remember, the island is quite large – 150 kms wide and 55 kms height (see detailed blog on what to do and see). So, with that in mind, it is important to select the right location and style to suit you. Although many of these accommodations are self-catering, some of them to have a chef on call to cook dinner for you.

Where to stay on Kangaroo Island

As there are only 4500 locals living on Kangaroo Island, the accommodation options are limited. However, there is a good range of self-contained cottages. Plus there are lodges that provide breakfast, motels, hotels/motel, and resort style properties. But there are probably far more self-contained accommodation choices. To make it easier for you to select what you like, have a look at this overview:

Self-contained Cottages

Ecopia Retreat & Luxury Getaway – Middle

For the first 2 nights of our stay in Kangaroo Island we stayed at Ecopia Retreat. We liked this eco retreat for a number of reasons, not the least being its location. It is very conveniently placed in the centre of the island. At this stage, Ecopia has two villas to choose from – Villa Ada and Villa May. Ecopia is fairly new so everything is in top-notch condition. The building itself is made of rammed earth and it really does provide excellent insulation. Except for the bathroom, the interior is open-plan.

Kangaroo Island Accommodation Options - Ecopia Eco Retreat
Ecopia Eco Retreat cottage

Because Ecopia has a strong eco focus, you will be expected to abide by certain environmental rules – things like waste disposal – but these are pretty much commonsense issues. As to the facilities, you will have everything you need. We thought the log burner was a wonderful feature for those cooler nights – it really creates a lovely ambiance. The interiors are very contemporary and because of the high stud roof, very spacious.

Kangaroo Island Accommodation Options - Ecopia Retreat interior
Ecopia Eco Retreat Kangaroo Island

Both villas provide full kitchen facilities as well as a washing machine. And a big plus for us, is that the wifi is very good.

Kangaroo Island Accommodation Options - Ecopia Kitchen area
Ecopia Retreat Kitchen facilities

Food is not included in Ecopia’s tariff and is perfect for those couples who wish to self-cater. You can pick up supplies at the island’s supermarket at Kingscote. However if you prefer, food & drink packages can be pre-ordered prior to your arrival. Or a chef comes in and prepares the pre-set menu. What we loved about this accommodation, was the setting. We really felt like we were the only people on the island. We could also imagine that many travellers would love being so close to the wildlife – the Kangaroos and Wallabies that you will see most mornings and evenings.

Sea Dragon Lodge & Villas – Eastern Side

We selected Sea Dragon Lodge & Villas for our second stay on the island. The lodge and villas are the furthest in the east that you can possibly travel on the island. And that makes it a fair way from the key attractions on the western side – like Flinders Chase National Park and Remarkable Rocks. But the location is simply STUNNING! With views from the verandah overlooking the Australian mainland, how could you not be impressed.

Kangaroo Island Accommodation Options - Sea Dragon Lodge and Villas
Sea Dragon Lodge & Villas

The villas are incredibly spacious with great wifi reception and a well equiped kitchen. We are always pleased when a lounge suite like this one, is just as comfortable as it looks.

Villa interior at Sea Dragon Kangaroo Island
Villa interior at Sea Dragon

We really liked the bedroom suite and the fact that the toilet is separate to the bathroom.

Kangaroo Island Accommodation Options - Sea Dragon Villa Bedroom Suite
Sea Dragon Villa Bedroom Suite

We were quite impressed with the amount of inclusions at Sea Dragon. Continental breakfast provisions are provided, plus a complimentary bottle of wine and cookies. If you don’t wish to self-cater, dinner supplies can be pre-ordered. However, at a further additional cost, a chef can be bought in to prepare your meals for you. It is also handy to know that Sea Dragon offers a guiding 4WD service with a local ‘islander’ at the wheel.

Lifetime Private Retreats – Northern Coast

On the northern side of Kangaroo Island, you will find the Lifetime Private Retreats. Depending on your needs, you will have a choice of 5 very private houses and villas. They are very different from one another – some cater for honeymoon couples, and others, small family groups. When we first walked into our villa, the Beach Retreat, we immediately understood why couples must love this one.

Kangaroo Island Accommodation Options - Beach Retreat at Lifetime
Beach Retreat at Lifetime right on Snelling Beach

The Beach Retreat has a large sunroom annexed to it – and thats what makes it so incredibly spacious – so perfect for enjoying those stunning beach views.

Lifetime Private Retreats Kangaroo Island

And yes, this particular villa does have a very ‘beachy’ vibe, but it also has a quite an eclectic decor – a bit of Moroccan, French Country and a touch of the contemporary. But what really sets it apart from the other villas, would have to be the beautiful porthole windows. Once again, you do have a choice of self-catering, pre-ordering meals or having your own private chef.

While in the Snelling Beach area we also visited other holiday houses belonging to the Lifetime Retreat group.

Sheoaks

Sheoaks is higher up the hill and has stunning views over Snelling Beach. It is made of rammed earth and has a luxurious but homely feel. It has been cleverly designed to accommodate two guests or a larger family group. Sheoaks has a full kitchen with all the facilities you will need. You can either self-cater, or have a chef come in to prepare your meals.

Sheoaks on Snelling Beach Northern Kangaroo Island
Sheoaks on Snelling Beach Northern Kangaroo Island

Cliff House

Although the Cliff House can sleep 6 people, it is also perfect as a hideaway for couples. In the cooler months between May and September, an open fire must surely enhance a wonderful romantic experience. This one has the best views overlooking Snelling Beach. It has a private beach access and boy, those million dollar views! The Cliff House is considered the ‘jewel in the crown’ on the northern coast of Kangaroo Island.

Cliff House on Snelling Beach Northern Kangaroo Island
Cliff House on Snelling Beach Northern Kangaroo Island

Stowaway Luxury Retreat – Northern Coast

Stowaway is a classic honeymoon retreat cottage. There are two cottages on offer set very apart from one another. They are located just a little inland on the northern coast of Kangaroo Island. You definitely get a feeling of total privacy, being surrounded by paddocks on all sides. Plus you will see the kangaroos hopping about at certain times of the day. These cottages are very luxurious and of course, spacious. If it is a full kitchen you are after, you will have total independence to self-cater here. And it is not often you get to enjoy an in-built sauna – I guarantee it would be a pretty ‘cool’ place to stay in the winter season (May – September).

Stoway Luxury Retreat - Northern Coast
Stowaway Luxury Retreat – Northern Coast

Dine Walcowrie – Eastern part

Now this has to be a very special accommodation. First of all, it is located on Browns Beach in the eastern part of Kangaroo Island. Dine Walcowrie is a high end family retreat. There are so many beautiful features throughout the building. There are five bedrooms and the large lounge and sun desk area is perfect for relaxation. We loved this property for its minimalist, yet stylish interiors. You will get the full dining service here with a comprehensive catering service provide by your local host Coreena.

One KI Retreat overlooking Browns Beach
One KI Retreat overlooking Browns Beach

One KI Retreat

Next door to Dine Walcowrie is the brand new and palatial One KI Retreat. This is a stunner! One KI belongs to the same owner as Dine Walcowrie. Both of these beautiful buildings are able to be combined for larger family gatherings. Private access to the close-by beach is a key feature as well as the tranquility and remoteness. There are some very private spaces on this large property where you can kick back and enjoy the sunset. Believe me, this accommodation is outstanding!

One KI Retreat

Resorts and Luxury Lodges

Southern Ocean Lodge – South-western area

The Southern Ocean Lodge is another high-end property. We did a site visit here while exploring the western parts of Kangaroo Island. The setting is truly spectacular. Key sites, such as the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch are close-by. Guests can walk from the lodge towards the beach and Hanson Bay. The lodge has 21 rooms and a large guest sitting and dining area. All meals are included in the tariff, plus some guided tour options. A private guide can be arranged at extra cost. All rooms face towards the views. A spa centre is on site – there is no gym or swimming pool.

Southern Ocean Lodge magic location
Southern Ocean Lodge magic location

Oceanview Eco Villas – Eastern side

Oceanview Eco Villas are brand-new! In fact when we arrived, they were still building these two contemporary villas. We are very excited about this one, which is due to open in August 2019. Yet again, the location is absolutely gorgeous. You will get 500 acres all to yourself on the coast across Nepean Bay towards Kingscote. The owners are locals and genuinely lovely people. They both have a very interesting background, which is perfect for their new hosting venture. The whole idea is to have the two luxury villas operating as a private guest retreat. Three-course dining and cooked breakfast is part of the package. Guests will get a night to dine with their hosts in the ‘history room’. It is a great chance to learn about the family’s history. This property is a unique experience. They have the right formula to be a huge success – location, people, endless style.

History Room at Oceanview Kangaroo Island
History Room at Oceanview Kangaroo Island

Mercure KI Lodge – American River

The tiny village of American River is half-way between the main settlement Kingscote and the eastern Dudley Peninsula. The Mercure KI Lodge is part the Accor group. Now from the outside it really didn’t look that flash, but once we stepped inside, our mood changed. First of all, The restaurant has achieved numerous awards. The standard rooms are OK. But we really loved the ‘Waterview Studio’ rooms. These rooms are in a separate area and build with mud bricks. These are larger suites to the main building. They do have a good vibe with balconies and views towards the bays.

Bed & Breakfast Stays

Molly’s Run – Northern area

Molly’s is located on the northern side of Kangaroo Island. And if you are looking for an nn old Italian Villa vibe, you will find it here. Molly’s Run is is owned and operated by locals Paul & Charmaine and they offer a true B&B experience. Dinner is provided at an extra charge. Pretty much all guest who stay at Molly’s, will dine here – there are very few restaurants in this area. Molly’s Run has three Suites – 2 with queen-bedding and one with king (plus single bed) configuration. So if you dream of ‘Tuscany’ within an intimate setting and great cookery, you’ll love it.

Stranraer B&B – Central KI

Stranraer Homestead is an historic 1920s federation homestead built from limestone gathered on the property. It has been meticulously restored to its former glory. The actual building is set on 1290 hectares of working property. Now, although Stranraer has all the mod cons, it is definitely not contemporary in any way. But that is part of its charm. The guests who stay here, enjoy a B & B owned by a’ local’ with legendary cooking skills.

Stranraer B&B historic homestead
Stranraer B&B historic homestead

Summary Kangaroo Island Accommodation

So, as you can see, selecting the right location on Kangaroo Island, is important. If you have 3+ nights on Kangaroo Island you might want to split your stay between the western and eastern parts. The key challenge on the island is getting access to suitable restaurants. There are hardly any. So if you are planning your trip here, do keep this in mind. You either go with a property where pretty much all the meals are provided or you self-cater (either shop yourself or pre-order meals).

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Happy Travelling Kangaroo Island!

Kangaroo Island Nature Experiences

It has been said that Kangaroo Island is the ‘Galapagos’ of Australia. And that would be because the wildlife is thriving in a pristine environment. For an island, this place is really big – 155 kms in width and 50 kms from north to southern coast.

With a population base of 4500 souls on 4500 square kilometres, it is no surprise that Kangaroo Island is mainly protected nature reserves and farmland. So you understand that Kangaroos pretty much rule here!

Kangaroo Island Nature Experiences

Kangaroo Island was first settled in 1836 by British settlers. Those poor folk were promised lush green farmland. But what they got instead, was an island covered in dense bush land. Nothing could really grow here. Even in these current times, tourism, farming and fishing are the island’s main industries Temperatures vary between 15 degrees celsius in winter (Jun-Aug) to 30 degrees in the summer season (Nov-March).

Getting around Kangaroo Island

To check out key attractions, a lot of travellers prefer to rent a car or travel in a guided coach tour. Some do this all in a day tour from Adelaide, which takes up to 16 hour return! Others would stay for 2-3 nights and use their rental car after arriving by ferry or flight from Adelaide.

But more travellers are seeing the value of small group tours, and even better, hiring a private local guide. We chose a private guide and it proved to be the ultimate way to go. At Kingscote Airport, we were met by local guide, Ken from Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours. From the very onset, he proved to be a very learned gentleman and an all-round ‘top bloke’.

key kangaroo island nature experiences - lunch with Ken
Ken from Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours cooking our BBQ lunch

So off we headed in a very spacious and modern 4WD drive to the western parts of the Kangaroo Island. Ken had all the supplies we needed, with lunch baskets, water bottles and of course, Kangaroo Island wine.

Kangaroo Island Nature Experiences - Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours – the best way to travel on KI!

The key main roads throughout the island are sealed and in good condition. So that makes travelling so easy. However, travellers do need to be aware that there are a number of unsealed, classic Australia-red sandy roads. Rental car insurance will not cover travellers if they travel the roads after sunset and before sunrise. And that is simply because kangaroos love crossing the roads during the night. A collision of this sort can be pretty serious – and not just for the Kangaroos!

South-Western highlight on KI

Many of the key attractions to visit on Kangaroo Island, are located on the south-western coast areas. It is very easy to underestimate travel times. So from Kingscote Airport to the famous Flinders Park Centre, you will need to calculate on 1.5 hours drive one-way. From the Penneshaw ferry terminal to Flinders, you will be in for about 2.5 hours drive one-way.

As distances and travel times are a key consideration when planning a trip to Kangaroo Island, it’s very important to select the right accommodation option. (We shall be doing a separate travel blog on Kangaroo Island accommodation options) But these are the views you can expect from at least some of them.

View from Sea Dragon Lodge & Villas
View from Sea Dragon Lodge & Villas

Seal Bay Conservation Park

As we headed south-west, Ken with his keen eyes, spotted a couple of Wedge-tailed eagles flying above us – see details on them. They are massive birds with a wingspan of up to 3 metres. This would be the first of many times Ken would spot a unique highlight before we were aware of it! Believe me, it really helps if you have a guide with a genuine love of the land and its wildlife. Over the next 2 days we learned so much.

Ken & Michael in the Little Sahara Sand Dunes
Ken & Michael in the Little Sahara Sand Dunes

Our first stop was at Seal Bay Conservation Park. For sheer beauty alone, it was a stunning landscape. And in fact, it is home to the third largest Australian sea lion colony in Australia. These seals are actually lovely to look at. Even though they are described as being grey, many of them are in fact a chocolate colour. Their big doe-like eyes won our hearts.

Sea lions at Seal Bay Conservation Park
Sea lions at Seal Bay Conservation Park

Ken knew about getting the timing right so that we could pretty much get this place to ourselves. He knew there would be tour buses arriving. So he chose a time that would ensure that we would be the very first first visitors for the day. It also helped that as an accredited National Park guide, he has special access to the beach which is not open to the general public.

Little Sahara Sand Dunes

Little did we know that there are huge sand dunes on Kangaroo Island. But they don’t actually lead down to the sea. After the last ice age (10-15,000 years ago) Kangaroo Island became separated from the mainland due to the rising ocean waters. The sand dunes are leftovers from those days.

Walking the Little Sahara sand dunes
Walking the Little Sahara sand dunes

Flinders Chase Visitor Centre

Located on the south-western side of the islands, is the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre. You will find that the centre has a very good exhibition of local wildlife and history. And it is also a good place to stop for a toilet break and a bite to eat before heading off to the next highlight.

Speaking of the next highlight, we were ready for lunch, but not just any old lunch. Ken drove us down to a private spot with picnic facilities and it is here that he demonstrated is BBQ cooking skills.

And what a splendid lunch it was. We had sirloin steak cooked to our individual tastes, roast potatoes and beautiful salads.

Healthy lunch options with KIWT
Healthy lunch options with KIWT

I have to say, it was all very civilised with starched table napkins and cutlery all perfectly laid out by Ken. And it was substantial a substantial meal with wine and pears cooked in red wine for dessert.

Plus a lovely tasting desert
Yummy desert with KIWT

Admirals Arch

After our lunch stop we headed to the south-western corner of the island. What a beautifully wind-swept place it was, with a roaring ocean and high waves. Safety is everything on Kangaroo Island, so we had well defined walkways. The views here are truly spectacular.

But what really rang our bells, was the place they call Admirals Arch – a truly stunning arch-shaped rock formation with stalactites. We had a great view of this from a specially built platform facing the ocean.

key kangaroo island nature experiences - Admirals Arch

Remarkable Rocks

Just a short drive from Admirals Arch, you will come across the Remarkable Rocks. These stone structures are very old, having been formed about 500 million years ago. I would urge every traveller to Kangaroo Island to see them. They are such a key attraction.

key kangaroo island nature experiences - Remarkable Rocks

Hansons Bay

This small, secluded bay sits along the south coast of Kangaroo Island just west of the famous Kelly Hill Conservation Park. It is accessible via West River Road, which runs south off of South Coast Road. West River Road is an unsealed road, but like many places, the harder it is to get to, the greater the reward when you arrive. It is untamed and beautiful.

Kelly Hill Conservation Park

Kelly Hill Conservation Park is very much a protected area. So you will only again access if you are with an accredited guide. Ken had a licence and the gate keys – so we were sorted. I have to say, this was a great way to end our first day. All the wallabies and Kangaroos had come out to bask in the fading light. You could have heard a pin drop. We felt so privileged to have witnessed this moment with Ken.

Summary of our day on Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island is a large place. Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the amount of time you should spend here. If you can spare at least 2-3 nights on the island you’ll see and experience so much more. And seriously, having a local guide with unique insider knowledge, will make for a far more meaningful experience. If your budget does not extend that far, then try to opt for a small party tour. Whatever you decide, we would definitely recommend Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours.

Well, here it is, one last spectacular view of this amazing piece of paradise that is Kangaroo Island.

Overlooking Snelling Beach in the northern part of KI
Overlooking Snelling Beach in the northern part of KI

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Happy Travelling Kangaroo Island!

Visiting the Barossa Valley

South Australia is full of hidden secrets – even in well known areas like the the Barossa Valley. When people think of the Barossa area, naturally those amazing Borossa wines come to mind. But on our recent stay there, we very quickly discovered that the Barossa is so much more than wines. Speaking of wine, you won’t be able to visit them all. And that’s because there are over 150 wineries in a radius of 50 kms!

view over a barossa yineyard
Barossa Vineyard as famous

We timed it so perfectly by travelling to the Barossa Valley in May. And this is because May is the Autumn season in South Australia. You are pretty much guaranteed of getting clear and sunny days. Plus the Autumn reds and golds are absolutely stunning. Do try to stay here during the mid-week – that way, you won’t find many other travellers around.

Intro into the Barossa Valley

For our first day in the Barossa Valley, we hired a boutique company with a private driver guide. And that is such a great way of ensuring that you have a wide range of choices. In fact, it is this strategy that we recommend to all our guests – it really is a great way to get an overall layout of the grid in any given area. Wendy, our guide gave us so much information, especially as she knew our interests beforehand.

And by learning some of the history of an area, you get a sense of the people – the history of the Barossa is so colourful and rich. We love boutique wineries and tend to stay away from where all the tour buses go. So this blog contains some key highlights we experienced will travelling the Barossa Valley.

Barossa Valley Boutique Wine Tours
Starting the day with Wendy from Barossa Valley Boutique Wine Tours

Travelling to the Barossa

The Barossa Valley is only about 1.5 hours drive from Adelaide Central City. If you prefer to travel independently by getting a rental car, you will find that it is an easy drive along the highway. Many travellers do a guided day tour from Adelaide as well. Another good option is to take the train to Gawler. The train trip takes 1 hour and eliminates any driving stress. Once you arrive, you will be collected at a chosen spot by your local driver/ guide.

Michael with Wendy of Barossa Boutique Wine Tours
Michael with Wendy of Barossa Boutique Wine Tours

We met our guide, Wendy, in Tanunda (view map) – this is the central hub of the Barossa Valley. Overall the Barossa and Eden Valley region has only about 25,000 souls. Now the great thing about such a small population, is that everyone seems to know each other. So if you are touring with a local guide, you will feel as though the locals have accepted you as one of them!

We had our first wine tasting at Chateau Tanunda Winery. And although it it is certainly not in the boutique category, it is a grand, red brick Chateau that really must be seen for its sheer sense of history.

Chateau Tanunda Winery.
Chateau Tanunda Winery

The Château Tanunda was built with bluestone which was quarried from nearby Bethany in the late 1890s, So with its Glasgow cast iron fittings, and French oak decor, it is not surprising to find that Chateau Tunanda is protected by the Australian Register of State Heritage places.

Barrels of wine at Chateau Tanunda
Barrels of wine at Chateau Tanunda
Visiting the Barossa Valley - Tanunda Chateau
Premium Tasting area at Chateau Tanunda

Our second stop was at the Mengler Hill Lookout Sculpture Park. Now, if you are into those panoramic shots, here is your opportunity folks. On a clear day, the views of the Barossa Valley are fantastic.

Visiting the Barossa Valley - Mengler Hill Lookout Sculpture Park
Mengler Hill Lookout Sculpture Park

Angaston and Eden Valley

It was not until we arrived at this area Barossa, that we became aware of the fact that there are two parts to the Barossa. One part sits in the Barossa valleyitself and the other, is to be found in the Eden Valley. The Eden Valley has a higher elevation and is much cooler. So it stands to reason that it will produce a different type of wine. Yes, there are those famous luscious red wines in the Barossa, but this area also has Rieslings. And as most wine lovers know, Rieslings generally require a cooler climate.

One of the many enchanting aspect of the Barossa, is its beautiful leafy villages. One such village is Angaston. Angaston, is a small settlement right on the edge between Barossa and Eden Valley. And it was at Angaston that we spent a great time at the Taste Eden Valley tasting room – a gorgeous little villa that showcases 14 Eden Valley wine producers.

Visiting the Barossa Valley - Angaston Village
Barossa Valley – Angaston Village

With so many hidden spots, it is of great benefit to travellers like us to have so many beautiful wines available in just the one place. After a few serious moments of blissful tasting, we chose the wines that really hit the spot.

Taste Eden Valley Tasting Rooms
Taste Eden Valley Tasting Room

The Barossa Valley Cheese Company

Still in Angaston and just up the road from our tasting, we came across the Barossa Valley Cheese Company. The owner, also a winemaker from Bordeaux in France, found another passion – the art of cheese making. Naturally, as a winemaker, she enjoyed the pairing of wine with the cheese. When she returned from France to the Barossa Valley, she began making cheese at home in the kitchen with her mum in 2003, Mother and daughter opened The Cheese Cellar in the main street of Angaston. The shop itself is so welcoming and as for the cheese, every last one is made with love.

Visiting the Barossa Valley - Barossa Valley Cheese Company
At Barossa Valley Cheese Company

Now here’s a handy thing to know – if you happen to be in the Barossa on a Saturday, try to include a visit to the Barossa Farmers Market. The market is opened between 6.30am and 11am every Saturday morning. So, if you are interested in the local produce, try to get there as early as you can.

Lunch at Z Wines in Tanunda

After a pleasantly exhausting morning with wine tasting and sightseeing, it was time for a platter lunch! In central Tanunda we came across a very interesting wine company called Z WINE (the Z stands for the family name Zerk). Z Wine is the creation of sisters Janelle and Kristen Zerk. These two ladies have grown up together in the Barossa Valley on a vineyard that has been in the Zerk family for 5 generations. At Z Wines they make amazing lunch platters to match the various wines that you will taste.

Visiting the Barossa Valley - Central Tanunda at Z Wine
With Luke at Z Wine in Tanunda.

They have a very cool Manager called Luke, who darts around to all his customers explaining the different superb wines and how the platter pairs so perfectly with them. We felt ‘at home’ straight away.

Nuriootpa and Seppeltsfield area

You will find these two places in the north-western part of the Barossa Valley. And it is an absolutely beautiful area with a strong tropical vibe. Plus there are a number of unique places you really must see and particularly in Autumn, they are spectacular.

Visiting the Barossa Valley - Seppeltsfield Winery
Barossa Valley – Seppeltsfield Winery

Barossa Valley Chocolate Company

We would have liked to have stayed longer at the Barossa Valley Chocolate Company. It is a huge place and although very touristy, the handmade chocolates are a luxury item. The locals tell us that this chocolate factory is the first of its kind for the area. It would be a fantastic place to take the whole family. And if you want to kick back while your kids choose their treats, there is a large cafe inside. And I can tell you that the cakes on offer do look pretty darn serious.

Seppeltsfield Winery

The Seppeltsfield Winery would have to be the stand-out highlight for us. We found such a fascinating history within its hallowed halls. In fact, Seppeltsfield Winery is one of Australia’s oldest wineries, having been founded in 1851 by Joseph Ernst Seppelt. Their star ‘drop’ is the the 100-year-old Para Tawny.

Barossa Valley - Seppeltsfield Winery

You can visit the Seppeltsfield family homestead, then follow that by a private tasting of super-premium fortified wines in their VIP mezzanine lounge.  But surely their absolute masterpiece of marketing, would have to be a tour of the 1878 Centennial Cellar. Because it is here, you get to actually taste the wine that was made in the year of your birth. How cool is that!  

Some recommended tour options at Seppelsfield:
Heritage Tour – Get a behind-the-scenes look through the estate’s treasure trove of historical buildings and spectacular surroundings. 
Taste Your Birth Year Tour – This tour offers the rare opportunity for visitors to try their own birth year vintage Tawny directly from the barrel.
Centenary Tour – This tour was awarded the Barossa Trust mark, and is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Lunch at Seppeltsfield

We had the most beautiful degustation lunch at the Seppeltsfield Restaurant. We loved the fact that it was an open kitchen and you could see the chefs at work. This one was turning out the sourdough bread. You would be hard put to find a better tasting bread made in the traditional German way

Visiting the Barossa Valley - lunch at Seppeltsfield winery restaurant
Lunch at Seppeltsfield

We chose 3 courses from the menu and each one was a taste sensation. You can really appreciate the harmony that has been achieved between the old and the new. I felt that this would have to be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable winery lunches I have ever had

Jam Factory

It is widely acknowledged by the locals, that The Jam Factory at Seppeltsfield has a pretty misleading name. Because it actually has nothing whatsoever to do with Jam! On the contrary, this part of the complex has been created to showcase the artists and craftsmen of the Barossa. You will find an interesting variety to browse through. So if you’re into knife-making, ceramics and even hat-making, you will be reaching for your wallet. 

Vassa Virgin Barossa

There is a Vasse Virgin shop in in adjacent and separate to the main Seppeltsfield building. Every conceivable beauty product made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, is sold here. And it really is a beautiful interior to browse through -the smells are divine. You simply can’t leave without buying something really special – they have a vast selection of specialty products.

Vassa Virgin shop at Seppeltsfield
Vassa Virgin shop at Seppeltsfield

Barossa Valley Estate

Now these guys are considered the newcomers on the block, having started in 1985. The winery building is contemporary in style with a mono pitch roof and floor to ceiling windows. But what is so enchanting about the exterior is its garden layout – very understated with a tranquility as an important focus.

Barossa Valley Estate Wines
Entrance at Barossa Valley Estate

What you need to know, is that they specialise only in red wines. So if you love that beautiful peppery wine that the Barossa is famous for, you will be in heaven here.

Maggie Beer’s Place

No visit to the Barossa is complete without a visit to Maggie Beer’s place. In Australia at least, Maggie is considered a national treasure and she is every serious cook’s go-to for wholesome and tasty cuisine. Her Farm Shop is where it all started for Maggie and you really must see it. The whole building really reflects her philosophy of true hospitality – for everyone.

Maggie Beer's Place in the Barossa Valley
Maggie Beer’s Place in the Barossa.

Tscharke Wines

Tscharkes Wines is definitely boutique and quite special. Being German–owned, it has a distinct German feel about it, with little knick knacks dotted around the place. You can also buy lovely pottery here made by one of the owners. Tscharkes definitely had a very special vibe, especially when we descended down a flight of stairs to this gorgeous cellar – it was very atmospheric with its twinkling fairy lights.

Tscharkes Wines

Barossa Valley Accommodation

If you plan to visit the Barossa Valley and stay a few nights, you will get a range of options for your accommodation. For those who love self-contained cottages, there are plenty of those to choose from – and there will be something to suit most budgets. Then you get the locally hosted B&B’s and resorts. We visited a few during our time in the valley to check them out for our own guests. The big stand-out for us was the Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage – this is about as boutique as you can get. The owners may refer to it as a cottage, but we felt it was more like a small homestead. And it had such a gorgeous setting on a 4-hectare vineyard.

Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage
Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage

We consider this accommodation to be a high-end property where quality is at a premium. The interiors are classically styled with wing-backed chairs and French oak furniture features in most rooms. The inclusions of the cottage are incredibly generous, with a fridge laden with goodies. And there is even a beautiful little wine cellar at the bottom of a set of stairs. But what really topped it off for us, was the graciousness of the owner and her staff. Whatever you wish, they will do their utmost to make it happen. And another huge plus, is that you only have a 5-minute walk to the Hentley Farm Restaurant and 1.3 km from the Seppeltsfield Winery.

Summary on visiting the Barossa Valley

For your first visit, you will probably be on limited time. Therefore, I recommend that you use a local private guide – but small group tours can be good as well. By joining a tour, you are bound to learn so much about the region. However, bear in mind, you will need to spend at least 2-3 nights in the Barossa Valley. That way, you will be able to delve so much deeper into the true essence of the area. I guarantee you will create precious memories.

View more details on travelling Australia, weather & climate, plan a trip.

Happy travelling the Barossa Valley!

Travel facts about Ayers Rock Uluru

When travelling Central Australia, the Outback is on top of the must-do list for many. Travel facts about Ayers Rock are sometimes hard to come by in a single source. So what this blog aims to do, is to give you a one-stop overview on the key points when planning a trip to Ayers Rock (Uluru).

How to get to Ayers Rock Uluru?

Due to its remote location, we recommend that you take a domestic flight (unless you are visiting Australia for many weeks). Ayers Rock is mainly served by Qantas Australia. And these guys pretty much have the monopoly with flights in and out of Ayers Rock airport. Because of this, prices are fairly high. Early flight and reservation planning helps to some degree.

domestic flights with qantas australia
Domestic flights with Qantas Australia

How to get around Uluru?

Once you have arrived by domestic flight you can use the complementary airport-to-hotel transfer service provided by the Voyages hotel group or the Longitude private resort. View getting around details.

For added flexibility, you might want to go by rental car. Pick-up is either directly at Ayers Rock airport, or in the village. The cost for both of these options in this part of Australia, are higher than at the East Coast locations.

how to get around uluru with a rental car or transfer
Travelling by rental car in the Outback

What are distances like?

One key element of Australia travel is the vast distances between locations. These are often underestimated by travellers, even within the Uluru Tjuta NP region – view details. Getting from the Yulara resort Village to Kata Tjuta NP, will take you about 45 minutes. And that is just going one-way (50 kms or 30 miles away). From Yulara village to Uluru Rock, it is a good 20 min drive. The airport is a 10 min drive away.

location map between uluru, yulara and kata tjuta
Location map for the Uluru Tjuta NP region

Now once you have landed in Ayers Rock and picked up your rental car – here’s what you do: You may either travel to Kings Canyon (about 4 hours drive) or drive to Alice Springs (5 hours). The main roads are sealed and that means you will be able to travel with a standard rental car. But once you go “off road”, you will be required to rent a 4-wheel drive. And with regard to rental cars, there are nighttime driving restrictions in place.

Weather and climate at Uluru

The very best time to travel Australia’s Outback is the winter season (May – Sept). Travelling in summer is simply too hot. Read more details on Australia climate and weather. The winter temperatures range from 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit) and for summer, 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). Daytime temperatures during summer can exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Interesting is also the Bio Calender for Uluru Ayers Rock.

overview on monthly temperatures in ayers rocks uluru
Average temperatures at Uluru Ayers Rock

Where are the best viewing areas?

There is nothing quite like witnessing a sunset and sunrise over Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). It really is an awe-inspiring experience and a ‘must do’ on every visitor’s list. You can watch this twice daily spectacle in a guided tour from one of the designated viewing areas inside the Park.

best view areas and walks around uluru
Uluru Walks and Viewing areas

Handy Hint: Once the sun has dipped below the horizon, make sure you stay for another 15 minutes. That is the time when the colours of the desert really intensify – it is incredibly dramatic. Please be mindful that you need to leave the National Park by closing time.

best viewing areas and walk in the kata tjuta national park
Walks and viewing areas at Kata Tjuta NP

Experiences at Ayers Rock Uluru

You will have a wide range of tours to join at Uluru Ayers Rock. Naturally the highlights are the Sunrise and Sunset tours – these are offered in all shapes and forms. Here is a brief list of suggestions:

key activities in the uluru region such as camel rides.
Camel to Sunrise or Sunset at Uluru

Camel to Sunrise – By riding high on a camel above the desert surrounds, you really will see this Australian region just as the early pioneers did! Taking an Uluru Camel Tours is an unforgettable journey through red dune country. What could be more stunning than having Uluru and Kata Tjuta as a backdrop.

Desert Awaking Tours – On this tour you will experience the tranquility of a pre-dawn land under a canopy of stars. This is your chance to see the amazing transformation of colours and life as the desert awakens. The guides on these tours are experts. They will introduce you to the natural and cultural landscapes of the region.

Guided Nature Walks – You will have a great opportunity to discover the folds and curves of Uluru. In fact, this is quite an intimate tour with SEIT Outback Australia. Here, you will learn about the Creation stories of Liru (poisonous snake) and Kuniya (python) as well as other stories associated with the ‘Dreamtime”. A great aspect of the tour is being able to see the ancient rock art. The history of Uluru is a significant location for teaching Aboriginal youngsters and travellers alike.

Sound of Silence Dinner – This very special dinner has been entered into the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame. The Sounds of Silence will give you the best of the Red Centre merged into the most 4 magical hours. You will never forget an evening of dining under a diamond-studded outback sky.

Skydive Ayers Rock – The skydiving tour at Ayers Rock Resort is a bit of a heart-stopper and guaranteed to set your pulse racing. Not only do you get spectacular views of Uluru, Kata Tjuta, but also the adrenaline rush of jumping out of a plane.

Accommodation at Uluru

Accommodation options at Uluru are limited. The resort village is basically owned by one hotel group – Voyages. So due to its remote location, with all its challenges, prices are high. In the peak travel month between May and September, all hotels are pretty much sold out. So we recommend that you plan early. For high-end travellers the Longitude 31 lodge is a lovely option. You will get a very high degree of privacy and an exclusive service.

accommodation options at uluru are limited and expensive
Voyages Desert Gardens Hotel at Yulara

Finally blowflies, birds and wildlife

Despite the often harsh climate, Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is home to hundreds of different animal and bird species. One of the best things about a visit here is to see some of this wildlife in their natural habitat.

Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park has 21 species of native mammals, 178 species of birds, 73 species of reptiles and literally thousands of invertebrates species including ants, spiders and bugs.

Believe me, the flies really have a bad name in the Outback of Australia. They can be a constant annoyance. But let us remember, they do a marvellous clean-up job, to enable nature to do hers.

The flies are at their worst at certain times of the year. So, the best way to protect yourself is to wear a hat with netting. These will be widely available at location. Flies love heat! That is why we urge you to visit Uluru in the Australia winter i.e. June-August.

Summary travel facts about Ayers Rock Uluru

If you are planing a trip to Uluru Ayers Rock check out Australia travel package options, which does include this part of the Outback.

Happy travelling Ayers Rock Uluru!

Top 5 Sydney Day Tours

This blog will reveal the top 5 Sydney day tours that are the most popular for travellers. Of course what you choose will largely depend on your interests. It will also depend on whether you are travelling as a couple or as a family. Also, keep an eye on the right travel seasons for Australia.

A lot of travellers heading for Australia will probably arrive in Sydney first. The flight over to Australia can be long one, so I’d recommend a 2 or 3 night stay. If you really want to get to know a city, then why not take a guided day tour.  A guided day tour of Sydney will definitely help you to relax after that flight! And if you opt for a private day tour, you’ll pretty much get to see anything you want.

Overlooking the Sydney skyline

Option 1 – Essential Sydney City Tour

..What you’ll see:

Sydney is a big place. Believe me, you will need to set aside at least half a day for a guided tour. And by staying in central Sydney, you’ll be within walking distance to the ferries. If you’re looking for a really good tour company, we’d recommend Australia Luxury Escapes. For a morning  tour, they will collect you from your hotel lobby at around 10am.

Historic Rocks Precinct:

The first stop on your city tour will be historic Rocks precinct. This is actually the birth place of Sydney. In fact, it’s the very spot where convicts built cottages – its also where the first church in Australia was established.

Pam and Michael sitting on MacQuarie's Chair

Sitting on the famous Mrs MacQuarie’s Chair

Sydney’s Botanical Gardens:

Thereafter, the next stop will probably see you at the stunning Botanical Gardens. These gardens are right in the very heart of Sydney. They’re not actually that far from Australia’s first Parliament House, the Mint and St Mary’s Cathedral. The tour will continue onto Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. Now here is your chance for that iconic photo – you and your partner sitting on Mrs Macquarie’s chair! Just a short walk away is the harbour’s edge. You’ll get some jaw-dropping views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

Sydney opera house

Iconic Landmarks & lunch stop:

Next up, is a drive through Woolloomooloo, Kings Cross and into Rushcutters Bay. Its time for another great highlight – lunch at the famous Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. You’ll get a good chance to relax over lunch and enjoy the surrounds.

Rushcutters Bay sailing club

Bondi Beach

After lunch, the tour continues to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – Bondi Beach! You could actually spend a whole day here, lazing around and eyeing up that magnificent surf.  Bondi Beach is also famous for its great vibe of surf shops and beachside cafes.  Time slows down in Bondi Beach – it has a great esplanade for relaxation. Also, what you might not know, is that there is a very famous deli at Bondi Beach selling, among other things, Russian and Polish products.

the famous bondi beach in sydney

Famous Suburbs

In the afternoon you’ll be driven back to the Sydney CBD. The chosen route will take you through vibrant Oxford Street and the suburb of Paddington. This is a very boutique shopping precinct with some beautiful Georgian and Victorian architecture – its like stepping back in time. You’ll arrive back to your hotel around 3 pm. This Sydney Day Tour is guaranteed to give you a great idea of the city’s layout – and you’ll get to see some of  Sydney’s best kept secrets.

But what if you don’t want the adventure to end there?  Well, you just keep on exploring.  Now you can do this by sailing on Sydney’s beautiful harbour. After the city tour, just join a cruise in the afternoon. The cruise starts from Darling Harbour and takes about 2 hours. It really is another great Sydney highlight

Option 2 – Blue Mountains Mountain High Eco tour

..What you’ll see:

The Blue Mountains National Park is World Heritage listed area. You’re just going to fall in love with this rugged region and its dramatic scenery. There is so much to absorb. The Blue Mountains are all about steep cliffs, Eucalyptus forests and waterfalls. As an added bonus, the famous Three Sisters sandstone rock formation is found right here

stunning blue mountains in evening light

The tour leaves from the city in the morning.  As in Option 1, you’ll be driven through the historic precinct. From there, you’ll travel North across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Featherdale Wildlife Park

The first stop along the tour is at Featherdale Wildlife Park. This is home to Australia’s favourite marsupials. By arriving early, you’ll beat the crowds and be able to get up close with Kangaroos, Koalas and Wombats.

koala wildlife in australia

Blue Mountains National Park

Thereafter, continue west towards the Blue Mountains National Park. Its here, you’ll enter a very secret clearing to enjoy a bit of home baking. You’ll get to spend a fair bit of time here exploring and seeking out the wildlife of the park.

Kings Tableland

Believe me the views over Jamison valley will take your breath away! Its here you’ll really experience the true beauty of the Blue Mountains.

Lunch Stop

Now’s your chance to slow down – to kick back over a lunch of local cuisine and wines. After lunch there is a great cliff drive towards the township of Katoomba. At Eagle Hawk lookout you will see the famous 3 sisters Rock formation. The views of the Jamieson Valley are simply awesome!

Wentworth Falls

Heading south now you’ll stop at Wentworth Falls. Your guide will take you down a well worn path towards the falls and more gorgeous views.

There really is something about being surrounded by the local flora and fauna. It sure is guaranteed to refresh your spirits.  In fact, you’ll really feel the spiritual essence of Australia and get a sense of its geological history.

The van returns to the city around 5.00 pm.

Option 3 – Hunter Valley Food and Wine tour

What you’ll see..

Sightseeing

The Hunter Valley wine region lies north of Sydney. And when it comes to wine and food, this area is extremely progressive.  The Hunter Valley Food & Wine Tour departs from Sydney. You’ll be driven north across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and through Sydney’s leafy Northern suburbs. You’ll get a brief stop to enjoy the views of the Kuringai National Park. Then you’ll travel via the historic Wollembi Road. Yet again, the scenery will inspire you. Morning tea is served before entering the Hunter Valley.

Chocolate Sampling

If you’re a chocolate lover, you’ll enjoy a stop at Cocoa Nib, a boutique Chocolate Shop. Be prepared to sample some mind-glowing handcrafted artisan chocolate!  And cheese-lover need not miss out either. You’ll get to sample 9 of the best local, Australian & International cheeses. The food is chosen to compliment the wine. Its a match made in heaven!

Lunch at Bistro Molines

A major highlight has to be the lunch at Bistro Molines a French-themed restaurant.  The actual restaurant is set among the peaceful surrounds of Tallavera Grove. There are some terrific views of terraced vineyards and grazing cattle.

Bistro Molines in the Hunter Valley

Sabor Desert Bar

The sweet treats are not over yet folks! The next stop is at Sabor Desert Bar. Now the the range on offer here is really huge.  What could be better than getting over 50 deserts to choose from, not to mention over 24 flavours of Macaroons plus their award winning Sabor Chocolate Mousse.

Audrey Wilkinson Winery

Audrey Wilkinson is one of the oldest wineries in the Hunter Valley.  It is well known for those mouth-watering Semillions and Shiraz. Believe me, there’s something very special about wine-tasting in a private VIP room. After all the indulgence, you’ll be glad for the leisurely drive back to Sydney.

Option 4 – Sydney Bridge Climb tour

Like the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic landmark of Sydney. And many travellers love the idea of climbing this bridge.  Its not for the fainthearted – especially if you have a fear of heights.  However, this tour has been operating for more than 20 years. Safety is paramount. And the panoramic views you’ll get, are really worth the effort.

sydney bridge climb is a must do

In conclusion, if you’re in good health and aged eight and older, you’ll be able to do it.  Climbs begin at regular intervals, from early in the morning through to the evening. All the harnesses and helmets are provided.

As part of the tour, you’ll receive a photo of yourself on the bridge. That is such a great way to keep the memory alive. The main BridgeClimb is 3h 30min return. A guide will lead you along ladders and catwalks to the outer arch of the bridge to the top. You’ll find yourself 134 metres above the sparkling blue waters of Sydney Harbour. If you’re a little time-short, a quicker tour to the summit is BridgeClimb Express. This is 2h 15min return.

Option 5 – Sydney Opera House Backstage tour

Millions of visitors from all over the world come to see this masterpiece of architecture. The Sydney Opera House is perfectly located on beautiful Sydney Harbour. It’s here that you’ll get world-class performances in opera, ballet, classical and other genres. But what a lot of travellers don’t know, is that they can actually get a look behind-the-scenes. In added bonus for travellers from many countries, is that daily guided tours are given in most major languages.

Subsequently, you will get a choice of times to suit your travel schedule. The A Backstage Tour departs at 7am daily. You need to be there by 6.45am, (15 minutes prior to departure time). The 7am tour can take up to two and a half hours.

It’s reassuring to know that safety is important. And because of this, enclosed, rubber-soled shoes must be worn.  The tour ends a high note (excuse the pun) at the Green Room where breakfast is served. But better still, you’ll be sitting among and performers. How cool is that!

A number of Australia wide travel itineraries include Sydney – check out your options.

Happy travelling Sydney Day tours and check out other places in Australia!

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