EPI­CUREAN ODYSSEY

Kan­ga­roo Is­land’s FOOD AND WINE of­fer­ings are as much of AN AL­LURE as the BEAUTY of its RUGGED COAST­LINE, finds Anita Jokovich.

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EAT, DRINK, RE­LAX. RE­PEAT. This seems to be the mantra on Kan­ga­roo Is­land and one that feels wholly ap­pro­pri­ate, as I em­bark on a three-day food and wine tour with Kan­ga­roo Is­land Odysseys. KI (as the lo­cals af­fec­tion­ately call it) is Aus­tralia’s third largest is­land after Tas­ma­nia and Melville Is­land, and lies 16 kilo­me­tres off the coast of South Aus­tralia’s Fleurieu Penin­sula. It’s home to 450 kilo­me­tres of rugged coast­line, and a di­verse range of wildlife in­clud­ing sea lions, koalas, pel­i­cans and, of course, its name­sake – the kan­ga­roo. (You might ex­pect to be greeted by the is­land’s mas­cot at ev­ery turn, but in­stead you’ll need to keep a sharp eye out for them doz­ing un­der trees off un­sealed roads.) While the is­land’s nat­u­ral beauty is a big draw­card, its food and wine of­fer­ing is an equal con­tender, mean­ing it’s fast be­com­ing the place to go for a gourmet es­cape. The first stop on my odyssey is the Enchanted Fig Tree, where what looks at first glance to be a street-side hedge turns out to be the restau­rant it­self. I walk through an arch­way and find my­self within the huge over­grown branches of a 150-yearold fig tree, which form the shape of a large igloo. The space is nat­u­rally di­vided into smaller ‘rooms’, fur­nished with din­ing ta­bles dressed in el­e­gant white linens and sound­tracked by the quiet, rev­er­ent mur­mur­ing of other din­ers. It’s mag­i­cal and en­chant­ing. What fol­lows is a nine-course de­gus­ta­tion menu in which chef Rachel Han­naford takes us on a culi­nary jour­ney of lo­cally pro­duced and sourced foods that are indige­nous to the is­land. Rachel is one half of Han­naford and Sachs, KI food spe­cial­ists whose forte it is to pro­duce wildly imag­i­na­tive food ex­pe­ri­ences like this one, through their Gourmet Is­land Din­ing se­ries. Our host for three days is Rachel’s brother, Nick Han­naford, who tells us of his fam­ily’s three­gen­er­a­tion-span­ning his­tory on the is­land. In the 1940s, his grand­fa­ther trans­ported a house from the main­land, set­tling here on the North Coast. In the early 2000s, Rachel and Nick set up Life­Time Pri­vate Re­treats, which grew to be­come a col­lec­tion of five pri­vate beach­front houses that show­case the is­land at its best. The ac­com­mo­da­tion is both lux­u­ri­ous and homely, fur­nished with eclec­tic finds and art­works part­nered with ocean views. Later that evening, we ex­pe­ri­ence an­other unique foodie ex­pe­ri­ence cour­tesy of the Gourmet Is­land Din­ing se­ries. Beach Tav­erna takes place in a ram­shackle shack on Snellings Beach and sees Rachel cook an in­ti­mate din­ner in­spired by her boppa (grand­fa­ther), while pel­i­cans mill out­side at the ocean’s edge. It’s a sur­re­ally beau­ti­ful set­ting, and as the sun goes down, we are told of the many mar­riage pro­pos­als that have taken place here. And of how staff have dis­creetly left a few slightly overly amorous cou­ples to it. The next night, it’s time for din­ner in the Shear­ing Shed, which is draped in vel­vet cur­tains and dec­o­rated with chan­de­liers and can­dle­light. The scene looks set for a Shake­spearean play – and in fact each meal of the tour is a the­atri­cal event in it­self. KI is also home to sev­eral pro­duc­ers who are mak­ing their mark on the Aus­tralian food scene, and over the course of three days we ex­pe­ri­ence a gin tast­ing at award-win­ning Kan­ga­roo Is­land Spir­its, lunch at the Is­lan­der Es­tate Vine­yard and cheeses from Is­land Pure Sheep Dairy. While my time here is long enough to see the pas­sion of the pro­duc­ers, and the beauty of the land, I know I’ve only scratched the sur­face of this unique and abun­dant is­land.

CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE: King Ge­orge whit­ing with is­land spuds at the Is­lan­der Es­tate Vine­yard, with its sig­na­ture rosé; Din­ner at sun­set at the Beach Tav­erna; A hid­den en­trance to the Enchanted Fig Tree; A Kan­ga­roo Is­land western grey. OP­PO­SITE: Kan­ga­roo Is­land has 450 kilo­me­tres of rugged coast­line.

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