Tour Anthology – For the Explorer – South Australia Discovered

Kirkhope Aviation featured in Luxury Travel Magazine’s Summer Issue (JAN/FEB/MAR).

Kirkhope Aviation’s 5 day ‘South Australia Discovered‘ tour includes two full days at Kangaroo Island then a swim with the Sea Lions at Baird Bay before flying onto Wudinna. Spend 2 days at Kangaluna Camp in the stunning Gawler Ranges including the magnificent Salt Lake Gairdner. Enjoy upmarket bush camp with magnificent food and touring.

Our passengers travelled in comfort relaxing in the club seating of the Super King Air which is able to get us to these difficult locations quickly.  See more on our tour here.  Read below on Kelly’s experience flying with Kirkhope Aviation.

We take an ultra luxe private plane tour through South Australia, staying at an eco friendly glampsite and the inimitable Southern Ocean Lodge, add explore some of the best new tours available.  Words and images by Kelly Irving

The seagulls  below us look microscopic, reduced to tiny white specks in the air. They skate in and out of the clouds, circling over cliff tops capped with billiard-green grass. Silent waves explode against burnt-orange rocks; the water so clear and blue I want to throw a straw in and suck it up.
So begins the Kirkhope Aviation five-day tour of  South Australia’s Gawler Ranges and Kangaroo Island. The level of luxury on this trip is extraordinary. You avoid all the  hassles of  commercial travel –  mind-numbing security checks and boarding queues – and skip straight to the comfort of your own private plane. The cabin of the Beechworth SuperKing Air is sleek and spacious. I  relax with my three companions, enjoy the stunning scenery and daydream about the time we’ll soon spend gorging on the region’s best wine and produce, and meeting some of the personalities that are typical in these parts.
“Every time they look at you it’s like you’re falling in love for the first time,” says our skipper Alan about the sea lion I’ve just swum goggles-to-eyes with. We’re in Baird Bay, a sleepy little fishing town and the first stop on our itinerary. Alan, originally a fisherman, is the owner of Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experience, which offers swimming with sea lions and dolphins in their natural habitat.
He   started  taking  tourists out 20 years ago so they could experience for themselves the playfulness of these inquisitive creatures.  It’s obvious that he not only genuinely loves his backyard, but that it also loves him back. At every turn the boat makes, the sea lions follow him like he’s the nautical pied piper.


Soon after, we swap flippers for flopping around in our guide Geoff ’s four wheel drive. As a local and the owner of Kangaluna Lodge in the Gawler Ranges, Geoff ’s adventures stretch back decades. He used to camp around here with his high school sweetheart, now wife and business partner, Irene. Today he settles for teaching groups like ours all about his home. “This is where the term “outback” originated,” he says. “People think that “going bush” is a vague name, but it’s defined by Goyder’s Line –  the end of the area deemed sustainable for agriculture. Anything beyond that is the outback, or “out of districts”,” he says stopping the car and pointing to a sign with those words on it.

There’s a feeling of isolation out here, of being the only one in the whole world. It’s heightened upon our arrival at Kangaluna Lodge. This is how exploring should be done – there’s a bed with uninterrupted views of the bush, cold beer behind the bar and a campfire to huddle around when the sun goes down.The lodge comprises three huge stand-alone tents, each with two bedrooms and an ensuite bathroom with a hot shower that uses   rainwater  collected  from the roof. Everything’s run on solar power and all the furniture is built from recycled wood; this place sums up the true origins of the term eco. And if you want to take it one step further, try the swagon: a spruced-up wagon with a double swag and a roll-up roof for sleeping out under the stars. We’re treated to candlelit dinners of local steak, salmon, salads, shiraz and soft cheese. The nights are warm and comfortable, the days filled with calorie-worthy, sightseeing activities: visiting Lake Gairdner – a 160 kilometre long salt lake in the red, dusty desert – spotting so many emus and kangaroos it’s better than being on an African safari.

Kangaroo Island

Just  when  I  think  it  can’t get any better, we’re off on our private plane to our next destination: Kangaroo Island. For the next two nights at Southern Ocean Lodge, I lap up the lounge  with  heated  floor,  private  outdoor  deck  with  views of waves breaking on a beach as white as George Clooney’s teeth, six-course dinners made with whatever’s fresh that day, the plunge pool, sauna, spa and all- inclusive bar. If ever you think you’ve “made it” in terms of accommodation  then this is it.


141689 57 Kirkhope Aviation Kangaroo Island

The next couple of days pass more than just comfortably. Our local guides, Peter and Speedy, regale us with yarns about island life (people leave their houses unlocked when they go on holiday) as we spend long, languid lunches in Flinders Chase National Park; visit Admirals Arch, Seal Bay Conservation Park, the Remarkable Rocks and the state’s only square lighthouse; and look for more wildlife, most of which I’ve never seen outside of a zoo: echidnas, koalas, tiger snakes and goannas.  It’s incredible, beautiful. But it’s not what has made this journey memorable……  To find out what has made this journey memorable, download the pdf version of the review.


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