The enduring appeal of Kangaroo Island, located just 20 minutes off the coast of Adelaide, South Australia, is its rugged beauty and abundant wildlife, but it also offers travelers a rich emerging food and wine culture and sustainable philosophy. Entrepreneurs are harnessing the bounty of the island that put Kangaroo Island on the culinary map—producing sheep’s milk cheeses and pure island honey, harvesting an array of seafood, and turning the land into a new wine-producing region for Australia.
One of the most sought-after boutique food products is Kangaroo Island Ligurian bee honey. The island was set up as a bee sanctuary in 1885 and today is home to the only pure strain of Ligurian bees left in the world. The abundance of native flowers, shrubs and trees on the island makes for an original, organic range of flavors, including eucalyptus, sugar cum, and cup gum. Beekeepers such as Island Beehive and Clifford’s Honey Farm offer tours and honey tastings in addition to treats such as honey biscuits and ice creams.
Beginning in the late 1800s, Kangaroo Island’s pastoral industry began its success in sheep farming with Island Pure, the first sheep dairy farm in South Australia. A pioneer in production on the island, the farm is wholly self-sustained, and the sheep graze along the banks of Gum Creek, their chemical- and stress-free environment producing organic lamb sausage and rich sheep’s milk products including yogurts, haloumi, and other Mediterranean-style cheeses.
With a steadily emerging food culture, there has also come a rapidly expanding wine industry. The nutrient-rich soil, sunshine, and cool sea breeze make Kangaroo Island a desirable environment for producing wine. There are 11 vineyards on Kangaroo Island turning out boutique vintages, including an array of Cabernet, Shiraz and Riesling, to name a few. Labels to watch include The Islander Estate Vineyards, Two Wheeler Creek Wines, Bay of Shoals, False Cape, and Cape d’Estaing Wines. Island wine producer Dudley Wines opened the newest cellar door on the Island in November 2011.
From the waters of the Southern Ocean come a variety of prawns, king crabs, and whole lobsters plucked from crystal-clear waters. King George Whiting is a pristine, slender ocean fish, deemed the favorite local catch. Prized Andermel Marron, the island’s freshwater crayfish, are raised in rainwater preserves and are delivered live to Australian restaurants. Wild scallops and sea urchins are hand picked by diver Paul Polacco and are quickly snatched up at the weekly farmers’ markets throughout South Australia. Kangaroo Island Abalone Farm, supported by Good Food Kangaroo Island, is now supplying Green Lip Abalone throughout the world.
While dedicated small purveyors continue to produce natural foods and premium handcrafted products, new opportunities to sample the local fare are becoming available throughout Australia and the rest of the globe. For more information, visit us.southaustralia.com and the official South Australia Tourism Commission Facebook and Twitter pages.