Tanonga Luxury Eco Lodge.
By John Grossmann
After you swim with the sea lions or dolphins or southern bluefin tuna, or possibly even brave a cage-dive encounter with great white sharks off South Australia's waiting-to-be-discovered Eyre Peninsula, there's now an alluring spot to retreat to back on terra firma. That is, if it's seclusion and peace and quiet and harmony with nature that you seek.
Opened in 2009, Tanonga Luxury Eco Lodges easily makes good on its first two qualifiers, but just barely earns its plural. Owners Michael and Jill Coates, who bought a run-down, 500-acre farm in 2002, first built themselves a house, then survived the great bush fire of 2005, and more recently, have erected two stunningly designed, solar-powered and environmentally friendly havens about 20 minutes from Port Lincoln, Australia's seafood capital and a budding eco-oceanic tourism destination.
Each Tanonga lodge is a fully equipped one-bedroom house, with limestone interior walls, north facing windows, wood burning fireplace, Japanese-style soaking tub, espresso machine, and a refrigerator stocked with farm fresh eggs as part of the bountiful breakfast provisions. Tanonga's ridge lodge offers expansive 360-degree views, glorious sunrises and sunsets, and riveting night skies. The valley lodge lies hidden in the bosom of the bush, closer to the billabong that helped name the property (Tanonga means "sweet water"), half of which is farmed and half has been returned to native plants, the better to attract wildlife.
The two pairs of binoculars provided don't sit idly for long, not with emus and kangaroos roaming the land and more than 100 different bird species to identify while out walking the nature trails. November to March sightings might include the endangered Yellow tailed black cockatoo, which roosts in the allepo pines.
"There's a feeling of space and quietude," says owner Michael Coates. " If they want, guests can be completely on their own and not even see another human." Which is not to say, necessarily alone, for he's quick to add: "You may wake to find a Western grey kangaroo at your doorstep."
Rates: $350 for one night at the ridge lodge; $320 for one night at the valley lodge; multi-night discounts plus Australian winter specials available. Visit Tanonga Luxury Eco Lodges