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Kangaroo island – a wheelchair user`s perspective

My wife (Charisse) and I have just returned from celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary at the Ecopia Retreat in Kangaroo Island. I have been a manual wheelchair user since a spinal cord injury in 1980, and love it when I find great accommodation so am really excited to write about Ecopia Retreat. The owners, Robert and Yaely, have done an outstanding job in creating a luxury experience in a rural setting. There are two villas on the property, we stayed in the Villa May which has no step access, Robert has built a fabulous ramped boardwalk from the car park to the veranda. 













The villas are eco friendly, made from compressed dirt blocks, double glazed windows throughout, high set windows for air flow, a large wood combustion heater for winter.

For the first few days we were there the outside temperature was above 34 degrees but inside the villa it was extremely comfortable, no need for air conditioning. The open plan with the large windows is perfect for me, there was nowhere in the large space that I could not access! The views out of the windows are beautiful, in fact when the site was cut for the villa no trees were removed. Large yacka bushes surround the villa, with the trees close to the creek not far from the villa in full view

From our villa we saw kangaroos, wedge tail eagles, and a variety of birds. We heard koalas but never did spot them.

The North facing aspect gave us beautiful views of the sunrises and sunsets. The large double glazed windows frame the different views perfectly, it was like being in a “living” art gallery. The bathroom is huge, with a large bath that faces a full height window again offering beautiful views. The shower is a large open wheel in space, perfect for my needs. A large veranda with a gas bar-b-q was another fantastic place to be, with good breezes coming down the valley. It is extremely private, we felt like we had the world to ourselves. Within the villa Yaely and Robert have used quality fittings, furniture and decorative items. The kitchen is well fitted out with an excellent gas cook top and every utensil we needed. While the Villa May was perfect for my wheelchair needs, guests with no mobility issues would probably not be aware that it was built with access in mind.

The location is perfect for seeing all corners of the island, the Ecopia is set in the middle of the island. In our 5 night stay we managed to see the east, west, north and south coasts. We could spend a lifetime exploring the island, but for our holiday we felt we saw all the places we wanted to when we left NSW. A final comment on the Ecopia Retreat before I talk a little about the tourist attractions. Yael and Robert offer some “paddock to plate” food options. We took up two during our stay, one a meat pack and the other fresh marron (large yabbies) from  a local supplier. Both were outstanding, we cooked them on the barbecue and they were our favourite meals during our stay on the island (and we ate some good food in the local restaurants)!


OK, to the local tourist attractions. Charisse and I are really impressed with the accessibility at a number of the major attractions on the island. To try and keep this to a readable length here are our top 4 places:

My number 1, and one I rate as one of the best I have come across in 39 years of travel, is Seal Bay. The board walk that has been built there is magnificent!







At about half a kilometer it winds its way down a steep coastal hill to end with a viewing platform that gets you up close to a beautiful beach that is the home of a Seal colony. Charisse and I spent at least an hour watching the seals and enjoying the views of the beaches and surrounding rocks and cliffs.

We had lunch at the Dudley Winery on the east coast and it was just a beautiful experience. The drive there was gorgeous, with a cuppa at Pennington Bay on the way. Dudley Winery has really good accessibility and the views from the outdoor veranda are breathtaking!













There is a ramp down to a grass section as well. The food was delicious and made from local produce. Charisse said the wine was good. Well worth a visit.

Flinders National Park. Not as impressive as Seal Bay, but impressive none the less! We parked in the car park and were treated to koalas in the trees, three in all.














The park has a couple of wheelchair accessible trails, the most impressive being a boardwalk that goes to Remarkable Rocks. Another trail leads to a lookout with views of a colony of New Zealand fur seals. Another boardwalk goes part of the way to Admirals Arch, but 50 steps make for an abrupt end for wheelchair users with no views of the arch.

We are bird lovers, and a short drive from us was the Raptor and Reptile Sanctuary. Most of the animals there are rescue animals. We did the bird and reptile show and were really glad we did, especially the bird show. Being up close to wedge tail eagles, falcons, owls and other magnificent beasts is wonderful. Seeing them free fly and the amazing things they have learnt to do while being educated created another wonderful memory for us.

Malcolm Turnbull


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