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Regional Showcase

Connecting island visitors with island producers

Regional Showcase

Arriving on Kangaroo Island at the end of 2005, Tim and Tamsin Wendt only planned to have a two-year country stint – now they are bringing visitors and local producers together to showcase the best the island has to offer.

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Tim and Tamsin brought their daughter to Kangaroo Island to experience country life for a bit, while Tamsin was on maternity leave.

Never in their wildest dreams did the then-police officer and clinical psychologist think that they would buy a 500-acre property overlooking the spectacular coastline and host guests from around the world for a unique home away from home experience.

After purchasing the Red Banks property with the intention to farm, they quickly realised that living on the land is amazing but farming is not always easy.

“We both worked in professions where we had contact with many people, but we could never share with each other what we did,” Tamsin says.

“We decided we wanted to do something together and we have always loved hosting and entertaining.”

One bitterly cold winter day, sitting in front of a fire, the pair decided they would pursue the idea and that led to five years of planning and research to build completely off-grid luxury villas that don’t compromise on convenience.

“Having a small footprint was a big part of what drove us,” Tim says.

“When we now sit and talk with our guests, we share our idea of sustainability with them, the connection to the island and the stories behind it.”

Visitors are entertained with the stories from local producers at the long lunches at Oceanview.

Eight weeks before the Black Summer fires raged across one-third of Kangaroo Island, they achieved their dream and opened up their five-star all-inclusive Oceanview Eco Villas built on the edge of their one-kilometre coastline.

Tamsin does all the cooking, the couple serve all the meals but guests still have their privacy, with the two villas each having two bedrooms, hosting a maximum of ten people, either two couples or two families of up to five.

While Tamsin and Tim have no previous experience in hospitality and no background in cooking, they are well mentored.

South Australian chef couple Dylan and Yolandi Pitallo, with 15 years of experience working at venues such as Southern Ocean Lodge and Sunset Food and Wine, support the owners create wholesome food with produce from all around Kangaroo Island.

“The goal is for people to feel better after they stay than when they walked in the door,” Tamsin says.

“To hear guests talking about their experience as a once in a lifetime stay, that is really special and meaningful for us.”

With the intention of bringing island producers and mainland visitors closer together, the Oceanview Villas owners have now also introduced a long lunch at their homestead.

Every three months, the ticketed event showcases island produce in a fine-dining space.

“We have at least one ingredient in every dish that has been harvested within 24 hours before cooking, and no further than 10 kilometres from here,” Tamsin says.

Anything from scallops, King George whiting, sea urchin, honey and lavender could be on the menu.

“We have a real richness here on the island, in terms of producers, and we want to share the stories behind that.”

Letting the producers share their genuine excitement with the guests makes for some memorable stories.

“It’s good to be a part of it,” Tamsin says.

“I’ve spent the last 25 years in psychology helping people heal and share.

“It’s really nice to build those connections now in an open way. It’s a really nice shift for me, creating good memories and positive experiences. It’s a different type of therapy.”

This is story is part of Solstice Media’s Regional Showcase series and awards program. Each week we will bring our readers regional news stories that matter as well as some inspirational tales of individuals and communities doing what country people do best – having a go.

If you have a tale to tell or know of one, get in touch at South Australian Regional Showcase.

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