In the words of Craig and Janet:
We specialise in deluxe wildlife tours and seek to create an atmosphere where you find yourself treated as friends. Our tours run as a conversation, not a commentary. You can travel as part of a small group or chart your own private adventure to enjoy excellent food and wine and seek out wildlife in its natural habitat.
Our team arranges small group wildlife tours, luxury private touring and special interest programmes. Special interest guests have included the South Australian Museum Waterhouse Club, San Diego Zoo and the American Museum of Natural History to name just a few.
Whether making your own travel plans or working with a trusted travel advisor, our collaborative business model brings together Island businesses as a seamless package of travel, accommodation, transfers, touring and experiences as a destination management service.
We focus on delivering consistent, sustainable, high-quality experiences and take our responsibility to the environment, you as our guests and our neighbours as the host community seriously. This is reflected in our advanced ecotourism accreditation and operational code of ethics. We invite you to share this special place we are lucky enough to call home.
Craig and Janet Wickham
Craig and Janet Wickham are the owners of Exceptional Kangaroo Island, a family business. Their adult children, Blair and Skye, have an increasing interest and role in the enterprise.
Craig is Managing Director and handles sales and marketing, product and itinerary development, staff training, planning and vehicle management. Craig grew up on the Island and was part of a business family with a range of tourism ventures. He studied wildlife management and worked with the South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service before getting into private enterprise. He has been involved in a diversity of community and industry roles including Local Government, Regional Development, Planning and Tourism Management. He is not doing so much guiding these days – although he provides a back-up for the guiding team in busy times.
Initially trained as an Intensive Care Nurse, Janet provides oversight of all of our quality management, checklists and customer service. She also shares the management role with Craig and back-fills reservations, sales and catering when other team members are on leave.
Born into the business when it operated out of Craig and Janet’s home, Blair has a deep understanding of the enterprise. He studied commerce and marketing and his roles include international sales and marketing, website management, social media and business development. Exceptional KI is one of a stable of clients he services from Adelaide through his business, Wickham Marketing. He also backs up our guiding team which keeps him in touch with what is happening on the ground.
Skye is also Adelaide-based where she is studying to become a midwife. She comes to the Island to assist during busy periods – working as a back-up guide and also helping with the catering team. Being based near Adelaide Airport, she often supports with guest contact roles to assist in our customer service.
Jamie worked in retail and administration before coming to work at Exceptional Kangaroo Island. She handles accommodation liaison, contracts, systems management, group itineraries, reservations, and quoting. She is a life-long Islander and is very involved in community sports with her partner and two sons.
Carina is family – Craig’s sister, and manages our touring inventory and shares the reservations and operations roles with Jamie. Outside of work, she has her own sheep farm so is pretty busy round the clock.
Collectively, Jamie and Carina are integral to the smooth operation of the business. They handle bookings, supplies, daily passenger briefings and rostering. They also manage the optimisation of itineraries and vehicles. They pride themselves on fast, efficient service and aim for a same-day turn-around every time.
Kathy is our bookkeeper and looks after accounts payable and receivable as well as our payroll, HR and compliance. She has a keen interest in well-being and is a qualified yoga teacher with a local practice.
Steve is our maintenance man and an excellent problem-solver. He looks after the vehicles, lunch sites and equipment, and also backs up with luggage transfers. He is also a supplier – he and his partner Deb make solar-evaporated sea salt.
We have quite a team of guides with a mix of newer members joining a very experienced bunch – some of whom have been with us for over 25 years.
Tim has been a lifelong guide – starting his own tour company exploring the Island, the Outback and Cape York. He is our longest-serving team member and, if not guiding, is fixing or sailing his yacht, building all sorts of things and running his apiary. At the last count, he had about 150 beehives!
Ron is a musician and an avid environmentalist and has been touring with us for years and lives in an idyllic setting overlooking a marine reserve at Pelican Lagoon where he also rents a cottage. Ron’s band, the Famous Strangers, has entertained many of our guests at a ‘dinner in the bush” or special events in a rustic shearing shed. Ron guides with us and also at Seal Bay Conservation Park.
We have two Jamie’s – one (who is Ms Jamie) in the office and another – Mr Jamie – as a guide. Jamie Bowden is a former farmer, a long-term Island resident and has never been known to be without a story to share. He has a deep connection to our community and if not guiding, is fishing or looking after his wife Gaynor’s roses.
We also have two Tims – our second Tim is Tim Wendt who has recently taken a step back from guiding as he and Tamsin, his partner, have opened a boutique accommodation venue Oceanview Eco Villas. Tim has a diverse background – manufacturing and retail jewellery, an Island policeman, and farmer!
Dave is a cameraman, cinematographer and recognised Australian Director of Photography – having worked on many films and television series such as Shine and McLeod’s Daughters. He has a passion for all things environmental and has worked as a guide in Outback South Australia with camel expeditions. Dave brings a subtle enthusiasm to his hosting that is appreciated by our guests.
Bill worked as an Island high-school educator, has a passion for photography and wildlife – particularly our reptiles and birds. Bill is yet another surfer, and he and Ron are always suggesting we insert a “no guiding on days with good swell” clause into our roster!
Michael came to the Island to work in the Experiences team at Southern Ocean Lodge. He has a background in education and a keen environmental interest. He has made the Island his home and splits his time between guiding with us and guiding at the Australian sea-lion colony at Seal Bay.
Lee, another one of our surfing guides, grew up on the Island and has an extensive resume of roles across the Island including lobster fishing, bee-keeping, shed-handing (working in the wool industry), and abalone farming. He has guided on Fraser Island in Queensland and enjoys sharing his diverse life experience with our guests.
Judith is a Marine Biologist and educator who, being originally from Colombia, is a fluent Spanish-speaker. Judith, who has a PhD in fish ecology, is still actively engaged in research and recently worked on an international study exploring the use of fish as proxies for ecological and environmental change. She has lived on the Island for over 25 years and has an infectious passion for the environment.
Rob has worked with the Australian Federal Police and the South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service – literally taking over Craig’s role when Craig left to start in private business in 1990. Rob conducted the most comprehensive study of platypus on the Island and has a worked as a senior incident controller in wildfire management across Australia. He is also a pilot, bringing a diversity of experiences to his guiding.
Nigel has worked pan-Australia. He was a professional photographer in Alice Springs, which gave a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create an analogue archive of the most important indigenous image library in existence which gave him a profound insight into Aboriginal Australia. He came to the Island as a Health Administrator and retired as a leather-clad nomadic BMW Biker before coming to guide with us.
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Exceptional Kangaroo Island has recommenced private and small group touring operations, operated in a COVID-safe manner.