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South Australia & Northern Territory

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  • Up-to-date information -  all businesses were rechecked before publication to ensure they are still open after 2020’s COVID-19 outbreak
  • NEW top experiences feature  - a visually inspiring collection of South Australia & Northern Territory ’s best experiences and where to have them
  • What's NEW feature  taps into cultural trends and helps you find fresh ideas and cool new areas
  • Planning tools for family travellers  - where to go, how to save money, plus fun stuff just for kids
  • Colour  maps and images throughout
  • Highlights   and itineraries  help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips  to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info   at your fingertips  - hours of operation, websites, transit tips, prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets  - eating, sleeping, sightseeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights  give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, people, music, landscapes, wildlife, cuisine, politics
  • Over   50 maps

Cover s  Adelaide, Fleurieu Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Barossa Valley, Yorke Peninsula, Eyre Peninsula, Flinders Ranges, Coober Pedy, Darwin, Kakadu, Arnhem Land, Katherine, Uluru, Alice Springs, MacDonnell Ranges

ISBN: 9781787016514

Edition: 8th

Publication Date: December 2021

Writers: Anthony Ham, Charles Rawlings-Way

288 pages, 96pp color, 43 maps | Dimensions: 128mm × 197mm

Next edition due: Not yet determined

south australia travel book

You are viewing a regional guide

What is a regional guide.

Heading to a popular region within a country? These guides provide the extra depth and detail you need. Following the same format and style as our Country and Multi-country guides, they help you get under the area’s skin to discover its defining characteristics, like its cuisine, markets, culture and festivals.

  • Create your perfect trip with our planning tools and suggested itineraries
  • Our experts uncover hidden gems to make your visit unique
  • Packed with inspiring images, walking tours and the best local knowledge
  • Detailed listings on everything from top sights and activities to eating, shopping, nightlife and accommodation

South Australia Travel

A South Australia Travel Guide Featuring Epic Itineraries

Favoured by many for its reputation as the food and wine state of Australia and adored by those who can’t get enough of its mix of dramatic landscapes, incredible coastline, vibrant cities and rugged mountain ranges, South Australia comes close to the ‘state with it all’.

Food and wine culture is very much ingrained in the life of every South Australian and is adopted quickly by those that visit. The lush valleys deliver the perfect conditions for growing an abundance of flavours. The state’s famous wine regions – namely Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonawarra and the Adelaide Hills – are where you’ll find plentiful cellar doors inviting you over the threshold. You’ll succumb to the temptation at one of the state’s food and wine festivals, of which much of South Australia travel revolves around. 

For those looking to get in touch with nature, the rugged Outback, wild landscapes of the Eyre Peninsula and hiking opportunities in and around the Flinders Ranges can be combined for an active South Australia tour. To mix it up, the vibrant capital of Adelaide followed by a few days on Kangaroo Island, where you’ll be surrounded by an abundance of free-roaming native Australian wildlife, presents the perfect combination.

While it’s not the first draw, the verdant coastline and sparkling blues of the ocean just add to what makes this part of Australia a joy to travel around. 

Fine landscapes, fine wine, fine food and fines festivals; need we say more? Read on to find out everything there is to know about South Australia travel.

Post Contents

Best Time to Visit South Australia

Kangaroo island, wine tours from adelaide, flinders ranges, barossa valley & clare valley, mclaren vale wine tours, eyre peninsula, fleurieu peninsula, discover the pink lakes of south australia, visit adelaide, port lincoln great white shark tour, self-drive around south australia, flying around south australia, trains, buses & ferries in south australia, private tours of south australia, staying in adelaide, staying in the barossa & clare valleys, staying in the flinders ranges and the outback, staying on kangaroo island, staying in the adelaide hills, staying in the murray river, lakes and coorong region, staying on the fleurieu peninsula , barossa valley, the cost of a south australia tour, adelaide festival – march, adelaide fringe festival – march, crush festival – january, laneway festival – february, tasting australia – april, 9-day wine, wilderness & wildlife self-drive, 6-day wonders of fleurieu: art & wine, 3-day thorngrove manor luxury in adelaide, 8-day wonders of the outback, adelaide to uluru self-drive, ready to book your south australia trip.

The driest of all the states in the country, South Australia gets very hot! Over 75% of the population of this state are based in the capital city of Adelaide – escaping the heat, anyone?

The southern part of the state, including Adelaide, has a much more Mediterranean climate with sea breezes helping to keep everyone cool. Whereas in the north, it’s much drier. Regardless, it can get very hot in both north and south during the summer. Adelaide temperatures can reach 46 degrees in the summer (from November to February). The winters (March to September) in South Australia tend to be cold and rainy. However, when we say ‘cold’, we mean ‘cold for Australians’ as it’s still around 20-30 degrees. 

Skin cancer is rife in Australia with some of the highest rates in the world, so make sure to wear sun protection. You can buy huge bottles of sun cream all over the country – applying suncream is a practise heavily encouraged by locals!

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south australia travel book

Best Places to Visit in South Australia

One of the most diverse and intriguing states, you can have it all in South Australia  – from the southern Mediterranean climate to the arid Outback and the lush wine region. However, despite this, South Australia is left behind when it comes to favoured Aussie states to travel. The upside to this is the lack of crowded tourist spots!

If you’re looking to experience all of Australia’s best selling points in one place – nature, wine, produce and wildlife – then Kangaroo Island is the spot. Boasting 509 kilometres of coastline, Kangaroo Island is nature’s playground where you can lounge on pristine beaches, interact with local wildlife and go wine tasting. 

This 4-day Kangaroo Island tour will see you immersed in the diverse landscapes that this island is known for. 

Taking a spot on the top places to see in Adelaide list, the Adelaide Hills are just a 20-minute journey from Adelaide’s central business district but feel like you’ve entered another world. With several charming historical towns, cellar doors and marketings, the Adelaide Hills are a worthwhile day trip from the city. 

If you like the idea of staying in the Adelaide Hills, then this romantic 6-day Thorngrove Manor Getaway in Adelaide is perfect for you. 

One of the most wonderful outback destinations in Australia, ‘Flinders’, as it’s affectionately known by Aussies, is an ancient mountain range with plentiful local wildlife. From emus to kangaroos that wander across the road and yellow-footed rock wallabies, you can spot them all here. 

If you’re planning to visit South Australia, then a trip to the Flinders Ranges should be on your list if you want to experience the ‘Outback’. 

Venture away from the city and into the country to find yourself in the charming valleys of Barossa and Clare; both beautiful but different in their appeal. Barossa Valley is known as the perfect region to experience the most-renowned Australian wines and is continually hailed as one of the most romantic destinations in Australia. 

On the flip side, Clare Valley is an off-the-beaten-path experience for those seeking a little adventure accompanied by rolling countryside, verdant greenery and abundant vineyards. Explore both of these wine regions on this Adelaide tour to the Barossa and Clare Valleys .

Another worthy wine region in South Australia, the McLaren Vale is Barossa Valley’s cooler cousin. Giving off a Tuscan vibe, the vineyards and luxurious and perfect complemented by a beautifully calm coastline that makes you feel as though you have been transported to Italy. 

Experience what McLaren Vale wine tours have to offer on this 6-day Fleurieu Peninsula tour .

Face the wilderness in this great expanse of land known as the Eyre Peninsula, one part of South Australia’s stunning coastline. Home to jaw-dropping aquatic experiences such as diving with great white sharks, pristine coastline and a notable food and wine scene, the Eyre Peninsula is perfect for those that favour a watery adventure.

You can experience the Eyre Peninsula on a South Australia tour designed by one of our Local Designers . 

Encompassing the McLaren Vale and Port Eliot, the Fleurieu Peninsula is so special that it deserves a mention as a whole. On a Fleurieu Peninsula tour , you’ll spend your days tasting award-winning wines, discovering remarkable landscapes and dining at restaurants you’ll want to write home about. 

Did you know that South Australia was home to several incredible fuschia lakes?

Well, now, you do! Due to the high salinity levels, the presence of salt-loving algae and pink bacteria, South Australia is punctuated by bright pink lakes. Often fringed by verdant green fields or red ochre plains, these dreamy milkshake lakes have been stunning travellers for years. From the Outback to the Eyre Peninsula, you’ll find these lakes in many locations across the state.

A city often left out of many South Australia itineraries and Australia tour packages, Adelaide actually offers everything the rest of Australia offers but within 20 minutes of the city centre – wine regions, lush forests, pristine beaches, abundant wildlife and fine dining!

Built on a special structure so that traffic never had to be a problem, Adelaide is a dynamic city which comes alive during South Australia’s revered festival season. There are lots of cool things to see in Adelaide and with an abundance of great day trips from Adelaide available, who wouldn’t want to visit?

Just off the coast of Port Lincoln, you’ll find the Neptune Islands – one of the best places in the world to spot great white sharks. A short journey by boat and you’ll find yourself in the waters where great whites and dolphins hang out. 

To ensure the protection of the sharks and their environment, audio vibrations are used by eco-tour operations to attract the sharks. If you’re brave enough, you can be submerged in a cage before the water’s surface to have an up-close-and-personal encounter with these magical creatures.

How to Get Around South Australia

The capital, Adelaide, was built and designed with convenience in mind. Broad roads surround its central business district and great transport links whisk people around the city and out to its suburbs and beyond. The rest of South Australia seems to flow just as well as this city does. 

There are a number of ways to get around South Australia;

Driving is one of the most popular ways to get around South Australia as it allows you the freedom and the ability to stop wherever you like. For the most part, the roads in this state are well maintained, and speed limits keep drivers safe.   

If you plan to drive around South Australia, then it is best to fly into Adelaide airport and then hire a car at the airport to set off on your journey. Lots of the best places to visit in South Australia are reachable by day trips from Adelaide. 

Most major airports – Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – are less than a two-hour flight from Adelaide. Adelaide airport also services a number of international flights and is just an easy 15-minute journey from the city centre. 

If you’re looking to visit multiple states within a trip then flying interstate is the best way. 

Adelaide is well connected to a number of major centres in Australia by bus and train. Within the state, the rail network connects Adelaide with a number of top destinations.

Bus SA is a network of bus companies which service routes to several parts of rural South Australia.

A close second, if not on par, to driving yourself, a private South Australia tour is another great way to see the state whilst also having plenty of freedom to adjust your itinerary.

This one-week South Australia trip takes you from Adelaide into the Outback, Flinders Ranges, the wine regions and to Kangaroo Island accompanied by your private driver and a local guide for the entirety of the trip. 

Where to Stay in South Australia

From Outback lodges, leafy hideaways in the mountains and beachside camping to five-star internationally renowned hotels, South Australia has a range of accommodation suitable for all travellers. 

When it comes to deciding where to stay, each region and destination brings a variety of different options.

Adelaide is a vibrant coastal city with a big draw. If you’re looking for a luxury retreat in the centre of the action, moments from world-famous restaurants and boutique bars, then Adelaide is the place to go. For more affordable accommodation, you can head out of the city to one of the nearby beaches. 

If you want to roll out of bed and be steps away from multiple cellar doors and wineries, then the Barossa Valley and Clare Valley are the perfect places to stay. From romantic escapes to family budget stays, there are all types of accommodation in these wine regions. Many of the boutique lodges boast stunning views, their own vineyards and exceptional wine and food. 

Camping, glamping, luxury resorts, cosy homesteads and more, whether you like to rough it or crave those luxuries while in nature, you’ll find something to suit you in this part of South Australia. Eco-lodges are also rising up as a great option for South Australia tours in the Outback. 

Accommodation on Kangaroo Island varies from a choice of simply lodges to cute cottages and stunning retreats and hotels. This 6-day South Australia tour features a gorgeous little Kangaroo Island lodge for the perfect mix of nature, indulgence and luxury. 

A romantic escape just 20 minutes from the city of Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills seem like a world away with its winding lanes, pretty little towns and boutique hotels. The Thorngrove Manor Hotel in the Adelaide Hills is a perfect representation of the stunning properties that you can stay in here. 

Whoever you’re travelling with, or even if you’re travelling alone, this region will present an option to you so perfect that you won’t want to leave. From charming bed and breakfasts to river houseboats and more, being close to the great outdoors is best in the Murray River, Lakes and Coorong region.

Relax, surf, wine, dine and more; the Fleurieu Peninsula is the perfect place to cosy up in your own holiday cottage or grab your camping gear and sleep in the great outdoors. On this 6-day Fleurieu Peninsula tour , you’ll spend a day in a winery so that you’re never too far from a delicious red and a cheeseboard.  

Places to Eat and Drink on Your Trip to South Australia

South Australia is a legend among the six states for its food and wine. From the bountiful Barossa Valley to the lush Adelaide Hills and everything in between, South Australia is a playground for wines and diners. Discover South Australia’s top foodie spots here;

If you were to ask a local for a restaurant recommendation in Adelaide, you’d have to prepare yourself for a tidal wave. Adelaide’s restaurants, cellar doors and local produce are world-class. Right on the coast and a short drive from Australia’s famous wine region, Barossa, Adelaide is perfect for those that want to indulge in exceptional food and wine experiences. 

It is often said, if you want the best of Australia, Kangaroo Island is your place – superb beaches, fine wine and fresh seafood. Kangaroo Island is where you’ll find ocean-to-plate experiences, beautifully crafted wines and dining experiences, including one where you dine within the branches of a 100-year-old fig tree!

If your idea of foodie heaven is to stand in the sea and slurp oysters fresh as the day with an expert guide on an oyster farm tour, then the Eyre Peninsula is your place. Join a seafood tour to sample the freshest of the fresh or upgrade your seafood experience by dining at one of the award-winning restaurants scattered across this peninsula.

One of the world’s finest wine-growing regions, the Barossa Valley is a lush, fertile, undulating stretch of land just an hour from Adelaide. For wine lovers and foodies, Barossa is the ideal place to sample vintages, dine at cellar doors and taste some of Australia’s most revered wines and dishes. 

Factoring in all the different variables, designing a tour that is within budget can feel like a bit of a headache. Luckily, our Local Designers have been doing this for years and years. They take your travel style, budget and interests and design an Australia tour that is perfect for you. 

Taking care of everything from airport transfers to rental car pick-up, hotel and restaurant reservations, guided activities and tours, our Local Designers make planning a trip to Australia, or anywhere else in the world, simple!

As an example of a trip to South Australia, this 9-day South Australia tour costs AU$2,506 per person and includes:

  • Eight nights of three-star accommodation
  • Seven activities
  • Eight breakfasts, one lunch and one dinner
  • Rental car hire
  • Entrance fees
  • Licensed English speaking guides at designated activities

Simple changes such as the type of accommodation and how many places you visit can adjust the cost of your trip. 

At Designer Journeys, we understand that everyone travels differently and has different interests, priorities and preferences when it comes to planning an Australia tour. You can browse our range of fully-customisable Australia trips and tailor any one of these tours to your preference or simply use the ‘ design your own trip ’ function to connect with a Local Designer who will create the perfect trip for you.

Special Events and Festivals in South Australia

Known as the ‘festival state’, South Australia does not disappoint when you look at its event calendar. Almost every month of the year features an eclectic event celebrating the state’s food, wine, arts, music or wildlife. 

One of the biggest arts festivals in the country, the Adelaide Festival occurs annually in March. Now running for more than 55 years, the festival continues to delight all those that attend with internationally acclaimed artists, theatre productions and world-class musicians.

The Adelaide Festival happens at the same time as the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the second-biggest festival in the world after the Edinburgh Fringe that happens each year in August. The Adelaide Festival brings an eclectic mix of acts to venues across South Australia.

Similar in style to that of the Edinburgh Fringe, Adelaide Fringe Festival differs from the Adelaide Festival in that the venues hosting musical, theatre and spoken word acts are spread across 500 venues in and around Adelaide for 31 days. You are sure to find something to suit at the Southern Hemisphere’s largest open-access festival.

The sound of corks popping and wine glasses filling is the soundtrack to the Crush Festival which occurs every January in the luscious Adelaide Hills. The area, renowned for producing fine wines, comes alive as the best wineries showcase their product through long lazy lunches, tasting sessions and degustation dinners. 

Showcasing contemporary Australian and international music, Laneway Festival attracts thousands each year. Not only do you find this unique festival in Adelaide, but Laneway Festival also has a regular slot in the calendars of several cities across Australia including Melbourne and Sydney. Vibrant cafes, galleries, restaurants and markets all become stages to showcase new music. 

Adelaide’s town square comes alive for ten days dedicated to celebrating South Australia’s best produce. Award-winning chefs, restaurateurs and winemakers serve up an array of goodies for a gourmet feast like no other. As one of Australia’s oldest food festivals, Tasting Australia has earned a reputation as the ultimate foodie festival. 

Tours in South Australia

Here’s our pick of the must-do tours in South Australia;

Experience what the mid-north has to offer and travel through the Flinders Ranges, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and more on this South Australia road trip !

Experience what the McLaren Vale, one of Australia’s most iconic wine regions, and Kangaroo Island have to offer on this Fleurieu Peninsula tour !

Experience ultimate seclusion and luxury on this trip on this stay at Thorngrove Manor, one of the best places to visit in Adelaide .

Embark on a journey from Adelaide through the Outback on a fascinating adventure through desolate landscapes on this unique Australia tour . 

With Designer Journeys, you can take the hassle out of planning a trip and leave it in the capable hands of one of our 200-plus Local Designers in countries across the world. Our Local Designers in Australia know this country like the back of their hand and will take your budget, interests and travel style to design the perfect trip! Browse our gallery of fully-customisable Australia tours here or design your own Australia tour to connect with a Local Designer now!

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Grace Homer

At my desk, you'll find me tapping out inspiring adventures, finessing incredible trips designed by Local Designers and focussing on all things content. Having lived in Southeast Asia between Vietnam and Bali for three years, I'm now keeping toasty with a cuppa in a little English town planning future adventures for which I have constant inspiration. Offline, there's nothing I enjoy more than long cycle rides, fueling the foodie in me and seeking out new spots - preferably all at the same time. Find me on LinkedIn or Instagram and keep an eye out for travel inspiration here!

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Penfolds Vineyards, Robe, South AUstralia, Australia

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South Australia

Escape the frenzy of Australia's east coast with a few days in gracious, relaxed South Australia (SA). The driest state in the planet's driest inhabited continent, SA beats the heat by celebrating life's finer things: fine landscapes, fine festivals, fine food, and (…OK, forget the other three) fine wine.

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Adelaide Oval

Hailed as the world’s prettiest cricket ground, the Adelaide Oval hosts interstate and international cricket matches in summer, plus national AFL and…

Naracoorte Caves National Park

Naracoorte Caves National Park

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Martindale Hall

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Flinders Chase National Park

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A feel-good road trip itinerary for South Australia

Lara Picone

Travel Journalist

31 October 2023

Time

What’s better than a road trip that crisscrosses beautiful wineries, incredible eateries and stunning scenery? Well, one that does as much good for your soul as it does the communities you traverse.

Plan a road trip through South Australia , taking in Adelaide, some incredible wine regions, and an island escape, and leaving behind a boost to local economies by throwing a case of your favourite vintage in the boot and grabbing supplies from local businesses on the road.

Day one: Arrive in Adelaide

Adelaide is nourished by the ample food bowls all set within a stone’s throw of the city limits. Naturally, this makes her a food-lovers paradise. From the amazing Adelaide Central Market to the internationally lauded restaurants, it’s tough to find a terrible meal in Adelaide. You’re here to pick up your rental car, assuming you’ve flown in from elsewhere, but you really ought to spend some quality (meal)time before you head for the highway.

Adelaidecentralmarket

Adelaide Central Market has everything from karkalla kimchi to espresso-rubbed Italian cheese.

Hot tip: While excellent eateries are prolific in the city, when you’re short on time, direct your Uber to Peel and Leigh streets, where you’ll find lively pubs, bars and cafes brimming with brio any day of the week.             

Stay: There is a great accommodation in Adelaide to suit every budget. Our tip? Stay close to the action at The Mayfair.

south australia travel book

Rooftop drinks at The Mayfair Hotel.

Day two: Adelaide to the Adelaide Hills (45 minutes)

Set off early to make the most of your time in the Hills. The drive is short enough to grab your first coffee on the go and arrive ready for your second at FRED Eatery in Aldgate. Fortified, it’s time to designate a driver and set course for some cellar doors. Propagate your list of wineries as you see fit, but some worthy inclusions are always Unico Zelo , Shaw + Smith , and Pike & Joyce .

south australia travel book

Add Pike & Joyce to your list of wineries

Hot tip: For a taste of the Bavarian, roll onto Hahndorf in time for lunch and roam the Lutheran-founded town where you can find delightfully kitsch German-ness and, if you’re organised enough, an incredible lunch at The Bridgewater Mill .

Stay: If you’re hankering for a luxe escape, book Sequoia at Mount Lofty House. For more humble digs, try a tiny house experience with Cabn .

south australia travel book

Hahndorf is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement

Day three: Adelaide Hills to Barossa Valley (50 minutes)

This world-renowned wine region is flush with 80 cellar doors from the big hitters such as Wolf Blass, Henschke Cellars and Jacob’s Creek to smaller producers where treasures await the curious. Naturally, with such fine vines, good food is inevitable, so you’ll find some exceptional dining here, too.

Hot tip: Before you set off tomorrow, you have time for one last Barossa highlight – if you’re open to a pre-dawn start to the day, that is. Barossa Valley Ballooning ascends into the sky above the valley for an exquisite perspective of this stunning region.

south australia travel book

Sky high in the Barossa

Stay: A good option for families and groups, or if you decide to stay on for an extra day, is the contemporary but affordable Barossa Valley Apartments . For loftier lodgings, The Louise offers impeccable luxury.

Day four: Barossa to McLaren Vale (1 hour and 40 minutes)

Today you make the crossing to the southern side of Adelaide as you begin your journey toward Kangaroo Island. But it wouldn’t be sensible to bypass the pristine beaches and undulating vine-woven hills of McLaren Vale. Here wine and food go hand-in-hand with coastal pursuits of the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Hot tip: If you’re here for a good time, not a long time, condense a few experiences into one at the Chalk Hill Collective. The ideal spot to take in a couple of tastings and grab a bite, this is a clever collaboration between Never Never Distilling Co ., Chalk Hill Wines and Vera Pizza Oztalia. And… those views!

south australia travel book

Condense a few experiences at Chalk Hill Collective.

Stay: It may be small, but this ‘Escapod’ is ultra-sleek. The Cadole Avalon at The Vineyard Retreat is a beauty from every angle.

Day five: McLaren Vale to Cape Jervis (1 hour) to Kangaroo Island (45 minutes)

If you happen to be departing the ’Vale on a Saturday, before you go, swing by the Willunga Farmers Market to stockpile some supplies for the crossing to Kangaroo Island.

south australia travel book

It all happens at Willunga Farmers Market.

Hot Tip: SeaLink offers daily ferry services from Cape Jervis to Kangaroo Island. It’s best to check their website for prices and special offers, as they occasionally discount fares. As a rough guide, expect to pay around $98 for a vehicle and $74 per person, and be sure to book in advance.

Stay: From camping grounds to holiday rentals and luxury lodges, there’s accommodation to suit every traveller on the island.

south australia travel book

Sealink takes you comfortably to Kangaroo Island.

Day six: Kangaroo Island

Awaken to beauty so absorbing you’ll make an impassioned pact with your travelling companion to return. The rugged beauty, crystalline waters and serene beauty of the island will keep you gushing.

Penneshaw Kangaroo Island

Drive the coast of the beautiful Kangaroo Island. (Image: Tourism Australia)

Hot tip: There’s so much to do on Kangaroo Island, it’s lucky you’ve pledged to return, as you won’t get to it all in just two days. Make sure, though, to visit Vivonne Bay with its dreamscape white-sand beach and enticing waters. Keeping to nature, a stroll around the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch is imperative.

Vivionne Bay, Kangaroo Island.

Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo Island. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)

But you have permission to temper all that fresh, coastal air with a trip to Kangaroo Island Spirits and some of the small island wineries. After all, it’s best to stay on theme.

Kangaroo Island Spirits, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Book a table in the Gin Garden to enjoy the Wild Gin. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)

Stay: If your South Australian road trip calls for a grand finale, book this evening’s accommodation at Oceanview Eco Villas . These two elegantly appointed villas offer up restorative island outpost vibes with their clifftop locale.

Day seven: Kangaroo Island to Adelaide (4 hours)

As you make the return crossing from Penneshaw to Cape Jervis, reflect on the diverse beauty, inspiring locals and enduring spirit of South Australia. This itinerary is a welcome reminder, that while we’re often quick to book an overseas flight, some of the world’s most astonishing landscapes and attractions are just a road trip away.

south australia travel book

Pennington Bay beauty on display.

Roaming local and far-flung shores to write about the people and places she encounters is endlessly captivating for writer Lara Picone. From exploring food, built environments and nature to engaging meaningfully with diverse cultures, Lara enjoys sharing stories that ignite wanderlust in readers.

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Have been to Kangaroo Island before and loved it wish we could have stayed longer as there is so much to see and do, hope to get back there some time soon.

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South Australia Travel Guide 2024: Discovering Adelaide: Your Gateway to South Australia's Vibrant Capital

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South Australia Travel Guide 2024: Discovering Adelaide: Your Gateway to South Australia's Vibrant Capital Kindle Edition

Embark on an unforgettable journey through South Australia with this comprehensive travel guide for 2024. Whether you're a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, this book is your essential companion to exploring the diverse landscapes, rich culture, and vibrant city life that South Australia has to offer.

Focused on Adelaide, the state's dynamic capital, this guide takes you on a captivating tour of its bustling streets, iconic landmarks, and hidden gems. From the historic charm of North Terrace to the cosmopolitan energy of Rundle Mall, immerse yourself in the unique blend of history, art, and cuisine that defines Adelaide's character.

Discover insider tips on the best local eateries, entertainment venues, and cultural experiences, ensuring you make the most of your time in this captivating city. Whether you're indulging in world-class wines in the Barossa Valley, exploring the stunning coastline of the Fleurieu Peninsula, or encountering wildlife on Kangaroo Island, this guide provides detailed insights and recommendations for every traveler's preferences.

Featuring up-to-date information on accommodations, transportation options, and seasonal events, this guide is designed to help you plan your perfect South Australian adventure. Whether you're seeking adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities, tranquil natural escapes, or enriching cultural encounters, South Australia Travel Guide 2024 is your passport to an unforgettable journey through one of Australia's most captivating destinations.

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South Australia Travel Guide

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South Australia, the driest state of the driest continent, is split into two distinct halves. The long-settled southern part, watered by the Murray River, with Adelaide as its cosmopolitan centre, has a Mediterranean climate, is tremendously fertile and has been thoroughly tamed. The northern half is arid and depopulated, and as you head further north the temperature heats up to such an extreme that by the time you get to Coober Pedy, people are living underground to escape the searing summer temperatures.

Around Adelaide

The far north: marree and beyond, the flinders ranges and northeast, kangaroo island, the mid-north, port augusta, the riverland, canoeing and kayaking, the southeast, mount gambier, travelling around the south australian outback.

Some of the highlights of southeastern South Australia lie within three hours’ drive of Adelaide. Food and especially wine are among the area’s chief pleasures: this is prime grape-growing and winemaking country. As well as vineyards the Fleurieu Peninsula , just south of Adelaide, has a string of fine beaches, while nearby Kangaroo Island is a wonderful place to see Australian wildlife at its unfettered best. Facing Adelaide across the Investigator Strait, the Yorke Peninsula is primarily an agricultural area, preserving a copper-mining history and offering excellent fishing. The superb wineries of the Barossa Valley , originally settled by German immigrants in the nineteenth century, are only an hour from Adelaide on the Stuart Highway , the main road to Sydney. Following the southeast coast along the Princes Highway , you can head towards Melbourne via the extensive coastal Coorong lagoon system and enjoyable seaside towns such as Robe, before exiting the state at Mount Gambier , with its deep-blue crater lakes. The inland trawl via the Dukes Highway is faster but less interesting. Heading north from Adelaide, there are old copper-mining towns to explore at Kapunda and Burra , the area known as the mid-north, which also encompasses the Clare Valley , another wonderful wine centre, famous for its Rieslings.

In contrast with the gentle and cultured southeast, the remainder of South Australia – with the exception of the relatively refined Eyre Peninsula and its scenic west coast – is unremittingly harsh desert , a naked country of vast horizons, salt lakes, glazed gibber plains and ancient mountain ranges. Although it’s tempting to scud over the forbidding distances quickly, you’ll miss the essence of this introspective and subtle landscape by hurrying. For every predictable, monotonous highway there’s a dirt alternative, which may be physically draining but gets you closer to this precarious environment. The folded red rocks of the central Flinders Ranges and Coober Pedy’s postapocalyptic scenery are on most agendas and could be worked into a sizeable circuit. Making the most of the journey is what counts here though – the fabled routes to Oodnadatta , Birdsville and Innamincka are still real adventures.

Rail and road routes converge in Adelaide before the long cross-country hauls west to Perth via Port Augusta on the Indian Pacific train, or north to Alice Springs and Darwin on the Ghan – two of Australia’s great train journeys.

Brief history

The coast of South Australia was first explored by the Dutch in 1627. In 1792 the French explorer Bruni d’Entrecasteaux sailed along the Great Australian Bight before heading to southern Tasmania, and in 1802 the Englishman Matthew Flinders thoroughly charted the coast. The most important expedition, though – and the one that led to the foundation of a colony here – was Captain Charles Sturt ’s 1830 navigation of the Murray River, from its source in New South Wales to its mouth in South Australia. In 1836, Governor John Hindmarsh landed at Holdfast Bay – now the Adelaide beachside suburb of Glenelg – with the first settlers, and the next year Colonel William Light planned the spacious, attractive city of Adelaide, with broad streets and plenty of parks and squares.

Early problems caused by the harsh, dry climate and financial incompetence (the colony went bankrupt in 1841) were eased by the discovery of substantial reserves of copper . The population of Adelaide boomed over the following decades, while the state’s tradition of civil and religious libertarianism that was guaranteed to the early settlers continued; in 1894, South Australia’s women were the first in the world to be permitted to stand for parliament and the third in the world to gain the vote (after the Isle of Man and New Zealand).The depressions and recessions of the interwar period hit South Australia hard, but the situation eased following World War II when new immigrants arrived, boosting industry and injecting fresh life into the state.

South Australia had an important, though controversial role during the early years of the Cold War. In 1947 an Anglo-Australian project founded the Woomera rocket range, site of British-run atomic bomb tests in 1950. The Woomera area later became part of the US space programme, and in 1947 launched Australia’s first satellite.

Aboriginal South Australia

When European settlers arrived in 1836, South Australia was home to as many as fifty distinct Aboriginal groups , with a population estimated at fifteen thousand. Three distinct cultural regions existed: the Western Desert, the Central Lakes, and the Murray and southeast region. It was the people of the comparatively well-watered southeast who felt the full impact of white settlement, and those who survived were shunted onto missions controlled by the government. Some Aboriginal people have clung tenaciously to their way of life in the Western Desert, where they have gained title to some of their land, but most now live south of Port Augusta, many in Adelaide.

Tailor-made travel itineraries for Australia, created by local experts

Explore Western Australia from Perth to Broome

12 days  / from 2900 USD

Explore Western Australia from Perth to Broome

Western Australia is the country's largest state, covering more than a third of Australia. This self drive itinerary allows you to explore sunny Perth, stunning national parks and waterfalls, the remote wild west outback, empty beaches and much more.

Explore South Australia and the Northern Territory

16 days  / from 3300 USD

Explore South Australia and the Northern Territory

Explore South Australia and the Northern Territory on this self-drive adventure. Start in Adelaide and make your way over the Ayers Rock, Kings Canyon, and Alice Springs to the Kakadu National Park and ultimately Darwin.

Cross Western Australia to Darwin

23 days  / from 4150 USD

Cross Western Australia to Darwin

Western Australia offers wonderfully remote outback experiences: from spectacular national parks to sandy deserts, pristine beaches to working cattle stations. This itinerary allows you to explore the way from Perth to Darwin in depth and at your own pace, in your own rental car.

Classic Australia - Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast

14 days  / from 10070 USD

Classic Australia - Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast

Explore the best of Australia's cities and nature! From Sydney and Melbourne's urban charm to the scenic wonders of the Great Ocean Road, Cairns' reef adventures, to the lush rainforests of Kuranda. End with nature's embrace at Burleigh Head and Lamington National Parks on the Gold Coast.

The Best of Australia

10 days  / from 6900 USD

The Best of Australia

Discover Australia's allure through this tour! You'll witness Sydney's iconic landmarks and explore the beauty of the Blue Mountains. Dive into Cairns' reef and rainforest wonders before marveling at the breathtaking beauty of the Great Ocean Road in Melbourne.

Escaping Adelaide for a day or two is easy and enjoyable. Close at hand are the Adelaide Hills , southeast of the city, which are popular for weekend outings and have numerous small national and conservation parks. To the south, the Fleurieu Peninsula extends towards Cape Jervis and has plenty of fine beaches and around fifty wineries at McLaren Vale.

If wine is your priority, head for McLaren Vale first, then the Barossa Valley , Australia’s premier wine-producing region, with another sixty or so excellent wineries within 50km of Adelaide. The valley is easily visited in a day from the city, but is also a great place to chill out for a few days. The Yorke Peninsula , across the gulf from Adelaide, is often ignored by foreigners, though many locals holiday here: as well as the wonderful beaches, it’s home to the remains of an old copper-mining industry and an excellent national park.

The Adelaide Hills

The beautiful Adelaide Hills are the section of the Mount Lofty Ranges that run closest to the city. Many people have set up home in the hills to take advantage of the cooler air, and there are some grand old summer houses here as well as sleek contemporary weekenders. You can access the towns and some stunning walks via short bus or train rides from Adelaide, but having your own car opens up a lot more of the area, notably the Torrens River Gorge. Leaving the city by Glen Osmond Road you join the South Eastern Freeway , the main road to Melbourne – there’s an old tollhouse not far out of the city at Urrbrae and several fine old coaching hotels.

The Heysen Trail , a long-distance walk from Cape Jervis to Parachilna Gorge, cuts across the hills, with four quaint YHA hostels along it; most are run on a limited-access basis and you’ll have to pick the key up first from the office at the Adelaide Central YHA .

Wineries in the hills

Less than thirty minutes’ drive from the city, the Adelaide Hills’ wineries may not be as famous as those in the neighbouring Barossa Valley, but they are gaining popularity and are definitely worth a trip. The cool weather (this is the coolest wine-growing region on mainland Australia) contributes to wonderful Sauvignon Blancs and fresh Chardonnays and you can even expect a superb cool-weather Shiraz.

Hahndorf Hill Winery hahndorfhillwinery.com.au . Hahndorf Hill Winery makes an award-winning Sauvignon Blanc and a rosé of rare German grapes; it’s also great for lunch overlooking the valley.

Petaluma Bridgewater Mill www.adelaidehills.org.au . Apart from being an excellent winery, Petaluma Bridgewater Mill , in an 1860 mill, has won prizes for its restaurant and is well worth a visit.

The Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley , only an hour’s drive from Adelaide, produces internationally acclaimed wines and is the largest premium-wine producer in Australia. Small stone Lutheran churches dot the valley, which was settled in the 1840s by German Lutherans fleeing from religious persecution: by 1847 over 2500 German immigrants had arrived and after the 1848 revolution more poured in. German continued to be spoken in the area until World War I, when the language was frowned upon and German place names were changed by an act of parliament. The towns, however – most notably Tanunda – still remain German in character, and the valley is well worth visiting for the vineyards , wineries, bakeries and butcher’s shops, where old German recipes have been handed down through generations. With around eight hundred thousand visitors each year, the valley can seem thoroughly touristy and traffic-laden if you whizz through it quickly, but the peaceful back roads are more interesting, with a number of small, family-owned wineries to explore.

The first vines were planted in 1847 at the Orlando vineyards, an estate that is still a big producer. There are now over sixty wineries with cellar doors, from multinationals to tiny specialists. Because of the variety of soil and climate, the Barossa seems able to produce a wide range of wine types of consistently high quality; the white Rieslings are among the best. The region has a typically Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and mild winters; the best time to visit is autumn (March–May), when the vines turn russet and golden and the harvest has begun in earnest. Much of the grape-picking is still done by hand and work is available from February.

Barossa wineries

While there is a mind-boggling array of wineries in the Barossa Valley, this selection should start you off on a good footing.

Bethany Wines bethany.com.au . A hillside winery set in an old quarry, with views over the village; the Schrapel family have grown grapes here since 1852 and produce consistently good wines. Very good reds (the Shiraz is outstanding) and a decent Semillon.

Langmeil Winery langmeilwinery.com.au . This was the original Langmeil village, built in the 1840s; the little vineyard you can see from the tasting area was planted in 1843, and prints of nineteenth-century photos document the local industry. An outstanding winery with excellent reds, particularly the Shiraz – try the increasingly popular sparkling variety.

Peter Lehmann peterlehmannwines.com . A pleasant spot for a picnic as well as a tasting, with some excellent varieties such as the Eden Valley Riesling and the more expensive Stonewall Shiraz. The wines satisfy several price points and palates.

Pindarie Wines pindarie.com.au . One of the valley’s newer cellar doors, Pindarie offers some interesting alternative blends. Set on the western ridge of the Barossa, the family-friendly restaurant and gorgeous heritage function-space offer stunning views.

Richmond Grove richmondgrovewines.com . Large, historic winery with a lovely picnic area alongside the North Para River. It’s a big producer, sourcing grapes widely, and does a decent Watervale Riesling.

Rockford Wines rockfordwines.com.au . Excellent winery with outstanding wines by Robert O’Callahan, produced using old-fashioned techniques. The wines are hard to find, so snap up the Basket Press Shiraz, the amazing fizzy Black Shiraz or the Eden Valley Riesling.

St Hallett’s Winery sthallet.com.au . Medium-size, quality producer whose star wine is Old Block Shiraz, sourced from vines 80–100 years old, with an intense flavour and a velvety softness.

Taste Eden Valley tasteedenvalley.com.au . Ten boutique Eden Valley wineries (an area internationally renowned for its Rieslings and cool-climate reds) are represented in this intimate family-kitchen-like setting. The friendly and knowledgeable staff can walk you through the wines, many of which are available only at the cellar door.

Yalumba Wines yalumba.com . Largest and oldest family-operated Barossa winery, established in 1849, set in a lovely building and gardens.

The Fleurieu Peninsula

The Fleurieu Peninsula , thirty minutes south of Adelaide by car, is bounded by Gulf St Vincent to the west and the Southern Ocean to the south, the two connected by the Backstairs Passage at Cape Jervis (where ferries leave for Kangaroo Island). There are fine beaches on both coasts and more wineries inland in the rolling McLaren Vale region. It’s a picturesque area: many of the towns were settled from the 1830s, and there’s a lot of colonial architecture, much of it now housing restaurants or B&Bs.

Cycling across the Fleurieu Peninsula

The Fleurieu Peninsula is a good place to cycle. The 24km Encounter Bikeway follows a scenic 30km stretch of coast between Victor Harbor and Goolwa . Parts of the route are on-road and slightly inland, but mostly it follows the coastline and is for cyclists and walkers only. The return trip can be completed comfortably in a day; the most scenic – and hilliest – section is between Dump Beach in Victor Harbor and the town of Port Elliot. Unfortunately, there’s no bike rental available in Goolwa, but on Sundays you can take your bike on the Cockle Train between Victor Harbor and Goolwa and cycle back.

The Heysen Trail

The spectacular Heysen Trail is Australia’s longest dedicated walking trail, spanning a 1200km route between Cape Jervis and Parachilna Gorge . En route it takes in the Fleurieu Peninsula, the Mount Lofty Ranges, Mount Bryan, and the Flinders Ranges. Walking the full trail, which is open May to November, takes around 60 days, but there are countless shorter strolls, day-hikes and multiday options. For more information, including maps, contact the Friends of Heysen Trail , which has an office and shop in Adelaide ( heysentrail.asn.au ).

McLaren Vale wineries

Listed here are six favourites from a wide choice of excellent wineries.

Chapel Hill chapelhillwine.com.au . A small but very civilized winery in an old stone chapel with nice views over the vineyards.

d’Arenberg darenberg.com.au . A family winery set up in 1928, well-known for its prize-winning reds and excellent restaurant (see d’Arry’s Verandah).

Kay Brothers Amery Wines kaybrothersamerywines.com . A wonderful family winery established in 1890; old photos of the Kays and the surrounding area cover the oak casks containing port. It’s renowned for its Block 6 Shiraz from vines planted in 1892 (it tends to sell out quickly). The winery also has a picnic area set amid towering gum trees.

Lloyd Brothers Wine & Olive Company lloydbrothers.com.au . Third-generation vignerons producing some of the finest hand-picked Shiraz wines in the region. The cellar door also has a large selection of top-notch olives and olive products from the on-site grove – one of the oldest commercial olive groves in Australia. The Kalamata mustard is fantastic.

Oxenberry Farm Wines oxenberry.com.au . Small, historic cellar door with a relaxed atmosphere and lovely views across the surrounding vineyards and wetlands. It shares its premises with the award-winning Bracegirdle’s House of Fine Chocolate and there’s charming accommodation in a restored 1940s cedar cottage.

Wirra Wirra wirrawirra.com . A large, classic ironstone building provides the setting for an impressive range of reds (especially Shiraz) and whites (try the Chardonnay).

The Yorke Peninsula

Just ninety minutes’ drive from Adelaide, the Yorke Peninsula offers a peaceful weekend break as well as good fishing and surfing . The north proudly upholds its Cornish heritage with the three towns of the Copper Triangle or “ Little Cornwall ” – Kadina, Wallaroo and Moonta – hosting the Kernewek Lowender (Cornish Festival) over a long weekend in May during odd-numbered years.

The highlight of this region is Lake Eyre, a vast, awe-inspiring salt flat. Marree is the closest settlement and the starting point for two epic journeys: the Birdsville and Oodnadatta tracks. There’s no public transport in this region, so you’ll need your own vehicle.

The Birdsville Track

Tearing north from Marree, the distant tips of the Flinders Ranges dip below the horizon behind, leaving you on a bare plain with the road as the only feature. Look for the MV Tom Brennan , a vessel donated to the area in 1949 to ferry stock around during floods, but now bearing an absurd resemblance to a large grey bathtub. Before the halfway house at Mungerannie Gap, a scenic variation is offered by the Natterannie Sandhills (150km). The Mungerannie Hotel provides the only services on the track. In a 4WD you can head west from the roadhouse to Kalamurina campsite near Cowarie Homestead (58km) for the thrill of desert fishing on Warburton Creek.

Back on the track, a windmill at Mirra Mitta bore (37km from the roadhouse) draws piping-hot water out of the ground beside long-abandoned buildings; the water smells of tar and drains into cooler pools, providing somewhere to camp. By now you’re crossing the polished gibber lands of the Sturt Stony Desert , and it’s worth going for a walk to feel the cool wind and watch the dunes dancing in the heat haze away to the west. The low edge of Coonchera Dune to the right of the track (190km from the roadhouse) marks the start of a run along the mudpans between the sandhills; look for desert plants and dingoes. In two more hours you should be pulling up outside the Birdsville pub.

Lake Eyre is a massive and eerily desolate salt lake caught between the Simpson and Strzelecki deserts in a region where the annual evaporation rate is thirty times greater than the rainfall. Most years a little water trickles into the lake from its million-square-kilometre catchment area, which extends well into central Queensland and the Northern Territory. However, in 2009, 2010 and 2011 major floods in Queensland and New South Wales filled the basin, transforming it into a massive inland sea. A hypnotic, glaring salt crust usually covers the southern bays, creating a mysterious landscape whose harsh surrounds are paved by shiny gibber stones and walled by red dunes – in 1964 the crust was thick enough to be used as a range for Donald Campbell’s successful crack at the world land-speed record.

Some wildlife also manages to get by in the incredible emptiness. The resident Lake Eyre dragon is a diminutive, spotted grey lizard often seen skimming over the crust, and the rare flooding attracts dense flocks of birds, wakes the plump water-holding frog from hibernation and causes plants to burst into colour.

Timber at the lake is sparse and protected, which means that there’s little shade and no firewood. There’s no one to help you if something goes wrong, so don’t drive on the lake’s crust – should you fall through, it’s impossible to extricate your vehicle from the grey slush below. This isn’t a place to wander off to unprepared, but if you wish to grasp the vastness and emptiness of the state, don’t miss it.

MARREE consists of a collection of tattered houses that somehow outlived the Old Ghan ’s demise in 1980, leaving carriages to rust on sidings and rails to be used for tethering posts outside the wonderful big old pub. Although it was first a camel depot, then a staging post for the overland telegraph line, and finally the point where the rail line skirted northwest around Lake Eyre , today all traffic comes by road and is bound for the Birdsville Track into Queensland or the Oodnadatta Track , which follows the former train route to Oodnadatta and beyond into the Northern Territory or Simpson Desert .

The Oodnadatta Track

The road from Marree to Oodnadatta is by far the most interesting of the three famous Outback tracks, mainly because abandoned sidings and fettlers’ cottages from the Old Ghan provide frequent excuses to get out of the car and explore. Disintegrating sleepers lie by the roadside along parts of the route, otherwise embankments and rickety bridges are all that remain of the line.

The Simpson Desert

Apart from the track out to the Stuart Highway, the area north of Oodnadatta is strictly for 4WDs, with Dalhousie Hot Springs in the Witjira National Park a worthwhile destination, or the Simpson Desert for the ultimate off-road challenge. The route directly north, towards Finke and the Northern Territory, is relatively good as far as Hamilton Homestead (110km), though Fogarty’s Claypan, around halfway, might present a sticky problem. From Hamilton the route is via Eringa ruins (160km) and Bloods Creek bore on the edge of Witjira National Park.

From Bloods Creek you can detour 30km northeast to Mount Dare Hotel . In winter the homestead is busy with groups of 4WDs arriving from or departing for the desert crossing; it’s at least 550km to the next fuel stop at Birdsville in Queensland.

The Simpson Desert crossing

Crossing the approximately 550km of steep north–south dunes through the Simpson Desert between Dalhousie in South Australia and Birdsville in Queensland is the ultimate challenge for any off-roader. In late September, 4WD groups are joined by bikes attempting to complete the punishing Simpson Desert Cycling Classic (desertchallenge.org). In winter, a steady stream of vehicles moves from west to east (the easier direction since the dunes’ eastern slopes are steeper and harder to climb), but there’s no help along the way, so don’t underestimate the difficulties; extensive 4WD experience is required. Convoys need to include at least one skilled mechanic and, apart from the usual spares, a long-handled shovel and a strong tow-rope. You’ll also need more than adequate food and water (six litres a day per person), and of course fuel – around a hundred litres of diesel, or two hundred litres of petrol, if you take the shortest route.

The enjoyment is mostly in the driving, though there’s more than sand to look at: trees and shrubs grow in stabilized areas and at dusk you’ll find dune crests patrolled by reptiles, birds, small mammals and insects. Photographers can take advantage of clear skies at night to make timed exposures of the stars circling the heavens. At the uncapped spout of Purni Bore, 70km from Dalhousie, birdlife and reeds fringe a 27°C pool; camping facilities here include a shower and toilet. A post battling to stay above shifting sand at Poeppel Corner (269km) marks the junction of Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. After the corner the dunes become higher but further apart, separated by claypans covered in mulga and grassland. Big Red, the last dune, is also the tallest; once over this it’s a clear 41km run to Birdsville.

The Simpson Desert Regional Reserve , linking the Witjira National Park to the Simpson Desert Conservation Park, is closed in summer (Dec–March). As with other areas, a Desert Parks Pass is required ( environment.sa.gov.au/parks ).

Recognized as one of Australia’s oldest natural landscapes, the rugged peaks and tranquil bush scenery of the Flinders Ranges stretch over a distance of 400km from Port Pirie, 220km north of Adelaide, to Lake Callabonna in the far northeast of the state.

From Mount Remarkable National Park and the picturesque town of Melrose in the southern Ranges, the roads bear west to the hub of Port Augusta or north to the quaint villages of Quorn and Hawker from where you can take an adventurous route through the spectacular Flinders Ranges National Park to the off-the-beaten-track settlement of Blinman in the Northern Flinders . From here it’s 200km of dirt road to the Gammon Ranges from where you can carry on to the isolated Strzelecki Track and the far-flung settlement of Innamincka , or head back to the highway to the Outback town of Marree.

The Acraman meteorite

In the mid-1980s a band of red earth from 600-million-year-old deposits in the Flinders Ranges was bafflingly identified as coming from the Gawler Ranges, 400km away. Investigations and satellite mapping suggested that 35km-wide Lake Acraman in the Gawler Ranges was an eroded meteorite crater, while Lake Gairdner and fragmented saltpans (such as Lake Torrens) further east were set in ripples caused by the force of the strike. Estimates suggest that to have created such a crater the meteorite must have been 4km across; the mystery band in the Flinders Ranges was dust settling after impact. Though there is fossil evidence of animal life prior to this event – notably the Ediacaran fauna – recent research indicates that the Acraman meteorite may well have killed it all. It’s certainly true that the ancestors of almost all species living today evolved after this impact.

Flinders dreaming and geology

The almost tangible spirit of the Flinders Ranges is reflected in the wealth of Adnyamathanha (“hill people”) legends associated with them. Perhaps more obvious here than anywhere else in Australia is the connection between landscapes and Dreamtime stories , which recount how scenery was created by animal or human action – though, as Dreamtime spirits took several forms, this distinction is often blurred. A central character is Akurra, a gigantic serpent (or serpents) who guards waterholes and formed the Flinders’ contours by wriggling north to drink dry the huge salt lakes of Frome and Callabonna. You may well prefer the Aboriginal legends to the complexities of geology illustrated on boards placed at intervals along the Brachina Gorge track, which explain how movements of the “Adelaide Geosyncline” brought about the changes in scenery over hundreds of millions of years.

Flinders Ranges National Park

The procession of glowing red mountains at Flinders Ranges National Park , folded and crumpled with age, produces some of the Outback’s most spectacular and timeless scenery, rising from flat scrub to form abrupt escarpments, gorges and the famous elevated basin of Wilpena Pound , a colossal crater rim rising from the plains. The contrast between sky and ranges is softened by native cypresses and river red gums; and in spring the land is burnished by wild flowers of all colours and there are more kangaroos than you can count. Bushwalkers, photographers and painters flock here in their hundreds, but with a system of graded walking tracks ranging in length from a few minutes to several days – not to mention roads of varying quality – the park is busy without being crowded. Most tracks lead into Wilpena Pound, though you can also pick up the Heysen Trail and follow it north from Wilpena for a couple of days around the ABC Range to Aroona Ruins on the northern edge of the park.

Hiking is restricted to the cooler winter months between May and October, due to significant bushfire danger and summer temperatures that often exceed 40°C. Don’t underestimate conditions for even short excursions: you’ll need good footwear, a hat, sunscreen and water – at least a litre per hour is recommended. Note that the weather is very changeable; wind-driven rain can be a menace along the ridges, especially for campers, and heavy downpours cause roads to be closed (check conditions on 1300 361 033).

Wilpena Pound

Nestling up against the edge of Wilpena Pound, WILPENA is a good place to orient yourself for a range of accommodation, fuel and food. Wilpena Pound’s two main walks are the Hills Homestead Walk (6.6km, 2hr) from the visitor centre, and the Wangara Lookout Walk (7.8km, 3hr). Consult the visitor centre before attempting the less publicized full-day hikes to St Mary’s Peak on the rim, and Edowie Gorge inside the pound, or any overnight trips.

The Strzelecki Track

The 460km Strzelecki Track between Lyndhurst and Innamincka is the least interesting of the Outback tracks offering little variety in scenery and some rough-as-guts sections of heavily corrugated, single-lane track that can be treacherous after rain; it’s restricted to 4WD vehicles by the state’s Road Transport Authority.

You need to be completely self-sufficient and carry plenty of water and food and extra fuel. Start at Lyndhurst by filling the tank – the next fuel is at the other end of the track. The drive first takes you past the northern tip of the Flinders Ranges; once you pass them, the journey becomes flat and pretty dull.

Around 190km from Lyndhurst, the road from Arkaroola connects within sight of Mount Hopeless (a pathetic hill, appropriately named); the next place to stop and perhaps camp is at the hot outflow from Montecollina Bore , 30km on. From here the scenery improves slightly as the road runs between dunes, and it’s hard to resist leaving footprints along one of the pristine red crests.

At Strzelecki Crossing there’s a fork in the road: to the east is Cameron Corner , where there’s a store with fuel, a small bar and a campsite; and to the north, Innamincka via Moomba. Within an hour you’ve crossed into the Innamincka Regional Reserve and are approaching Innamincka’s charms.

Cooper Creek , which runs through Innamincka, is best known for the misadventures of explorers Burke and Wills, who ended their tragic 1861 expedition by dying here. INNAMINCKA was later founded on much the same spot before the town was abandoned in 1952. Now the area falls within the three-million-acre Innamincka Regional Reserve and Coongie Lakes National Park and the increase in popularity of recreational four-wheel driving has led to a renaissance. With a vehicle you could strike out 20km west to Wills’ grave or 8km east to where Burke was buried (both bodies were removed to Adelaide in 1862). Another 8km beyond Burke’s cairn is Cullyamurra waterhole , the largest permanent body of water in central Australia, and a footpath to rock engravings of crosses, rainbow patterns and bird tracks. If the roads are open, you can also tackle the 110km 4WD track north to the shallow Coongie Lakes , where you can swim and watch the abundant birdlife. An hour’s drive east of Innamincka along a rather poor track is Queensland, the Dig Tree and a fuelless route to Quilpie.

As you head towards Cape Jervis along the west coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, KANGAROO ISLAND (or KI), only 13km offshore, first appears behind a vale of rolling hills. Once you’re on the island, its size and lack of development leave a strong impression. This is Australia’s third-largest island (after Tasmania and Melville Island), with 450km of spectacular, wild coastline and a multitude of wildlife including kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, platypuses, Little penguins, fur seals, sea lions and, in passing, southern right whales.

To see Kangaroo Island properly you’ll need at least three days, though most people only visit the major south-coast attractions – Seal Bay, Little Sahara, Remarkable Rocks and Flinders Chase National Park . Although promoted as South Australia’s premier tourism destination it’s still unspoilt; only in the peak holiday period (Christmas to the end of Jan, when most of the accommodation is booked up) does it feel busy. Once out of the island’s few small towns, there’s little sign of human presence to break the long, straight roads that run through undulating fields, dense gum forests and mallee scrub. There’s often a strong wind off the Southern Ocean, so bring something warm whatever the season, and take care when swimming – there are strong rips on many beaches. Safe swimming spots include Hog Bay and Antechamber Bay, both near Penneshaw; Emu Bay, northwest of Kingscote; Stokes Bay, further west; and Vivonne Bay, on the south side of the island.

Coming by boat, you’ll arrive at Kangaroo Island’s eastern end, at the small settlement of Penneshaw . The airport is a little further west in Cygnet River near Kingscote , the island’s administrative centre and South Australia’s second-oldest colonial settlement, though little remains to show for it. Between Penneshaw and Kingscote, sheltered American River is another good base. From here, the Playford Highway and South Coast Road branch out to traverse the island, entering Flinders Chase National Park from the north and south respectively. The national park and surrounding wilderness protection area cover the entire western end of the island.

Stretching north of Adelaide up to Port Augusta and the south Flinders Ranges is the fertile agricultural region known as the mid-north . The gateway to the region is the town of Kapunda , 16km northwest of Nuriootpa in the Barossa Valley, which became Australia’s first mining town when copper was discovered here in 1842. Kapunda can also be reached as a short detour from the Barrier Highway en route to Broken Hill in New South Wales, a route that continues through the larger mining town of Burra , and close to Peterborough, the self-proclaimed “frontier to the Outback”. The centre of the mid-north’s wine area, Clare , is 45km southwest of Burra on the Main North Road, the alternative route to Port Augusta.

In 1851 the “Monster Mine” at BURRA , an hour’s drive north of Kapunda, was the largest in Australia, producing five percent of the world’s copper and creating fabulous wealth. However, when the mines closed in 1877, Burra became a service centre for the surrounding farming community, and nowadays takes advantage of its heritage to attract visitors. Plenty of money has been spent restoring and beautifying the place, and it’s now a popular weekend escape between March and November, before it gets too hot. The mine is in the northern part of town, while the southern section has the shopping centre, based around Market Street.

The Clare Valley

In the cool uplands of the North Mount Lofty Ranges , the Clare Valley is really a series of gum-fringed ridges and valleys running roughly 30km north from Auburn to the main township of Clare , on either side of Main North Road. The wine industry in the valley was pioneered by Jesuit priests at Sevenhill in the 1850s. There’s no tourist overkill here: coach tours are not encouraged, and because it’s a small area with just over forty cellar doors , you can learn a lot about the local styles of wine (the valley is especially recognized for its fine Rieslings). You’ll often get personal treatment too, with the winemaker presiding. Several sheep stations can be visited among beautiful historic villages, well-preserved mansions, quaint old pubs, and there’s plenty of atmospheric accommodation, as well as numerous superb restaurants attached to wineries.

Clare Valley wineries

Crabtree crabtreewines.com.au . The pick of the four wineries at Waterville, and one of the most enjoyable to visit in the valley.

Eldredge Vineyards eldredge.com.au . Located in a small farmhouse fronting a dam, with a good restaurant.

Jim Barry jimbarry.com . A friendly, family-run place founded by a pioneer winemaker.

Knappstein Winery & Brewery knappstein.com.au . Housed in an ivy-coloured sandstone building with a veranda. Taste fine wines, and equally good lager.

O’Leary Walker Wines olearywalkerwines.com . Relatively new vineyard, founded in 2000, with some fine Rieslings.

Paulett Wines paulettwines.com.au . This winery has fabulous views, with a veranda overlooking the “river” – a dry creek for eleven months of the year.

Reilly’s Wines reillyswines.com.au . Housed in an 1856 Irish bootmaker’s buildings. There’s a great restaurant, as well as vintages from 1994 onwards.

Sevenhill Cellars sevenhill.com.au . The oldest winery in the valley, still run by a religious order that mainly makes sacramental wine, though the brothers have diversified into table wines, sweet sherry and port. There’s a charming sandstone tasting room, and an old Catholic church in the grounds.

Skillogalee Winery skillogalee.com . Occupying a wonderful spot set against a backdrop of a clunking windmill, bush-clad hill and vineyards, with tastings by the fire in an 1850s cottage. Good restaurant too.

Heading to KAPUNDA from the Barossa, the landscape changes as vineyards are replaced by crops and grazing sheep. The discovery of copper here (and in Burra) in the 1840s put the region at the vanguard of Australia’s mining boom, attracting huge numbers of Cornish miners; today as you come into town, you’re greeted by a colossal sculpture of a Cornish miner entitled Map Kernow , “Son of Cornwall”. However, the boom ended as suddenly as it began, as resources were exhausted – mining finished at Kapunda in 1878.

A place that once had its own daily newspaper, eleven hotels and a busy train station is now a rural service town, pleasantly undeveloped and with many old buildings decorated with locally designed and manufactured iron lacework, as well as the ruins of the mine.

How you see PORT AUGUSTA depends on where you’ve come from. Arriving from the Outback, the town’s trees, shops and hotels can be a real thrill, but compared with the southeast of the state, there’s little here. Its role as a transport hub has saved the town from destitution, while recent developments have made the foreshore area with its city beach more attractive. While you’re deciding where to head next, there are a couple of brilliant sights to see in town and some good bushwalking country around Mount Remarkable, at the tail end of the Flinders Ranges.

Port Augusta sits at the tip of the Spencer Gulf with the Outback all around. Despite the name, the docks closed long ago, while the power station and railways were drastically scaled down during the 1980s. The centre of town overlooks the east side of the Spencer Gulf , more like a river where it divides the town. Shops, banks and the post office are clustered along narrow Commercial Road . During summer, you should make the most of the swimming beach at the end of Young Street or escape the dust and heat at the attractive foreshore – the old wooden pile crossing, now a footbridge, and a 100-year-old jetty, all that remains of the port, make good perches for fishing and there are barbecue facilities and swimming pontoons in the water.

The Riverland is the name given to the long irrigated strip on either side of the Murray River as it meanders for 300km from Blanchetown to Renmark near the Victorian border. The Riverland’s deep red-orange alluvial soil – helped by extensive irrigation – is very fertile, making the area the state’s major supplier of oranges, stone fruit and grapes. Fruit stalls along the roadsides add to the impression of a year-long harvest, and if you’re after fruit-picking work it’s an excellent place to start; contact the HarvestTrail service. The area is also a major wine-producing region, though the high-tech wineries here mainly make mass-produced wines for casks and export. Many are open to visitors, but their scale and commercialism make them less enjoyable than those in other wine regions. The Sturt Highway , the major route between Adelaide and Sydney, passes straight through the Riverland and Premier Stateliner runs a bus service along it.

The Murray River

The Murray River is Australia’s Mississippi – or so the American author Mark Twain declared when he saw it in the early 1900s. It’s a fraction of the size of the American river, but in a country of seasonal, intermittent streams it counts as a major waterway. Fed by melting snow from the Snowy Mountains, as well as by the Murrumbidgee and Darling rivers, the Murray flows through the arid plains, reaching the Southern Ocean southwest of Adelaide near Goolwa. With the Darling and its tributaries, it makes up one of the biggest and longest watercourses in the world, giving life to Australia’s most important agricultural region, the Murray–Darling basin. Almost half of South Australia’s water comes from the Murray; even far-off Woomera in the Outback relies on it.

Historically, the Riverland was densely populated by various Aboriginal peoples who navigated the river in bark canoes, the bark being cut from river red gums in a single perfect piece – many trees along the river still bear the scars. The Ngarrindjeri people’s Dreamtime story of the river’s creation explains how Ngurunderi travelled down the Murray, looking for his runaway wives. The Murray was then just a small stream, but, as Ngurunderi searched, a giant Murray cod surged ahead of him, widening the river with swipes of its tail. Ngurunderi tried to spear the fish, which he chased to the ocean, and the thrashing cod carved out the pattern of the Murray River during the chase.

The best way to appreciate the beauty of the Murray is from the water itself. Several old paddle steamers and a variety of other craft still cruise the Murray for pleasure. The PS Industry is one of the few wood-fuelled paddle steamers left on the Murray, and cruises on the first Sunday of the month (bookings through the Renmark visitor centre). Murray River Cruises ( murrayrivercruises.com.au ) has a range of two- to seven-day cruises, many of which start from the lower river town of Mannum, an hour’s drive east of Adelaide. Other cruises from Mannum can be booked through the visitor centre ( mannum.org.au ).

Riverland Leisure Canoe Tours (riverlandcanoes.com.au) rents out kayaks and canoes, and arranges guided day-tours.

Renting a houseboat is a relaxing and enjoyable alternative, available in most towns on the river. All you need is a driving licence, and the cost isn’t astronomical if you get a group of people together and avoid the peak holiday seasons. A week in an eight-berth houseboat in the high season should cost around $3500–6000. Contact Oz Houseboats ( houseboatbookings.com.au ) for details and reservations.

Most travellers en route between Adelaide and Melbourne pass through southeast South Australia as quickly as possible, which is a shame, as the coastal route offers wild, pristine beaches and tranquil fishing villages, while inland there are a couple of brilliant wine regions.

From Tailem Bend, just beyond Murray Bridge some 85km out of Adelaide, three highways branch out. The northernmost, the Mallee Highway , is the quintessential road to nowhere, leading through the sleepy settlements of Lameroo and Pinnaroo to the insignificant town of Ouyen in Victoria’s mallee country. The second, the Dukes Highway , offers a fast but boring route to Melbourne via the South Australian mallee scrub and farming towns of Keith and Bordertown , before continuing in Victoria as the Western Highway across the monotonous Wimmera. It is, however, well worth breaking your journey to visit the Coonawarra and Naracoorte , in between the Dukes Highway and the coastal route: the former is a tiny wine-producing area that makes some of the country’s finest red wine ; the latter is a fair-sized town with a freshwater lagoon system that attracts prolific birdlife, and a conservation park with impressive World Heritage-listed caves.

The third option, the Princes Highway (Highway 1), is much less direct but far more interesting. It follows the extensive coastal lagoon system of the Coorong to Kingston SE , and then runs a short way inland to the lake craters of Mount Gambier before crossing into Victoria. There’s another possible route on this last stretch, the Southern Ports Highway , which sticks closer to the coast, plus a potential detour along the Riddoch Highway into the scenic Coonawarra wine region.

Set close to the border with Victoria, MOUNT GAMBIER is the southeast’s commercial centre and South Australia’s second most populous city. The city sprawls up the slopes of an extinct volcano whose three craters – each with its own lake surrounded by heavily wooded slopes and filled from underground waterways – are perfect for subterranean diving.

The Stuart Highway: Woomera and beyond

North of Port Augusta, the Stuart Highway and the New Ghan rail line travel through progressively drier scenery to the Northern Territory. The first place of any consequence is the town of Woomera, from where you can visit the mining centres of Roxby Downs and Andamooka, and the salt flat of Lake Torrens; you’ll need your own vehicle to visit these three destinations. Northwest of Woomera, the Stuart Highway heads up to the isolated, iconic settlement of Coober Pedy.

Coober Pedy

COOBER PEDY is the most enduring symbol of the harshness of Australia’s Outback and the determination of those who live there. It’s a place where the terrain and temperatures are so extreme that homes – and even churches – have been built underground, yet it has managed to attract thousands of opal prospectors. In a virtually waterless desert 380km from Woomera, 845km from Adelaide, and considerably further from anywhere else, the most remarkable thing about the town – whose name stems from an Aboriginal phrase meaning “white man’s burrow” – is that it exists at all. Opal was discovered by William Hutchison on a gold-prospecting expedition to the Stuart Range in February 1915, and the town itself dates from the end of World War I, when returning servicemen headed for the fields to try their luck, using their trench-digging skills to construct underground dwellings.

In summer Coober Pedy is seriously depopulated, but, if you can handle the intense heat, it’s a good time to look for bargain opal purchases – though not to scratch around for them yourself: gem hunting is better reserved for the “cooler” winter months. At the start of the year, spectacular dust storms often enclose the town in an abrasive orange twilight for hours. Coober Pedy has a bit of a reputation as a rowdy township. This is not really surprising considering the extreme climate, alcohol problems, access to explosives and open mine shafts to fall down.

The local scenery might be familiar to you if you’re a film fan, as it was used to great effect in Mad Max 3 , among other films. There’s not much to it, just an arid plain disturbed by conical pink mullock (slag) heaps, and dotted with clusters of trucks and home-made contraptions, and warning signs alerting you to treacherously invisible, unfenced 30m shafts. Be very careful where you tread: even if you have transport, the safest way to explore is to take a tour, follow a map, then return on your own.

Finding and buying an opal

Opal is composed of fragile layers of silica and derives its colour from the refraction of light – characteristics that preclude the use of heavy mining machinery, as one false blow would break the matrix and destroy the colour. Deposits are patchy and located by trial and error: the last big strikes at Coober Pedy petered out in the 1970s, and though bits and pieces are still found – including an exceptional opalized fossil skeleton of a pliosaur (the reptilian equivalent of a seal) in 1983 – it’s anybody’s guess as to the location of other major seams (indeed, there may not be any at all).

Unless you’re serious (in which case you’ll have to buy a Miner’s Permit from the Mines Department to peg your 50m-by-50m claim), the easiest way to find something is by noodling over someone’s diggings – ask the owner first. An area on the corner of Jewellers Shop and Umoona roads has been set aside as a safe area for tourists to poke about freely without danger of finding open mine shafts. Miners use ultraviolet lamps to separate opal from potch (worthless grey opal), so you’re unlikely to find anything stunning – but look out for shell fossils and small chips.

The best time to buy opal is outside the tourist season, but with about fifty dealers in town, it’s up to you to find the right stone; reputable sources give full written guarantees.

Lake Torrens

A thirty-minute 4WD ride away from Andamooka is Lake Torrens , a sickle-shaped salt lake related to the Acraman meteorite that gets popular with birdwatchers in wet years. The lake is also renowned in paleontological circles for traces of the 630-million-year-old Ediacaran fauna , the earliest-known evidence of animal life anywhere on the planet, first found in Australia and possibly wiped out by the meteorite. Delicate fossil impressions of jellyfish and obscure organisms are preserved in layered rock; the South Australian Museum in Adelaide has an extensive selection, but rarely issues directions to the site, which has been plundered since its discovery by the geologist Reg Sprigg back in 1946.

When travelling through the Outback, water is vital: with few exceptions, lakes and waterways are dry or highly saline, and most Outback deaths are related to dehydration or heatstroke – bikers seem particularly prone. As always, stay with your vehicle if you break down. Summer temperatures can be lethally hot, and winters pleasant during the day and subzero at night; rain can fall at any time of year, but is most likely to do so between January and May. Many roadhouses and fuel pumps take credit and/or debit cards, but it’s essential to carry cash as well.

To find out about road conditions in the Outback, call 1300 361 033 or visit the South Australia Transport website ( transport.sa.gov.au ). If you’re not driving, it is possible to travel through the region by bus services run by Greyhound ( greyhound.com.au ) and Premier Stateliner ( premierstateliner.com.au ). Flying can save you a lot of time and energy; Regional Express ( rex.com.au ) is the most useful carrier in the area.

RAA road maps are good but lack topographical information, so if you’re spending any time in the north, pick up the excellent Westprint Heritage maps and the Gregory’s 4WD maps. Hikers traversing the Flinders on the Heysen Trail need topographic maps of each section and advice from the nearest DENR office. Conditions of minor roads are so variable that maps seldom do more than indicate the surface type; local police and roadhouses will have current information.

A Desert Parks Pass is required for legal entry into Innamincka Regional Reserve, Lake Eyre National Park, Witjira National Park and the Simpson Desert: $150 per vehicle allows unlimited access and use of campsites for twelve months, with copies of the detailed DENR Desert Parks Handbook and a map thrown in. Passes are available from agencies throughout the north, can be purchased online ( environment.sa.gov.au/parks ; allow 7 days), or bought at the Port Augusta visitor centre .

West of Port Augusta the Eyre Highway runs 950km to the border of Western Australia; the journey can be made more interesting by taking a detour around the coast of the Eyre Peninsula , which has sandy white beaches, aquamarine sea, excellent fishing, and Australia’s finest seafood . Once past Ceduna , on the eastern edge of the Nullarbor Plain , there’s little beyond you and the desert. The Indian Pacific train traverses the Nullarbor further inland, through even more extreme desolation.

The Eyre Peninsula

Long appreciated by Adelaidians as an antidote to city stress, the Eyre Peninsula ’s broad triangle is protected by the Gawler Ranges from the arid climate further north. The area was first farmed in the 1880s, fishing communities sprang up at regular intervals and iron ore, discovered around 1900, is still mined around Whyalla . The drive around the coast passes stunning scenery and superlative surfing and beach fishing , especially where the Great Australian Bight’s elemental weather hammers into the western shore.

The Nullarbor Plain

Nullarbor , from the Latin “Nullus Arbor” or “treeless”, is an apt description of the plain, which stretches flat and infertile for over 1200km across the Great Australian Bight. Taking the train brings you closer to the dead heart than the road does, which allows some breaks in the monotony of the journey to scan the sea for southern right whales, or playing a few holes of golf on the Nullarbor Links ( nullarborlinks.com ) – an eighteen-hole, par-72 golf course between Ceduna and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. At 1365km, it’s the world’s longest and arguably the most unusual golf course.

From Ceduna to the Western Australian border it’s 480km, which you can easily cover in under five hours; the Dalí-esque fridges standing along the highway in the early stages of the drive are actually makeshift mailboxes for remote properties.

Top image: Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia © kwest/Shutterstock

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Andy Turner

written by Andy Turner

updated 2.09.2021

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South Australia Travel Guide

Phoebe Harper

Where the outback meets the ocean, South Australia is a beacon for sustainable travel. Offering wildlife, wine, and world-class beaches, we uncover a slice of authentic Australia.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Widely tipped by locals as the ‘real Australia’, South Australia is amongst the richest in its offering to travellers and offers the best of Australia within one state.

Boasting wonderful wildlife, wine, food and beaches, South Australia is a destination worthy of any tourist’s attention in 2022, as the state looks forward to when it can welcome back international visitors.

Today, South Australia is establishing itself as a true leader in sustainable tourism, with National Geographic UK including Adelaide amongst its ranking of seven sustainable destinations for 2022. Adelaide itself has also just won National Park City status – only the second city in the world to hold this honour. It won this title after proving its commitment to making Adelaide greener, wilder and cooler and visitors will enjoy seeing koalas snoozing in trees, butterflies in the Botanic Gardens and a whole range of other native species living happily in their natural habitats.

South Australia offers a less populous alternative to its busier neighbours of New South Wales and Victoria. A topographically diverse region, the landscapes of South Australia range from the wilds of the outback to the postcard-perfect plains of Kangaroo Island, and the populous enigmatic state capital of Adelaide.

Regional South Australia comprises miles of arid outback to the north, national parks and low mountain ranges surrounded by miles of unspoilt coastline. Sparkling cerulean seas host endemic species such as gatherings of giant cuttlefish and the leafy sea dragons from which the state takes its emblem.

Culturally speaking, South Australia offers an authentic insight into Aboriginal culture and its rich heritage. Archaeological findings throughout the state suggest that humans have inhabited these lands for over 50,000 years and experiencing the indigenous heritage on a tour in South Australia is quite special.

South Australia is also a sommelier’s paradise, boasting world-renowned wine-making regions throughout the rolling Adelaide Hills and the Barossa, where you may be tempted to sample an award-winning glass of Shiraz. Adelaide itself is renowned as the ‘Vineyard City of Australia’, home to the iconic Penfold’s winery.

Hosting one of Australia’s culinary capitals and a highly commended range of accommodation, South Australia offers an intoxicating taste of the finer things in life.

south australia travel book

“We have a long road ahead of us, but it’s wonderful to see the green shoots of recovery emerge” Rodney Harrex, Chief Executive, SATC

TOURISM INSIGHTS: SOUTH AUSTRALIAN TOURISM COMMISSION

Since 1993, the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) has championed the region as a destination for tourism. Today, the SATC is stimulating the tourism sector’s economic growth and pioneering its recovery in the wake of COVID-19. Pursuing the ambitious goal of boosting the visitor economy to $12.8 billion by 2030, we find out more with Chief Executive, Rodney Harrex.

Q&A WITH RODNEY HARREX, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, SATC

Can you talk us through the origins of the SATC and its initial vision?

Rodney   Harrex, Chief Executive (RH):  We were established under the South Australian Tourism Commission Act 1993. Our purpose has always been to assist in securing economic and social benefits for the people of our state through promoting South Australia as a tourism destination, including the promotion of events and festivals and the further development and improvement of our state’s tourism industry. 

What are your organisation’s current goals? For instance, I understand the SATC intends to grow the visitor economy to $12.8 billion by 2030?  

RH:  Our immediate focus is on recovering our once $8.1 billion visitor economy so we can get back on track to achieving our 2030 goals. Over the past 12 months we’ve been running important stimulus programmes such as the Great State Voucher scheme and Tourism Industry Development Fund (TIDF) to support our industry in the wake of the dual crises of the ‘black summer’ bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.  

These programmes have been hitting the mark, boosting visitation from the domestic market and supporting private sector investment in new and improved regional accommodation and the development of quality tourism product and experiences. The Great State Voucher scheme is expected to inject an estimated $90 million into our visitor economy, while as of October 2021, the TIDF has supported 80 projects across our state with a combined project value of more than $56.8 million.  

With our state’s borders opening to fully vaccinated domestic travellers as of 23 November 2021, there is a sense of optimism across our tourism industry. In fact, forward bookings for Adelaide hotels in the coming three months are the strongest they have been since the pandemic began.

We are committed to achieving our bold ambition for 2030: growing the visitor economy to $12.8 billion, generating 16,000 additional jobs. The latest results for the June 2021 year-end have seen expenditure recover to $5.8 billion, ahead of our original impact forecast of $4.9 billion. In fact, our model is now anticipating a recovery of the visitor economy to $6.3 billion by June 2022. We have a long road ahead of us, but it’s wonderful to see the green shoots of recovery emerge.

Why, in your opinion, should someone visit South Australia?  

RH:  You can experience the best bits of Australia within South Australia without having to travel huge distances, meaning visitors can maximise every moment of their holiday here. The vineyard city of Adelaide, our state capital, is served well by Qatar, Qantas and Singapore Airlines and is an easy 20-minute taxi ride from the airport so visitors can ease themselves into their trip as soon as they arrive. The city is home to some of the world’s best laneway dining and small bars, and also boasts some incredible galleries, museums and beautiful beaches. We call it the vineyard city of Australia because it has one of the world’s most famous wineries, Penfolds, in the city itself and is within easy reach of the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Barossa and Clare Valley wine regions. In all of these areas visitors can enjoy the very best of Australia’s food and drink scene and get to meet passionate producers in stunning surrounds. For wildlife fans there are so many opportunities to see native wildlife in the wild in epic locations such as Kangaroo Island and the Flinders Ranges – an outback region steeped in Aboriginal culture. Ramblers are spoilt for choice when it comes to incredible multi-day hikes, and those wanting to hit the beach can have one all to themselves!  

How do you market South Australia as a destination for sustainable travel experiences?

RH:  South Australia as a state is leading the way in Australia when it comes to sustainability across a range of industries. We were the first state to ban single use plastics, at the start of last year we became the first state to commit to halving our greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, and our government’s Climate Action Plan aims to achieve net 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. Currently more than 60 per cent of our power supply comes from wind and solar and the creation of Green Adelaide has led to some incredible outcomes to make our state capital cooler, greener, wilder and more climate resilient.  

On the tourism front, sustainable practices and responsible travel is in our DNA, and we have long worked with stakeholders to protect and promote our pristine natural environments, rich cultural heritage and vibrant local communities for the common good. Many of our tourism businesses are owner operated and run by locals who are passionate about protecting their slice of South Australia for future generations. We have harnessed many of their stories on a new section of our consumer website:  https://southaustralia.com/plan-your-trip/sustainability  

The new content shows how visitors can actively participate in this movement in Adelaide and in regional South Australia by touring with eco-certified guides, getting involved in citizen science initiatives, discovering our rich Aboriginal heritage, visiting one of our rewilding sites and spending time with one of our many biodynamic winemakers. There is even a raft of fabulous off grid tiny houses that visitors can stay in now, and as borders open up again, we look forward to further promoting our sustainable tourism credentials.  

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What lesser-known, or off the beaten track, destinations would you recommend to visitors to South Australia?

RH:  I love Outback South Australia and have been lucky enough to spend time in the Flinders Ranges (about a five-hour drive from Adelaide) and further north in places like the underground opal mining town of Coober Pedy and the incredible Lake Eyre. There are some fantastic local guides working to bring the outback landscapes to life, identifying the unique flora and fauna and sharing the Aboriginal culture in a really immersive way. Taking a flight over the Painted Hills is something not many people have had the opportunity to do, but I would thoroughly recommend it. They cover an area of 30 kilometres by 10 kilometres and are a truly remarkable outback landmark.

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How is the SATC navigating recovery for tourism from the COVID-19 pandemic? What marketing tactics are you leveraging to move forward with this?

RH:  Throughout the pandemic we have been working in partnership with our industry colleagues to encourage South Australians to holiday at home and explore more of their own backyard. As part of this effort, we introduced a Great State Voucher scheme which has been phenomenally successful and is expected to create an estimated $90 million worth of economic benefit to the state. Latest data shows that intrastate expenditure has increased 29 percent in the 12 months to June 2021 to a record high of $2.6 billion. This work has helped operators maintain their businesses and, in some cases, has encouraged further innovation and new launches. This means we’re ready to welcome back Australian visitors from the other states and we have lots to show off to international visitors when borders reopen to them. Around the world we’re working with our travel agent partners to upskill them so they’re ready to sell Adelaide and South Australia when the time is right, and we’re working with media partners to share our stories directly to people planning big trips for 2022.  

Does the SATC have any ongoing projects that you would like to showcase?

RH:  The key point I’d like to reiterate is how much we’ve missed our visitors from overseas and indeed from other parts of Australia. We can’t wait to welcome everyone back when the time is right. During the pandemic across the state, we’ve seen a raft of fantastic new accommodation open up, new tours launch, and new infrastructure being put in place. All of this innovation means South Australia has more to offer than ever before, and this has been recognised in a number of different ways. Most recently Adelaide was voted the world’s third most liveable city, and National Geographic UK included Adelaide in its list of top seven sustainable destinations for 2022 and beyond. We look forward to sharing South Australia and its many wonderful experiences with first time visitors, and with those who fell in love with our state before and are coming back to discover more.

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OUTLOOK RECOMMENDS

EAT & DRINK:

For Barossa hospitality in a world-class winery

Since 1929, Flaxman Wines has specialised in growing Riesling, Shiraz and Semillon. Today, the vineyard offers wine tours and even a five course-degustation showcasing the best of the Barossa Valley’s produce. For tasting tours and leisurely lunches, find out more and book your visit at  flaxmanwines.com.au

For exploring the culinary capital

Urban Adelaide is known for its Central Market. Some of the city’s best eateries and are to be found in this labyrinthine complex, hosting over 250 stalls. Guided tours are available or explore on your own and be spoilt for choice. Try Asian Gourmet for delicious laksa, or long-running favourite Lucia’s Pizza & Spaghetti Bar.

For kangaroo watching in the wild

Kangaroo Island is a must-visit in South Australia. In this paradisical landscape, a healthy population of Kangaroos has flourished, so much so that the species even outnumbers cars on the island. Sealink has been offering guided wildlife tours and ferry trips to Kangaroo Island for over 30 years. Book your tours and experiences on their website:  sealink.com.au

For Aboriginal cultural appreciation

Following the course of the Gemtree winery Eco Trail, enjoy unparalleled insight into Aboriginal culture with Gemtree’s recently launched Aboriginal Cultural Tour. In this immersive experience, Karuna Elder Karl Winda Telfer shares his precious knowledge of culture, connection and country. Book  here .

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For an eco stay on the Eyre Peninsula

The newly opened Eco Eyre offers beachfront accommodation with an eco-friendly twist. Stay in well-equipped eco-pods with direct beach access on the breathtaking seascapes of the Eyre Peninsula. This truly is a slice of paradise. Visit the Eco Eyre website to book:  ecoeyre.com.au

For an urban getaway in central Adelaide

Located seconds away from the culinary hub of the Central Market, Hotel Indigo offers a comfortable stay that pays homage to the area’s vibrant culture. A design-focused boutique accommodation, Hotel Indigo celebrates its local heritage and offers the region’s best produce. Visit Hotel Indigo Adelaide Markets to book:  adelaide.hotelindigo.com .

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ADELAIDE IN FOCUS

Widely acknowledged as the lifestyle capital of Australia, and recently voted the world’s third most liveable city, eclectic Adelaide is home to over 70 percent of South Australia’s population.

Inhabited by Australia’s first free settlers, the vineyard city of Australia is known for its natural and cultural heritage, as showcased in the South Australian Museum and of course is well known for its wineries. Adelaide celebrates the Kaurna Aboriginal culture of the land it occupies – with the city originally known as ‘Tarndanyangga’, translating as ‘place of the red kangaroo’. It was later renamed after Queen Adelaide, consort to King William IV.

Greater Adelaide comprises the surrounding Adelaide Hills, while the city itself sprawls from the coast of the Gulf St Vincent in the west, to the Mount Lofty ranges in the east. Known as the 20-minute city, drive 20 minutes one way and you’ll be steeped in the scenic hills of wine country; drive 20 minutes the other way and you’ll be at the beach. Locally sourced food, some of the world’s finest wine, and picturesque areas of green parkland are some of the city’s most attractive ingredients.

As a haven for the arts, Adelaide is reputed for its colourful cultural scene and live music with a full calendar of festivals and events. The city’s artistic hub can be found nestled between the River Torrens and North Terrace and is easily explored on foot. From metropolitan beaches like Glenelg, to the thriving multicultural foodie scene of the Central Market and the historic sporting grounds of the Adelaide Oval, home of the South Australian Cricket Association, this is a city that deserves some time to explore.

Did you know?

That South Australia is known for its festivals? From foodie festivities to cultural displays and sporting events, here’s a round-up of what’s on for 2022:

The Adelaide Fringe 18 February – 20 March 2022

The Adelaide Festival 4-20 March 2022

Tasting Australia 29 April – 8 May 2022

Kangaroo Island Marathon 21 May 2022

south australia travel book

LANDMARK ATTRACTIONS

Eyre Peninsula

For aquatic activities, the Eyre Peninsula offers some of the best in the world. Marine life here includes sea lions, dolphins and whales off the coast of Port Lincoln, and endemic colour-changing cuttlefish. The more daring may even be tempted by a shark cage dive. The area also boasts fantastic local seafood, wine, and some fabulous places to stay.  

Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park

A five-hour drive from Adelaide, the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is one of South Australia’s most treasured regions. The park boasts native wildlife, Aboriginal rock art sites, and the 80 square-kilometre natural basin of Wilpena Pound (Ikara). For outdoor enthusiasts, head to Flinders Ranges to bushwalk, mountain bike and explore in awe-inspiring mountain scenery steeped in Aboriginal culture.

Murray River

Australia’s answer to the Mississippi, the Murray River winds through South Australia and is Australia’s longest river. This 130-million-year-old river is rich in Aboriginal history, supposedly formed by a giant cod according to Dreamtime stories. Appreciate this scenic waterway by hiring a kayak, joining a paddle steamer cruise, or even staying on a houseboat in the heart of nature. Doing the four day Murray River Walk or three day Murray River Safari is an incredible way to immerse yourself in the riverland with experienced local guides.

GETTING THERE AND AROUND

Visitors to South Australia will likely arrive in Adelaide’s international airport, which is widely serviced by the world’s leading airlines including Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines. If travelling from within Australia, the city is also easily accessed by domestic airlines at just an hour’s flight from Melbourne and an hour and ten minutes from Sydney. In terms of train travel, Great Southern Rail offers interstate travel options to Adelaide.

south australia travel book

Driving is typically the best way to get around regional South Australia, whilst Adelaide is served by a reliable public transport system including the Metro and a free tram system. For travelling within the city, the Adelaide Metro Visitor Pass offers unlimited travel for three consecutive days including a visitor pack with maps and travel guides. Green transport is also available and encouraged, with over 500 bikes available through the Adelaide Free Bikes scheme, and with EcoCaddy – both of which are a great way to explore the city’s established network of laneways.  

For those not driving, the region is covered by bus services running through both Greyhound and Premier Stateliner. If visiting Kangaroo Island, an express ferry service can be found a two-hour drive from Adelaide and is operated by SeaLink. On the island itself, car, van or RV hire is readily available near the ferry terminal in Penneshaw. To reach the Eyre Peninsula, head west with the Spencer Gulf Searoad vehicle and passenger ferry, which also takes in the Yorke Peninsula.

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Ultimate South Australia Road Trip Guide: 1/2/3 Week Itinerary

Thinking about doing a South Australia road trip but unsure what to see and do? While South Australia is famed for having jaw dropping pristine beaches, beautiful vineyards and so much more, British expat writer Lucy Timperley is sharing her personal South Australian itinerary to help you plan your trip!

Lucy is no stranger to writing for Londoner In Sydney. You can read her epic guide for walking the entire Bondi to Manly Walk in a single weekend! Originally from Manchester, she swapped rainy days for living in Bondi Beach. You can follow her expat adventures at @lucytimperley

Need travel insurance for your travels? See why our readers book with Cover More.

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Table of Contents

Why visit South Australia?

south australia travel book

As a wine lover, Barossa Valley and McClaren Vale wine regions have been on my list for a while and following the devastating bushfires on Kangaroo Island, I really wanted to visit to try to contribute to their recovery in a small way.

Other than that, I hadn’t really considered exploring South Australia as a holiday destination. It was only when I started doing some research that I realised how much there so many things to do in South Australia, so we ended up extending our initial 1 week trip turned into a 3 week South Australian road trip!

Best time to visit South Australia

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While South Australia is known for having some scorching hot days in Summer, when we visited it was unseasonably cool at 25C most days. Spring and Autumn would be beautiful times of the year to visit this underrated part of Australia.

How to logistically do a South Australian road trip

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Because I live in Sydney, I flew to Adelaide Airport, and then hired a car which cost us $930 for three weeks. The car hire included payments to reduce the excess to zero and for additional drivers so we could switch it up each day.

What to do in Week 1 on a South Australia road trip

I’m going to break it down so you can see what to do in Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3 of the road trip. This is perfect for anyone looking to do a shorter trip so you can pick and choose each destination.

Days 1-3: Explore the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula

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You could easily spend way more than four days exploring the stunning coastline of the Fleurieu Peninsula – some of the views from the drive around the Peninsula rivalled the Great Ocean Road!

These were some of the best beaches I have visited in Australia by far with white sand and clear blue water.

My favourite beach is Carrickalinga where we stayed in an AirBnB over the Christmas period and pretty much had the whole beach to ourselves everyday – not something you usually get on Christmas Day in Australia!

Nearby to Carrickalinga there is a lovely local brewery and restaurant, Forktree Brewery , with beautiful views over the rolling hills and the ocean. We visited on Christmas Eve and it was absolutely packed with a great atmosphere – locals had obviously travelled from far and wide to visit. The barman told us it’s that busy almost every day throughout the year so would recommend booking a table in advance.

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For a special occasion, the Star of Greece fine dining Mediterranean (not Greek!) restaurant Port Willunga was exceptional. I’d recommend booking well in advance to avoid disappointment!

On the other side of the Peninsula is Victor Harbor – a lovely little town with a few shops, cafes and pubs, there’s enough to do to spend a full day here. The best way to explore this coastline is the 30km Encounter Bikeway linking Victor Harbor and Goolwa. Admittedly we did only make it about halfway to Port Elliot because we opted for a tandem which was great fun.

We hired the bike from Victor Harbor Holiday & Cabin Park . We stopped for a fish and chips lunch and well-earned beer outside the Flying Fish café in Port Lincoln before heading back to the Holiday Park.

Day 4: Sip wine in the sunshine in McClaren Vale

south australia travel book

We used A. Rite Minibus, a family owned business, for a full day tour of McClaren Vale wineries – we were able to pick our own itinerary and they arranged the tastings for us and kindly made a lunch booking on our behalf too. We paid $75pp for the transport for the day (10am-6pm) in a minibus for 7 of us. Les, the driver was an absolute legend and was very flexible on allowing us to stay longer at wineries where the wine was too good to leave! Here’s a summary of our day:

1. Paxton Wines: a family owned winery, specialising in organic and biodynamic wine. We had a beautiful table outside overlooking the vineyards. The wines were delicious and the sommelier did a perfect job of providing us with information on each as well as leaving us time to chat and enjoy the wines.

2. Angove Family Winemakers : the setting here was beautiful with a balcony overlooking the vineyards which you can wander round. Unfortunately, neither the wine nor the service left much to be desired – it felt very rushed and impersonal, probably because they were so busy at the time, but I wouldn’t hurry back to this one.

3. Oscars Restaurant: a very yummy Italian for some carb-loading to soak up the wine. I’d recommend the arancini followed by the marinara fettuccini – unusally, the wine list wasn’t great considering we were in the heart of the wine region so probably opt for a beer here instead.

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4. D’Arenburg Cube : probably the coolest/weirdest winery you’ll visit! Your entry includes a self-guided tour of the Alternate Realities Museum so make sure you allow a bit longer for this one. You can also pay a bit extra to visit the Salvador Dali exhibition on the ground floor which unfortunately we didn’t have time for. Also make sure you make a bathroom stop at this one – they are pretty cool!

5. Maxwell Wines : we didn’t do a tasting at this one and instead just took a couple of bottles of wine down to the vineyard where they have a couple of picnic benches and logs you can sit on. Pretty wined-up by this point we had a great time racing against each other in the maze outdoor maze too!

I’d love to try Down the Rabbit Hole winery next time as it’s been recommended by so many people but unfortunately, it’s closed on Wednesdays when we visited so plan around that!

What to do in Week 2

Days 5-7: pick up a camper van and travel round kangaroo island.

south australia travel book

We had two full days on Kangaroo Island and managed to get around pretty much everything we wanted to see in that time but you might want to do three days to do things at a slower pace. It may be because we were at peak season over the Christmas break but I would recommend booking your ferries early because the car spots get really booked up.

The ferry is also not cheap (we paid nearly $400 return for two adults with the camper) so factor that into your budgeting! We picked up a campervan for this part of the trip because we couldn’t find any accommodation at all on the island. A campervan is definitely a great way to see the island and was such a novelty for a few days. I’d recommend filling up with fuel before you board the ferry as it’s not cheap on the island!

Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island so the size shouldn’t be underestimated! Also, a lot of the roads are unsealed so choose an appropriate car/van and make sure your insurance covers unsealed roads. I’d recommend staying the first night on the east and exploring that side of the island then staying further west towards Flinders Chase National Park for the second night. This interactive map is a great source of information and allows you to plan and save your own itinerary.

We were on the last ferry out of Cape Jervis so arrived late and headed straight to the Penneshaw Hotel for a lovely pub dinner. We stayed at one of the free council campsites at Vivonne Bay on the first night, around a 1 hour drive from the ferry – this has no facilities (no toilets, showers etc.) so might not be for everyone but it’s totally free and we were the only ones there!

In hindsight, we probably should have just stayed near Penneshaw that evening as we ended up heading back over that way anyway the next day.

seal-bay-kangaroo-island

We started the day at the famous Seal Bay – you actually can’t see any seals unless you pay which we didn’t realise… you can take the boardwalk tour or $16.50 or a guided tour on to the beach for $37 which only goes at certain times. We actually saw loads of seals on Day 2 at Flinders Chase, so unless you’re desperate to see them up you might want to miss this.

If you’

For lunch, we headed back to Penneshaw to a cute little café – Millie Mae’s Pantry . They have a range of yummy salads and sandwiches and a quirky little shop inside too. We had booked a 2 hour dolphin and seal snorkelling trip with Ocean Safari in the afternoon but given we didn’t get lucky unfortunately!

KI-Spirits-south-australia

We needed a drink so we headed to KI Spirits , a craft gin distillery after our unsuccessful snorkelling trip. You could try a flight of 5 gins with tonic for $20 which were all great – my favourite was the Mulberry gin – and they also do gin masterclasses which I bet would be amazing!

We stayed at Western KI Caravan Park for the second night. The park had great amenities as well as wild kangaroos and koalas roaming around! We headed off early the second day to Flinders Chase – this is really where you start to see the impact of the bushfires as the Western side of the island was most badly affected with 96% of the park burnt.

It was great to see some green regrowth coming through and they have done a fantastic job of rebuilding the National Park infrastructure. You will be charged a National Park entry fee of $11pp and given a map of the route to the 5 key stopping points.

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The rock formations at Remarkables Rocks and Admirals Arch are truly incredible and the coastline is stunning.

At Admirals Arch, you can see hundreds of seals playing on the rocks and in the water too!

We headed to the north of the island for lunch at Rockpool café in Stokes Bay. From here we drove to Emu Bay, about 40 mins. Emu Bay is a beautiful long stretch of white sand – we went for a walk down the beach. If you have a 4×4 you can drive along the beach here too.

Our last stop before the ferry back was Bay of Shoals winery near Kingscote where we had a tasting of 5 wines of our choice for $5 (bargain!). The views are stunning overlooking the water and was the perfect way to end our Kangaroo Island leg of the trip!

Days 8-9: Pitstop at Port Willunga and drive to Port Lincoln

Port-Willunga-Beach-south-australia

As we arrived back on a late ferry from Kangaroo Island, we stayed the final night in the camper van at the Big4 Port Willunga Tourist Park .

Without flying, the quickest way to get to Port Lincoln from Fleurieu Peninsula is to drive up to Wallaroo and cross the Spencer Gulf by ferry to Lucky Bay. This avoids needing to drive all the way around the peninsula to go back down to Port Lincoln. We paid $185 for 3 people and a car for a one-way trip.

The drive from Port Willunga to Wallaroo took us about 3 hours with a comfort break and dropping off the camper van on the way.

The ferry itself is a couple of hours and then the drive down to Port Lincoln is another couple of hours. It does end up being quite a long day so don’t plan too much for the evening of your arrival in Port Lincoln!

Days 10-14: Dive with sharks and eat oysters in Port Lincoln

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On our first day in Port Lincoln, we walked up to Boston Bay Wines (get a cab instead as there’s no view on the walk). The winery is in a lovely setting and we paid $20 for a flight of wine – given we’d walked so far they even stayed open a bit later so we could have another bottle of wine which was much appreciated. The owner, Tony, had some great jokes to keep us entertained…

On day two we had an early start for great white shark cage diving. This is an absolute must and Port Lincoln is the only place in Australia where you can do it! We went with Calypso Star Charters and paid $535 each. Calypso are the only company who are allowed to use bait for the sharks, so you have more chance of seeing them. If you don’t see one, you get the next trip for free, but pre book as we missed out on swimming with sea lions because it was booked up.

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The boat departs at 6am and it takes around three hours to get out to near South Neptune Islands. Bring sea sickness tablets as it can get quite choppy out there.

We were very lucky that a great white started circling the boat almost as soon as we arrived and they started to get each group in. If you can, try to put your name down for one of the first groups into the water – that way there is less chance that the shark will disappear before your chance to get in.

No diving experience is necessary – the regulators are all attached to the top of the cage and you just put it in your mouth and get in. You are provided with a wetsuit, boots, goggles and weights to weigh you down in the cage.

You get around 25 minutes in with the sharks which was terrifying and incredible in equal parts.

I was literally centimetres from a great white shark which felt so surreal! This was easily one of my highlights of Australia so far.

We also spotted a few pods of dolphins off the side of the boat too. You have to wait for around 8 groups to get into the water but we just had a nap (and got very sunburnt!) whilst we waited and then you have a 3 hour trip back. We arrived back at around 6pm although I understand this could be as late as 9pm if you are a bit more unlucky with the shark spotting.

flinders-chase-south-australia-road-trip

On our last day in Port Lincoln, we drove across the Eyre Peninsula to Coffin Bay (about a 45 minute drive away). We stopped for coffee and a bite to eat at the buzzing Beachcomber Café before heading into the National Park. The beaches around here are stunning white sand with shallow blue water, almost like a lake. We hopped between Yangie Bay and Long Beach. If you have a 4-wheel drive you can also drive along the length of Long Beach.

coffin-bay-oyster-farm

In the afternoon, we went on the “short & sweet” oyster farm tour booked through Experience Coffin Bay . This 90 minute trip takes you out into Coffin Bay with a brief history of the oyster industry provided by oyster farmers Chris and Linda and you get half a dozen freshly shucked oysters included too. This was an excellent tour and well worth doing to pick up some tips on how to shuck oysters and the best time to buy!

What to do in Week 3

Days 15-17: head out to the flinders ranges.

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We set off early for the 5 hour drive up to Flinders Ranges, stopping at Port Augusta on the way to stock up on food for the few days – I would definitely recommend doing this because there’s really not in terms of shops once you reach Flinders! We stayed 3 nights at Rawnsley Park Station in a two-bedroom apartment which had a pool – a life saver as it was really hot out there.

The receptionist recommended we climb up one of the hills for sunset which was absolutely incredible. You could see sunset on one side and the full moon rising on the other side. We had dinner at the onsite restaurant, the Woolshed, on the first night with kangaroo on the menu!

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In the morning, we embarked on a couple of scenic drives through Bunyeroo and Brachina Gorges and an 8km hike through a gorge. The drives plus the walk took us way longer than we had expected, about 5/6 hours, so make sure you allow plenty of time and take enough food and water.

The scenery is pretty spectacular, somewhat similar to Uluru with the red rock and we didn’t see any other people or cars for miles!

scenic-drive-flinders-ranges

On our second day we decided to check out the historic town of Blinman, around an hours drive from Rawnsley Park. With a population of 35(!) there isn’t much going on but it is a pretty cool place to check out as on of the main settlements in the South Australian desert.

You can do an underground mine tour (unfortunately we had missed the last one for the day!) which sounded cool. We had lunch at the North Blinman Hotel, a really great local pub – we had a lovely afternoon here playing cards and looking at the tons of historic photos and paintings lining the walls.

Days 17 – 18: More wine at the Barossa Valley

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We headed down to the Barossa Valley early with an idea to stop at one of the instagrammable pink lakes, Bumbunga Lake, en route. The pink lake was, well… not pink and very disappointing. Check out our guide for the 10 Best Pink Lakes in Australia!

pink-lakes-in-australia-1

10 Mind-Blowing Best Pink Lakes In Australia 2024 Guide

We stayed one night at the Barossa Weintal Hotel in Tanunda, one of the main towns in the Barossa region. I wish we’d stayed longer as I really loved it here. We booked in for lunch at Casa Carboni , a delicious pasta restaurant where you can also do pasta making courses. The food was SO good and great to line the stomachs for a big day of wine tasting.

chateau-tanunda-south-australia-road-trip

We booked tastings at Chateau Tanunda and Yalumba which were both absolutely stunning venues with delicious wines. After the tastings, we headed to the main street in Tanunda to Z Wine which is a cool little wine bar with live music on – it had such great vibes! We had dinner at 1918 which was really yummy with a lovely garden at the back of the restaurant and finished off with a few drinks at Musque , a cool little gin bar which stays open til midnight!

Days 18 – 20: Finish off with a city break

Adelaide-south-australia-road-trip

I have to admit – I didn’t have high hopes for Adelaide, but I think it gets a really bad rep. We had a couple of nights here to finish off the trip.

On the first day we went on the Temptation snorkelling with dolphins cruise which was a real highlight.

For the most part of the trip, you are snorkelling, holding on to a rope on the back of the boat being pulled along and the dolphins swim underneath you – it really is incredible. One tip is there is no food on board the ship and nothing open in the area when the trip starts so make sure you eat beforehand!

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After the trip, the Glenelg Beach area has a really nice vibe. The Moseley Beach Club is really great with deck chairs on the sand and live music – you could spend all day here! I felt like I was in a European resort rather than Australia.

For dinner, we ate at Shobosho in the laneways. Oh my – the food is amazing – 10/10 would recommend! There’s also lots of intimate bars in the laneways area – my favourite was the Biblioteca Bar and Book Exchange which has an extensive cocktail list as well as a whole library of books!

Looking for more places to visit in Adelaide?

things-to-do-in-mount-gambier

Check out our complete guide for the Best Things To Do In Mount Gambier which is an amazing town full of incredible sink holes you can go diving in. It’s an awesome place that it totally underrated!

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18 Amazing Things To Do In Mount Gambier 2024 Guide

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SOUTH AUSTRALIA ITINERARY: 2-3 WEEKS ON THE ROAD

South Australia itinerary guide 2 weeks

It’s time to uncover another big Australian state: South Australia . With an area of almost one million square kilometres (roughly the size of Germany, Italy and UK combined!) and its position in the south centre of the nation, South Australia uniquely shares borders with each Australian mainland state. Landscapes in South Australia change dramatically from hills and wine regions to dry salt lakes, from the arid outback to some of most amazing coastlines of Australia. That’s why it’s particularly important to plan your itinerary ahead before leaving your safe base in the capital city Adelaide . You don’t want to miscalculate the distances and find yourselves in the middle of the Nullarbor. Or perhaps you do!? Find out more below in our South Australia itinerary guide.

READ ALSO: QUEENSLAND EAST COAST ITINERARY

Fleurieu Peninsula coastal drive road

WHAT TO SEE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA IN 2-3 WEEKS

The first thing you should keep in mind is that anything less than two weeks will not be enough to have a proper trip in South Australia (aka SA). Travelling in South Australia requires lots of time to cover thousands of kilometres on the road. Completely different from tiny Tasmania that we visited right after our trip to SA. As a matter of fact it would take more than a month and over 3,000 km to visit all the places we are listing next. However, it makes more sense to choose some and exclude some other when planning your way, and for this reason we are including distances and suggested days of stay for every location. For ease of reference we’ll list the destinations from east to west, which is ideal if you’re driving to South Australia from Melbourne and Sydney , or if you’re flying to Adelaide , that lies in the southeast of the state.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA ITINERARY GUIDE MAP

MOUNT GAMBIER & LIMESTONE COAST

Deep in the south-eastern corner of South Australia, Mount Gambier is a small town full of natural wonders . Discover the Blue Lake of volcanic origin, the incredible sunken garden at Umpherston Sinkhole (Cenote), and visit stunning Englebrecht Cave located right in the town centre. Mount Gambier sits only half an hour away from the Limestone Coast , a charming side of South Australia offering beautiful beaches and a gorgeous coastline. We loved camping by the beach here, taking long walks and also having the chance to drive our van right on the water’s edge. Staying 3 days in the area would be ideal. You might want to consider flying straight to Mount Gambier to cut travel times from Adelaide. But if you are driving this way and especially if you are coming from Melbourne, Victoria, we strongly recommend to pay a visit to Mount Gambier and drive along the Limestone Coast rather than taking the busy main highway inland.

what to see South Australia umpherston sinkhole

FLEURIEU PENINSULA

Due to its proximity to Adelaide and offering a wide variety of activities, Fleurieu Peninsula is a must visit destination in South Australia . Only 45 minutes south to the capital, it can be visited on a day trip or over a couple of days if driving all around it. The drive itself will reward you with fantastic views over St Vincent Gulf and its rugged coastline, including amazing beaches as Port Willunga or Sellicks Beach . Take a break at one of the many charming towns along the way, or head inland to the popular McLaren Vale , home to sustainable wineries and dining venues, in order to indulge in a proper gastronomic trip. Locals proudly consider the Fleurieu Peninsula drive to be the South Australian answer to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Although it may be shorter it is still fascinating, and will take you right to Cape Jervis where you can board the ferry to reach our next destination on the list. TIP : in McLaren Vale modern wineries and art galleries give plenty of options to spend your days. Head Down the Rabbit Hole to have a glass of wine while sitting in a double-decker bus or visit the d’Arenberg Cube to combine art and sipping.

South Australia itinerary Fleurieu Peninsula

KANGAROO ISLAND

Named by British explorer Matthew Flinders in 1802 for the endemic species of grey kangaroos found in the area, Kangaroo Island is the biggest island in South Australia . Aboriginal people used to live here before the last glacial era that caused the rise of sea level and consequent isolation of Kangaroo Island from the mainland. Since then it remained uninhabited and raw, which contributed to its wild and untouched aspect of nowadays. Come here to unwind for a few days and discover unique wildlife and crystal clear waters. Kangaroo Island is quite big and not your usual islet that can be done in half day. To make it worth the cost of the ferry crossing, consider staying at least two full days.

TIP: the ferry leaves daily all year round from 6am to 7pm, taking about 45 minutes. Prices start from 200$ per vehicle return, 100$ per person return. More info here.

Kangaroo Island ferry ticket cost

ADELAIDE – CAPITAL CITY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The capital of South Australia is a vibrant hub of culture, gastronomy and festivals. Adelaide has a population of just slightly more than 1 million, which makes it easy to explore. Everything is nearby in the CBD, including the historic Adelaide Central Market , the South Australian Museum , the Art Gallery of SA , and the lush Botanic Gardens . Adelaide boasts an excellent dining scene, and has a perfect spot to hang out in the beachside suburb of Glenelg.

Glenelg beach Adelaide

The city’s yearly main event is the Adelaide Fringe Festival , a month-long celebration happening between February and March every summer, which sees 6,000+ artists coming to town to perform and entertain the crowds. Hundreds of thousands of visitors gather here from all over Australia and from overseas to enjoy spectacles of theatre, comedy, circus, music and visual arts. We recommend to spend three days in Adelaide , either at the beginning or at the end of your South Australia itinerary. It can also be used as base to visit nearby Flerieu Peninsula and wine region. READ MORE : What to see&do in Adelaide, South Australia

BAROSSA & CLARE VALLEY, WINE REGION

Whether you’re a wine expert or a casual social drinker, the valleys north to Adelaide have something in store for you. The most famous destination in this sense is undoubtely the Barossa, a globally known and multiple award winner wine region . Spreading around the towns of Tanunda, Angaston and Nuriootpa, there are over 80 cellars to choose from to taste some of the best wines in the world. Should you be hungry – or we should say thirsty – for more, add in 50+ more cellars spreading along a 40 km corridor in beautiful Clare Valley . Around here it’s common to see farm gate stores, where you can grab the freshest delicacies straight from the producers. Being so close to Adelaide, a day trip to the wine region or a one night stop-over on your way north should be enough to satisfy your taste buds.

Wine region what to do Adelaide

YORKE PENINSULA

Yorke Peninsula may be less popular than its bigger sister to its west Eyre Peninsula (see below), however being located just over an hour drive away from Adelaide and home to a whopping 700 kilometres of pristine coast , makes it an excellent seaside destination in SA. You won’t believe your eyes when you’ll see the colours of the water at many beaches around Yorke Peninsula. Reach the coast at Point Turton , Corny Point or at Innes National Park to understand what we are talking about. The long sandy beaches offer opportunities for swimming, surfing and fishing. Innes National Park at the southern tip of the peninsula is a true gem for bushcamping and spotting wildlife. You can also learn some history at Innes ghost town and walk right through its beautiful salt lake (see our Instagram picture). Not many tourist come down here outside weekends or holidays, so if you do you’ll be rewarded with a tranquil experience in nature. Spend one night or two in the national park.

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FLINDERS RANGES & SOUTH AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK

Venturing anywhere north of Port Augusta, the land starts becoming red and dry. The wild outback covers nearly 80% of South Australia, but not even 1% of the state population lives here. So what to do and see in the outback? Simply be amazed by the astonishing scenery, varying from dusty red roads to deep craters, from endless lakes to a night sky show as good as it gets. The Flinders Ranges are the most interesting region morphologically speaking, featuring rocky gorges and weathered peaks. It’s a great place for hikers and adventurers , approximately 5 hours drive from Adelaide. Salt Lake Torrens isn’t too far away, but the most famous one in the state is Lake Eyre , the largest lake in Australia when subject to seasonal flooding. The lake is so big and remote that taking an aerial tour is the best way to appreciate it. Finally, since most of the towns in the South Australian outback are mining centres, why not pay a visit to Coober Pedy , the nation’s most known opal mining town, where locals live in underground houses. A detour to the places listed above in the centre-north of the state will require around 2-4 days. READ MORE : Coober Pedy, life underground in the outback .

what to see South Australia flinders ranges

EYRE PENINSULA

After the outback, it’s time to head back to the seaside. Distances become even longer and driving can get exhausting, especially if you’re travelling during scorching South Australian summer. Luckily Eyre Peninsula offers heaps of amazing spots where to take breaks and cool down by the sea. Once you make it to the very south at Port Lincoln , you’ve reached South Australia’s world famous acquatic hub . Here you can experience a thrilling shark cage dive, play with sea lions and watch whales. Not far away, Coffin Bay is the place where to taste the best oysters and seafood in SA. On top of that the two national parks at Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay are home to a spectacular coastline, featuring both sandy beaches and towering cliffs. Don’t miss the opportunity to stay overnight and improve your chances to spot wild emus and kangaroos right next to your tent or campervan. Go back up the west coast of the peninsula for more dramatic shores at Elliston , Venus Bay and Streaky Bay . As mentioned it takes a while to get to and around Eyre Peninsula, so allow 5-7 days to make sure you enjoy your time there. TIP : if you want to reduce your driving hours, the Lucky Bay-Wallaroo ferry is a good way to cut the trip between Eyre and Yorke peninsulas. The crossing takes about 2.5 hours and the ticket is 165$ per vehicle including driver, but will save you the 400-km-drive around the Spencer Gulf and cost of petrol. More info here.

best beach eyre peninsula september beach

NULLARBOR PLAIN

It may be hard to believe it but once you reach the northwestern tip of Eyre Peninsula at Smoky Bay, you are barely halfway through South Australia! From here, the state extends for other 1,000 km north towards the Northern Territories and about 500 km west to the border with Western Australia, across the Nullarbor Plain. As the name suggests – from Latin nulla arbor = no trees – there isn’t that much to see around here. But that’s the point: it’s one of very few places in the world where you can actually drive on a sealed road in the middle of a treeless, flat, seemingly endless plain. And you can do that for hours and hours. The A1 highway has also become increasingly popular among the community of road trippers for its 90-mile or 146-km-long straight, Australia’s longest straight road. To be fair, we’re not suggesting to include the Nullarbor Plain in your South Australia itinerary unless that is your specific goal or you are on the way to Perth, Western Australia. In that case, since you’ve made it that far, you could add a detour to the coast and take in the majestic views over the Great Australian Bight. From Ceduna to the SA-WA border it’s roughly 1,000 km return. Plus you still have to drive all the way back to Adelaide to conclude your trip. Drive carefully, take frequent breaks and allocate at least 3-4 days for the whole feat.

Nullarbor Plain road sign outback

HAVE A GREAT TRIP IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA!

Our South Australia itinerary post ends here. Remember to keep yourself hydrated, particularly if you’ll be here during heatwaves or summer months, between November and March . Always carry a spare fuel tank and water reserve if you travel by van and plan to be camping. ENJOY SOUTH AUSTRALIA! READ ALSO: TOP BEACHES IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA 5 OF THE BEST WATERFALLS IN TASMANIA FREE CAMPING AND REST AREAS IN AUSTRALIA

south australia travel book

BEST STAYS IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA

  • You can book all accommodation in South Australia with free cancellation   here.
  • Adelaide Caravan Park: conveniently located just 4 km away from the CBD. Villas and cabins other than camping spots and caravan powered sites. Services include swimming pool and barbecue areas.
  • Oaks Glenelg Plaza Pier Suites: lovely location in Glenelg, offering superior seaview suites.
  • Blue Seas Motel: excellent value for money option in the heart of the Eyre Peninsula.

HOW TO GET AROUND?

  • Drive here or fly and rent a private car to be free to reach any place in South Australia. The cheapest options start from 39€/day, and fuel in Australia is less than 1€ per litre! (1.50AUD). Check your best rental car options in Australia here.
  • Airplane: daily flights to Adelaide, from anywhere in Australia. Local flights connect the capital with Mount Gambier, Port Lincoln, Coober Pedy.
  • Ferry: Kangaroo Island ferry; Lucky Bay to Wallaroo.

WEATHER&SEASONS – WHEN TO GO TO SOUTH AUSTRALIA?

South Australia’s climate is generally warm and dry all year round. Mild winters distinguish the southern edges of the state. During summer months from November to February it can get torrid all around SA, with temperatures easily going over 40°C. However, keep in mind that the outback areas are subject to an extremely variable daily temperature range, with cold nights as low as 10°C. Don’t forget your sunscreen when travelling in South Australia.

ONLINE IDP – INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT We recommend getting an International Driving Permit online if you’re planning to drive a vehicle abroad. The International Drivers Association offers a reliable online service that allows to get a digital+physical licence even if you’re already travelling, valid and accepted in 150+ countries worldwide. More info on the official website .

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Better safe than sorry. We recommend two options for you to compare. Get a quote with Worldnomads here , and get up to 20% off your travel insurance  with Heymondo here.

Disclaimer: this post contains links to products and services for which we may be compensated, at no additional cost for you. Thanks for your support that helps us keep our blog free and operating!

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south australia travel book

We didn’t know what to expect when visiting South Australia for the first time. We heard the landscapes and wildlife are amazing but that is definitely an understatement. South Australia is a state of vast contrasts, untouched beaches, stunning National Parks and animals that will make your heart pump. There are 11 distinct regions to explore, embracing everything from rugged coasts to sandy beaches, wine country, the mighty Murray River and the raw outback. This guide contains all the best places to visit in South Australia, best things to do and where we stayed on our road trip.

It is know wonder why South Australia seems to be growing increasingly popular as a travel destination. This must have something to do with not only the incredible scenery but also the good living, fresh quality food, award winning wines, vibrant art festivals and the multicultural lifestyle.

Best way to get around South Australia

There is no better way to explore South Australia than in a motorhome. For this trip we wanted to have the freedom and flexibility to explore on our own time line. We decided to hire a Euro Tourer through Apollo Motorhomes .

The Euro Tourer came with everything we needed to be our home on wheels in South Australia. Inside was comfortable to move around in with cupboard space for our equipment and clothes. The 2 front seats could turn around to face the dining table and seats. The kitchen came with a microwave, 3 burner cooker, a kettle, cutlery, plates, bowls and cooking equipment. The non fixed dining style bed bed was at the back of the van. We really liked this style of bed which was easy to dissemble back into the lounge area. The toilet and shower made it easy for us to freedom camp wherever we needed. However most campsites in South Australia have drop toilets.

Click here to book your camper van with Apollo and start your own adventure.

best places to visit in South Australia Apollo

Best places to visit in South Australia

Adelaide city.

Do your self a favour and be sure to spend a few days exploring Adelaide city . I hope it surprises you as much as it did us. The city boasts atmosphere, trendy cafes, stylish wine bars and great street art. We recommend doing a city tour with Flamboyance Tours , Katina runs the local tour company. The tour is fun, quirky and is a great way to explore Adelaide by foot.

For California beach vibes head to Glenelg for golden hour. Walk along the jetty and take a ride on the Ferris wheel. In the afternoon order cocktail at one of the bars on the beach and enjoy soaking up the lively atmosphere.

south australia travel book

Adelaide Hills

A drive through the Adelaide Hills beautiful scenery and vineyards has to be one of my favourite scenic drives. It offers plenty of outdoor adventures, Botanic Gardens, fruit farms, wineries, farmers markets, Wildlife Parks and magical experiences. This is what make Adelaide Hills a favourite choice for every one.

Visit Hahndorlf one of Australia’s oldest German settlements and be transported back in time. The old fashioned oozes Bavarian charm, stroll the tree lined Main Street and visit shops, cafes, ice creameries, craft brewery, winery cellar doors, a chocolatier, artisan shops, galleries German pubs and cafes.

For sunset drive up to the top of Mount Barker for spectacular views. There is parking right up the top making the walk an easy few minutes.

Stay: Mount Barker Caravan Park Powered site $35

south australia travel book

Barossa Valley

Welcome to Australia’s award wining wine capital- the Barossa Valley. The area is a renowned wine-producing region northeast of Adelaide in South Australia with over 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors.

You can explore Barossa by bicycle, motorbike, vintage car, hot air balloon or helicopter. Wine and dine your way around some of Australia’s finest restaurants. A world of gastronomic delight awaits in this picturesque cluster of villages, rolling hills, stone churches and vineyards.

Enjoy a drink at Seppeltsfield – Barossa Valley’s most historic winery. you drive into Seppeltsfield you will cross through the Avenue of Palms, a 5km trail of palm trees. Dine in at the Award-winning restaurant FINO the food will enhance your taste buds and delightfully compliment Seppeltsfield’s best wines.

south australia travel book

Erye Peninsular

The Eyre Peninsula has a spectacular, sprawling coastline with succulent seafood, an abundance of wildlife and is blessed with natural beauty. If you love crystal clear water you’ll need days to explore the region’s pristine beaches.

Check out Lake MacDonnell with its super-high salt concentration resulting in some seriously intense colours. 

Get your heart racing an adventurous great white shark cage diving expedition with  Calypso Star Charters . The charter takes you to The Neptune Island off Port Lincoln which is the only place in Australia where you can come face to face with great whites in their natural habitat.

Unfortunately we only had 2 nights in the Eyre Peninsular, we would have loved to stay longer because there is so much to see and do there.

Stay: Port Lincoln Tourist Park Powered site from $35

south australia travel book

Fleurieu Peninsular – The best place to visit in South Australia

The Fleurieu Peninsular is the ultimate coastal haven for all a food, wine and picturesque views. Enjoy award winning wines, swim in some of Australia’s best beaches and watch the sunsets over looking the ocean from a cave. This region would have to be number one on the best places to visit in South Australia.

Watch the sunset from the man made caves at Port Willunga . Enjoy the beautiful scenic drive down to Second Valley , which is rated as one of Australia’s top 10 beaches. Not only was the water crystal clear and turquoise blue, there’s also a windy path that leads around the jetty and rocks It makes for a really cool walk. The best about visiting Second Valley is the incredible views you get as you walk up the rolling hill. Be sure to take a rug, bottle of wine and head up for sunset.

south australia travel book

Rapid Bay was another favourite on the Fleurieu Peninsular. The Bay is nestled between two long sandy beaches and cliffs. It’s known for its very long jetty, historical monuments and unique rock caves. Here was our favourite camp site which is located right on the beach. Rapid Bay campground has a large grass area with a bbq and flushing toilets.

Camp sites: Port Willunga Tourist Park Powered site $42 , Second Valley Caravan Park powered site $50 , Rapid Bay Camping unpowered sites $25

south australia travel book

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Yorke peninsular.

The Yorke Peninsular offers breathtaking scenery, secluded beaches, picturesque townships, spectacular National Parks, cultural heritage and tones of outdoor adventure. It’s home to 700 kilometres of picture perfect coastline and is located only a short 90 minute drive from Adelaide making it one of South Australias most accessible and serene holiday destinations.

The Yorke Peninsula is brimming with beautiful beaches, but if you’re seeking sandy solitude then Hardwicke Bay is the answer. Find sheltered rock pools at Berry Bay , learn about Moonta’s rich history that has earned the town national heritage status and uncover its famous past on one of the Moonta Mines Walking Trails or inside the Moonta Mines Museum. Take a walk along the unique long, L-shaped jetty.

Innes National Park

At the tip of the Yorke Peninsular is Innes National park which offers great surfing, swimming beaches, rock pools, an abundance of wildlife. Its a great spot to disconnect from reality and enjoy paradise with little phone reception. Visit Cape Spencer Lighthouse and the Ethel shipwreck to learn about the tumultuous maritime history of South Australia. Explore historic Inneston, an abandoned township surrounded by bushland. Pondalowie Bay offers long and consistent waves, if you walk down the beach you will find a washed up boat covered in graffiti. Dolphin Beach is an unspoilt 800-metre long stretch of shimmering sand and calm turquoise waters.

Entry into Innes national park costs $11 per vehicle and can be paid at the visitors centre as well as camp fees. There are a number of camp sites spread out across the national park and cost about $16 per night. Camp sites are basic with no power but do come with drop toilets. We spent 2 nights camping at Pondalowie campsite which was a great location because it is located in the middle of the National Park and is close to the surf beaches.

south australia travel book

Stirling Ranges

Nestled at the foot of Wilpena Pound,  Rawnsley Park Station  is a 12,000-hectare working sheep station and offers a variety of accommodation from luxury villas, bush camping, holiday units and a unique homestead. There is also an on-site restaurant and an outdoor pool. We spent a night in the luxury villa with uninterrupted views from the private balcony and a retractable ceiling offering night-sky viewing from the comfort of your bed. There are a few self drive 4WD tracks and viewpoints in the park that you can check out. Book your stay at Rawnsley Park Station here.

Take a scenic flight over the Flinders Ranges with China Air . From Rawnsley Park Station, on the South side of Wilpena Pound, Chinta Air offers scenic flights over Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges National Park, Heysen Range including Bunyeroo and Brachina. Flights are from 30 minutes, 45 minutes or 1 hour, Its a fantastic way to grasp the incredible size and landscape of the Flinders Ranges. Click here to book your scenic flight.

south australia travel book

Kangaroo Island

Spot Koalas in their natural habitat at the Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary which is a privately-owned conservation park focused on providing habitat for native animals to live in the wild. When you book a guided walk or tour you are also helping to support the next phase of recovery and rebuild. When walking through you can see the severity of the January 2020 bush fires which destroyed most of the park and koalas. We were so happy on our walk to see 8 koalas that had survived and found new homes in the trees that did survive. You can book tours with Hanson Bay Wildlife Park here.

One of our favourite experiences on kangaroo Island was the chance to swim with the dolphins. Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures offer a 3 hour Island Explorer Tour. The clear, protected waters is home to friendly Kangaroo Island dolphins. See if you can spot the seals, sea eagles and osprey. Book your tour here.

So much to see and do.

Visit Kangaroo Islands largest winery – False Cape Wines who’s vineyard covers over 60 acres. The Cellar Door is made from recycled wood, jetty timbers and stone sourced on the property. It’s a beautiful setting nestled among the vineyard and Gum trees. The perfect spot to enjoy a platter and award winning wines.

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches here, with over 500 kilometres of coastline theres everything from the whitest of white sandy beaches to awesome surf breaks. Weave through a little labyrinth of caves before emerging onto some of the whitest sand and clearest water at Stokes Bay . If you have a 4WD drive along the pristine white sandy beach of  Emu Bay .

south australia travel book

Limestone Coast

The limestone Coast is one of the most diverse regions in South Australia. Rugged coastlines, clear blue waters, lush farmland, spectacular caves, magical sink holes and sunken gardens.

Be amazed at Umpherston sunken garden , the twenty metres deep and 50 metres across garden was created in 1886 and includes viewing platforms, benches, sculptures & walking paths. Take the best photos from the bottom capturing its huge circumference and beautiful curtain-like hanging vines.

Kilsby Sinkhole is world-renowned as one of the best sinkhole dive sites due to its crystal clear water and visibility. Try the Sinkhole Gin, produced from crystal clear limestone-filtered water and local native botanicals. 

At the Piccaninnie Ponds , you can dive or snorkel across the chasm and down to check out underwater creatures and plants.

So many blue lakes!

The Blue Lake in Mount Gambier occupies one of the craters of the extinct volcano after which the city has been named. There is a 3.6 km walking trail which connects to each of the viewing platforms dotted around the Lake.

Take a dip in Little Blue Lake which looks like deep swimming pool in the middle a paddock. Its a great spot to enjoy a cool swim in a beautiful natural water filled sinkhole. There are stairs that can take you down to a floating pontoon.

south australia travel book

Want to read more about road trips in Australia? Check out our 2 week itinerary around Tasmania , and Western Australia South West road trip guide. If you love fun-filled, off-road adventures then you will love our 2 week Kimberley Road trip itinerary.

South Australia has impressed us in so many ways and on so many levels. Whether you are a wine connoisseur,adrenaline junkie, a wildlife lover or an outdoor enthusiast there is something in South Australia for you. We hope our guide to the best places to visit in South Australia will help you plan your next trip. If we have missed any other places please leave them in the comments below.

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Best places to visit in South Australia

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south australia travel book

Best places to visit along Australia’s Coral Coast- Perth to Exmouth

south australia travel book

Best things to do on Inle Lake – The secret gem of Myanmar

south australia travel book

South Australia Travel Guide

South australia travel destinations.

Greenly Beach Rockpool

Best Holiday Destinations in South Australia

South Australia is an incredible place for adventure and relaxation. You can find some of the most beautiful landscapes and beaches in the world in SA. There are so many things to do in South Australia, whether you are looking for adventure activities, family fun, or just relaxing by the beach. If you are planning a trip to South Australia our travel guide will help you find the perfect place to stay, what to eat, where to go, and much more.

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The Green Adventurers acknowledge and pay respect to the Kaurna people as the custodians of the lands and waters of the Adelaide region. We pay respect to elders both past, present future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We acknowledge and respect the Kaurna people’s cultural, spiritual, physical and emotional connection with their land, waters and community.

Yorke Peninsula

Innes National Park

The Yorke Peninsula is found just 2 hours from Adelaide and features miles of rugged coastline, quaint coastal towns & fascinating historical sights. The coastal towns make a popular destination for holidaymakers.

Towns of the Yorke Peninsula

Towns Moonta & Wallaroo are cute coastal villages with calm waters for swimming. Kadina is the biggest township. Ardrossan has spectacular red cliffs – A great spot for sunrise! Port Turton has plenty of holiday shacks and a curious cave – Magazine Bay Cave Corny Point – Can’t beat a sunset at this stunning seaside location. Hardwicke Bay – White sand and crystal clear waters. Copper Triangle – Moonta , Kadina & Wallaroo make up the copper triangle Marion Bay – On the doorstep of Innes National Park Edithburg – Popular for diving especially in cuttlefish season and a seaside swimming pool. Yorketown – Small farming town – Don’t miss the pink lake.

At the southern end of the peninsula, you will find the Dhilba Guuranda- Innes National Park which might just be the most beautiful place in South Australia. This idyllic location is just over 3 hours from Adelaide so it makes a great spot for a weekend getaway but you’ll definitely want to stay longer! You can stay in Marion Bay or camp in the National Park.

Where To Stay on the Yorke Peninsula

Marion Bay Holiday Villas – Budget accom on the doorstep of Dhilba Guuranda Innes National Park Wallaroo Marina Apartments – Great options for groups Inglenook Cottage – Quirky but stylish cottage Big 4 Port Hughes – Top pick for families

Maslins Beach top down drone photo

Love Beaches? Discover your new favourite summer getaway…

Eyre peninsula & the gawler ranges.

Almonta beach - Coffin Bay National Park

The Eyre Peninsula in the west of South Australia is home to South Australia’s most rugged and wild coastline as well as the most serene white-sand beaches you will ever lay eyes on. Check out the best Eyre Peninsula Beaches here!

There are also many things to do on the Eyre Peninsula including camping, hiking, biking and getting up close and personal with the wildlife. Shark diving is one of the EP’s biggest tourist drawcards but if you don’t fancy that snorkelling with seals or dolphins is a friendlier option! The Talia Caves near Elliston & the fascinating granite outcrop known as Murphy’s Haystacks are impressive geological structures you won’t want to miss.

In the interior near Wudinna, you will find the Gawler Ranges National Park. This park covers over 5000 hectares of land that was once used for farming. Now, it’s home to some of the most interesting flora and fauna found in the region including kangaroos, koalas, wombats, echidnas and dingoes. The region has many granite outcrops which are similar to Uluru. One of the most impressive is Pildappa Rock.

Recommended Eyre Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary

2 nights – Port Lincoln 2 nights – Port Lincoln National Park camping 2 nights – Coffin Bay 2 nights – Elliston 2 nights – Streaky Bay 2 nights – Ceduna 1 night – Gawler Ranges camping 1 night – Kimba

Where To Stay on the Eyre Peninsula

Port Lincoln Hotel – Modern facilities and ocean views YHA Port Lincoln – Dorm rooms with great facilities Lincoln National Park – Top camping spot! Streaky Bay Hotel Motel – Great location near the beach Kimba – Free camping

Almonta beach - Coffin Bay National Park - Eyre Peninsula Beaches

Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island Ocean View

Kangaroo Island is a large island found off the coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula with pristine beaches, rugged cliffs, and lush forests. As the name would suggest, this island is home to many kangaroos as well as other animals such as wallabies, possums, koalas & sea lions. To reach this island paradise you need to take the ferry from Cape Jarvis.

There are plenty of activities on Kangaroo Island to keep you occupied for a week or more. Some highlights include The Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch and Seal Bay Conservation Park.

Where To Stay on Kangaroo Island

Aurora Ozone – Seaside in KI’s biggest town – Kingscote Strandmarken – Island Beach with an outdoor hot tub! Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge  – In the peaceful setting of American River Stokes Bay – Best camping spot on KI

Adelaide City

Adelaide in Autumn - Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Turtle pond with reflection of autumn colour trees

South Australia’s capital city is known as a big country town to the locals. You can’t go far in Adelaide without bumping into someone you know! Famous for its festivals, Adelaide is the place to be in March when the whole CBD comes alive with The Adelaide Fringe.

For the nature-lovers, Adelaide has you covered. Adelaide is sandwiched between the coast and the hills so there are countless beaches to visit and hikes to explore.

No visit to Adelaide is complete without a visit to the Adelaide Hills. With rolling hills filled with vineyards & orchards dotted with quaint villages, the hills are the perfect escape from the city.

My full list of guides for Adelaide:

The Adelaide Hills

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The Adelaide Hills, situated a short drive from Adelaide, South Australia, is a picturesque region that boasts rolling hills, captivating views, and delightful towns. Its remarkable landscapes and cultural legacy make it a must-see tourist spot. The Adelaide Hills offers an array of experiences for everyone, whether you’re into outdoor activities, cultural and historical sites, food and drink experiences, or simply a tranquil getaway from the city’s hustle and bustle. Here are the top things to do in the Adelaide Hills.

The Barossa

Barossa Valley - Vineyards with hills - South Australia Travel

Best known as South Australia’s wine region, The Barossa is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to South Australia. With around 150  wineries in the area, and more than 80 cellar doors as well as breweries, distilleries, bakeries, restaurants & markets, you can eat & drink your way around this gorgeous valley.

Points of interest to check out:

  • Seppeltsfield
  • Lyndoch Lavender Farm
  • Gin Distillery

Mid North & Clare Valley

Lake Bumbunga - Lochiel - Aerial view of pink lake

The mid-north encompasses the towns of Kapunda, Burra, Clare, Peterborough, Jamestown, Orroroo, Pt Pirie, Pt Augusta, Melrose, Laura, Pt Germein and more.

Magnetic Hill – Let the magnet pull your car uphill! Clare Valley Wineries – Famous for rieslings but Lake Bumbunga – One of South Australia’s pink lakes .

Female sitting down with view of mountains at sunset in the Flinders Ranges - South Australia Travel

Far North & Flinders Ranges

The Flinders Ranges are a mountain range that was created by an orogeny around 300 million years ago when tectonic plates collied and caused the land to fold and push the layers into mountains. The result is a spectacular landscape full of colour, flora & fauna. The Ikara-Flinders Ranges encompasses approximately 95,000 hectares of land including Wilpena Pound a huge natural amphitheatre of mountains. Hike to the highest point – St Mary’s Peak for panoramic views of this iconic landscape from 1,171 m altitude.

For a camping spot that is a little quieter than Ikara-Flinders, I recommend the Argadells.

Travel further north and you will reach the outback town of Coober Pedy. Staying in an underground hotel has to be one of the most unique experiences you can have in South Australia. The shafts that were dug out during opal mining have been converted into houses, hotels and shopping which are totally underground!

The Riverland

Banrock Station - Wetland - The Riverland - South Australia

The Riverland is a South Australia travel gem you can’t miss! Found in South Australia 2-3 hours drive north-east of Adelaide, the region includes just over 9,000 square km of land centred around the lifeblood of South Australia, the Murray River. The major towns in the area are Renmark, Berri, Loxton, Waikerie, Barmera & Monash but there are also little towns & settlements scattered all across the region such as Paringa, Lyrup, Morgan & Cobdogla. The Riverland is a great place to visit for food, drink, water sports, river cruises and spectacular scenery. Here are my favourite places to visit to take photos and experience the amazing nature and wildlife that the river offers.

Top Riverland Photo Locations

Fleurieu Peninsula

Drone view of Cactus Canyon and the beach below. South Australia Travel.

There are many things to do on the Fleurieu Peninsula which has sandy beaches, wine regions and beautiful scenery. It has an abundance of food and wine festivals, art galleries, national parks and wildlife reserves. Just a stone’s throw from Adelaide, this region is easy to visit as a day trip from Adelaide but there are so many things to keep you busy that you’ll want to stay for a few days. Check out the best things to do on the Fleurieu Peninsula . Highlights include:

Southport Beach – Port Noarlunga Deep Creek Conservation Park Smiling Samoyed Brewery Granite Island – Victor Harbor Down The Rabbit Hole Winery – Mclaren Vale D’Arenburg Cube – Mclaren Vale

For the best vegan wine tour, you can’t go past New World Wine Tour Co

Where To Stay On The Fleurieu Peninsula

Budget –  YHA Port Elliot  or  The Anchorage Victor Harbor Camping –  Rapid Bay Campground  or the  SA National Parks Family –  Big 4 Port Willunga ,  Victor Harbor Holiday Park ,  Breeze Beachfront Apartments Couples –   Seascape Retreat ,  Baecation on Butterworth ,  Sanbis Cabin  Luxury –  Middleton ‘Glass House’ by the Ocean,   Cliffs End Beach Shack ,   Waters Edge on Fleurieu ,  Fleurieu Coastal Retreat ,  Coastal Luxury Moana ,  The Darling of Marina – A Hilltop and Sea Getaway

Limestone Coast

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Chris • Adelaide Videographer (@chrisiclari)

The Limestone Coast in the southeast of South Australia features unique geological formations such as the Naracoorte Caves and Mt Gambier’s Blue Lake and the Umpherston Sinkhole.

South Australia Travel FAQ

There is nothing more South Australian than the Malls Balls in the heart of Adelaide CBD.

Farmer’s Union Iced Coffee, frog cakes, saying “heaps good”, the D’Arenburg cube, The Remarkable Rocks, St Nicola, pie floaters, Hahndorf, Adelaide Fringe, WOMADedlaide and so much more!

There are so many options but for a quick getaway, you can’t go past the Yorke Peninsula or The Barossa.

November for Jacaranda flowers April for autumn leaves March for Adelaide Fringe

You could spend a month or two and not see everything but in 1-2 weeks you can see the main highlights.

You no longer need to complete an EntryCheck SA application or have a RAT test before arriving.  If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will not be allowed to enter South Australia until 7 days from the date of your first positive COVID-19 test has passed

There are loads of incredible camping locations in South Australia. The best are in the South Australian National Parks .

Enjoy Your Travels In South Australia

I hope you have the best time discovering all that South Australia travel has to offer. If you have any questions or would like some help please get in touch! – [email protected]

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  • South Australia Road Trip Itineraries
  • Australia Self Drive Holiday Itineraries

Do you want to travel South Australia on a self drive road trip? Below are  suggested itineraries crafted to showcase the very best of Adelaide and South Australia. Use these for inspiration then enquire with our team  who will work closely with you to curate the dream itinerary tailored to your tastes and interests.  

10 Day South Australia Road Trip

Kangaroo Island

First Light Travel

Vast swathes of ochre outback, dramatic coastline, world-class wineries, and historic towns and cities – you’ll find it all in South Australia. South Australia has made a name for itself as a relaxed region full of wine, wildlife, and natural wonder.

7 Day Adelaide and Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo's

Joining an award-winning small group Barossa Valley wine tour - is the perfect way to get a wonderful insight into what arguably is Australia’s best food and wine region. See kangaroos, koalas, Sealions, and wonderful native birdlife in their natural habitats, visit formations such as Remarkable Rocks on a wonderful 3 Day Kangaroo Island tour.

Grand South Australia Self Drive Tour

Kangaroo Island

15 Days in South Australia - think vast swathes of ochre outback, dramatic coastline, world-class wineries, and historic towns and cities – you’ll find it all in South Australia. South Australia has made a name for itself as a relaxed region full of wine, wildlife, and natural wonder. Visit and experience the extraordinary wildlife of Kangaroo Island, the Martian landscape of the Flinders Ranges add the epicurean delights of the Clare and Barossa Valleys.

7 Day Luxury South Australia Romantic Getaway

Romantic Australian Holiday

The ultimate seven-day romantic getaway to South Australia. Savour the gourmet delights of Adelaide City . Take a sunset cruise on a romantic 100 yr Old Paddle Boat . Stay in the tranquility of The  Frames Luxury Accommodation on an escarpment overlooking the Murray River . Spend a night at  Glenelg Beach in Adelaide.

10 Day Highlights of South Australia

Fleurieu

This comprehensive tour has you driving to the heart of the Flinders Ranges National Park exploring the Bunyeroo and Brachina Gorges , experiencing the vast swathes of ochre outback. Into the Fleurieu Peninsula to explore the dramatic coastline, World-Class Wineries , and historic towns and cities. Visit and experience the extraordinary wildlife of Kangaroo Island , then add the epicurean delights of the Barossa Valley – you’ll find it all in South Australia.

The Very Best of South Australian Luxury

Arkaba Station

See South Australia's amazing contrasts come alive on this 7 Day Luxury Self Drive Holiday. Wander Adelaide's Boulevards , enjoy a Flinders Ranges bush retreat and blend your very own wine in the beautiful Barossa Valley . From Outback to wine country, with sensational cuisine and world-class wines, this region is foodie heaven.

7 Day Adelaide & Murray River Adventure

Murray Princess

What a fantastic way to experience South Australia, board the Murray Princess and spend 3 nights floating down the Murray River spotting a variety of Australia's flora and fauna, Historic Towns and Nature Walking . You also have plenty of time to explore SA’s capital city, Adelaide...

Want Your Very Own Custom Itinerary?

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Literary Voyage

16 Best Travel Books For Australia

This post may contain affiliate links that earn me a commission at no additional cost to you.

Australia is one of those bucket list destinations that many of us would love to travel to. It is definitely high on the list of places we would like to see and explore.

However, it is such a vast place, that it can often feel impossible to see everything in one trip. But, if you plan your trip well, you can explore different areas and make the most of your time in the country.

Whether it is just for a few short weeks or something a little longer, I have found some of the best travel guides for Australia that will help you make the most of your stay down under. Without further ado, here are 16 travel books for Australia.

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Best Australia Guide Books For Travel Planning

south australia travel book

Travel Australia by Van

Many people like the idea of traveling the country on the road, and using a camper van can often give you some of the best experiences in your life.

This book is two books in one. A planner for before you go where you can document the routes and places you want to stay, and then a diary for while you are there. It is a different sort of guide but a great investment for documenting your trip to Australia.

You can buy Travel Australia by Van here.

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Lonely Planet Best of Australia

Lonely Planet is one of the best brands when it comes to travel books, and they have a fair few different ones that explore Australia. This one gives you the very best of Australia.

The authentic experiences, the places to go, and the things to embrace. It is a compact book filled with just the top experiences so perfect if you have some time to explore the country, but only want to enjoy the very best of it.

You can buy Lonely Planet Best of Australia here.

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DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Australia

This is another book that covers the whole of Australia and gives you a detailed overview of the places to go and the things you can enjoy seeing during your travels.

This book is full of insider information helping you to live like a local and experience some of the hidden gems that Australia has to offer.

You can buy DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Australia here.

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Lonely Planet Australia

Another Lonely Planet book and one that covers the whole of Australia and gives you an excellent overview of the different cities and territories to explore.

It also covers some of the popular tourist attractions that you might want to skip so you don’t waste any of your valuable time here. A great overview of the country and an easy-to-follow guide.

You can buy Lonely Planet Australia here.

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Ultimate Australia Travel List

This book is definitely a useful guide when it comes to looking at things to do in Australia. This is the ultimate list.

500 of the best experiences and things to do and see in Australia. They are also ranked so you know that you are guaranteed to get the very best out of your trip by using this guide. It is broad and covers the whole of Australia.

You can buy the Ultimate Australia Travel list here.

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My Travel Planner Australia

This is the ideal book for any planner. It includes packing lists, areas to plan your trip to Australia, useful information on different destinations, and enough space to document a 27-day trip. A great companion for your trip to Australia.

You can buy My Travel Planner Australia here.

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Australia Marco Polo Pocket Travel Guide

You can’t beat a pocket guide and this one is packed full of relevant information to help you make the most of your trip to Australia. It also has a pull-out map that will help you ensure that you can truly make the most of your stay.

You can buy Australia Marco Polo Pocket Travel Guide here.

Travel Books On Specific Areas Within Australia

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Lonely Planet East Coast Australia

When traveling to Australia it might be that you could be looking at heading to a specific area of Australia. After all, it is such a huge country, and impossible to see everything all at once.

This guide is all about the east coast of Australia. Covering New South Wales, Victoria, the Whitsundays, and the Great Barrier Reef. Perfect if you are traveling to this area and want to explore.

You can buy the Lonely Planet East Coast Australia here.

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Lonely Planet South Australia and Northern Territory

Another guide that is specific to different areas and is perfect if you are exploring different regions. This book focuses on Northern Territory and South Australia.

This book also boasts 30 different maps making it so much easier to get around. This is the ideal book to help you enjoy the southern wine regions and the northern mountains.

You can buy Lonely Planet South Australia and Northern Territory here.

south australia travel book

Lonely Planet West Coast Australia

Another dedicated guide to a specific territory in Australia and this time it is Western Australia. This guide has information on the city of Perth as well as some of the more outback regions like Freemantle, Broome, and the Ningaloo coast.

There are plenty of experiences shared in this book to help you make the most of your visit to Western Australia.

You can buy Lonely Planet West Coast Australia here.

south australia travel book

Lonely Planet Melbourne and Victoria

Melbourne and the region of Victoria are popular areas to visit when anyone thinks of Australia. The city itself is spectacular and Victoria has so much to offer.

The Coastal road has some of the most incredible destinations and this guide will help you make the most of all of the places to see and the experiences to enjoy during your trip.

You can buy Lonely Planet Melbourne and Victoria here.

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DK Eyewitness Sydney 

Sydney is another iconic destination in Australia and possibly has the most recognized landmark in Australia. This guide gives you everything you need to know about the city.

The places to go, the hidden gems, and the things you will want to experience. There is a lot to offer in Sydney, and this guide has you covered.

You can buy DK Eyewitness Sydney here.

south australia travel book

Perth Travel Guide

In Western Australia, there is one city that you will definitely have on your list and that is Perth. This guide has quick tips and information covering the culture, the places to go, the things to enjoy, and even some recommendations of places to eat and drink. You can’t go wrong!

You can buy the Perth Travel Guide here.

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Gold Coast Travel Guide

The Gold Coast is a popular destination in Australia and is famed for its beautiful beaches. But there is so much more to this place than meets the eye. This travel guide will help you understand where to go and what to do if you are visiting the Gold Coast.

You can buy the Gold Coast Travel Guide here.

south australia travel book

Canberra Travel Guide

If you want to know about the sights, the food, the culture, and everything in between when it comes to Canberra then this is the guide for you. It is full of quick tips and information to help you make the most out of your trip to Canberra.

You can buy the Canberra Travel Guide here.

south australia travel book

Brisbane and Cairns Travel Guide

Last on the list is a guide on Brisbane and Cairns. The ideal guide to help you make the most out of these two incredible destinations.

Filled with all the hidden gems and the things you must see and do, you really can’t go wrong!

You can buy the Brisbane and Cairns Travel Guide here.

Enjoying Exploring Australia?

I hope this list of travel books for Australia will help you if you are planning a trip to this incredible country. And if you are looking for more reading in and around the land down under, check out these next:

  • 21 Best Books Set In Australia

More Literary Travel

Start with this list of the very best  travel adventure books . It includes great reads that will fuel your wanderlust and have you staying up late to finish them. Or check out these books set in  bookshops or aboard trains .

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Holiday Deals and Offers

South australia holiday deals and offers.

Plan your next getaway in South Australia with these deals on flights , tours, packages and much more. Sip a crisp chardonnay in the Adelaide Hills or savour the tannins of a bold red in the Barossa . Pull up a seat for lunch in a giant Rubik's cube in McLaren Vale , throw down your towel on a pristine beach on the Eyre Peninsula , indulge in the ultimate island escape on Kangaroo Island or rediscover yourself in the wilds of the Flinders Ranges and Outback . Whatever holiday you're dreaming of in South Australia, we've found the best travel deals to help you make the most of your trip. 

Adelaide and South Australia Holiday package deals

Start planning your holiday to south australia with these travel deals including discount romantic getaways, holiday packages and short trips from adelaide.

Coffin Bay National Park, Eyre Peninsula

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* Conditions apply. On sale until  30 Sep 24 for travel until 30 Sep 24. +Offer is subject to vehicle availability. Minimum renter age without surcharge is 25 years. Drivers aged 21-24 years may be eligible to rent subject to an age surcharge. Rental is inclusive of unlimited kilometres, Loss Damage Waiver and zero excess. Rental based on pick up at Adelaide downtown location and drop off at Adelaide Airport. Rentals are subject to the Terms and Conditions of Avis rental agreement and the Avis standard driver and credit qualifications. Rental days are based on a 24 hour period.  Prices correct as at 11 Dec 23 but may be adjusted if surcharges, fees, taxes, or currency exchange rates are affected. Offers subject to availability. (All savings and bonus nights are included in the advertised price). Fees apply for direct payments made to Viva Holidays using a debit or credit card. Amounts payable to third parties not included. Bookings must be made directly with Viva Holidays or a travel agent, please confirm all prices, availability and details with your consultant before booking. Cancellation fees apply, offers may be withdrawn without notice and are not combinable with any other offers unless stated. The Viva Holidays General Booking Conditions apply vivaholidays.com.au/policies/booking-conditions. Viva Holidays Pty Ltd ABN 78 634 662 294.

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Adelaide and South Australia Flight Deals

Fly to adelaide and around south australia with these cheap flights from qantas, virgin, jetstar, and rex airlines, including flight and accommodation packages..

Fly Melbourne to Adelaide from $61^

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Fly to Adelaide with Virgin Australia

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Fly Brisbane to Adelaide from $149^

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Fly Melbourne to Adelaide from $115^

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Adelaide and South Australia Accommodation deals

Find a place to stay in adelaide and beyond. from five-star hotels to boutique cabins and regional retreats, there are plenty of places to call home in south australia..

Umperston Sinkhole, Limestone Coast

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30% off BIG4 Breeze Holidays Parks – Port Elliot

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This offer is valid for new bookings only at BIG4.com.au. Bookings must be between 1 st February to 15th September 2024 (excluding long weekends). Stay 7, Pay 5 must be consecutive nights with no f urther discounts or offers available. Cancellations/changes must be made at least 48 hours prior to arrival for a full refund. Cancellations after this are refunded at the discretion of management and may incur a fee. A minimum stay of seven (7) nights is required for this package. Additional nights are subject to availability.

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15% off car hire with SIXT for RAA Members^

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TravelAwaits

Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler who's ready to cross a few items off their bucket list.

5 Stunning Places In South Australia Perfect For An Escape

south australia travel book

  • Australia and South Pacific
  • Destinations

South Australia is a state in the south-central part of Australia. It covers 380 square miles, about the same combined area as Texas and New Mexico. The state has a lot of space and not a lot of people to fill it — hence there are many regions to escape to. The capital (and my closest major city), Adelaide , has a population of 1.4 million, which is small compared to major cities in the U.S

Although regarded as the driest state in the driest continent, cereal crops, livestock, horticulture, wine, seafood, forests, and dairy sectors are a vital part of South Australia’s economy. It leads the nation in renewable energy and rich natural assets, with large deposits of copper, gold, iron ore, graphite, and petroleum. 

And then there’s tourism. Visitors can get up close and personal with unique wildlife and immerse in swathes of the ochre-colored outback, dramatic coastlines, world-class wineries, and historic towns and cities. 

South Australia is a relaxed state full of natural wonder, wine, and wildlife. Let me share some of my favorite places to escape to.

1. Coffin Bay

Eyre peninsula.

With a coastline that stretches the distance from New York to Houston , it’s no wonder activities on the Eyre Peninsula involving the sea are popular. Endless beaches, pristine aqua-colored waters, untamed beauty, and seafood that graces the world’s finest restaurants abound.

The Eyre Peninsula is the furthest region from Adelaide, but it is worth going the extra mile to get there. The region’s center is the city of Port Lincoln, a 7-hour drive or a 45-minute flight from Adelaide.

Coffin Bay, a sleepy seaside village, is a 30-minute drive west of Port Lincoln. Those looking for educational but light-hearted fun will enjoy the Oyster Farm and Tasting Tour. Before wading through the shallows to the semi-submerged tour deck, guests are provided waterproof waders. The affable oyster grower will enlighten you with insights into the town’s history and the oyster industry. 

The experience of sipping a glass of white wine, or a bloody mary oyster shot, as you’re served the freshest oysters straight from the sea is truly divine. The tour can include pick up and return from your Port Lincoln hotel if you’re not self-driving.

When hunger sets in, enjoy the all-day tapas-style menu at Oyster HQ , where plenty of culinary options are available if oysters aren’t your thing. 

Pro Tip: I spent all my childhood summer holidays in this little town, learned how to fish and swim, and have watched it grow over the decades. The best time to visit is from March to May, when the crowds have dispersed and the weather is calmer and kinder.

Port Lincoln Marina in South Australia

2. Port Lincoln

The city of Port Lincoln has a population of 15,000 and is built around sandy beaches and rocky coves. It is the “Seafood Capital of Australia,” and the marina provides a safe haven to the commercial fishing fleet and luxury yachts. It is a destination that offers a range of escape opportunities to immerse in the beauty of land and sea. It is one of few places in the world where you can go cage diving with great white sharks . 

Calypso Star Charters ticks off the pinnacle of a thrill seeker’s bucket list on their full-day tours to Neptune Island, 24 nautical miles off the coast. The great white shark is a creature that either fascinates or scares the pants off many; Calypso Star Charters says it boasts an 80 percent success rate of sightings. I’m not sure if that is a good or bad thing. Gulp. Wetsuits, gloves, and booties are supplied to guests who want to head below the surface to get a close-up view from the safety of the cage. Oh, they also give you scuba gear, so you’ll have some breath to be taken away!

Shark cage diving off the coast of Port Lincoln, Australia

However, there’s no shame if you want to watch from the boat. You can purchase the underwater photo packages available at the end of the tour — your friends won’t be able to tell if it’s you with all the scuba gear on, anyway. 

Landlubbers, don’t despair, because there’s plenty to fascinate you, too. Rent a car and drive yourself, or join a tour to hand feed the local wildlife. View koalas up close, venture across sand dunes in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle in Lincoln National Park, gaze out over the Southern Ocean from limestone cliffs, or relax and taste the maritime-influenced wines.

Pro Tip: I choose to stay at the Port Lincoln Hotel . With sea-view balcony rooms, a restaurant, and two bars serving light meals all day, it is ideally located near the beach and shopping precinct. 

Sunset at Rawnsley Park Station in the Flinders Range in South Australia

3. Rawnsley Park Station

The flinders ranges.

Regarded as the most accessible outback in Australia, the Flinders Ranges is a mountain range of rocky gorges and rugged, weathered peaks that start around 125 miles north of Adelaide. Stretching 265 miles northward, they provide some of the most dramatic landscapes in Australia. The most significant is Wilpena Pound, an oval-shaped natural amphitheater of mountains 10 miles long and 5 miles wide.

Overlooking the southern side of Wilpena Pound is Rawnsley Park Station . This working sheep station has transformed into an award-winning tourist destination, attracting 20,000 outdoor enthusiasts a year. There are many ways to escape in this wilderness. You can choose hiking and mountain bike tracks, scenic flights, and 4WD tours. You’ll find unique photo opportunities, a swimming pool, or a shady tree to read a book under.

Accommodation options include campsites, the Rawnsley Homestead for 2 couples or a family, self-contained holiday units, or luxury eco villas. The ceilings in these villas retract, offering night-sky viewing from the comfort of your bed. With no artificial light to interfere with the dark night sky, the Australian outback is one of the most impressive skies in the world to stargaze .

Modern Australian cuisine is on the ever-changing menu at the onsite Woolshed Restaurant , situated in an authentic Australian woolshed with a focus on local produce and native ingredients . I recommend the home-grown lamb or the Pepperberry Roo. 

Pro Tip: While I suggest you spend a few days here, a package is available for those on limited time. Priced from around $2,000 AUD per couple, it includes 2 nights in an eco-villa, a 30-minute scenic flight, and a full day 4-wheel-drive tour, including lunch.

A seafood dish overlooking the sea in Port Noarlunga, South Australia

4. Port Noarlunga

Fleurieu peninsula.

Port Noarlunga is a beachside suburb 40 minutes south of Adelaide — and one I know really well because I live there! 

I’m fortunate to live on a stretch of the Onkaparinga River, less than half a mile from where it flows gently against oche-colored cliffs to the sea. This section is tidal, so the crystal clear, calm saltwater makes it popular for kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and swimming. Dogs love it, too, as they are allowed off the leash here, with their owners choosing this location for their regular walks.

A leisurely stroll across the river on a boardwalk, then through sandhills, provides access to Southport Beach. Named a top 10 beach in Australia in 2020 , it is an excellent surfing beach for board riders and body surfers. Incidentally, the criteria used to judge the best beach included “international suitability, beach safety, engagement with authentic Aussie locals, and how likely one would be to recommend the beach to a friend.” For an alternative walk, there is a dedicated walk/cycle path along the river.

In Port Noarlunga, a heritage-listed reef lies just off the end of the pier. The town also offers excellent restaurants overlooking the sea, casual cafes for coffee and breakfast, a bakery, a hotel, and bespoke shopping outlets. Award-winning Hortas Restaurant is a special place to watch the sun set over the sea while enjoying seafood or Portuguese cuisine.

The Onkaparinga is not a mighty, majestic, or grand river. But it brings pleasure, exercise, fresh air, a sense of community, a way of life for me, and an escape for many others. 

An e-bike tour to wineries in the McLaren Vale wine region of South Australia

Pro Tip: I recommend the E-bike and Wine Tour conducted by Gone AWOL Tours . Meet at nearby Moana, then take a casual ride to the McLaren Vale wine region . The first stop is for coffee, then wine tasting and lunch. The tour continues on a minibus, so you can enjoy the world-class wines and cuisine without worrying about a return ride.

5. Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island lies 8 miles off the mainland of South Australia, southwest of Adelaide. It is approximately 1,700 square miles, about two-fifths the size of Hawaii. With a population of less than 5,000, it is a nature lover’s paradise. Abundant with native wildlife, including sea lions, koalas , echidnas, penguin colonies, and diverse bird species, the island receives 140,000 visitors each year.

They say the further you travel away from the mainland, the more life seems uncomplicated, and your troubles seem further away. Kangaroo Island is definitely somewhere to escape to. You can be as active or passive as you like. There are only three main towns and plenty of stunning coastlines, natural bush, and farmland between these.

There is an array of accommodation options on the island, including beachside cottages, lighthouse keepers’ cottages , stunning hotels, and retreats. Those with an immersive desire might choose glamping or a farm stay to get to know the locals. Regardless of where you stay, you’ll find art, culture, local wines, fresh produce, and honey, with friendly people around every turn.

Pro Tip: While you’re very likely to see a range of native animals in the wild, I recommend a visit to Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park to see and learn about over 150 species of Australian native animals, reptiles, and birds — and a chance to cuddle a koala.

Cuddling a koala on Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Many international travelers put Sydney , Melbourne , and the east coast of Australia on their list when planning a trip Down Under. South Australia is often thought of as the forgotten cousin. Still, I can assure you it punches above its weight in the tourism stakes, and you won’t find friendlier people anywhere. I hope to see you here one day!

Related Reading:

  • 10 Reasons To Visit The Only Major Aussie City This Close To The Outback
  • The Iconic Australian Rail Journeys You Must Experience
  • 9 Incredible Sky Tours To Experience In Australia

Image of Marie Kimber

An addict of self-development and storytelling, Marie lives on the beach in Adelaide, South Australia.

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COMMENTS

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    The mid-north. Stretching north of Adelaide up to Port Augusta and the south Flinders Ranges is the fertile agricultural region known as the mid-north.The gateway to the region is the town of Kapunda, 16km northwest of Nuriootpa in the Barossa Valley, which became Australia's first mining town when copper was discovered here in 1842.Kapunda can also be reached as a short detour from the ...

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  22. 5 Stunning Places In South Australia Perfect For An Escape

    The first stop is for coffee, then wine tasting and lunch. The tour continues on a minibus, so you can enjoy the world-class wines and cuisine without worrying about a return ride. 5. Kangaroo Island. Kangaroo Island lies 8 miles off the mainland of South Australia, southwest of Adelaide.

  23. Getting here and around

    International and domestic cruises berth in South Australia on a range of vessels, from smaller boutique ships to mega-liners. There are two berths; one at Port Adelaide-Outer Harbor and the other on the Eyre Peninsula at Port Lincoln. There are also two anchorages, one at Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island and the other at Robe on the Limestone Coast.