From the vineyards of the Barossa to the caves of Coober Pedy, the heights of Wilpena Pound to the depths of Lake Eyre, South Australia abounds with beautiful destinations to visit. These are the 10 places you need to add to your SA to-do list.
South Australia’s best destination, unsurprisingly, is its capital city. Once considered a staid, oversized country town that couldn’t compete with bigger rivals such as Sydney and Melbourne, Adelaide is now one of Australia’s most dynamic cities – its streets are brimming with exciting cafes, envelope-pushing restaurants and cutting-edge cocktail bars, as well as big-ticket attractions including the Adelaide Oval and Adelaide Zoo.
Another one of Adelaide’s draws is its sprawling city beach, just a half-hour tram ride from the middle of town. Glenelg is packed full of trendy cafes, beachfront bars and a long walking trail that’s always well populated by tourists and locals, particularly at sunset, when the sun slinks behind the iconic jetty into the water. You can also go swimming with dolphins on tours that depart from Glenelg.
Got a taste for underwater adventures after swimming with dolphins at Glenelg? Head to the Eyre Peninsula for even more hair-raising experiences. Several companies in Port Lincoln operate shark cage dive tours, where intrepid visitors can stare a great white in its beady little eyes from behind the safety of a cage. If that’s slightly too crazy, settle for a much more playful date with Australian sea lions, or stay on dry land and feast on some of the EP’s famous seafood.
From underwater to underground, welcome to the bizarre opal mining town that’s so hot the locals seek refuge beneath the earth’s surface. Those with a ribald sense of humour will get a kick out of Crocodile Harry’s lair, a museum to a Latvian-born solider who made a name for himself hunting crocodiles, opals and underpants in the Australian outback.
You’ll enjoy a more refined taste of South Australia in the Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s most historic and prolific wine-making regions. First settled by German immigrants in the 1840s, the vineyards of the Barossa are still producing some of the world’s best bottles of Shiraz, Riesling, Semillon, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. Eat and drink your way through the area’s hundreds of cellar doors and gourmet food experiences.
There are dozens of reasons to visit this South Australian destination, from its quintessentially Aussie name to its miles of pristine coastline. Within reach of a day trip from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is crawling with wildlife, including kangaroos (of course), echidnas, sea lions, possums, bandicoots and a rich diversity of bird life. Don’t miss the aptly named Remarkable Rocks and the sea lions sunning themselves at Seal Bay.
Australia’s lowest point should be high up on your South Australian to-do list. Lake Eyre, or Kati Thanda in the local Indigenous language, is almost always completely dry – on clear days, the horizon disappears and the sky merges with the shimmering salt lake, which stretches as far as the eye can see. On the rare occasion the lake is full, the oasis of birds and wildflowers is certainly worth the seven-hour road trip north of Adelaide.
Hop behind the wheel for a road trip through one of SA’s most picturesque patches, the Fleurieu Peninsula, which hugs the coast south of Adelaide. Enjoy a tipple in the groundbreaking McLaren Vale wine region, visit the mouth of the Murray River in Goolwa, go on an aquatic tour from Victor Harbor, follow the Fleurieu Art Trail, go whale-watching in Port Elliot, and explore the Coorong National Park wetlands.
Keep cruising along the coast and you’ll hit Robe, which is easily one of prettiest seaside towns in the entire country. This fishing village is one of the top stops on the Limestone Coast, famous for its heritage-listed buildings, series of gorgeous beaches and walking trails, and the Little Dip Conservation Park, a chain of protected lakes that provide a home to some rare bird species.
The whole of the Flinders Ranges – an ancient, Mars-like landscape five hours’ drive north of Adelaide – is a must-see destination in itself, but there’s no doubt about which landmark is the jewel in the crown. The enormous natural amphitheatre that is Wilpena Pound provides some of the best bushwalking terrain in South Australia, and is a particularly sacred meeting place for the local Adnyamathanha people.