South Australia’s world renowned wineries, limestone coast and Kangaroo Island draw many visitors and that’s before you even get to the state capital, Adelaide. A compact and easily accessible city with splendid beaches, there’s plenty to explore, including deco-influenced suburbs like Brighton. Head inland for a truly unique subterranean experience in Coober Pedy’s opal mines – just the highlights of our 5 reasons to fall in love with South Australia…
State capital Adelaide’s compact nature backs up its ’20 minute city’ tag: the claim that anywhere within the city centre can be reached within 20 minutes on foot, while anywhere in the greater city including the beaches, Adelaide Hills and the airport is accessible inside 20 minutes by car. It’s an easy city to get to explore and you’ll get to know it quickly.
The charming seaside resort of Glenelg is just 10km from the city centre and takes around 20 minutes by car or tram. The vintage tram (an Adelaide institution) is the way to go and certainly a couple of dollars well spent. Trams depart every 7-10 minutes at peak times and every 20 minutes or so off peak.
Locally known as ‘The Bay’, Glenelg was the site of South Australia’s original mainland settlement in 1836. Today it’s a bustling resort and the perfect place to enjoy an al fresco lunch at a cafe or restaurant on Jetty Road, followed by a drink at one of Holdfast Marina’s harbour-side bars.
It’s a great place to learn to surf, swim with dolphins or just flop on the golden sands. A few miles stroll along The Esplanade is Brighton Beach – full of hip bars and cafes with an unmistakably art deco feel. Other popular beaches inside the 20 minute radius are Henley Beach and West Beach.
Australia is renowned for producing world-class wine, but did you know that more than half of Aussie wine originates from South Australia’s vineyards?
The Barossa Valley has more than 750 grape growers and is home to recognizable household names like Jacobs Creek, Penfolds, Seppelts and Yalumba but part of the fun is discovering some new and delightful wines you’ve never heard of.
It’s easy to arrange a day-trip to the wineries from Adelaide, or alternatively, head to the hills with a campervan or car and take a few days to explore. Several outstanding wine regions lie within easy reach of Adelaide including the Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, Riverland and Adelaide Hills.
The rolling vineyards, picturesque heritage towns and glorious climate make for a luxurious getaway, and for wine enthusiasts, cellar door wine tasting is the order of the day. Most wineries offering tastings and tours and many have excellent restaurants – ideal for a long, lazy al fresco lunch.
Don’t miss out on the Barossa Vintage Festival which takes place every Easter. This celebration of wine, food, arts and music spans a week and encompasses hundreds of events and you can try your hand at grape treading, enjoy Comedy in the Vines, take a heritage walk, listen to a concert or visit a Harvest Market.
Kangaroo Island is one of the very best places in Australia to see native animals. Its relative isolation affords protection from disease for its wildlife, so there are burgeoning populations of Australia’s most popular creatures including Kangaroos, Wallabies, Koalas, Platypus, Echidnas and Emus and 250 species of bird.
Head to Seal Bay for the best wildlife close-ups, where you can see hundreds of fur seals and huge sea lions sunning themselves. If it’s fairy penguins you’ve come to see, you can watch their nightly pilgrimage to the beach at Penneshaw.
Kangaroo Island is easy to reach – just a 30 minute flight from Adelaide or a 50 minute ferry ride from Cape Jervis (which is 100km south of Adelaide). If you want to stay overnight, you could try the conveniently located Seafront Resort with its idyllic waterside setting.
South Australia has more than 3,700km of beautiful coastline to explore with particularly spectacular stretches found along the Limestone Coast.
The limestone coast towards the border with Victoria makes an ideal self drive trip when combined with neighboring state Victoria’s popular Great Ocean Road. The Limestone Coast is one of Australia’s best kept secrets, an untouched region of waterways, wetlands and lagoons, glorious beaches and World Heritage-listed caves. Australia’s driest state is also home to the magnificent Murray River that winds its way through more than 650 kilometres of the state.
Travelling is all about discovering different ways of life, and South Australia offers a very distinctive lifestyle in Coober Pedy!
This eccentric frontier town 500 miles north of Adelaide is the world’s unofficial opal mining capita. With more than 70 opal fields, it supplies the majority of the world’s gem quality opal.
What really sets Coober Pedy apart though is what goes on underground, and not just in the mines. Historically, scorching summer temperatures drove the miners to seek solace underground and these days, half the town’s residents live underground! With underground shops, pubs and museums, avoiding the searing heat is easy! To experience it yourself, stay at the Desert Cave Hotel - a unique property which allows guests to experience dug-out style living, with underground rooms, bar, shops and opal display areas.
The easiest way to visit Coober Pedy is as a stop on the iconic Ghan railway journey that runs from Adelaide through the heart of Australia to Alice Springs and on to Darwin in the Northern Territory. There are a number of options for the train, we can talk you through which would suit you best.
If you’d like to include any of these South Australia highlights in your trip, I can help recommend accommodation, tours, car hire or cool campervans – whatever suits your style and budget best, just contact Grainne.