South Australia seems to be one of the most underrated states in all of Australia.
It’s often overshadowed by the iconic sites of neighbouring states, particularly Western Australia and the Northern Territory, as having less to see or do.
But South Australia quickly became one of our favourite states, as we spent two whole months exploring so much that SA had to offer at the beginning of the year. And you know what, not only did we fall in love with this diverse state, but we could have easily spent weeks longer exploring all of the wonderful nooks and crannies SA keeps hidden and secret.
It’s a state of rock pools and deserted beaches, vast outback desert plains, opal mining, coastal towns, mountain ranges and so much more. If you haven’t thought about taking the time to explore SA before, please, let us convince you of some of the amazing places in SA to add to your Aussie bucket list.
Whilst travel is restricted at the moment due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, hopefully this article can act as a source of inspiration, to offer an insight into some of the wonderful places we have in Australia, that will still be waiting for us when we’re allowed to get back on the road.
In this post:
1. Kangaroo Island
Without a doubt, one of our favourite places in South Australia. We’ve made no secret of our love of Kangaroo Island in the past, we are obsessed with this beautiful little gem sitting off the coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula. This year marked our third visit to KI, and despite our visit being only a few days after the worst of the terrible bushfires that swept across the island at the beginning of the year, it really reinforced to us just how much we love the community of KI.
There are an endless number of beautiful beaches to visit, wineries to hop between, quiet desert roads to explore and amazing wildlife experiences, all waiting for you on KI. Park your car on Emu Bay and have a picnic right on the beach. Head to the KI Wildlife Park to meet some of Australia’s cutest native animals and learn about their lifestyles. Check out the breathtaking Remarkable Rocks, perched on the edge of the ocean and created by the effects of erosion within Flinders Chase National Park.
For more of Kangaroo Island, start with some of these articles:
- 20 Things To Do On Kangaroo Island
- Top 5 Beaches on Kangaroo Island
- A Guide To Visiting Flinders Chase National Park
- Hanging Out With The Locals at Seal Bay Conservation Park
- Vivonne Bay – the prettiest beach on Kangaroo Island
More than ever the local businesses on the island need your love and support after the bushfires, so if you’ve been thinking about it, make Kangaroo Island one of your first destinations when the coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted!
2. Flinders Ranges
The Flinders Ranges was nothing short of amazing. This place is so special and has such a magical air about it, it really can’t be missed on your travels through SA. We had originally planned to stay for only a couple of nights and actually ended up spending a whole week in the Flinders Ranges because there was just so much to explore.
During your visit, base yourself at the Wilpena Pound Resort. They have every type of accommodation including bush camping, resort style rooms and even luxury glamping. The visitors centre on the resort is definitely the best place to start to find out more about the region and get some advice about what to do and where to visit during your stay. All the guides at Wilpena Pound are local Adnyamathanha people, the traditional landowners of the Flinders Ranges region, and who have an exceptional amount of knowledge and insight into the land and it’s history. They are so excited to share their stories, traditions and culture with their guests, and seeing the ranges this way absolutely enhances the experience.
3. Coober Pedy
One of the most unique places in Australia has got to be Coober Pedy. And that’s what makes it so much fun!
From the fact that everyone lives in underground dug-out houses to escape the extreme heat of the summer month, to the joys of going noodling and searching for opals right there on the side of the road, Coober Pedy has a completely different feel to anywhere else we have travelled in Australia so far. Just a shirt drive out of town you can check out the amazing Breakaways Conservation Park, with some truly epic landscapes that will have you questioning whether you are still in Australia or if you’ve been suddenly transported to the moon.
4. Fleurieu Peninsula
The Fleurieu Peninsula has some of the most beautiful beaches you will find in South Australia. With crystal clear, calm and warm water lapping the shores and a huge rolling mountainside that leads all the way down to the shore, this coastline is just simply stunning. The best part is that it’s just a short drive from Adelaide, making it very easily accessible if you’re flying in from interstate.
You can take your car and drive on many of the beaches here, giving you amazing spots for picnics and swims in the afternoon sun. If you’re planning on camping, head straight to Rapid Bay Campground, where you might even be able to find yourself a spot right on the water for only $9 per person, per night. It will be a campsite you will never forget.
While you’re in the area you can also head to McLaren Vale, lying right alongside the Fleurieu Peninsula this wine region offers countless cellar doors with delicious wine tasting experiences as well as all kinds of culinary treats made with local produce. It’s quickly becoming one of SA’s favourite wine regions, especially as it is so close to the city.
5. Barossa Valley
If you’re a wine lover head straight for the Barossa Valley. This world renowned wine region is a beautiful spot to explore for a few days, with plenty of cellar doors to hop between and very cute towns to check out nearby. The Barossa is also a little bit north of Adelaide and the coast, so you will find that the weather is often nice and warm up here and has kind of a desert feel about it. The perfect conditions for wine drinking!
Some of our favourite wineries and wine recommendations from our visit include:
- First Drop Wines – try the Mother’s Milk Barossa Shiraz and the Endless Summer Pino Grigio
- Whistler Wines – try the Fruit Tingle Frizzante
- Seppeltsfield Vineyard – probably anything would be great here, it’s really just a can’t miss for it’s beautiful grounds and buildings covered in vines
6. Eyre Peninsula
We could have spent weeks on the Eyre Peninsula. There are endless amazing beaches here, as well as world famous animal experiences including swimming with sea lions and even cage diving with great white sharks.
Port Lincoln is the best place to base yourself if you only have a few days, the main hub of the Eyre Peninsula. From here you can explore some of the other highlights along the coast, including Greenly Beach and Whalers Way. Port Lincoln is also where you’ll find the most options for accommodation and dining, as well as being the base for all those incredible wildlife experiences.
If you’ve got the time, try to visit as many of the beaches as you can. The beaches on the Eyre have some of the best rock pools in Australia, with each beach offering their own hidden gems if you look hard enough. There’s also lots of great options for free camping right on the beach.
7. Yorke Peninsula
Want to see an emu walking along the beach? The Yorke Peninsula is where you’re going to find them.
Home to the legendary Innes National Park, the Yorke Peninsula is known for it’s great fishing spots and surfing breaks, with countless beaches dotted all the way around this uniquely shaped peninsula. From the minute you take a left off the highway it almost feels like you’ve landed on an island, with red dirt roads and paths to beaches and tiny little towns darting off the main drag.
For the best experience give yourself at least a couple of nights of camping in Innes National Park. It’s such a great spot and you will often find that you have beaches, lookouts and lighthouses all to yourself. There’s no better way to experience nature than without the crowds.
8. Renmark & Riverland
The South Australian side of the Murray River is full of treasures, with small country towns, a culture of water sports and fishing and great places to stop and spend a couple of days. Unlike the Victorian Murray River, unfortunately most of the land along the South Australian side of the border is owned by private land, so it can be difficult to find free camping spots along the way. So why not skip the hassle and head straight to Renmark, the biggest and one of the best towns along the Murray River.
Right on the Murray River, Renmark offers waterfront dining and accommodation, great conditions for fishing and swimming, as well as just about every water sport you can think of, from skiing to kayaking. Rent a boat for the day or simply chill out on the manicured grass lawns that lie alongside the river and enjoy life at a slower pace.
9. Mount Gambier
Only a short way over the Victorian border, Mount Gambier is kind of in the middle of nowhere, but makes up for it with some beautiful natural attractions. From the Blue Lake to the number of colourful and thriving sinkhole gardens around the city, there are plenty of things to see and do here.
Last but not least, the city of Adelaide is not to be missed on your travels through South Australia.
Compared to the big cities on the East Coast, Adelaide is almost like a city in a country town, with everything closed after 5pm and hardly any of the city open on Sundays. Grab yourself one of the electric scooters you’ll find lying around the city and explore on wheels, to make the most of your time and have fun along the way.
To really see all of the city, make sure you head out to the coastal towns of Glenelg and Port Adelaide as well, to check out the beaches of Adelaide.
South Australia really is such a beautiful and diverse state and there are so many hidden gems here, you could literally explore for months. We’ll definitely be heading over the border to SA for many many more adventures in the future.
We hope you’re all staying safe and sane amongst all the craziness in the world right now. Until the travel restrictions have lifted and it’s safe for us to explore again, please do the right thing, stay home if you can, socially distance from others and keep yourself safe.