Red’s 10 BEST Travel Experiences in South Australia!

Murray Mouth, via Goolwa and Hindmarsh Island, South Australia

Murray Mouth, via Goolwa and Hindmarsh Island, South Australia

A simple word association test will more than likely give you results like these:

Northern Territory = Uluru.

Queensland = Barrier Reef.

New South Wales = Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Tasmania = Cradle Mountain.

Victoria = The Great Ocean Road.

Western Australia = Wildflowers.

Australian Capital Territory = Parliament House! And all those wonderful politicians …

Sunset at Wattle Point Wind Farm, South Australia

Sunset at Wattle Point Wind Farm, South Australia

But South Australia = ? Well … WHAT??

Maybe South Australia doesn’t have one defining draw-card – but that’s because as far as I’m concerned, it’s got TEN!!

So here’s 10 answers to the question ‘Why should I visit South Australia?

And 10 TOP things to do in South Australia!  Enjoy!

1 Ridge Top Tour, Arkaroola

Final Ascent to Sillers Lookout

Final Ascent to Sillers Lookout, Arkaroola Ridge-top Tour

Getting to Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, Australia’s premier eco-tourism destination, by car is half the fun – and a tour of some of the most spectacular South Australian Outback scenery to boot. The Sanctuary Village is set amidst a stunning landscape of fantastic rock formations, low ranges, multi-coloured minerals and a massive sky. So how do you top that? Take the Sanctuary’s signature Ridge-top Tour – a rugged 4 hour return 4WD adventure through the (almost) trackless wilderness to Sillers Lookout. I’m calling it the best lookout AND one of the best adventures in OZ!

MORE About Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary

2 Lions at Naracoorte Caves

Thylacoleo carnifex, Australia's lion! Naracoorte Caves, South Australia

Thylacoleo carnifex, Australia’s lion! Naracoorte Caves, South Australia

It’s just as well that Thylacoleo carnifex is extinct. It’s scary enough seeing a ghostly skeleton silhouette deep underground in the Naracoorte Cave system when you know it’s long dead. But imagine meeting a real live one face to face above the ground? These days, the scariest wildlife (not counting snakes) above the ground along the Limestone coast are the wombats! South Australia’s only World Heritage listed site is an awesome blend of fascinating Pleistocene megafauna fossils, stunning limestone formations and intriguing pre-history.

MORE About Naracoorte Caves National Park

3 Whale Watching at Head of Bight

 

Head of Bight Boardwalk, Nullarbor Plain, South Australia

Head of Bight Boardwalk, Nullarbor Plain, South Australia

I’m not sure if the LOOOOONG drive across the Nullarbor Plain just above the LOOOOONG curve of the Great Australian Bight stretching for thousands of kilometres along the southern coastline and the LOOOOONGest unbroken line of sea cliffs in the world means the Head of Bight whale-watching experience qualifies as EXTREME whale-watching!

Whale and Calf at Head of Bight, South Australia

Whale and Calf at Head of Bight, South Australia

In season, from May to October, Head of Bight becomes a whale nursery with 40 or more whales and calves cavorting below the cliffs. But you won’t come across it by chance – it’s over 800 km west of Adelaide so it’s best experienced as part of a Nullarbor crossing en route to Perth (or Adelaide if you’re heading east). And that’s a pretty cool road-trip adventure in itself!

MORE About Whale Watching at Head of Bight

4 Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges

Wilpena Range from outside Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

Wilpena Range from outside Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

Unless you’re planning a lengthy stay in the magnificent Flinders Ranges, it’s way too big to see it all in just one visit. So make a start by exploring its iconic centrepiece, the spectacular Wilpena Pound, a massive 8 x 17 km natural rock amphitheatre once used by early pastoralists as a grazing ground!

Wilpena Range from inside Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia

Wilpena Range from inside Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia

If Wangara Lookout near the old Homestead doesn’t give good enough view; or a sighting from atop St Mary’s Peak is too challenging; or a flight over the Pound too expensive, take the up close and personal (and fewer people) option and walk across it! The Bridle Gap trail (also part of the Heysen trail – see below) crosses Wilpena Pound and climbs its southwestern edge for spectacular views back across the Pound and out across the layers of ranges beyond.

MORE About Walking Wilpena Pound

5 Troubridge Island

Troubridge Island and Lighthouse

Troubridge Island and Lighthouse, South Australia

Troubridge Island is about 2000 km too far south to make it into the tropics. But if you were washed ashore on a fine day, you’d think you really WERE on a deserted tropical island. Deserted but for the Little Penguins and Cormorants for whom this is a breeding ground AND whoever else you brought with you to share the solitude!! But snorkelling the clear waters surrounding the island, hauling in a fish or two for the BBQ, wandering the beaches and staying in a renovated lighthouse-keeper’s cottage about 6 km offshore from Edithburgh on the Yorke Peninsula is a mighty fine deserted-tropical-island substitute.

MORE About Troubridge Island

6 Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island

Remarkable Rocks

Red & Pilchard at Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

The odd-shaped wind and sand-blasted granite Rocks aren’t the only remarkable thing about the third largest of Australia’s 8222 islands! Vivonne Bay is regularly in the top 10 eco-friendly beaches in Australia, if not the world. Because of its relative isolation it’s got the purest strain of Ligurian bees in the world – just one of the reasons that foodies flock here. And if you like the smell of fish, get up close to the permanent seal colony! BUT … head back to Flinders Chase National Park to see why these rocks ROCK!

MORE About Kangaroo Island

7 Going Underground at Coober Pedy

Truck Stop, Coober Pedy, South Australia

Truck Stop, Coober Pedy, South Australia

Just between us, you don’t actually have to go underground to find your very own piece of Australia’s national gem, the Opal! I found a piece in Coober Pedy’s main street without too much effort at all – although it WAS in a shop attached to a rather attractive ring 😀

Underground at Coober Pedy, South Australia

Underground at Coober Pedy, South Australia

Mostly underground, tiny outback opal mining town Coober Pedy is classic South Australian Outback with a harsh climate, distinctive mining town moonscape, the only underground campground in the world, the BIG Winch and just up the road, the longest man-made structure on earth – the Dog Fence!

MORE About Coober Pedy and Opal Mining

8 The Cockle Train

Coastal Scenery near Victor Harbor, South Australia

Coastal Scenery near Victor Harbor, South Australia

It’s not just South Australia’s first railway line AND first public line laid with iron rails in Australia; this coastal railway line running from Goolwa to Victor Harbor is also unbelievably scenic.

Goolwa Beach, Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia

Goolwa Beach, Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia

Break your journey and explore the stunning coastline at Middleton and Port Elliot; then take a stopover in Victor Harbor and take the horse-drawn carriage to Granite Island.

Back in Goolwa, there’s the Murray Mouth and Coorong – end of Australia’s longest river system, and the chance to explore the wonderful coastline visible from the train.

MORE about Goolwa and the Cockle Train

9 Farina Bakery

The Underground Bakery, the Marquee and a random ruined fireplace!  Farina, South Australia

The Underground Bakery, the Marquee and a random ruined fireplace!  Farina, South Australia

7 hours north of Adelaide, the driest part of the driest state of the driest continent on earth isn’t the most logical place to set up a town to service a fledgling wheat-growing industry. Maybe that’s why Farina is now a ghost town – except for a few weeks in May, June and July when the Farina Restoration Group move on-site. But historic site restoration isn’t the only attraction on offer at Farina – one of the first buildings to be restored was the smokin’ HOT Farina Bakery! All the better for being so unexpected, the Bakery’s volunteer bakers turn out an extraordinary amount of perfectly baked goods in the middle of the Outback!

MORE about Farina Bakery

10 The Heysen Trail

Heysen Trail, Parachilna Gorge, Northern Flinders Ranges

Heysen Trail, Parachilna Gorge, Northern Flinders Ranges

One of Australia’s Great Walks, the 1200 km Heysen Trail is a great way to see the best of South Australia. And if you haven’t got a spare 60 days to do the whole walk, then use the route map as a guide, choose a few sections in areas like the Barossa Valley, Mount Lofty Ranges, the Mid North and Flinders Ranges and see the highlights on foot. Starting in Parachilna Gorge and ending at Fleurieu Peninsula coastal town Jervis Bay, the walk is named for legendary artist Sir Hans Heysen, whose works showcase the beauty and diversity of South Australia.

MORE about the Heysen Trail

Of course there are plenty more RED HOT South Australian experiences to be had, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?  And if you’re ready for a South Australian adventure, take a look at the best flights and get started!

Have YOU been to South Australia? Do share YOUR favourite things to do in South Australia in the comments below!!

The Granites, South Australia

The Granites and an RV that just WOULD NOT get out of the way, South Australia

PSSST!  MORE South Australia Photos on Flickr!


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28 comments

  • Great article Red and just in time for our SA roadtrip. We’ll be there in August so bookmarking your page. Thanks!

  • What a fabulous round up! Love this!

  • and the best thing about all ten of those Southern Australia hot spots? they all have toilets – this country of yours is stunning. Maybe they should devote some space to cricket pitches so they can do some batting practice… just saying 🙂

    • Hahahaha, maybe if you had a few more scenic loos on the cricket pitches our ‘performance’ would improve, Glen!!! Enjoy your time at the top of the heap – it won’t last 😀

  • Great ideas for South Australia travel. been to a few but the Cockle train and the islands look good to me if I get there again. Oh yes just remembered I’m going next year via the Ghan from Darwin. We stop in Coober Pedy, which I’m looking forward to. Trust you to find a renovated bakery.
    I was amazed at Lake Eyre during flood time.

    • I’m sure you’ll be able to find yourself a little something in Coober Pedy, Diane! And there’s nothing wrong with MY bakery sensor – although I was VERY surprised to find this little beauty in the middle of nowhere 😀 Enjoy the Ghan – I’m sure if I’d been on it myself I’d be listing it here too!

  • Well, you’ve certainly introduced me to more than I would have anticipated in Southern Australia. We keep saying, “Let’s go visit Adelaide and South Australia” (because it’s the next shortest flight from Perth if you discount Bali) but I can see we’d be severely limiting ourselves if Adelaide was the extent of our imagination! So thanks for all these great ideas, and tantalising photos

    • Thanks Jo! Between me and Kathy (50 Shades of Age) you should have South Australia sorted! But wait – does your talk of flying over mean you’re NOT going to drive the Nullarbor??!!

  • Christie McCann

    Looks like a fabulous state to visit–what a wide variety. Gorgeous shades of blue– and red! I’m always amazed by the wide vistas that you show in your photos. Thanks, Red!

    • Everyone thinks Australia is mostly RED, Christie – but there’s an astonishing number of BLUE places as well!! South Australia is the ‘forgotten’ state when it comes to tourism – despite the amazing array of natural attractions, everyone flocks to Uluru & the Barrier Reef!

  • Stunning images of my favourite state, which I haven’t explored nearly enough. but I enjoy viewing it through your eyes and camera.

    • It’s always a surprise to me that South Australia gets left off the travel lists, River – we’ve got a wonderful and diverse state, and I haven’t even seen it all! Kathy (50 shades of Age) did a post on the A-Z of South Australia a couple of weeks ago, and there’s a LOT on her list that I haven’t seen! Keep watching!

  • Guess I really got up with the wrong foot when it comes to Flinders Ranges – maybe I should give it a second chance some time in the future!
    I loved the area around Oodnadatta and all the helpful signs put up by the owners of the Pink Roadhouse. The moon desert, the painted desert – it even made one stand the darn blowies 😉

    • One day I’ll make it to Oodnadatta too, Iris! But first I’ll need a different car and camper-trailer!!! Just bought a sun visor with a zipped section around the head band with a little net inside. When the blowies get bad, you unzip and let it down! Can’t wait to try it out!!

  • I would say that they are definitely 10 very good reasons to visit South Australia. I think most people associate South Australia with the Barossa Valley wineries or the Adelaide Beaches or the fishing on the Eyre Peninsula. You have just given me so many more great places to see in SA.

    • Happy to provide some inspiration, Kathy – but of course there’s nothing wrong with the Barossa wineries, Adelaide beaches or Eyre Peninsula, either! I just couldn’t fit everything on the list – actually I could have, but this would have ended up as the world’s LONGEST blog post 😀

  • The color of sea water is just amazing… I’d thought that that color exists only in tropical islands, but it is in Head of Bight and Troubridge Island! Seriously, it’s like a great holiday!!
    The only problem is that it takes too LONG to go there 😀

    • Ah, but once you’re HERE, Kozue, there is SO much to do that your LONG trip to get here will be forgotten! You’re right about the sea – I’m always amazed that South Australia, so far from the tropics, has what looks like tropical waters! It just goes to show that we shouldn’t categorise our geographic features!

  • Would be toss up for me between Troubridge Island and the Cockle Train. Mount Gambier is pretty special too.

    • Haha, I nearly made it 12 South Australian Travel Experiences Andrew – Mt Gambier and Yorke Peninsula (as well as the Troubridge Island bit) would have been on THAT list!

  • Bloody hell I agree what a great list, so many wonderful places

  • That’s wide open spaces are so freeing! Aussie posts for you this week. Some nice views from yesterday, and delicious food today. 😉

  • There are so many things to see and do downunder, Eileen – and I’m showing off some of the highlights in lesser known South Australia! It really is awesome and I’m sure you’d really enjoy it!! Have a great week too, my friend!

  • Wow, there are many great places and reasons to visit Australia. I would love to see some of these sights, especially the whale watching and Southern Australia. Gorgeous images and a great post.

    Happy Monday, have a great new week ahead!

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