Imagine where you can find the true Australian Outback which is chock-full of diversity, crammed with culture and has a thrilling A-Z of exciting things to see and do……and you have just pictured South Australia. South Australia – or SA for short – is a destination for all whether you’re going it alone, holidaying with family or partying with friends. It’s one of Australia’s best holiday destinations whether you like your experiences refined and sophisticated, carefree and casual or high-adrenalin injected.
From shark-cage diving to sampling award-winning wines and from river cruising to hunting for opals – it’s all here. The rugged terrain dishes up an exciting variety of options too from legend-rich classic Australian Outback to untouched bush-land, rivers, wetlands and wilderness areas to seemingly endless coastline. All of which will will have hikers, flora and fauna seekers, outdoor enthusiasts and beach lovers straining at the leash to get in and among it all. Oh and yes, there’s the capital, Adelaide, which is recently developed into one of Australia’s most dynamic and cosmopolitan cities.
When ideal climates were handed out SA was one of the first in the queue. The southern half of the state picked itself up a Mediterranean-like prize – long, sunny summers with temperatures hovering around the 29°C (84°F) mark and mild winters. Further inland the climate becomes semi-arid or arid and hot as you hit the awe-inspiring and mystery-clad Outback.
If you consider yourself a discerning gastronome, wine connoisseur or just simply some-one who enjoys great food and wine then SA is going to knock your socks off – it’s widely considered to be the wine and seafood capital of this whole, vast country.
SA boasts no less than 18 wine regions with the Barossa – about an hour’s drive from Adelaide – generally considered to be the state’s jewel in the crown. The home of Jacob’s Creek, Wolf Blass and a range of boutique options, the Barossa alone has 50 cellar doors to visit. Add to that the quality wines of the Clare Valley – noted for its Riesling, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills and more and you may start to get the picture.
If the perfect pint is more your thing you have come to the right place for that too – SA is home to some fine artisan crafted beers produced by local brewers of the micro-sized to bulk variety.
To soak up all this wine and beer sampling you’re going to need some first-rate food but no worries – SA has plenty of that too. With more coastline than seems fair for one region, SA serves up fresh-as-it-comes oysters, crayfish, snapper, tuna and prawns straight from its waters. Fine dining is possible all over but particularly with some notable establishments attached to the vineyards themselves. Also on the SA foodie delights menu are hand-made chocolates, locally produced honey and mouth-watering bakery produce.
For those who like to smell the salt on the breeze SA’s thousands of kilometres of coastline offer dramatic coves, view-perfect cliff tops, sandy surf beaches and tranquil bays shared around the three peninsulas – Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula and the Fleurieu Peninsula. A host of exciting activities are on offer here – shark cage diving with great white sharks, swimming with wild dolphins, tuna or seals, kayaking, surfing and a range of cruises and boat trips for fishing or whale and dolphin watching. Or, to simply sit back and relax, head to the shining white sands of Kangaroo Island with its abundance of iconic Australian wildlife.
No trip to SA is complete without at least a day or two spent exploring its buzzing, cosmopolitan capital – Adelaide. Festivals, performing arts, theatre, art galleries, museums, music and sports are all a big part of the Adelaide scene and several annual major events are held here including the “Womadelaide” Festival, the cult status Fringe Festival and the Santos Tour Down Under. With its compact make-up and easily navigable grid layout, parkland-surrounded Adelaide is perfect for exploring on foot and justifiably deserved its place in the Lonely Planet’s ‘World’s Top 10 Cities’ list in 2014.
Within the limits of SA’s boundaries lies a chunk of the evocative and seemingly endless landscapes of the Outback. Here you can explore Aboriginal culture and history, soothe your travel aches and pains in warm springs or simply gaze at the desert sunsets as they paint this timeless land a thousand shades of orange and pink. Wilpena Pound is a natural amphitheatre of mountains located 429 kilometres north of Adelaide in the heart of the Flinders Ranges National Park. This ancient, rugged landscape is full of interesting gorges and is a popular area for bushwalking. Depending on your level of fitness, you can do a short 2-3 hour trip from where you’ll be staying (the resort there or campsite) or if you are a little more intrepid there’s a fabulous day trip that includes climbing St Mary Peak.
With all this varied terrain and a comprehensive national park system, it will come as no surprise to learn that SA gives the Australian visitor a perfect opportunity of encountering the local wildlife. Whether you have your heart set on wallaby watching or coo-ing at koalas, SA has native fauna in abundance with SA’s richest treasure in this category being, without doubt, the spectacular Kangaroo Island. It’s on this rugged yet beautiful Island that you can really begin to experience some of the natural habitat that makes South Australia so special. Sure, there are plenty of Kangaroos and Koala’s but there’s also Seal Bay which is the only place in the world you can see the Australian Sea Lion up close. It’s a major tourist destination for wildlife lovers attracting over 100,000 visitors annually.
South Australia and in particular South Australian Outback has so much to offer visitors whether you are a first time or regular visitor. In many places it is possible to escape completely – without trying too hard you may find yourself somewhere without another soul around for miles. That said, should you decide you need a change of scene from the Outback and wide open spaces just head to Adelaide – those folk know how to party!