From mountain ranges to luxury camping, to swimming with sea lions and blending your own wine, South Australia is full of things to do. Here are our top picks…
1. Fly over Wilpena Pound
The Flinders Ranges are one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, and a highlight is the natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound. It’s an amazing sight, and flying over it reveals the true spectacle and vastness of the ranges.
On the ground, enjoy South Australia’s most accessible outback spot: hiking, mountain biking, off-road driving, abundant wildlife, and the astonishing starlit skies, best viewed from the observatory at Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. North of the Flinders Ranges is Lake Eyre, an enormous salt lake – one of the largest in the world, despite rarely containing water.
Where to Stay: Ikara Safari Camp is a new African savannah-style luxury camp that’s part of Wilpena Pound Resort, with 15 tents. Rawnsley Park Station’s luxury eco villas are a great base for exploring the Flinders Ranges with spectacular decked views across the mountain ranges, perfect for sunset. www.rawnsleypark.com.au
2. Rawnsley Park Station
Hop over to Kangaroo Island, a 30-minute scenic flight or coach and ferry transfer from Adelaide. Often described as a ‘zoo without fences’, Kangaroo Island is one of the best places in Australia to see native animals in their natural habitat. There are tens of thousands of kangaroos, as the island’s name suggests; Seal Bay has a colony of endangered Australian sea-lions, and Flinders Chase National Park has the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch, home to a colony of New Zealand fur seals.
Where to stay: The Southern Ocean Lodge is an award-winning luxury lodge perched on the cliff edge to offer spectacular views from your luxury accommodation. Seascape Lodge has a five acre site at Emu Bay on the sheltered north coast of Kangaroo Island.
3. Blend your own wine in the Barossa
The Barossa is Australia’s major wine-producing area, an hour away from Adelaide, and as ever in South Australia, it uses innovative ways to attract people. At Penfolds, home of Australia’s most famous producers, you’ll find the Penfolds Barossa Valley Winery and Cellar Door, where you can try your hand at winemaking with the Make Your Own Blend Tour.
Here, guests enter the Winemakers’ Laboratory and blend their own wine and you can then take home in an individual bottle. While you’re in the region, visit Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre, enjoy the cycling or walking trails and try the flavours at one of the local food markets like Willunga Farmers Market.
Where to Stay: The Louise in the centre of Barossa Valley offers luxury accommodation as well as award-winning restaurant Appellation. Jacobs Creek Retreat offers romantic boutique suite accommodation on the banks of the creek itself, and is particularly noted for its beautiful gardens.
4. Highlights outside Adelaide
4. Highlights outside Adelaide
Adelaide is blessed with many things to do a matter of minutes from the city centre. Try Glenelg, a seaside suburb set on the sandy shores of Holdfast Bay, and cruises that take you out to swim with wild dolphins.
Henley Beach has surfing and a cool café culture at Henley Square. Brighton is a popular watersports destination with a Yacht Club and Semaphore has white sands backed by dunes. There’s the Adelaide Hills from the Barossa Valley to the Kuitpo Forest – and wine tasting galore at the likes of Shaw & Smith.
In the Adelaide Hills, you can cuddle a koala at Cleland Wildlife Park, take in the views at The Lane winery in the Adelaide Hills and visit Mount Lofty for great views across Adelaide – as well as visit the quaint German settlement Hahndorf.
Where to Stay: Majestic Roof Gardens is the award winning flagship property of Majestic Hotels, and a chic place in the thriving East End. Mayfair Hotel is the newest five-star hotel in Adelaide and a much-awaited opening due early 2015.
5. Marine life in the Eyre Peninsula
You can swim with sea lions, southern blue fin tuna and dolphins off the Eyre Peninsula, and you can even spot southern right whales and go diving surrounded by sharks (don’t worry, you’ll be in a cage). Known as Australia’s seafood frontier, you can also dine on the region’s natural wonders.
The town of Port Lincoln, on the tip of the peninsula, is home to one of the largest natural harbours in the world and is the jumping off point for some of these underwater adventures, also including yachting and big game fishing.