South Australia

Glass of Barossa Valley wine, South Australian Tourism Commission

Capital City: Adelaide

 

South Australia is a million square kilometres of ancient Dreamtime landscapes and wild coastal beauty. It is also a land of incredible contrast: the endless desert of the north and the fertile vales of the south-east are a world apart. In 1836 Colonel William Light chose the site for the capital of South Australia on Kaurna land beside the River Torrens. The settlement’s early days were far from ideal as the first colonists huddled in squalid mud huts, perhaps regretting they had no convict labour to call on. But today the world’s first planned city is a gracious capital of wide streets and generous public parks.

In the 1840s German Lutherans fleeing persecution in Europe settled in the Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley, bringing traditions of wine-growing and social liberty that have flourished here ever since. In the early 1970s the election of flamboyant rebel Don Dunstan as premier launched a decade of social reform unmatched in any other state. South Australians are proud of their history of social innovation, and their state has a well-earned reputation for tolerance and cultural diversity.

For travellers, South Australia is the perfect place to get off the beaten track. This is the nation’s most urbanised state, so the outback begins just an hour or two up the road from Adelaide. The Flinders Ranges are one of the oldest mountain ranges on earth. At its centre, is the natural amphitheatre Wilpena Pound (Ikara), a lost world of cypress pines and hidden creeks, its gorges created by Akurra the serpent as he travelled north with a grumbling belly full of salt water. The state’s Southern Ocean coastline includes the sheer cliffs of the Great Australian Bight and the sheltered wetlands of the Coorong. This refuge for native and migratory birds begs you to sit quietly with a pair of binoculars.

Some more things to do while you're in South Australia

  • Banrock Station
    Banrock Station, Kingston-on-Murray

    Sustainably produced wine and bird-filled wetlands make this winery a green success story

  • Haigh’s Chocolates

    Forget the diet just this once, and indulge your sweet tooth at Australia’s oldest chocolate-maker.

  • Naracoorte Caves National Park
    Naracoorte Caves

    Ancient fossils provide a glimpse into prehistoric Australia in this World Heritage–listed cave system.

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Fishing spots

South Australia may have a small population, but it has some mighty big fishing possibilities. Grab your rod and head to the Yorke Peninsula, home to snapper, mulloway, salmon, squid and whiting; or Coffin Bay, where you’ll encounter yellowtail kingfish galore. The reefs, bays and headlands around the Neptune Islands offer up an equally bountiful haul.


Eco-friendly activities

Proving to be quite progressive and diverse when it comes to ecotourism, South Australia has much to offer the green-minded traveller. Whether you’re sampling sustainably produced wines, taking an Aboriginal-run environmental tour or camping in the wildlife haven of Kangaroo Island, you’ll be impressed by this state’s myriad eco-friendly activities.


Golf courses

Some great golfing opportunities are to be had in South Australia. Test your skill in avoiding the more than 100 bunkers at Glenelg, play with your head as well as your hands at the strategically challenging Kooyonga or make a golfer’s pilgrimage to Royal Adelaide.


Restaurants & cafes

Be sure to pack your appetite when you visit South Australia. Adelaide is famous for its food and wine, with many fine restaurants and one of the country’s best fresh-produce markets. The state’s fertile wine regions promise happy sipping and gourmet supping, while the outback harbours some culinary surprises.


Eco-friendly places to eat

South Australia’s burgeoning ecotourism industry has resulted in a range of green eateries. Sustainable wine-making techniques are becoming popular across the state, and sensational organic produce is widely available. With its incredible, fresh seafood and superb cheese and honey, Kangaroo Island is fast developing as an authentic grassroots foodie destination.

Eco-friendly places to eat by region

Popular eco-friendly places to eat


Breweries

South Australia’s brewing history is dominated by the Coopers factor. The family-run company made its name by continuing to make ales and stouts long after most other breweries had converted to lager. Today there is a handful of craft breweries across the state as far afield as the Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Glenelg, Goolwa and Kangaroo Island.

Campsites

No matter what kind of camper you are, you’ll find your dream campsite in South Australia. If you’re keen to pitch a tent within earshot of the ocean, take your pick from sheltered bays, wild surf beaches and outback dunes. Venturing inland, you’ll find campsites everywhere from the most rugged bush to the most relaxing river bank.


Caravan parks

Feeling the call of the wide, open road? With its vast distances, dramatic coastline and diverse interior, South Australia makes for great caravanning. Numerous rest areas and a good network of caravan parks – often with great amenities and magnificent views – allow you to discover this unique state’s attractions at your leisure.


Hotels, motels & B&Bs

You’re never far from somewhere to rest your head in South Australia. After a luxury escape? Choose from beachfront opulence, city ritz or a lavishly restored rural homestead. Mid-range more your style? Cosy country cottages and heritage B&Bs make great stays. Watching your budget? Affordable pub accommodation and old-world inns are appealing options.


Eco-friendly places to stay

Though eco-friendly lodgings in Adelaide are relatively uncommon, the rest of the state offers several fine, sustainable accommodation options. From solar-powered bush cabins to Indigenous-run wilderness retreats, you won’t have any problems finding somewhere green to stay in South Australia.


Rest areas

The highways that cross South Australia will take you from the wineries of the Barossa Valley to the underground township of Coober Pedy. While you’re on your way to these destinations, rest areas offer a welcome chance to stop, rest and revive, and maybe even a place to camp for the night. It’s all part of the fun of road-tripping around this vast Australian state.

Events

What better way to meet the locals than by attending a local festival or sporting event? Animated Adelaide is famous for its arts and fringe festivals, as well as WOMADelaide, a huge world music festival. Elsewhere, the festivities continue: fishing championships, racing carnivals, surfing contests and wine festivals are just the beginning.

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