Things to Do in South Australia
With its unmistakably Aussie name, it’s little surprise that Kangaroo Island is one of the best places to spot native Australian wildlife. Australia's third-largest island, this unspoiled haven is a trove of natural wonders, from red rock cliffs to sandy beaches, sweeping dunes, and wild bushlands.
500 million year old granite has been shaped by the elements to create the intriguing formations that are the Remarkable Rocks.
Perched on a large granite dome that drops abruptly to the crashing surf, the Remarkable Rocks are changing even today. Information boards display pictures of the rocks from the 1800s alongside current photographs, as well as detailed information on the weathering process.
The Remarkable Rocks have been weathered into strange and unique shapes – many visitors enjoy picking out familiar objects in the formations, such as giant chairs and hooks. Enhancing their beauty are the colours in the granite uncovered as the rocks are worn down – blues, blacks and pinks play across the surface of the rocks.
As well as the Remarkable Rocks themselves, the viewing area offers visitors an unobstructed outlook upon the wild Southern Ocean. Migrating whales can be spotted between May and October, and Cape du Couedic and its Heritage Listed Lightstation can be seen from the Western platform.
One of the world’s most scenic arenas, the Adelaide Oval dates back to 1871. Best known for cricket, the defining sport of British colonies, it also hosts concerts, rugby, Australian rules football, and more. Besides a cafe, fine dining restaurant, and corporate events spaces, it offers a museum devoted to cricket legend Donald Bradman.
Just outside Port Lincoln, in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, Glen-Forest Tourist Park offers attractions from minigolf and Segway rides to vineyards and wildlife encounters. For most, animals will be the major draw. The park is home to koalas, dingoes, wombats, kangaroos, emus, and more, and many species can be hand-fed.
A scenic boardwalk leads to the viewing platform for Admiral’s Arch – the naturally formed rock bridge that towers above colonies of New Zealand fur seals.
Originally an ancient cave, Admirals Arch has been shaped by the intense winds and surf that pound the coast of Kangaroo Island. Stalactites still hang from the rocky ceiling whilst the floor has been eroded to a smooth finish. The Arch has been designated a geological monument, and is one of 27 geological monuments on the island.
The boardwalk runs along the cliff face, providing uninterrupted views of the ocean. Dolphins can often be spotted, and whales migrate along the coast from May to October. Year round entertainment however, is provided by the colony of fur seals that live and play on the rock platforms beneath the cliff. Pups are born in December, and remain with their mothers for a year, playing in the rock pools under the Arch.
Adelaide Zoo is home to almost 2,500 animals, with around 250 different species from all around the world. Along with Aussie favorites like kangaroos, koalas, and Tasmanian devils, the zoo is famous for its pair of Giant Pandas, Wang Wang and Funi, the only animals of their kind in Australia.
In the world of wine, the Adelaide region is known for producing some of Australia’s best vintages. Such is the case at Wirra Wirra Vineyards, where talented winemakers have mastered the craft since 1894, enticing visitors from around the globe to sip on the fruits of their labor. One of South Australia's most iconic wineries, Wirra Wirra Vineyards is known for quirky, eccentric environment and affable, fun-loving staff, as well as for its fine Shiraz wines and array of reds and whites.
Take a part in a Wirra Wirra wines master class to learn the technique behind the award-winning wines of the world-renowned McClaren Vale region, and to explore the vineyard, tour the winery, and sample some of Wirra Wirra winery's best. To get in the celebratory spirit without imbibing, visitors can ring the winery's nearly one-ton church bell, the Angelus Bell, which is used during special occasions and also completely at random.
Kangaroos aren’t the only Aussie creatures that call Kangaroo Island home—you’ll also find one of the largest sea lion colonies in the world here. Seal Bay Conservation Park is dedicated to protecting and preserving the endangered animals, and gives you the chance to admire wild sea lions in their natural environment.
The iconic Aussie kangaroo might be the star sighting for those visiting Kangaroo Island, but the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park is home to many more native Australian creatures. Over 600 animals and 150 different species inhabit the 10-acre (4-hectare) park, including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, cassowaries, and little penguins, most of which came to the park as part of their rescue and rehabilitation work.
As well as guaranteed sightings of koalas and kangaroos, visitors to the wildlife park can learn about the cassowary breeding program, see the penguins swimming and playing, and watch the penguins, pelicans, and wombats being fed by zookeepers.
Everyone knows that the Australian mainland has swaths of wide-open desert, but it’s the southern coast of Kangaroo Island that has the most impressive system of sand dunes. Here, in the area known as “Little Sahara,” wind-sculpted dunes and shifting white ridgelines stretch out for a full square mile, with the tallest dunes rising to over 250 feet above the nearby ocean.
For as naturally gorgeous as they appear, however, the real fun in Little Sahara is in climbing the dunes, taking in the view, and then flying down the soft white slopes while strapped to a sandboard or toboggan. Much like snowboarding or riding a sled, sandboarding provides an adrenaline rush without the icy hard landing, and you can make tracks down the side of a dune in only your bathing suit or board shorts. Sandboards, however, aren’t the only tracks that you’ll find imprinted on the dunes, as early morning visitors will often find wildlife has left behind footprints in the night. Since the sea of sand dunes is devoid of shade and the sun can be scorching in summer, it’s only a short drive to Vivonne Bay and its famously turquoise waters. Not only can you cool down at one of Australia’s nicest beaches after a visit to Little Sahara—but also wash off all of the sand from high-speed tumbles in the dunes.
More Things to Do in South Australia
Lighthouses hold a romantic allure that regular buildings can’t muster, and the blinking light on the cliffs of Cape du Couedic is about as romantic as lighthouses come. Squired away on the southwestern cape of rugged Kangaroo Island, this light was commissioned after two passing ships met their ultimate doom on the rocks.
When visiting the windswept Cape du Couedic, you’re likely to be sharing the wave-battered rocks with colonies of wriggling fur seals. The Cape is part of the Flinders Chase National Park that occupies the western tip of the island, where shipwrecks, seals, and the sound of silence form the coastlines history and future. It’s only a short drive to Admiral Arch and the rock formations along the coast, and oceanfront boardwalks invite a relaxing stroll along the cliffs of the salt-battered coast.
Covering the Western end of Kangaroo Island, Flinders Chase National Park is one of Australia’s most diverse wildernesses. Boasting an intricate network of trails and boardwalks, the park showcases both natural and historic sights.
Popular experiences include visiting the wind sculpted Remarkable Rocks, or the Admirals Arch which stretches over the powerful ocean that shaped it. Also located along the coastline is the Cape Borda Lightstation. Explore by yourself or take a guided tour of the lighthouse and cemetery – the midday tour includes the firing of a restored signal cannon.
The Flinders Chase Visitors Centre provides extensive information about the park, including the best places for wildlife viewing. A colony of New-Zealand fur seals lives on the rocks surrounding Admirals Arch. The Breakneck River Hike offers prime bird watching opportunities, whilst the shorter Platypus Waterholes Walk crosses the habitats of platypus, wallabies, geese, echidnas, goannas and more. The short Cliff Top Hike from the Cape Borda Lightstation ends in a stone lookout that offers prime position for spotting migrating whales from May through October.
Despite its name, Mt. Lofty is far from lofty, standing just 2,385 feet (727 meters) high in the Mt. Lofty Ranges, part of the Adelaide Hills. The summit offers views across Adelaide and the ocean, with a café, an information center and shop, and hiking trail access. Mt. Lofty Botanic Garden and Cleland Wildlife Park are on its slopes.
McLaren Vale is second only to Barossa Valley as South Australia’s top wine region. The region's wineries are spread out around the town of McLaren Vale, about 25 miles (41 kilometers) south of Adelaide. Soft, luscious Shiraz is the signature style, and more than 70 wineries offer tastings. Don't miss the vibrant local food scene.
Since 1844, Penfolds Barossa Valley winery has been offering travelers access to a wide variety of wines, luscious tastings and idyllic vineyard views. And while strong pours of favorite vintages are a treat for visitors, it’s the Make Your Own Blend Tour that gives Penfolds Barossa Valley Cellar Door the air of something new. After touring the grounds and exploring the Cellar Door, travelers enter the winemakers’ laboratory and use popular grapes, like Grenache and Shiraz, to blend their own wines to bottle and take home.
One of the oldest buildings in South Australia, Adelaide Gaol is remarkable for its architecture, its history, and—allegedly—its ghosts. During its years of operation, 1841–1988, the jail housed over 300,000 prisoners, 45 of whom were executed on-site. Today it offers an interactive exhibition, a range of food options, and a shop.
When was the last time you toured a winery and tasted the year you were born? At Seppeltsfield Wines in the Barossa Valley, barrels that have been aging for 100 years create an oenophile’s archive that is unparalleled by any other winery in the world. Each year, Seppeltsfield releases a “Para Tawny” that has been aged for 100 years, and has consistently uncorked a 100-year old vintage since 1978. Visitors can enjoy a casual tasting at the large cellar door, or book one of the legendary tours for a taste of the fancier wines. The Seppeltsfield name is synonymous with wine here in the Barossa Valley, and in addition to tasting the famous wines, there is also a restaurant and contemporary design studio to round out the vineyard experience. If it’s a nice summer day, or you just feel like a walk, linger a while in the vineyard gardens among date palms, roses, and elms. It’s all a part of a day at Seppeltsfield, where the wine, scenery, and regal history are a perfectly charming combination.
Like the beloved dome of Grand Central Terminal, words whispered at one end of this historic reservoir wall can still be heard crystal clear by listeners stationed at the other end—some 100 meters away. This surprising fact is what gave the famous Whispering Wall its name, and what drives thousands of tourists to this popular site each year.
Travelers can take in the beauty of the Barossa Reservoir, which was created in the early 1900s, while they test the much-storied wonder of this wall that allows quiet whispers to be heard from far away. Picnic areas, public toilets and shade tree areas make an ideal setting for a quiet afternoon in nature.
One of the most popular scenic overlooks in the Barossa Valley, visitors to Mengler Hill Lookout can take in bird's-eye views of the region’s expansive vineyards and rolling hills. The nearby sculpture park, which sits at the foot of Mengler Hill (formerly known as Mengler's Hill), offers travelers a whimsical, playful look at the works of nine artists who visited the area in 1988. Visitors say this picturesque peak is the perfect place for snapping scenic photos or escaping into the quiet and quaint rural countryside on a trip to Barossa.
With a history dating back more than 150 years, Adelaide Central Market has long been at the center of Adelaide’s foodie scene. It remains one of Australia’s largest covered food markets, with about 80 stalls stacked with fresh, seasonal produce.
The first Aboriginals to walk Australia’s forests discovered the power of eucalyptus oils. In addition to its trademark, earthy aroma, the oils contained in the eucalyptus leaves can naturally bolster health. Once the Australian continent was settled, eucalyptus oil became the nation’s first export and the global source of the product. Today, however, diluted sources from other nations dominate the global market, and the original eucalyptus oil industry has seen a steady decline into obscurity.
Here on Kangaroo Island, however, South Australia’s only eucalyptus distillers still operate out in the bush. With rusting relics scattered about the property and an eccentric taste of the outback, the family-run Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery still churns out the sweet-smelling elixir. Learn the ways that the oil is extracted from the narrow mallee leaves, and the healing benefits the oils can have for aiding wounds or illnesses. Group tours and self-guided tours help visitors experience the property, and in addition to the enchanting historical feel, there is a small bar attached to the farm where you can sample the locally made spirits.
This favorite mid-size South Australian vineyard was built in just five months back in 1980. Since then, Peter Lehmann Wines' luscious red and white wines have been celebrated both locally and internationally, and its true family farm feel has been welcoming visitors for generations.
After touring the grounds and learning about the practice of wine making, travelers can saddle up to the Weighbridge—now known affectionately as Peter’s Bar—for a taste of Peter Lehmann’s bold Shiraz. Growers have been gathering at the Weighbridge after a long day’s work since the vineyard first opened. Today visitors can join them in the same age-old tradition, too.
Kangaroo Island is known for its wildlife, but honeybees usually aren’t part of it. At the fascinating Clifford’s Honey Farm, however, hives of pure blood Ligurian bees create a strain of honey that is so tantalizingly sweet it has becomes a staple of Kangaroo Island. Sample honey that has been carefully collected from the world’s only purebred Ligurians, and savor the famous honey ice cream that draws visitors from the mainland and beyond.
More than just pleasing to the taste buds, however, a visit to the farm provides an intriguing insight to the complex social structure of bees. Learn the way they interact in the hive and the intricacies of the honeybee hierarchy, and watch as honey is collected from hives and bottled for visitor’s enjoyment. And while it might not have the same level of “wilderness” as the rest of Kangaroo Island, the swarms at Clifford’s Honey Farm might become your favorite animals of the trip.
Since 1973 this iconic vineyard in the heart of South Australia’s wine country has been producing some of the most loved—and most awarded—bottles of red and white in the nation. And because their famous wines are shipped to more than 50 countries worldwide, the luxurious estate welcomes travelers from across the globe to participate in tastings tours.
Travelers can explore the vineyards, learn about the winemaking process that creates Wolf Blass’s famous Shiraz, and discover the winery’s own unique coding system, which differentiates the quality of wine using yellow, gold, gray black and platinum-colored labels.
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