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South Australia's Top Spots

Typical South Australian Scenery
Typical South Australian Scenery

Adelaide

The elegant city of Adelaide was founded in 1836, as a planned city, designed by the first surveyor-general of South Australia, Colonel William Light. His plan - now known as Light's Vision - arranged Adelaide in a grid, with five squares in the Adelaide city centre and a ring of parks, known as the Adelaide Parklands, surrounding it. There is always something happening in this spacious city and it's the perfect starting point for a campervan holiday. The Port of Adelaide has the most museums than any other site in Australia:

  • National Railway Museum, where visitors can ride in historic railway and custom-built narrow gauge carriages;
  • South Australian Maritime Museum which is housed within a historic warehouse on Lipson Street;
  • City of Adelaide clipper, after a 14-year campaign the City of Adelaide Preservation Trust was successful in its bid to return the historic 1864 clipper City of Adelaide from Scotland to Port Adelaide;
  • Austbuilt Maritime Museum;
  • Australian Museum Of Childhood displays a collection of toys that were manufactured in Australia from the 1890s onwards;
  • South Australian Aviation Museum.

The South Australian Museum is conveniently located on North Terrace, in the heart of Adelaide's cultural precinct. Adelaide Zoo is great for families, with over 1000 native animals to spot. The beach is also close by, with Brighton the perfect choice for a getaway, or Glenelg featuring the Rodney Fox Shark Museum. If you prefer shopping, Adelaide has some of best stores in Australia. This is a city that welcomes visitors and visitors never want to leave.

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Barossa Valley

Known as Adelaide's wine capital, this is where the locals go to get away from the fast-paced city life and enjoy wandering around vineyards, cellars and cosy lanes with quaint shops filled with delicacies and fine art. The three major towns of the Barossa all have distinctive personalities. Tanunda is generally recognised as the most German of the three with long-standing traditions dating back to the 1840s when the first German settlers arrived in the area. Angaston, in contrast, is considered the English town as it was settled predominantly by Cornish miners and others from Britain. The third and largest town, Nuriootpa, was influenced by both the German and British settlers, and today is the commercial hub of the Barossa where most of the larger stores are located. Make sure you visit Lyndoch Lavender Farm which is well known throughout the area, and everyone should taste the delights of The Lavender Kitchen. An 1865 Post Office houses the Barossa Historical Museum in Tanunda, with a vintage organ, model of Wartburg castle and Samuel Hoffmann pottery on display. The Greenock Aviation Museum is a private collection of preserved aircraft, replica aircraft, restoration projects, scale model aircraft, and general aviation memorabilia. Even the wineries are historically interesting; Penfolds was founded in Adelaide in 1844 by Christopher Rawson Penfold and is one of Australia's oldest wineries. If you are touring South Australia, the Barossa Valley is a must-do experience.

Address: located 60km northeast of the Adelaide city centre

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Port Augusta

Port Augusta is a three-and-a-half hour drive from Adelaide. Known as the South Australian crossroad, you can travel across the Nullarbor from here, north to Alice Springs, south to Adelaide or east to New South Wales. There is so much to do here. The Wadlata Outback Centre will transport you back to when the dinosaurs roamed the land, introduce you to the indigenous people, acquaint you with the people who explored, colonised, settled the land, and who are the people who live in Port Augusta today. The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens offers beautiful walks through gardens of drought-resistant plants. Homestead Park Pioneer Museum, also known as the Yudnapinna Homestead, was transported from its original site in Port Augusta and rebuilt as a museum. The 130 year old homestead is fully furnished in period style and is the only original log station in South Australia. This is the perfect base for travel in any direction to see the outback at its best.

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Fleurieu Peninsula

With its wineries, beaches, fishing and its proximity to Adelaide, the peninsula is the ultimate holiday destination for all the family. Towns of interest in the area include Victor Harbor, Willunga, Mount Compass, Normanville, Goolwa, Yankalilla and Rapid Bay. Enjoy bushwalking in the national parks, or head to the coastline to see the whales at Encounter Bay. The peninsula supports four distinct wine regions, producing wines from delicate cool climate Pinot Noir, to big booming Cabernet Sauvignon and a fabulous Shiraz. Highly recommended is taking a trip on the Horse Drawn Tram across the causeway between Victor Harbor and the home of the Little Penguin, Granite Island. A great place to stay is Victor Harbor Beachfront Nature Resort for its beautiful location. Whether you stay for a week or just a few days, come prepared enjoy the relaxed lifestyle of South Australia's most beautiful peninsula.

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Heysen Trail

This is one of South Australia's best known walking trails, starting at Cape Jervis near Kangaroo Island and ending in the Flinders Ranges, some 1200km away. Not for the fainthearted, you might prefer to start small and enjoy one of the two hour walks along the way. The southern section, from Cape Jervis to Spalding in the Mid North, is ideal for beginners and those with children, following the Mount Lofty Ranges. If you have the time, this is the ultimate walk for those who want to see South Australia in all its diversity. Experience the breathtaking Fleurieu coastline, plantations of the Kuitpo forest, the heights of Mount Lofty and the vineyards of the Barossa Valley, and then on to magnificent gorges in the Flinders Desert. This trail was named for an artist, Hans Heysen, who painted ground-breaking depictions of arid landscapes in the Flinders Ranges

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Flinders Ranges and the Flinders Ranges National Park

This region is as remote, diverse and breathtaking as any part of the Australian Outback. Start at Wadlata Outback Centre, displaying the history and best attractions to visit in the area. Then you should head to Quorn, not far from the lovely Warren Gorge and also the stones ruins of the Kanyaka station. One of the best towns to visit is Hawker, not far from Wilpena Pound which has plenty of wildlife and amazing scenery. The Wilpena Pound is a large, sickle-shaped, natural amphitheatre covering nearly 80 square kilometres containing the range's highest peak, St Mary Peak, and adjoining the Flinders Ranges National Park

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Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy has a lot of colour, and not all of it is opals. Coober Pedy is also famous for its underground accommodation to escape the heat. One of the most popular local attractions is the Old Timer's Mine; which is the oldest mine in the town, hand-dug in 1916. It is now a museum featuring a self-guided walk through tour of display galleries, two underground homes and precious seams of opal. The Umoona Mine & Museum contains an underground house, Aboriginal interpretive centre, panoramic theatre, historic displays, opal retail shop and showroom plus Aboriginal arts and crafts. The Origin Energy Fossil Gallery shows the mighty marine reptiles that roamed in the cold inland seas of Australia during the age of dinosaurs 120 million years ago. These are just some of the highlights of a visit to the town of Coober Pedy.

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Kangaroo Island

Australia's third largest island is only two hours from Adelaide and accessible by ferry. Not surprisingly, you will find plenty of kangaroos on the island, plus penguins, seals, koalas and many other animals. There are lighthouses dotting the island as well as numerous walking trails. A must-do is the uninhabited Flinders Chase National Park, home to the bizarre Remarkable Rocks and the Admirals Arch. A viewing platform and boardwalk around a cliff face leads visitors to the Admiral's Arch, sculpted by weathering and erosion from the sea over thousands of years. At the Kelly Hill Conservation Park, you can visit the underground cave systems. Kingscote is where you can best see the cute penguins at play. However, one of the real stars of a visit to the island is the Kangaroo Island Farm Gate and Cellar Door Trail, which introduces you to producers and products at their source. Foodies will love investigating the rich fruits of the producers' labours in this natural unspoilt environment. Visit for the day or stay at one of the many campgrounds.

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Yorke Peninsula & the Innes National Park

The Yorke Peninsula is located north-west and west of Adelaide, sitting between the Spencer Gulf on the west and the Gulf St Vincent on the east. Principal towns include the Copper Coast towns of Kadina, Moonta - a historic mining town with a museum, and Wallaroo; the farming centres of Maitland, Minlaton and Yorketown; and the port of Ardrossan. The south-western tip is occupied by Innes National Park, where you will feel like you are the only person around. The Innes National Park features six walking trails ranging from 15 minutes to four hours. There are a number of other walking trails on the peninsula, such as the Standsbury Coastal Trail, a total distance of 6.3 kilometres of trail meandering along the coastline; the Edithburgh Environmental Walks, and the Port Vincent Geology Trail. Visit the lighthouse at Cape Spencer and on to the Samphire Coast which is popular for bird watching. There are a number of camping grounds to choose located close to pristine white beaches and lookouts.

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Gawler Ranges

The Gawler Ranges National Park is located approximately six hours drive northwest from Adelaide. This wilderness is known for its wildflowers, sculptured stone formations and salt lakes. One of the problems with Australia is that there is so much spectacular scenery, you really can't explain how extraordinarily beautiful this region really is. The ranges are a small part of the Gawler Craton, which means the area has been undisturbed geologically for eons, and so has had time to erode into a dramatic landscape. Lake Gairder is one of the most visited spots, with the red and orange rocks contrasting with the salt-white lake bed. Pildappa Rock and Mount Wudinna are also well known attractions located on the tourist trail. Kolay Mirica Falls are the best place to see the organ pipe rock formations. Stay for a few days in one of the beautiful camping grounds, or nearby at Minnipa.

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Adelaide Hills

The Adelaide Hills are part of the Mount Lofty Ranges, east of the city of Adelaide. They are centred on the largest town in the area, Mount Barker, a thriving residential, commercial and service centre of excellence for the Adelaide Hills. Here you will find a state of the art cinema complex, a good caravan park, linear trails, recreation parks, sporting complexes, swimming pool, restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, and all the services that you may need while on tour. Hahndorf is 10min drive from Mount Barker, and is the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia, and home to the famous Farm Barn, a unique blend of a children's farmyard and Wildlife Park. Less than half an hour away, you can visit Lobethal, which offers great weekend markets and a costume museum. In Beerenberg, you can also indulge in some strawberry picking. The area is home to the annual Medieval Fair held at Gumeracha across one weekend every April, and the English Ale Festival, also annually held each May. You will need to set a few days aside to drive through this area.

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Mount Crawford Forest

Close to an hour from Adelaide, the Mount Crawford Forest is perfect for a getaway, with plenty of winding roads leading you to campgrounds and bushwalking tracks. One of the most popular past times is gem fossicking. Often there are local digs at the Mount Crawford Forest, there has been many to strike gold in the past and many still want to try their luck today. Metal detectors, pans and sluicers are permitted for use, although you require a permit and must only dig in the assigned areas. Horse riding and cycling enthusiasts will love this area, but it's just as popular for locals and tourists with a number of excellent picnic spots.

Mount Gambier

The city is located on the slopes of Mount Gambier, an extinct volcano, in the southeast of the state, about 450km from Adelaide and just 17km from the Victorian border. Apart from the mountain, the city's most recognisable landmark is the brilliant Blue Lake. There are also a number of other lakes to visit, such as Little Blue Lake and Valley Lake. However, the most unusual attraction in Mount Gambier is the Cave Gardens; which feature a beautiful sinkhole, several lookouts, and a suspended viewing platform in a setting of lavish gardens. It is believed that the sinkhole was the original water source for the early settlers in the area. Another sinkhole attraction is the Umpherston Sinkhole, also known as The Sunken Garden; the topsoil down on the floor of the cave forms the perfect environment for the sunken garden. Near Mount Gambier are the Tantanoola Caves, comprised of an extraordinary display of cave decorations in beautiful shades of pink and brown, coloured by its dolomite base rock. It should be noted that Tantanoola is one of Australia's few wheelchair accessible caves. A must-do is a climb of the Centenary Tower, 190m above sea level, for the best views of the lakes, the city and the beautiful countryside. The Mount Gambier Tourist Centre has interactive displays and more about information about the region.

Wesbite

Murray River and the Murraylands Region

The Murray River is the Mississippi of Australia, complete with paddle steamers and riverboats cruising its waters, while the riverbank has its fair share of parks and picnic grounds. The town of Murray Bridge is an easy drive from Adelaide, and is home to the Monarto Zoo, a 1,000 hectare open-range zoo and wildlife sanctuary. Mannum is a historic town on the west bank of the Murray River, a half-an-hour's drive from Murray Bridge and 84km east of Adelaide. Mannum Dock Museum of River History, on the banks of the Murray River, is home to the fully restored Paddle Steamer Marion and presents river history as well as information for visitors to the Murraylands region.

Murray River Website

Murraylands Wesbite

Clare Valley

Clare Valley is located 100km north of the Adelaide city centre. It is notable for being the location of the wine region of the same name - the Clare Valley wine region. The Clare Valley town of Burra has three fascinating museums:

  • Morphett's Enginehouse Museum, housed in a building built in 1858, and is located at the Burra Monster Mine.
  • Market Square Museum, the recreation of an old style General Store and shopkeeper's residence, circa 1885.
  • Bon Accord Mining Museum , with the Monster Mine diorama, the Blacksmith's shop, the Pump shed and Shaft that supplied the town's water from 1884-1966, and Vintage Fire Engines

The beautiful hamlet of Kapunda has several historic buildings, including the 1866 structure housing the Kapunda Museum and Bagot's Fortune. For cute farm animals visit Geralka Rural Farm located near Spalding.

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Naracoorte Caves National Park

The Naracoorte Caves National Park was officially recognised in 1994 for its extensive fossil record, when the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List, along with Riversleigh. There are about 26 caves at Naracoorte Caves National Park, though not all are open to the public. Some are set aside for scientific research or for protection of the caves and their contents. The Naracoorte Caves offer self-guided, guided and adventure caving tours year-round. There are also a number of walking trails throughout the 600 hectare park. Take a guided tour or visit the Wonambi Fossil Centre, the park's visitor centre, to provide a snapshot of ancient Naracoorte. Stay for a while in the campgrounds available or make use of the picnic grounds.

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Coorong National Park

The Coorong National Park is a protected area located 156km southeast of Adelaide, and the park pre-dominantly covers a lagoon ecosystem officially known as the Coorong and the Younghusband Peninsula. The ecosystem of the park is unique, due to the interaction of fresh and salt water along its length, with sea water and Murray River water meeting rainfall and groundwater. The freshwater supports the fauna of the area while the sea water is the habitat for much of the birdlife. Birdwatchers will find this park a paradise, with birds travelling from far off Siberia and Alaska to visit the Coorong wetlands. Camping is permitted here with permits available from nearby Salt Creek or Meningie. As it is close enough to the city for a day trip, make sure you include this natural attraction on your itinerary.

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Kapunda

Kapunda is situated near the River Light has plenty to offer visitors. Australia's oldest mining town showcases the architecture and history of a by-gone era. Positioned close to Adelaide, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and the Murray River it is a good base for South Australian travel. Explore Kapunda's walking trails, art galleries and community gardens or for thrill chasers why not book a ghost crime tour. Plan your stay around one of the many events in Kapunda, from the annual Christmas tree festival and street party to the annual mega garage sale or the Kapunda music and arts festival.

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