Adelaide to Adelaide in 5 Days (1,016 km)
You will see so much beauty and taste so much wine on your five-day journey through the wine regions and coastal parks of Southern Australia, you will think you've been on holiday for weeks!
Beginning and ending in the thriving city of Adelaide, your journey takes you to the charming Germanic towns of the Barossa Valley, to the historic river town of Mannum, on to the vineyards and beaches of Robe, and to Mount Gambier, famous for a plethora of outstanding nature attractions.
Back in Adelaide, enjoy the Botanic Gardens, as well as the art galleries, museums, and dining.
The first leg of your trip is a short one, which will allow you time to pick up and get familiar with your vehicle, and still have time to drive to your caravan park and settle in. Drive 72 km north-east (for around an hour and a half)) to the town of Tanunda in the Barossa Valley.
The Barossa Valley is the heart of South Australia's wine country. For more than 150 years the area has provided some of the best Shiraz in the world, along with a thriving arts and crafts industry. The Barossa Valley is home to quaint towns with stone churches, many of which remind travelers of Germany. There are numerous towns in the region; Hahndorf, Lyndoch, and Angaston and Tanunda to name a few. If an active endeavor is more your speed, drive a bit further and you will come to the Kaiser Stuhl Conservation Park, the Heysen Walking Trail, and the Mawson Cycling Trail.
Where to Stay
Tanunda Caravan and Tourist Park
In the heart of the Barossa Valley wine region, this park features an Internet Caf' with wireless Internet, gas and electric BBQs, laundry facilities, children's playground, bathrooms for babies and also for the disabled, bicycle hire, and an information kiosk. Choose from cottages, ensuite cabins, park cabins, on-site caravans, van sites, and camping sites. Accommodations are completely self-contained, with refrigerator, cutlery, etc.
Gawler Caravan Park
Located at the start of the Barossa Valley, this park provides travelers with insider's advice on how to make the most of your stay in the region. While the park is limited on amenities (free BBQs, shelter with hot and cold water), shops, a swimming pool, and other necessities are within walking distance. Choose from a variety of powered sites: grassy, grassy with concrete slab, concrete slab, and gravel, as well as unpowered sites. The park also offers self-contained ensuite cabins with TV, shower, and air conditioning, and deluxe ensuite cabins, wheelchair access ensuite cabins, and self-contained units.
With more than 50 wineries in the Barossa Valley, stopping by at least a few is a must. Many of the well-known vineyards are between Mount Pleasant and the Stuart Highway in the north, and there are numerous 'wine trails' within the region, including the Barossa Cheese and Wine Trail. (www.winediva.com.au/regions/barossa-valley.asp)
If you prefer to go in style, you may enjoy the Barossa Daimler Wine Tour, an award-winning tour by wine expert John Baldwin. Sit back in a luxury 1962 Daimler (only six of them in Australia) as you explore the region, taste premium wines, indulge in gourmet lunches and tea. (www.barossadaimlertours.com.au)
Learn about the history of the region and its German heritage at the Barossa Museum. This former 1865 Post Office features church furniture and other examples of woodworking craftsmanship, as well as tools, clothing, and other artifacts.
Storybook Cottage and Whacky Wood
A charming attraction for families, the Storybook Cottage and Whacky Wood is home to 55 displays of children's stories, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes, a wishing well garden, and a series of Australian bush games and puzzles. Don't miss the live animal area, where you can see 'Peter Rabbit!'
Drive around 80km south-east ( around an hour and a half) to the riverfront town of Mannum. Located on the Murray River, Mannum is the birthplace of the Murray Paddlesteamer. Varied opportunities to enjoy water abound in and around this town, from the river cruises, to the boardwalk, to the Mannum Waterfalls. Stop for a picnic at the Mary Ann Reserve, peek in a few antique shops, and explore the beautiful natural setting in this historic town.
Where to Stay
Mannum Caravan Park
Located within walking distance of Mannum's main street, this riverfront park features a camp kitchen, game room, Internet, children's playground, half court tennis, free electric BBQs, laundry facilities, fish cleaning shelter, and boat ramp. Guests also have access to the Hermann Gass bird sanctuary. Choose from deluxe, spa, wheelchair access, riverview or riverfront villas, and standard and ensuite cabins. There is also a 'Pumphouse' bunkhouse, which can accommodate up to 32 people and includes a kitchen and dining area. Check the website for special offers. (www.mannumcaravanpark.com.au)
Mannum Dock Museum of River History
Located on the banks of the Murray River, the Mannum Dock Museum of River History is also the home of the Mannum Visitor Information Centre and numerous exhibits celebrating the rich history of life on the Murray River. See the fully restored Paddle Steamer Marion, built in 1897, which is occasionally taken out for a cruise. Located next to the Museum is the historic Randell Dry Dock, the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. (www.psmarion.com)
Opened in 1900, the Pretoria Hotel is an important landmark in Mannum, having survived the 1956 flood that wiped out many buildings. Legend has it that the hotel's Front Bar continued to serve beer from the balcony even as the first floor was being washed out! Visit the hotel for a taste of paddleboat history, and stop in at the new Boathouse Bar and Bistro for a bite and a beer. (www.pretoriahotel.com.au)
Wool Shed Gallery
As you wander along the banks of the river, stop in the Wool Shed Gallery to see the impressive collection of Aboriginal art, contemporary paintings and furniture. Located next to the Mannum Dock Museum of River History, the gallery features artwork from some of Australia's premier artists. (www.australian-art-and-prints.com/wool.shtml)
This next leg is longer than the first two days, but your 290 km drive south (about four hours) down the Limestone Coast via the Princes Highway will be a highlight of the day. The historic seaside town of Robe has something for everyone. Known for excellent dining, shopping, and beach bathing opportunities, Robe is also a town rich in history. Wander the scenic coastal walk, feast on crayfish, and then take a four-wheeler out on Long Beach.
Where to Stay
Sea-Vu Caravan Park
Located in Robe overlooking Guichen Bay, this resort features beach frontage, a camp kitchen, children's playground, laundry facilities, a bathroom for babies and also for the disabled, a kiosk, free BBQs, crayfish cooking and fish cleaning facilities, broadband Internet access, and boat parking. Choose from self-contained ensuite cabins with sea views, deluxe cabins with separate bathrooms, and powered and unpowered sites with views. Dogs welcome, except during school and Easter holidays. (www.seavucaravanpark.com.au)
Lakeside Tourist Park
Located on seven acres on the shores of Lake Fellmongery, this park features an extensive shop for provisions and treats, children's playground, camp kitchen, disabled facilities, family bathroom, laundry facilities, family picnic areas, BBQs, and tourist information and booking assistance. Choose from air-conditioned villa cabins, deluxe ensuite cabins, budget cabins, on-site vans, and powered and unpowered grassy sites. Pets are welcome, except during school and Easter holidays (inquire in advance). (www.lakesiderobe.com.au)
Little Dip Conservation Park
Explore the preserved beauty of Little Dip Conservation Park, which stretches from Robe to Nora Creina. Two-wheel drive access is allowed to Long Gully, but you can roam around on foot for 13 km along Nora Creina Road. Once the home of Aborigines, the area was set aside to preserve the surrounding lakes and the coastal sand dunes.
The Old Gaol
Restored in 1995 and open to the public, The Old Gaol served as a prison from 1860 until 1881. Closed before completion (a section for female prisoner's was never built), the outer walls of the Old Gaol required steel boilerplate reinforcement after a series of escapes. (www.robe.com.au/localgaol.html)
There are two spectacular places to take in the seaside views, the Beacon Hill Lookout Tower, and the Obelisk on Cape Donbey. Great photo opportunities!
Robe's status as a Wine Region became official in 2006 (the region was formerly included in the Mount Benson Wine Region). Visit more than a dozen wineries, known for superb cellar sales and fun events for travelers and groups.
The next leg of your journey takes you 131 km south and east (under two hours) via the Princes Highway to Mount Gambier. A thriving city built on an extinct volcano, Mount Gambier is a nature lover's paradise. Numerous lakes, parks, caves, ponds, and renowned public gardens could captivate you for days. The city is a recreational hub, and you will find much to do at the Crater Lakes complex that includes the famous Blue Lake, and at the popular Engelbrecht Cave. If outdoor fun is not for you, enjoy wandering through art galleries, shops, or continue your wine tasting adventure in the nearby Coonawarra Wine Region.
Where to Stay
Blue Lake Holiday Park Big4
Overlooking beautiful Blue Lake, this park features a camp kitchen, children's playground, swimming pool, golf course, and tennis courts. This park has a number of uniquely designed accommodations that set it apart from other caravan resorts. Choose from full self-contained retreats, bungalows, cottage units, and holiday units, as well as ensuite cabins with optional supply of linen. Retreat units feature a sleek architectural design and a patio with outdoor seating for dining. (www.bluelakeholidaypark.com.au OR www.big4.com.au)
Night Lights Drive
Truly unique to the Mount Gambier is the Night Lights Drive, a self-guided tour that takes a little over an hour to complete, but will be etched in your memory for years to come. Plan to set out at dusk from The Lady Nelson Visitor and Discover Centre (see below), where the impressively lit brig and full-size replica of the HMS Lady Nelson let you know you are on the right track.
The next stop on the drive is the floodlit Umpherston Sinkhole, where you can see possums come out to feed, then on to Sexton's Cottage, a Gothic limestone structure. The rest of the drive takes you to a night view of Blue Lake, Centenary Tower, and up to Potter's Point for a great view of the city lights. Before the tour ends you will see several floodlit historic buildings, a fountain, and another floodlit cave. (www.mountgambiertourism.com.au)
Lady Nelson Visitor and Discovery Centre
This impressive facility features exhibits on the history of the area, underwater life, fossils, and the wetlands before humans arrived. A 3D movie takes you back in time to the 1800s, a glass floor gives you a view of a cave typical in the area, and a neon volcano exhibit allows you to witness an eruption. A main focus of the Centre is the HMS Lady Nelson, and the exhibits dedicated to this sailing ship are fascinating. Don't miss the fossilized skull of an extinct kangaroo thought to be between 50,000 and 500,000 years old, which was discovered at a local cave diving site.
Get up close and personal with Blue Lake on this 45-minute tour. Visitors ride in a glass-paneled lift down a dolomite wall shaft, and then walk through a tunnel to see the lake. A tour guide will give you a hydrology primer, and tell you a few good stories as well. (www.aquifertours.com)
The final leg of your trip is the longest, 449 km north-west (about 5 ' hours) up the coast Princes Highway, Wellington Road, and the South Eastern Freeway, back to your starting point. Adelaide, the wine and festival capital of Australia, is vibrant, attractive and well planned, filled with colonial-style buildings. Enjoy a stroll along the main boulevard, North Terrace with its museums, galleries, and Tandanya ' the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. Adelaide is close to nature, fronting the ocean waters of Gulf St. Vincent, beside the River Torrens and surrounded by parkland and the Adelaide Hills.
Where to Stay
Adelaide Shores Caravan Resort
Situated in a 135-hectare Coastal Recreation Reserve just outside the city center, this beachfront park features a shaded swimming pool area with two heated pools and seating, a game and TV room, Internet facilities, adventure playground, tennis courts, laundry facilities, camp kitchen, and BBQs and gazebos throughout the park. Choose from executive cabins, deluxe cabins, tourist cabins, budget cabins, standard cabins, camping and ensuite sites, powered sites, or the bunkhouse. (www.adelaideshores.com.au/)
Adelaide Botanic Gardens
The most visited attraction in Southern Australia, the Adelaide Botanic Gardens was established in 1854 and now is home to several glasshouse conservatories. The Victoria House was imported from Germany in 1875, especially for the Victoria Water Lilly. Other glasshouses are the Palm House, and the Bicentennial House. Visit the SA Water Mediterranean Garden, the Botanic Park, Nelumbo Pond, the National Rose Trial Garden, and the Museum of Economic Botany.
Art Gallery of Southern Australia
The Art Gallery of Southern Australia is a treasure house with one of the finest collections in Australia, especially nineteenth century Australian art. Fine collections of European and Asian art will intrigue you, especially the Southeast Asian collection of ceramics and the Indian and Indonesian textiles. The Art Gallery of Southern Australia was the first Australian museum to purchase a work by an Aboriginal artist and its collection is now extensive. (www.artgallery.sa.gov.au)
South Australian Museum
This free museum recently received a grant to create a gallery devote to Australia's bio-diversity and the nation's initiatives regarding climate change. It joins galleries devoted to Australia's explorer-hero Douglas Mawson, to ancient Egypt, to fossils, and to ocean wildlife. (www.samuseum.sa.gov.au)
End of Trip
Return your campervan and begin working on that scrapbook!