South Australia is one of Australia’s lesser-visited states, and in our books that makes it an ideal destination for all adventurous travellers. With fewer crowds, there’s naturally less road traffic and you’re more likely to score places all to yourself. So whether you’re passing through South Australia from east to west (or vice versa), or heading here specifically for a holiday, the state has a range of impressive attractions that shouldn’t be missed.
In our road trippers guide to South Australia, we’ve scoped out a range of options that cater to those who prefer to stay closer to the main city (Adelaide) through to the wildest locales for seasoned explorers. Here’s our take on the top 5 must-see destinations in South Australia for road trippers.
Wineries of the Adelaide Hills
Less than a half-hour drive from Adelaide, the picturesque Adelaide Hills sit slightly to the east and are a wine-lovers haven. It also boasts an assortment of dining options, from the finest of modern Australian cuisine to rustic pubs with heartfelt dishes.
It’s the perfect place for either a Sunday drive or as the start of a road trip throughout the extensive vineyards of South Australia. The region boasts an impressive list of high-profile names, like the Clare Valley and Coonawarra, and has achieved worldwide recognition as one of the best wine-growing regions in the world.
Continuing our journey 4 hours north from Adelaide into the rugged and wild Flinders Ranges, Wilpena Pound is an amazing natural phenomenon. Thought by many to be an extinct volcano (and we wouldn’t blame you for thinking it looks like one!), it is a natural amphitheatre that has great cultural significance to the Adnyamathanha first-nation peoples.
Wilpena Pound is one of the must-see places in South Australia for anyone living the van life or road-tripping around South Australia. There is a large range of tour providers and activities on offer for the adventurous traveller, from scenic flights to rock climbing to hiking. Due to the high temperatures in the area during summer, Wilpena Pound is best visited during the cooler months of the year, from late autumn through to early spring.
Known for its pristine waters, windswept coastlines, and abundance of native Australian flora and fauna, this is one place that should be on every road trippers itinerary. This is definitely one of the “road less travelled” destinations on our list, and you’ll be rewarded with super friendly locals, mouth-watering food, and might even spy some penguins!
Kangaroo Island can be accessed by the Sealink ferry and is best visited during autumn (March to May). This will help you avoid the worst heat of summer and the bitter cold of winter. Plus, the lustrous hues of autumn as the leaves change colour on the trees are particularly stunning on Kangaroo Island. This is one of our favourite places to visit in South Australia and you’ll thank us for putting it on your travel plan.
The Great Australian Bight
Rivalling the cliffs of Dover for their grandeur and majesty, the Great Australian Bight sits to the south of the Nullabor Plain and can be accessed via a range of dead-end side roads. The Bight is where huge southern swells pummel the ochre-layered cliffs of South Australia, resulting in large water sprays and captivating colours.
We could sit here for hours and watch the world go by, pondering the massive forces of nature that sweep across our continent. However, one of the most captivating sights is when the sun goes down and the stars come out. You’ll be treated to a cosmic slideshow without another human, street light or town in sight. This is the perfect destination for the most daring of road trippers who like to explore unmarked roads and seek out remote destinations.
Opal Fields of Coober Pedy
Though it might not be much to look at from ground level, the magic of Coober Pedy lies underground. In fact, due to the harsh desert climate above ground, all the residents of Coober Pedy live underground in dugout homes! However, don’t mistake underground living for lacking in style and substance- many of the homes are beautifully finished and full of homely touches. There’s also a range of great local options for enjoying a casual meal out.
You can also try your hand at seeking out the treasure that this region is best known for; opals. In fact, Coober Pedy is known as the opal mining capital of the world and produces more opal than anywhere else. It’s a place unlike anywhere else and is best visited from April through to October.
And that rounds out our 5 must-see destinations in South Australia for road trippers. If you have any amazing locations to recommend then you can always drop us an email and we’ll add them to the list. Happy travels!