Six must-see South Australian regions that will astonish you

two kids playing on open stretch of beach

Jo Stewart

Posted June 24, 2022

Spanning an astounding 984,321 square kilometres, there’s plenty of corners of South Australia’s vast expanse to explore beyond the well-known tourism drawcards.

Dreaming of spending the day wandering on a deserted beach? What about embarking on an epic road trip through the heart of the outback? Or kicking back on the lawn of a family-run winery in a boutique wine region that’s bypassed by the crowds? Scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find that South Australia is full of surprises.    

Make the most of the Limestone Coast

A wildly beautiful corner of South Australia where golden beaches, world-class wines and unique geological phenomenon collide, the Limestone Coast may just be the ultimate place to reignite your passion for adventure.

When it comes to beaches, you’re spoiled for choice on the Limestone Coast. The reliable swell at Beachport’s Surf Beach makes it a surfer’s delight, while the sheltered beaches off Cape Jaffa are perfect for families. In Robe, Long Beach is one of those rare beaches where you can drive your car right onto the sand. With white sand as far as the eye can see, set off on a long beach walk, taking periodic dips in the ocean to cool off along the way. 

If you’re flying into Mount Gambier, be sure to visit the Umpherston Sinkhole/Balumbul to be wowed by an otherworldly sunken garden flourishing within what was once a cave centuries ago. Snorkellers and free divers will get a thrill from descending into the mysterious depths of the Kilsby Sinkhole. By night, bed down at The Barn, a cosy sanctuary only a short drive from the striking, sapphire waters of the Blue Lake.   

But it’s not all about outdoors pursuits in these parts. For those with gastronomic pursuits at heart, the ultimate in paddock-to-plate experience can be found at The Tasting Room at Mayura Station and if you’re keen to switch gears and enjoy some downtime with a smooth glass of red, then drive inland.

Close to the Victoria border, the Coonawarra wine region hangs it hat on producing cracking good Cabernet Sauvignon. Glamp at Bellwether wines, enjoy a glass (or two) of red on the lawn at Brand’s Laira or roll up your sleeves during a pasta making lesson and long lunch at DiGiorgio Family Wines – just like its wines, this compact wine region goes down easy.    


Enjoy spectacular food at The Tasting Room at Mayura Station on the Limestone Coast.
Get your hands dirty at Limus Wine on the Limestone Coast.

Explore Eden Valley

While everyone else is making a beeline for the blockbuster wine regions of the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, why not head to low-key Eden Valley instead? While smaller than other winegrowing hotspots, this under-the-radar region punches above its weight with exceptional food and wine experiences.

Visit the Henschke cellar door for a glass of crisp Riesling or book a wine and chocolate pairing experience hosted in a 170-year-old stone cottage at Fernfield Wines. Stop in at the Eden Valley Hotel for a classic pub meal in a relaxed dining room. Apart from having a sizeable wine list of 60+ regional drops, there’s a cellar door operating in the front bar too!

Delve into the Flinders Ranges

Leave the city behind to embrace the wide-open spaces and star-filled skies of the Flinders Ranges. A five-hour drive (or one hour charter flight) from Adelaide, the austere landscapes of this sparsely populated pocket of South Australia are a world away from the busy streets of Adelaide.

Check in to the Wilpena Pound Resort and head off in a four-wheel drive on an Aboriginal cultural tour through Adnyamathanha Country. For another perspective, splash out on a scenic flight to see the famous ranges, or for the best experience of the region, Designer Journeys have done the work for you and put together an incredible 9-day Wine, Wildlife and Wilderness Self-Drive 

Whichever way you immerse yourself in this spectacular place, you’ll be blown away by the sheer beauty of the ancient landscapes that have been shaped by the elements over millions of years.


Ochre Cliffs, Flinders Ranges. Photo: South Australian Tourism Commission
The Little Blue Lake is known for having some of the clearest water in South Australia.

Take it slow in the Adelaide Hills

Only 20 minutes by car from the city, the picturesque Adelaide Hills region is the ideal spot to enjoy a slow-paced break in the countryside. While close to the CBD, the Adelaide Hills region’s rustic cottages, pretty vineyards and bountiful orchards makes it a top spot for a lazy day spent eating, drinking and wandering.

Immerse yourself in the local winemaking scene with a private wine blending masterclass, learn about biodynamic farming on a farm tour run by cult skincare brand Jurlique, uncover the local brewing scene on a full-day beer tour or go all-in and splurge on an unforgettable seven-course chef’s menu dining experience at the Lane Vineyard.  

Wind your way along the Mighty Murray Way  

Australia’s longest river snakes its way through three states, and a road trip through the South Australian section of the Murray is one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips you’ll never forget. Set aside a week or so to cover the 382km journey from Riverland to the mouth of the Murray. Along the way you’ll discover small towns populated by laidback locals, family-run cellar doors, and freshwater lakes perfect for an afternoon dip or canoe adventure.

From tasting gin at a distillery in Renmark, to soaking up the serenity at Mannum Waterfalls and admiring silo art in Waikere, there’s plenty to see and do along the way. Be sure to book ahead to enjoy dinner and a night of stargazing at the Ngaut Ngaut Aboriginal Archaeological Cultural Site – with little light pollution in the area, you’ll be blown away by the constellations above. After a long drive through the heart of South Australia, celebrate the end of your trip on the Fleurieu Peninsula with a walk along the Goolwa Wharf Precinct.


Orange lighthouse surrounded by ocean

South Australia has many spectacular lighthouses, including the Cape Banks Lighthouse.


Wander the Yorke Peninsula

If you love the outdoors, then the Yorke Peninsula has 700km of coastline to play with – and from Adelaide you only need to drive for just over an hour to reach it. At the southern tip of the peninsula, the Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park is a paradise for nature lovers.

Fishing, swimming, surfing and hiking are the order of the day in this protected area home to kangaroos, emus and other native wildlife. Whether you drive in for a day of bushwalking or spend a weekend camping near the beach, keep watch for the 120 species of bird that live here, including ospreys, western whipbirds and hooded plovers. While you’re exploring the park, don’t miss seeing the Cape Spencer Lighthouse and the eerie remains of the Ethel shipwreck.

Outside of the national park, have fun exploring the towns and villages dotted throughout the peninsula. The small town of Minlaton is known for its barley production, so it’s unsurprising the town has a popular brewery.

In Arthurton, Sunny Hill Distillery makes use of locally-grown wheat to create the award-wining vodka served in its welcoming tasting room. In Wallaroo, the Bond Store is a restaurant, microbrewery and distillery all in one. Book in for the Brewer for a Day experience to learn all about the craft of brewing from the masters.   

By night, the Yorke Peninsula has some phenomenal places to stay. From rustic farm stays in shearer’s quarters, to upscale beach houses and family-friendly caravan parks, unwinding after a day of exploration and discovery is every bit a part of the Yorke Peninsula’s charm.

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