South Australia - Travel Guide

Established by British property developers as the first free settlement in Australia, South Australia has had an interesting history to say the least. It was settled, virtually abandoned, re populated, and even used as a nuclear testing site by the US in the 1940s (the arid deserts, not the populated areas).

While much of the state is desert, Aboriginal territories or military testing grounds that are off limits to travellers (and the locals for that matter), there are several appealing regions and locations that are well worth a visit.

Regions of South Australia


Easy on the eyes and feet (unless you stray outside the main city centres), South Australia's pretty little capital is a cultural and gourmet delight. The city is easy to navigate and life is that little bit more laid back than your usual state capital cities.

Wine Country: The Barossa & Clare Valleys

Settled by Prussian winemakers almost two centuries ago, South Australia's beautiful wine regions produce some of the finest and most famous vino in the world. While France has the naming rights to most of the world's most popular varieties, South Australia tends to win more acclaim, particularly for its divine reds.

Outback South Australia

Rugged, barren mountain ranges jut out of the ground as sharp as bread knives, vast salt lakes stretch across the horizon and empty deserts welcome only the most adventurous and well-equipped travellers. Travelling by car is an option, but The Ghan and the Indian Pacific trains make it a lot easier, safer, and not to mention comfortable.

The Nullarbor Plain

'Flat out like a lizard drinking' is the vernacular, the vast plain stretching across the state and into Western Australia is named for its lack of trees and is famous for its dead-straight roads and colourful locals. It's not exactly a tourist attraction in itself, but you couldn't say you've really seen Australia unless you've crossed the Nullarbor.

Kangaroo Island

Originally settled by an unruly mob of vigilante whalers and sailors, Kangaroo Island entered the World's radar as a remote, cut-throat outpost of mad English colonialism 10 miles from mainland Australia. Fast forward 150 years and it's still remote, but the locals have curtailed their wild ways and the wildlife is now the main attraction. Seals, whales, birds and of course, kangaroos are abundant, and the local seafood is to die for.

The Coorong & The Murray

Made famous (at least in Australia) by the Colin Thiele novel Storm Boy, which detailed the relationship between a boy and a pelican, The Coorong is a serenely beautiful, and relatively isolated stretch of wetlands and beaches at the mouth of the Murray River on the southeast coast and is home to an enormous array and number of birds. Further upstream the towns of Murray Bridge and Renmark provide a scenic outlook on rural South Australian life.

The Flinders Ranges

Rising violently from the earth 384 km north of Adelaide, the Flinders Ranges stretch over 30 km from Port Pirie to Lake Callabonna. This group of mountains is over 800 million years old and they look their age; bearing some of the oldest fossils on the planet.

The Rugged Western Coastlines and Peninsulas

Great white sharks patrol the waters west of Adelaide and like giant teeth, the Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas guard the Australian continent as it stretches off into the Great Australian Bight. You won't find a more remote, or unforgiving coastline anywhere on the planet and the gargantuan cliffs on the edge of the Nullarbor Plain are an abrupt, but spectacular end to the continent.

For more ideas, check out things to do in South Australia.

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