12 Night Best of South Australia
South Australia is the ideal destination to explore on your own driving holiday. Many of the State’s highlights are a short drive from Adelaide, whether it’s the famous Barossa wine region, the mighty Murray River or a little further afield the ancient landscapes of the Flinders Ranges and Outback. Create your own South Australian story with this 12 night self-drive adventure.
Just a 4.5 hour direct flight from Auckland, Adelaide is the Australian city where there's always something going on. Spend a few days here before heading off on your South Australian adventure. The Adelaide Central Market buzzes with sights, tastes and smells - it’s a melting pot of different cultures and fantastic local food. Shopaholics will feel right at home on Rundle Mall, Adelaide's retail heart. After lunch, enjoy an afternoon City Highlights Tour for an overview of Adelaide’s history and places of interest. In the evening, soak up the atmosphere in one of more than 700 restaurants along Adelaide’s ‘eat streets’. Overnight in Adelaide.
Be sure to wander down North Terrace. Regarded as Adelaide's cultural boulevard, it’s home to South Australia’s State Art Gallery, museum, library and botanic gardens, which are all free to visit. Adelaide Zoo is home to the city's newest residents – giant pandas Wang Wang and Funi. Or catch the tram to the beachside suburb of Glenelg. This seaside playground is always alive with people enjoying the sand, sea, foreshore parks, cafes and live entertainment. Overnight in Adelaide.
After picking up your rental car, travel to the historic riverside township of Mannum, just over an hour’s drive from Adelaide. Spend the morning exploring the main street, including the famous Mannum Dock Museum. Pre book a lunch cruise on the Proud Mary and enjoy a leisurely one-hour cruise along the Murray River, including a delicious buffet lunch onboard. After lunch, cross the river on the free Mannum vehicle ferry and follow the river to Swan Reach. Enjoy a late afternoon drink in the sun overlooking the river at the Swan Reach Hotel before returning to Mannum via the free Walker Flat vehicle ferry. Overnight in Mannum.
Enjoy a hearty breakfast in Mannum before travelling to the Barossa via Birdwood. Here you’ll find the National Motor Museum - a treasure trove of Australian motoring history. From Mannum, it’s just an hour’s drive to the Barossa, Australia’s most famous wine region. Stop at the Whispering Wall, near Williamstown, to check out this magnificent engineering feat. Continue to Rowland Flat where you’ll discover the Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre, home of the world-renowned Jacob’s Creek wine label. Enjoy lunch at one of many cellar door restaurants before stopping at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. Free cooking demonstrations are held at 2pm daily and you might be lucky enough to bump into Maggie herself! Overnight in the Barossa.
If you’re in the area on a Saturday morning, enjoy breakfast at the famous Barossa Farmers Market. Chefs, foodies and winemakers turn out to source the very best from local producers and you never know who you'll bump into. Next stop is Penfold’s Winery where you can have a go at being a winemaker on a Make Your Own Blend tour. If you’re into history, follow the palm-lined avenue to historic Seppeltsfield Estate. Don’t miss one of their daily tours of the winery - you can even taste a wine from the year of your birth on their Centenary Tour! Overnight in the Barossa.
Make your way to Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges, about 4 hours drive from the Barossa. Travel via Burra, a former copper mining town and a State Heritage Area. Burra is known for its art and antique shops and you can whet your whistle at Thorogoods of Burra, a boutique cider brewery. Carry on to Peterborough and discover the town’s proud rail heritage. From here, it’s just a two hour drive to Wilpena Pound. Rawnsley Park Station and Wilpena Pound Resort offer a range of accommodation close to the Pound itself. Choose from tenting under the stars to holiday units and luxury eco villas. It’s recommended that you book your lodgings before arriving. Overnight in Wilpena Pound.
Start the day with a breathtaking scenic flight or hot air balloon ride over Wilpena Pound before exploring the surrounding gorges on a 4WD tour or at your leisure. Maps are available from the local visitor centre. Be sure to keep an eye out for native animals and wildflowers, especially in September and October. If you feel like stretching your legs a large network of bushwalking and mountain bike trails run throughout the park, allowing you to experience Wilpena Pound "from the inside". If relaxing and taking in the scenery is more your style, then sit back and enjoy a guided 4WD tour through this ancient land. Overnight in Wilpena Pound.
Depart Wilpena Pound for the Clare Valley wine region, about three hours’ drive south of Wilpena. If you leave early, stop in the former railway town of Quorn and join a Pichi Richi Camel Tour through this inspiring landscape. Further south, Melrose is the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges. It has a beautiful setting at the foot of Mount Remarkable. Enjoy lunch at the Stone Hut Bakery and sample their fantastic array of pies - from camel and kangaroo to more traditional choices like bacon and egg and steak. End the day with a glass of wine overlooking the vineyards at Skillogalee Winery in the Clare Valley. Overnight in Clare Valley.
In the morning make your way to McLaren Vale, just over two hours’ drive south of the Clare Valley. Boasting over 70 boutique wineries, McLaren Vale is best known for its great vineyard restaurants and relaxed coastal lifestyle. It's also a region of outstanding fresh produce – all of which can be tasted at Saturday's popular Willunga Farmers Market. Wander the main street of McLaren Vale exploring art studios, galleries and shops along the way. Indulge your sweet tooth at Medlow Confectionary or head off on the McLaren Vale Food and Wine Trail. Tonight, enjoy dinner as the sun goes down at the famous Star of Greece café, overlooking the spectacular beach and rugged coastline of Port Willunga. Overnight in McLaren Vale.
At Cape Jervis, an hour south of McLaren Vale, catch the early morning ferry across to the township of Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. Head South to Seal Bay Conservation Park where a guided tour is the best way to encounter up to 600 sea lions in the wild. Continue along the south coast to Kelly Hill Caves and on to the dramatic coastal formations of Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch. This afternoon enjoy one of the many walking trails through the Flinders Chase National Park, and keep your eyes open for wild kangaroos, wallabies and koalas. Overnight on Kangaroo Island.
You might visit Kangaroo Island for the wildlife but you'll fall in love with the wine. Sample a range of varieties at any of the island's 16 cellar doors. Dudley Wines is one of the island's original wineries, and their cellar door is open seven days. Gain an appreciation of the different varieties of honey produced by the Ligurian bee at Clifford's Honey Farm before tasting the local cheeses and yoghurts at Island Pure sheep dairy. In Kingscote, don’t miss the daily pelican feeding at the wharf. This fantastic and informative evening tour is a great way to see these magnificent birds up close. Overnight on Kangaroo Island.
This morning, join a Kangaroo Island Marine Tour to go snorkelling with seals, sea lions and dolphins. Then head to the very eastern tip of the Island and Cape Willoughby Lighthouse for amazing views over to the mainland. After lunch, catch the return ferry from Penneshaw to Cape Jervis and make your way back to Adelaide at your leisure (about 90 minutes’ drive). You might like to stop in at the Adelaide Central Market and pick some items to make a relaxed gourmet dinner in your hotel room this evening. Overnight in Adelaide.