Things to Do in South Australia
Adelaide Zoo is home to almost 2,500 animals, with around 250 different species from all around the world. Along with Aussie favorites like kangaroos, koalas, and Tasmanian devils, the zoo is famous for its pair of Giant Pandas, Wang Wang and Funi, the only animals of their kind in Australia.
Like the beloved dome of Grand Central Terminal, words whispered at one end of this historic reservoir wall can still be heard crystal clear by listeners stationed at the other end—some 100 meters away. This surprising fact is what gave the famous Whispering Wall its name, and what drives thousands of tourists to this popular site each year.
Travelers can take in the beauty of the Barossa Reservoir, which was created in the early 1900s, while they test the much-storied wonder of this wall that allows quiet whispers to be heard from far away. Picnic areas, public toilets and shade tree areas make an ideal setting for a quiet afternoon in nature.
McLaren Vale is second only to Barossa Valley as South Australia’s top wine region. The region's wineries are spread out around the town of McLaren Vale, about 25 miles (41 kilometers) south of Adelaide. Soft, luscious Shiraz is the signature style, and more than 70 wineries offer tastings. Don't miss the vibrant local food scene.
One of the world’s most scenic arenas, the Adelaide Oval dates back to 1871. Best known for cricket, the defining sport of British colonies, it also hosts concerts, rugby, Australian rules football, and more. Besides a cafe, fine dining restaurant, and corporate events spaces, it offers a museum devoted to cricket legend Donald Bradman.
One of the oldest buildings in South Australia, Adelaide Gaol is remarkable for its architecture, its history, and—allegedly—its ghosts. During its years of operation, 1841–1988, the jail housed over 300,000 prisoners, 45 of whom were executed on-site. Today it offers an interactive exhibition, a range of food options, and a shop.
With its unmistakably Aussie name, it’s little surprise that Kangaroo Island is one of the best places to spot native Australian wildlife. Australia's third-largest island, this unspoiled haven is a trove of natural wonders, from red rock cliffs to sandy beaches, sweeping dunes, and wild bushlands.
Tucked away in the Adelaide Hills, the tree-lined lanes and historic taverns of Hahndorf have a distinctly Bavarian feel; so much so that the village has dubbed itself “Australia’s oldest German town.” Founded by German settlers in the early 19th century, Hahndorf displays its heritage in its culture, architecture, and cuisine.
Kangaroos aren’t the only Aussie creatures that call Kangaroo Island home—you’ll also find one of the largest sea lion colonies in the world here. Seal Bay Conservation Park is dedicated to protecting and preserving the endangered animals, and gives you the chance to admire wild sea lions in their natural environment.
Despite its name, Mt. Lofty is far from lofty, standing just 2,385 feet (727 meters) high in the Mt. Lofty Ranges, part of the Adelaide Hills. The summit offers views across Adelaide and the ocean, with a café, an information center and shop, and hiking trail access. Mt. Lofty Botanic Garden and Cleland Wildlife Park are on its slopes.
The Art Gallery of South Australia showcases around 45,000 works of art spanning 2,000 years. Expect to see works by Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and a diverse array of art from around the world, including Rodin bronzes and contemporary pieces. The museum occupies a landmark neoclassical building in the heart of Adelaide.
More Things to Do in South Australia
500 million year old granite has been shaped by the elements to create the intriguing formations that are the Remarkable Rocks.
Perched on a large granite dome that drops abruptly to the crashing surf, the Remarkable Rocks are changing even today. Information boards display pictures of the rocks from the 1800s alongside current photographs, as well as detailed information on the weathering process.
The Remarkable Rocks have been weathered into strange and unique shapes – many visitors enjoy picking out familiar objects in the formations, such as giant chairs and hooks. Enhancing their beauty are the colours in the granite uncovered as the rocks are worn down – blues, blacks and pinks play across the surface of the rocks.
As well as the Remarkable Rocks themselves, the viewing area offers visitors an unobstructed outlook upon the wild Southern Ocean. Migrating whales can be spotted between May and October, and Cape du Couedic and its Heritage Listed Lightstation can be seen from the Western platform.
Since 1844, Penfolds Barossa Valley winery has been offering travelers access to a wide variety of wines, luscious tastings and idyllic vineyard views. And while strong pours of favorite vintages are a treat for visitors, it’s the Make Your Own Blend Tour that gives Penfolds Barossa Valley Cellar Door the air of something new. After touring the grounds and exploring the Cellar Door, travelers enter the winemakers’ laboratory and use popular grapes, like Grenache and Shiraz, to blend their own wines to bottle and take home.
A scenic boardwalk leads to the viewing platform for Admiral’s Arch – the naturally formed rock bridge that towers above colonies of New Zealand fur seals.
Originally an ancient cave, Admirals Arch has been shaped by the intense winds and surf that pound the coast of Kangaroo Island. Stalactites still hang from the rocky ceiling whilst the floor has been eroded to a smooth finish. The Arch has been designated a geological monument, and is one of 27 geological monuments on the island.
The boardwalk runs along the cliff face, providing uninterrupted views of the ocean. Dolphins can often be spotted, and whales migrate along the coast from May to October. Year round entertainment however, is provided by the colony of fur seals that live and play on the rock platforms beneath the cliff. Pups are born in December, and remain with their mothers for a year, playing in the rock pools under the Arch.
Set in the Cleland Conservation Park, just 20 minutes outside Adelaide, Cleland Wildlife Park is home to a wealth of Australian animals, most of them roaming free. It’s possible to hand-feed native fauna, including kangaroos, wallabies, and emus, while the park offers up-close experiences with koalas, wombats, and more.
Covering more than 124 acres (50 hectares) between the North Terrace and Botanic Park, the Adelaide Botanic Garden are among the city’s most stunning green spaces. With tree-lined walkways, water lily and lotus ponds, and flower gardens blooming with roses and dahlias, this is an idyllic place for a walking tour.
With a history dating back more than 150 years, Adelaide Central Market has long been at the center of Adelaide’s foodie scene. It remains one of Australia’s largest covered food markets, with about 80 stalls stacked with fresh, seasonal produce.
One of the principal attractions of Adelaide’s Cultural Precinct, the South Australian Museum is devoted to the region’s natural and cultural history. The museum is best known for its impressive collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural items: the largest collection of its kind in the world.
One of the most popular scenic overlooks in the Barossa Valley, visitors to Mengler Hill Lookout can take in bird's-eye views of the region’s expansive vineyards and rolling hills. The nearby sculpture park, which sits at the foot of Mengler Hill (formerly known as Mengler's Hill), offers travelers a whimsical, playful look at the works of nine artists who visited the area in 1988. Visitors say this picturesque peak is the perfect place for snapping scenic photos or escaping into the quiet and quaint rural countryside on a trip to Barossa.
Established in 1844, Penfolds is perhaps Australia’s defining wine brand, and these Adelaide Hills vineyards are where it all began. Besides cellars, wine-making operations, and tasting rooms, the site is home to the original Grange cottage where the founders lived, an award-winning fine-dining restaurant, and an informal eatery.
You would think that a beach voted “Best in Australia” would be a little more crowded than this. Serenely set along the southern coast of Australia’s Kangaroo Island, Vivonne Bay is one of the most scenic—and famous—beaches in all of Australia. White sand stretches out to the horizon and simply begs to be walked at sunset, and consistent waves crash on the shoreline in a fusion of turquoise and white. Playful dolphins and migrating Right whales can occasionally be seen swimming offshore, and the scent of the ocean wafts on the breeze as children splash in the surf. Even with all of its beauty, however, the long drive to the southern coast keeps the bay relatively empty, with long weekends and school holidays being the few exceptions to the rule.
Travelers staying in Vivonne Bay can pitch a tent just steps from the ocean at the popular Vivonne Bay campground, or share a romantic balcony with a view from the handful of coastal lodges. Watch as fishermen haul their catch from the rustic boat ramp and jetty, and for an up close encounter with island wildlife, stroll down the beach with dozens of sea lions along the neighboring Seal Bay shoreline.
Australia’s longest river and a sacred place to indigenous communities, the mighty Murray River winds its way 1,558 miles (2,508 kilometers) through three Australian states. There are multiple ways—both on and off the water—to experience the river that runs through several Victoria towns and past striking South Australia landscapes.
This favorite mid-size South Australian vineyard was built in just five months back in 1980. Since then, Peter Lehmann Wines' luscious red and white wines have been celebrated both locally and internationally, and its true family farm feel has been welcoming visitors for generations.
After touring the grounds and learning about the practice of wine making, travelers can saddle up to the Weighbridge—now known affectionately as Peter’s Bar—for a taste of Peter Lehmann’s bold Shiraz. Growers have been gathering at the Weighbridge after a long day’s work since the vineyard first opened. Today visitors can join them in the same age-old tradition, too.
Covering the Western end of Kangaroo Island, Flinders Chase National Park is one of Australia’s most diverse wildernesses. Boasting an intricate network of trails and boardwalks, the park showcases both natural and historic sights.
Popular experiences include visiting the wind sculpted Remarkable Rocks, or the Admirals Arch which stretches over the powerful ocean that shaped it. Also located along the coastline is the Cape Borda Lightstation. Explore by yourself or take a guided tour of the lighthouse and cemetery – the midday tour includes the firing of a restored signal cannon.
The Flinders Chase Visitors Centre provides extensive information about the park, including the best places for wildlife viewing. A colony of New-Zealand fur seals lives on the rocks surrounding Admirals Arch. The Breakneck River Hike offers prime bird watching opportunities, whilst the shorter Platypus Waterholes Walk crosses the habitats of platypus, wallabies, geese, echidnas, goannas and more. The short Cliff Top Hike from the Cape Borda Lightstation ends in a stone lookout that offers prime position for spotting migrating whales from May through October.
The iconic Aussie kangaroo might be the star sighting for those visiting Kangaroo Island, but the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park is home to many more native Australian creatures. Over 600 animals and 150 different species inhabit the 10-acre (4-hectare) park, including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, cassowaries, and little penguins, most of which came to the park as part of their rescue and rehabilitation work.
As well as guaranteed sightings of koalas and kangaroos, visitors to the wildlife park can learn about the cassowary breeding program, see the penguins swimming and playing, and watch the penguins, pelicans, and wombats being fed by zookeepers.
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