No time to head out back in SA? Fear not – these rural weekend experiences, barely a hop, skip and a jump (well, almost) from Adelaide, make for an amazing substitute. By Megan Arkinstall
Run for the hills:Stirling, Adelaide Hills
Fire lit, champagne chilled, private indoor pool is heated and ready… you really couldn’t ask for a nicer welcome at The Retreat at Stirling, nestled among two acres of bushland in the Adelaide Hills. And did we mention the private indoor pool? This bright, airy villa claims French Provincial styling, but we reckon there’s a touch ofTuscany about her wrought iron, sandstone-paved looks – not that anyone’s complaining. Right next to Mount Lofty Golf Course and close by AT favourite the Bird in Hand winery this is the spot to plonk yourself for a weekend spent bushwalking, wandering nearby quaint historic towns and otherwise zoning out. From $240 per night for two people; not suitable for kids.
Sleep in indigenous wilderness: Coorong Wilderness Lodge, Coorong National Park
The 100-kilometre Coorong saltwater lagoon is a sight to behold, teeming with bird life like the white faced herons, pelicans, egrets, swans and gulls. But it is the indigenous operators of the Coorong Wilderness Lodge, the local Ngarrindjeri people, who make it such a special place. Guests have myriad activities to keep busy such as bush walking, bird watching, kayaking and fishing. The onsite restaurant has a menu with a strong theme of indigenous flavours and the lodge also runs a guided Aboriginal bush tucker tour. Accommodation ranges from camping to eco cabins, which are very comfortable indeed. From $200 per night; 08 8575 6001 or visit southaustralia.com.
Soak up vineyard luxury: Blewitt Springs, McLaren Vale
Just 40 minutes south of Adelaide, in the superb McLaren Vale wine region, this 15-acre working Grenache vineyard is as pretty as a picture, but we think the guest houses are even prettier. Surrounded by vines, rolling hills and valleys, the guest houses have everything needed for the modern day escape: espresso machine, wi-fi, iPod docking station, flat screen and DVD player, an outdoor spa… But it’s the attention to detail that has us swooning – 1200-threadcount linen and goose down quilts, Laura Ashley towels, fine Riedel glassware, large rain shower heads, a selection of games, magazines and books, and, of course, a cosy wood combustion fire. A private chef can be arranged or if you fancy a behind-the-scenes winery experience, just ask about that, too. A fully-cooked breakfast – bacon and eggs, fresh bread, local preserves – and a mini bar of wine, beer, soft drinks, savoury snacks and sweets are included in the rate. From $325 to $650 per night depending on the guesthouse; minimum two-night stay; not suitable for kids.
And a little further afield… Find secluded bush bliss: Tanonga, Port Lincoln
Just 20 minutes from Port Lincoln, at the southern end of the Eyre Peninsula, is this secluded luxury escape. Tanonga, which has an Aboriginal meaning of ‘sweet water’ (named after the property’s billabong and springs), is a small working farm of 250 acres; another 250 acres is a regenerated forest with over 25,000 native trees. Stay in one of two private, blissful eco lodges from where you can explore the numerous walking trails, spot some of the 100 bird species in the area, play golf, go wine tasting, or swim with sea lions and dolphins at Bairds Bay. Make the most of the local seafood by ordering in a seafood pack and eating under the stars. From $340 per night for Ridge lodge; $310 per night for Valley lodge; minimum two-night stay; kids welcome.