What’s better than a road trip that criss-crosses beautiful wineries, incredible eateries and stunning scenery? Well, one that does as much good for your soul as it does the communities you traverse.
With South Australia suffering devastating wildfires this summer, particularly the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island, the most practical way you can help is to enjoy yourself. Plan a road trip through the state, taking in Adelaide, some incredible wine regions, and an island escape, and leaving behind a boost to local economies.
You needn’t go immediately, either. Consider staggering your holiday aid throughout the year so as to sustain regions as they try to navigate the ongoing fallout from the fires. Not only is there the obvious damage to consider in hard-hit areas but there’s a flow-on effect of reduced visitors to surrounding regions and many of the state’s wineries will be faced with smoke-ruined crops that threaten a lean year ahead.
So throw a case of your favourite vintage in the boot, grab supplies from local businesses on the road, and do your part to reboot an industry beset by climate catastrophe.
Day one: Arrive in Adelaide
Adelaide is nourished by the ample food bowls all set within a stone’s throw of the city limits. Naturally, this makes her a food-lover’s paradise. From the amazing Adelaide Central Market to the internationally lauded Restaurant Orana, it’s tough to find a terrible meal in Adelaide. You’re here to pick up your rental car, assuming you’ve flown in from elsewhere, but you really aught spend some quality (meal)time before you head for the highway.
Hot tip: While excellent eateries are prolific in the city, when you’re short on time, direct your Uber to Peel and Leigh streets, where you’ll find lively bars and restaurants brimming with brio any day of the week.
Stay: There’s a trio of high-end hotel chains set to open in Adelaide this year and beyond, expect Sofitel, The Westin and Crown Plaza to join the skyline. In the interim, stay close to the action at The Mayfair.
Day two: Adelaide to the Adelaide Hills (45 minutes)
Set off early to make the most of your time in the Hills. The drive is short enough to grab your first coffee on-the-go and arrive ready for your second at FRED Eatery in Aldgate. Fortified, it’s time to designate a driver and set course for some cellar doors. Propagate your list of wineries as you see fit, but some worthy inclusions are always Unico Zelo, Shaw + Smith, and Pike & Joyce.
Hot tip: For a taste of the Bavarian, roll onto Hahndorf in time for lunch and roam the Lutheran-founded town where you can find delightfully kitsch German-ness and, if you’re organised enough, an incredible lunch at The Bridgewater Mill.
Day three: Adelaide Hills to Barossa Valley (50 minutes)
This world renown wine region is flush with 80 cellar doors form the big hitters such as Wolf Blass, Henschke Cellars and Jacob’s Creek to smaller producers where treasures await the curious. Naturally, with such fine vines, good food is inevitable, so you’ll find some exceptional dining here, too.
Hot tip: Before you set off tomorrow, you have time for one last Barossa highlight – if you’re open to a pre-dawn start to the day, that is. Barossa Valley Ballooning ascends into the sky above the valley for an exquisite perspective of this stunning region.
Stay: A good option for families and groups, or if you decide to stay on for an extra day, is the contemporary but affordable Barossa Valley Apartments. For loftier lodgings, The Louise offers impeccable luxury.
Day four: Barossa to McLaren Vale (1 hour and 40 minutes)
Today you make the crossing to the southern side of Adelaide as you begin your journey toward Kangaroo Island. But it wouldn’t be sensible to bypass the pristine beaches and undulating vine-woven hills of McLaren Vale. Here wine and food goes hand-in-hand with coastal pursuits of the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Hot tip: If you’re here for a good time, not a long time, condense a few experiences into one at the just-opened Chalk Hill Collective. The ideal spot to take in a couple of tastings and grab a bite, this is a clever collaboration between Never Never Distilling Co., Chalk Hill Wines and Vera Pizza Oztalia. And… those views!
Stay: It may be small, but this ‘Escapod’ is ultra-sleek. The new Cadole Avalon at The Vineyard Retreat is a beauty from every angle.
Day five: McLaren Vale to Cape Jervis (1 hour) to Kangaroo Island (45 minutes)
If you happen to be departing the ’Vale on a Saturday, before you go, swing by the Willunga Farmers Market to stockpile some supplies for the crossing to Kangaroo Island.
Hot Tip: SeaLink offers daily ferry services from Cape Jervis to Kangaroo Island. It’s best to check their website for prices and special offers, as they occasionally discount fares. As a rough guide, expect to pay around $98 for a vehicle and $74 per person, and be sure to book in advance.
Stay: From camping grounds to holiday rentals and luxury lodges, there’s accommodation to suit every traveller on the island. While some places are temporarily closed as they repair damage from the fires, there are still plenty of options and more will reopen as time passes, so check before you book.
Day six: Kangaroo Island
Awaken to a beauty so absorbing you’ll make an impassioned pact with your travelling companion to return. While evidence of bushfire damage is unavoidable, simply being here aids recovery and the rugged beauty, crystalline waters and serene beauty of the island remains altogether intact.
Hot tip: There’s so much to do on KI, it’s lucky you’ve pledged to return, as you won’t get to it all in just two days. Make sure, though, to visit Vivonne Bay with its dreamscape white-sand beach and enticing waters. Keeping to nature, a stroll around the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch is imperative.
But you have permission to temper all that fresh, coastal air with a trip to Kangaroo Island Spirits and some of the small island wineries. After all, it’s best to stay on-theme.
Stay: If your South Australian relief road trip calls for a grand finale, book this evening’s accommodation at Oceanview Eco Villas. These two elegantly appointed villas offer up restorative island outpost vibes with their cliff top locale.
Day seven: Kangaroo Island to Adelaide (4 hours)
As you make the return crossing from Penneshaw to Cape Jervis, reflect on the diverse beauty, inspiring locals and enduring spirit of South Australia. This itinerary is a welcome reminder, that while we’re often quick to book an overseas flight, some of the world’s most astonishing landscapes and attractions are just a road trip away.
If you’re looking for more ways to support, consider a road trip through the bushfire affected communities of New South Wales. You can find that itinerary here.