Have you seen SA’s Big – no not South Africa, South Australia. Here’s how to tick off the Aussie ‘Big 5’ – koala, shark, sea lion, whale, kangaroo – in one state.
1. Koalas, Mikkira Station, Eyre Peninsula
A truly remarkable spot, koalas were introduced to the forest on Mikkira Station back in the 1960s and have never looked back.
Pull up to the quaint, old farmhouse, pay a $15 fee and wander a path through the gum trees to the original settlers’ Mikkira farmstead, coming face to face with koalas sitting in the trees along the way.
The koalas are used to curious faces here so you can get within a respectful distance of them. It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon with the family.
2. Great white sharks, Neptune Island
Catch a charter from Port Lincoln out into the Southern Ocean to the wild realm of Neptune Island where a seal colony lives.
With the water suitably chummed up, you’ll be able to come within inches of nature’s most ferocious predator, and the awesome power and surprising beauty of the great white shark.
Oh, yes, you’ll have a protective cage of course, and boat charters out to the island will take care of you with lunch and snacks throughout the day. See Calypso Star Charters
3. Sea lions, Seal Cove
Don a wetsuit and snorkel to lark about with the friendly dogs of the sea.
A charter takes you out to the aptly named Seal Cove, where the endangered Australian sea lions’ inquisitive nature will have them swimming rings around you.
When the boat pulls up, the seals know it’s game time and rush up to the side of the vessel eager to get you in the water and start playing.
4. Kangaroos, with Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris
Stay at Kangaluna Camp for a multi-day tour of the Gawler Ranges National Park.
Expert guides will point out the natural and cultural history, and mobs of greys, euros and big reds, as well as wombats (when they’re out and about) – it’s Australia’s marsupial equivalent of the Serengeti.
Every evening you’ll be treated to drinks, canapés, and fine dining under the stars.
You’ll then sleep in safari style canopy tents or if you’re lucky, the swagon, an old horse-drawn cart that’s been converted into the ultimate outback digs.
5. Southern right whales
Let’s cap off the South Australia Big 5 with the biggest of the lot. Every year enormous southern right whales migrate to the South Australian coast between June and early October. They come here from the Southern Ocean to warmer waters to calve.
Head to the Fleurieu Peninsula’s Encounter Marine Park, the whales making an appearance in Encounter Bay, and there are whale-watching platforms along the Head of the Bight looking out to the Far West Coast Marine Park.
Southern rights aren’t the only species of whale to grace South Australia’s coast with blue whales, sperm whales and orcas also making an appearance. Check for recent whale sightings.