From ruggedly beautiful coastline to the intrigue of the outback, you don’t need to travel far here to find blissful isolation. Here, the best weekends away in SA for your hit list.
Australia’s third largest island is SA’s natural playground, accessible via a 30-minute flight from Adelaide or 45-minute SeaLink ferry ride from Cape Jervis.
Oyster Farm Shop, Kangaroo Island. (Image: Josie Withers)
It’s all about indulging in both locally produced food, wine and craft spirits, and unfiltered nature: from sea lions basking in the sun surveying the wild Southern Ocean and a rugged coastline studded with beautiful beaches to the wilderness of Flinders Chase National Park coming back to life after the 2019/20 bushfires.
Plan a long weekend at least to get a taste of what the island has to offer.
Vivionne Bay, Kangaroo Island. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
Just beyond city limits and offering a countryside idyll studded with heritage architecture and contemporary interventions, the pull of the Adelaide Hills for weekending Adelaidians is strong.
A choose-your-own adventure kinda place, it offers up everything from the traditional streetscape of Hahndorf, its German heritage evident in everything from its bakeries to cuckoo clocks (also don’t miss the excellent Hahndorf Academy arts hub), to hip spots like community-minded cellar door The Summertown Aristologist and eclectically renovated pub Crafers Hotel.
Fresh fare from the Summertown Aristologist in Adelaide Hills. (Image: Josie Withers)
And from an off-grid stay in a tiny house to the luxury of botanic garden-adjacent Mount Lofty House or its new Sequoia Lodge.
A two-hour flight with Rex from Adelaide, Coober Pedy is where to head when you’re craving something completely different. Australia’s opal capital is an intriguing proposition.
Coober Pedy, SA. (Image: Jolyon Bird)
Explore its warren of underground shops, churches and art galleries and stay at subterranean hotels and motels including Desert Cave Hotel, the world’s first four-star property of its type. And up above, the landscape is totally out of this world, too.
Coober Pedy’s bewitching landscape. (Image: Jolyon Bird)
The nearby Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park is an outback lunar landscape of flat-topped mesas that glow all shades of copper and red come sundown.
Penola in the heart of the Coonawarra wine region could just be the perfect country town.
Explore its interesting history via a stroll down Petticoat Lane, with its 19thcentury timber and stone cottages, and a visit to Mary MacKillop Penola Centre, which honours the life of Australia’s first saint.
Then set about sampling the region’s superlative local produce, fresh seafood and some of the best red wines in Australia; the Coonawarra harnesses the Limestone Coast’s red ‘terra rossa’ soils to produce beautiful cabernet sauvignons.
Pretty Penola in Coonawarra. (Image: Tyrone Ormsby)
With some of the oldest vines in the world, the Barossa Valley is known around the world for its big, bold shiraz and embodies all of SA’s epicurean promise.
David Franz cellar door in the Barossa Valley. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
Some 80 cellar doors here span everything from the boutique, like David Franz Wines, to internationally renowned wines like Seppeltsfield.
Base yourself in Tanunda for ready access to some of the best wineries; Angaston, home to the Barossa Farmers Market; Bethany, the oldest village in the Barossa; or the village of Marananga, home to luxe digs The Louise and its double whammy of destination diner Appellation and relaxed little sister three75 bar + kitchen.
Dine at Apellation at The Louise. (Image: The Louise)
Full of country charm and rolling vineyards, the Clare Valley is all about cycling carefree through the vineyards and stopping for a crisp glass of Riesling along the way: one of the first rail trails to be developed in South Australia, the Riesling Bike Trail follows 35 kilometres from cellar door to cellar door through the countryside.
The picturesque landscape of Clare Valley. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
Glamp or stay in a rustic tiny house at Bukirk Glamping while you’re here or bed down in cosy bed and breakfast Trestrail Cottage.
Bukirk Glamping, Clare Valley. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
And don’t miss a visit to Lake Bumbunga in Lochiel, which shimmers different colours throughout the year, from pink to white to blue, depending on the salinity of the water.
One of SA’s best-kept secrets, Burra occupies a sweet spot between the bucolic countryside and vines of the Clare Valley and the desert plains of the outback.
Formerly a copper mining hub, today its rich 1840s heritage is easily explored. Buying a Burra Heritage Passport from the Burra and Goyder Visitor Information Centre will give you access to 11 sites, including the underground Unicorn Brewery Cellars and dugouts.
The Unicorn Brewery Cellars in Burra. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
And don’t miss the great regional gallery tucked within the old Burra Telegraph and Post Office building.
The underground dugouts in Burra. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
Stay in cute cottage accommodation and be sure to check out the abandoned farmhouse three kilometres north of town known as the Midnight Oil House, which appeared on the band’s Diesel and Dust album cover.
On the sparkling Fleurieu Peninsula 40 minutes south of Adelaide, McLaren Vale is a hub of sustainable winegrowing, boutique distilleries, foodie experiences and beautiful beaches.
Based out of Moana, local tour operator Luke Harris fuses his passion for the region’s ocean, outdoors and wine with his Gone AWOL tours that span one to two days and combine everything from wine and brewery tours to SUPing and e-biking from coast to vines.
Or savour sustainable seafood and local wine at Pearl on Aldinga Beach.
Pearl on the Fleurieu Peninsula, SA. (Image: Andy Nowell)
The Yorke Peninsula is a two-hour drive from Adelaide, but feels a world away. A wild coastal escape (with 700 kilometres of jagged shorelines and beaches) where you might spend the day exploring the coastal wilderness of Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park before an evening cosying up by the fire in your cottage accommodation.
Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park’s Cape Spencer. (Image: Chalkie and the Chippy)
Or take the 15-minute boat ride off the coast from Edithburgh to the unique sand island and bird refuge of Troubridge Island, where groups of up to 12 people can stay in the lighthouse keepers’ cottage in blissful isolation for the weekend with just the migratory birds and Sammy the Seal for company.
The wildlife of the Yorke Peninsula, SA. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
Australia’s seafood capital, this city on the Eyre Peninsula is perennially popular.
Port Lincoln is Australia’s seafood capital. (Image: South Australian Tourism Commission)
Join a tour with Australian Coastal Safaris to dive straight in. Its two-day Hunt and Gather experience will see you hunting and gathering your own abalone and cockles, learning to shuck oysters and taking in the sand dunes at Lincoln National Park.
Tanonga Luxury Eco Lodges near Port Lincoln. (Image: Tanonga).
Or simply tuck into freshly shucked oysters on Boston Bay, which overlooks 960-hectare Boston Island: set to open up to visitors for signature experiences and adventures soon.