SA confidential: Four road trips outside Adelaide
South Australia has a wonderful reputation for its jaw-dropping scenery and abundant wildlife, but the visitor will also find premium wines, farm-fresh produce and scrumptious seafood, not to mention historic towns and villages, national parks and beautiful beaches.
How best to experience such diversity in a single trip? Get behind the wheel. Here are four of the best drives to take you beyond Adelaide and into the places that showcase the best the state has to offer – from the outback splendour of the Flinders Ranges to the surf breaks of the Yorke Peninsula.
Great Southern Drive
Perhaps the state’s best-known road trip, this 460 kilometre coastal route stretches from Adelaide east to Mount Gambier, including a side trip to Kangaroo Island – a wildlife reserve teeming with koalas, sea lions, kangaroos and other native species.
Kangaroo Island is also famous for its produce, including Ligurian honey, marron (freshwater crayfish), artisan gins and cheeses from the award-winning Island Pure Sheep Dairy. For lunch, drop into Dudley Wines. Located just outside Penneshaw, where the island ferry arrives and departs, this clifftop winery offers sweeping ocean views, a good selection of estate wines and a reliable, seasonal menu.
Back on the mainland, other highlights include the Coorong National Park, Coonawarra wine region, Narracoorte Caves and the famous blue lake in Mount Gambier.
A river runs through it
This fascinating road trip follows the South Australian section of the Murray River – from the Riverland to the Murray Mouth, a distance of about 300kms. The route is dotted with historic ports including Goolwa, Mannum, Blanchetown and Waikerie. Today’s visitors will also discover boutique wine regions such as Langhorne Creek and Currency Creek. Also worth visiting is the Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery, near Renmark, which produces a range of strong ales, apple and pear ciders and alcoholic lemonade.
There are also plenty of aquatic adventures to be had along the way, including water skiing, kayaking and house boating. Break your journey at Banrock Station Wine and Wetland Centre where the restaurant serves fine regional produce. Tours of the wetlands are also available.
Stretching from Adelaide’s genteel boulevards west to the remote township of Ceduna, this 775km expedition includes some of Australia’s most pristine coastal scenery. Visitors will want to spend time in the seafood-rich townships of Port Lincoln, Coffin Bay and Streaky Bay on the Eyre Peninsula, a region known for producing some of the world’s best oysters, bluefin tuna, kingfish, abalone, mussels and rock lobster.
No visit to Port Lincoln is complete without a meal at Del Giorno’s Cafe Restaurant. Try the tuna and kingfish ceviche and wash down your meal with a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc from nearby Boston Bay Wines.
The peninsula offers plenty of aquatic adventures, such as cage diving with sharks and swimming with sea lions and dolphins.
This 485km circular drive, from Port Wakefield to Port Broughton, is a great introduction to the Yorke Peninsula, a sparsely populated region southwest of Adelaide known for its surfing beaches, national parks and picturesque towns.
Many of the early settlers came from Cornwall in England’s rugged southwest, and the region proudly maintains its heritage: the Cornish Kitchen in Moonta, for example, bakes traditional pasties and cakes. While wheat and barley are the dominant crops, vines are also being planted. Barley Stacks Wines, just outside Maitland, has a small portfolio of red and white wines, plus a thirst-quenching rosé.
Over on the east coast, Marion Bay offers fine sand beaches and holiday accommodation, plus a family-friendly tavern serving pub classics such as schnitzels, steaks and fish and chips. Innes National Park is another must-do attraction.