What Makes South Australia a Top Adventure Destination?

South Australia is severely underrated by travelers, but traveling with Julian Hatfield from the Great Australian Bight to the Outback , you’ll soon see why this is one of Australia’s best adventure destinations.


Photo © Getty Images/by wildestanimal

Fishing and Kayaking on the Murray River

The Murray River is Australia’s longest, spanning an incredible 1,558mi (2,508km) across New South WalesVictoria and South Australia. There’s no better place to experience its grandiosity than in South Australia. In the small city of Murray Bridge, an hours’ drive from Adelaide, hire a kayak, pack a picnic, and paddle along the river until you find the perfect picnic spot.

You can fish here for Murray Cod, Callop, Catfish, Bream and Redfin. Riverboat tours of the Murray leave from Adelaide daily, and range from three hours to one week. Pack a fishing rod and try your luck at Katarapko Creek for golden perch and yabbies or Mungabareena for large river-dwelling trout.

Belair National Park

Established in 1891, Belair National Park is the state’s oldest national park, and is only a half hour drive from Adelaide, making it an easy day trip if you don’t have time to venture far.

Take a hike through the park to see fire scars on ancient trees, Indigenous tree carvings, waterfalls, lakes and wildflowers. There are several scenic picnic spots including at Long Gully and on the shore of Playford Lake. For travelers with families, try Wood Duck Walk, a 0.6mi (1km) circuit that takes about half an hour, where you can see (you guessed it) ducks! Experienced hikers will enjoy the Adventure Loop Trail, a steep 7.8mi (12.6km), six-hour hike that loops around the whole national park. Or swap out your hiking boots for two wheels and take on the path with a mountain bike.

Naracoorte Caves National Park

South Australia’s only World Heritage Site, Naracoorte Caves National Park has a vast system of caves. Book a tour to learn about the resident bats and chambers filled with fossils.

If you’re a caver, go straight to the Starburst Chamber and Fox Cave to crawl your way through the caves with an experienced guide, while learning about the history and geology along the way. If you’re new to the sport, book a novice tour to build your confidence.

Naracoorte Caves, South Australia. Photo credit: Getty Images/Totajla

Hiking in South Australia

There are hundreds of different hiking trails across the state, all with varying degrees of difficulty. Walk the short 1.4mi (2.4km) Ridge Trail in Mount George Conservation Park that leads to a rocky outcrop at the summit of Mount George for views over Bridgewater to Mount Lofty. Or take the very short 0.3mi (0.5km) walk to the summit of Mount Barker to see the countryside of Adelaide Hills, Porongurup Range, Stirling Ranges and the town of Mount Barker below.

If you’re looking for a challenge, take a hike to the top of one of the highest peaks in South Flinders Ranges, Mount Brown (3,162ft/964m). The loop hike including the spur trail to Mount Brown is 9.3mi (15km), and should take approximately 7.5 hours to complete. Not only will you be treated to spectacular views of Flinders Ranges from the top, but you may even end up with a couple of mountain goats as hiking companions. The trail is flanked by large, majestic River Red Gum trees.

In the Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park, a five-hour return hike to the summit of Dutchmans Stern will really test your endurance. This 6.5mi (10.6km) moderate hike is worth it for views of the Spencer Gulf and the Willochra Plain from the top.

Dive with Sharks and Sea Lions

South Australia has some phenomenal dive sites along the coast, but many people head to Port Lincoln to go cage diving with Great White sharks around the Neptune Islands. If that sounds terrifying, instead swim with sea lions at Grindal Island or Hopkins, just offshore from Lincoln National Park.

Explore the Fleurieu Peninsula

Adventure seekers will find a number of water activities on the Fleurieu Peninsula, such as snorkeling, diving, fishing, and sailing. Beginner and experienced divers will love the variety of dive sites, such as ex HMAS Hobart that was sunk in 2002 to make an artificial reef.

On the lower end of the Peninsula is Rapid Bay, a seaside community with a beautiful beach. Snorkelers may get a glimpse of a leafy sea dragon, a seahorse that is unique to the region. You can also take a sea cave kayak tour to visit a local colony of inquisitive Long Nosed Fur-seals.

Road Trip Itineraries

Launch your road trip adventure in the far southeastern corner of the state at Mount Gambier, where you can explore the 90ft-deep cave in Cave Gardens, or take a guided tour of the sinkhole cave system at Engelbrecht Cave.

Drive northwest 277mi (447km) to Willunga, where you can start the Epicurean Way road trip that links great food and wine destinations in the Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, and Clare Valley. Along the way, stop off to enjoy some of South Australia’s best food, wine, and beer.

Drive along the Limestone Coast for incredible coastal views, and stop at Canunda National Park for a bushwalk along the Coola Outstation Historical Walk, or Beachport Conservation Park to stay at 3 Mile Bend Campground and observe a variety of water birds on the lake.

Planning Your Adventure

South Australia’s Outback can be a challenging place to travel, and planning is key to staying safe. Renting a 4WD vehicle is the safest way to experience any road trip that goes into the desert, but ensure you have the latest maps, emergency equipment, off-road recovery gear, and stay up to date with information about weather and hazards on the road.

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