Explore the best of South Australia with its Murray River houseboats, family-friendly wineries, farms, incredible landscapes, zoos, wildlife experiences and pretty coastal towns.
1. HOUSEBOATING ON THE MURRAY RIVER
Imagine a relaxing holiday spent floating along the Murray River, with kids swinging on rope swings, jumping off jetties and swimming in the famous waterway. It’s a great option for a getaway with a group of friends or extended family, with a range of sizes and styles to choose from to suit any group or budget.
2. KANGAROO ISLAND
Kangaroo Island is bouncing back (excuse the pun) after last summer’s devastating bushfires, and now is a great time to book a visit to help support its recovery. Australia’s third largest island, a 45-minute ferry ride from the mainland, offers pristine beaches and wonderful wildlife experiences. It’s like being on an Australian safari, with the chance to spot kangaroos, koalas and echidnas on a daily basis, as well as sea lions at Seal Bay. You can even hand feed kangaroos and wallabies and interact with koalas, penguins and wombats up-close during talks at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park. Make time to visit Remarkable Rocks, explore Flinders Chase National Park and go sand boarding down the dunes at Little Sahara.
3. BAIRD BAY, EYRE PENINSULA
Swim with sea lions and dolphins in their natural habitat at Baird Bay, 700km west of Adelaide on the Eyre Peninsula. Nicknamed ‘the puppies of the sea’, sea lions are particularly playful to watch. Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experience takes you on a small boat out to Jones Island, where you can swim in natural rock pools surrounding their island home.
4. COOBER PEDY
Stay in an underground motel and explore underground homes, churches and art galleries in the opal mining town of Coober Pedy, which lies around 800km from Adelaide along the Stuart Highway. The Old Timers Mine, which was dug by hand in 1916, features a self-guided tour through display galleries, two underground houses and precious seams of opal, while the Umoona Mine & Museum has an underground house, Aboriginal interpretive centre, panoramic theatre, historic displays, opal shop and Aboriginal arts and crafts. Ask at the visitor centre how to ‘noodle’ through permitted mine areas to search for your own gemstones.
5. VICTOR HARBOR
Hop aboard the horse-drawn Victor Harbor Tramway, which operates from the mainland across the Causeway and around the northwest side of Granite Island at Victor Harbor, around 80km south of Adelaide. The trams operate every day of the year, and you can choose a return trip, or ride across one way and walk the other. Granite Island is also home to a penguin colony, and southern right whales can be spotted in the waters surrounding Encounter Bay from June to September.
6. ADELAIDE ZOO
See Australasia’s only breeding pair of giant pandas, Wang Wang and Fu Ni, at Adelaide Zoo. Born at Woolong Giant Panda Research Centre in China, the pair moved to Adelaide together in 2009 as part of a research, conservation and breeding program designed to preserve the vulnerable species. Families with kids aged six and over can book the Panda and Friends experience to tour the Bamboo Forest before the zoo opens and join red pandas for breakfast before seeing the giant pandas bring in the new day exploring their exhibit. Finish the morning with a guided tour through the zoo.
7. FAMILY-FRIENDLY SOUTH AUSTRALIA WINERIES
From playgrounds to kids’ cheese and cordial, wildlife parks and outdoor games, there are plenty of family-friendly wineries to visit in South Australia, giving parents the chance to enjoy a guilt-free glass. They include Kimbolton Wines and Woodstock Wines on the Fleurieu Peninsula, Z Wines and Jacob’s Creek Wines in the Barossa Valley and False Cape Wines on Kangaroo Island.
8. HAHNDORF FARM BARN
Kids can try their hand at milking a cow, riding a pony, bottle-feeding baby lambs and hand-feeding camels and donkeys at the Hahndorf Farm Barn in the Adelaide Hills. Part farm and part wildlife park, the attraction offers a wonderful educational experience, just 30 minutes’ drive from Adelaide. There’s also an undercover picnic and barbecue area, playground and sandpit to keep the littlies content.
9. FLINDERS RANGES
Drive along dusty red roads and walk amongst towering ancient cliffs and craters in the Flinders Ranges, around five hours’ drive north of Adelaide. You can also visit Aboriginal rock art sites and weave your way through settlers’ ruins. Wilpena Pound — a large amphitheatre created through erosion over millions of years — is a must visit, as is William Creek Hotel, located in a small town that is surrounded by the world’s largest cattle station.
10. BEERENBERG FAMILY FARM, ADELAIDE HILLS
Pick strawberries grown in the nutrient-rich soil of the Adelaide Hills at Beerenberg Family Farm, which has been in the same family for six generations. The name Beerenberg means ‘Berry Hill’ in German, a nod to the family’s heritage, its produce and the property’s hillside location. Jam, chutneys, sauces and dressings are also manufactured on the farm. Check their website to make sure they’re open before you visit, because sometimes (particularly on weekends), they are so busy they get “picked out”, and have to close the patch for a few days.