10 Day South Australia Loop

Fine food and wine, rugged mountain ranges and incredible wildlife experiences come together on this ultimate South Australian journey. 10 Day South Australia Loop
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10 day South Australia Loop

Fine food and wine, rugged mountain ranges and incredible wildlife experiences come together on this ultimate South Australian journey.


By Alissa Jenkins

WHAT TO EXPECT

  • Explore the world-class wineries of the Barossa 
  • Hike the otherworldly Flinders Ranges
  • Get up close with local wildlife on Kangaroo Island
     

FAST FACTS

Time: 10 Days
Distance: 2000 Kilometres (1243 Miles)
Transport: Car
Nearest Major City: Adelaide
Price: $$$$

See the best of South Australia on this ultimate road trip, taking in diverse sights from world-class wineries to rugged outback ranges, picturesque coastal stretches to wondrous wildlife experiences.

DAY 1: ADELAIDE

Adelaide Central Market,
Adelaide, South Australia

A mecca for artists, gourmands and wine lovers, South Australia’s laid-back capital city is a fittingly diverse starting point for this wide-ranging road trip. Begin the day at Adelaide’s bustling Central Market, which has been in operation for more than 140 years. The market yields a bounty of locally-produced delights from fruit and vegetables to artisan cheese, smoked meats and fresh seafood but you can also pick up a breakfast of freshly-baked pastries and organic coffee. Around the corner is another local landmark, the Jam Factory, which exhibits ceramics, furniture, glass and other contemporary craft. Spend the afternoon strolling along Rundle Mall, home to fashion boutiques, specialty stores and popular outlets. Then explore the city’s burgeoning small bar scene with favourites such as Bank Street Social, specialising in local craft beer and Australian spirits, or the charming Clever Little Tailor, sporting an impressive repertoire of whisky. Finish the day at The Watson, a boutique hotel with views over the city and Adelaide Hills.

DAY 2: BAROSSA

Jacob's Creek, Barossa,
South Australia

Travel 77 kilometres (48 miles) northwest of the city to the rolling, vineyard-covered hills of the Barossa Valley. Home to more than 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors, there’s no shortage of wine experiences to be had. While there are famous wineries such as YalumbaWolf Blass and Jacob’s Creek, there are also many smaller gems, too. Sample vintage tawny from your birth year at the historic Seppeltsfield Wines, devour a platter of local produce (with matching wine) at Peter Lehmann Wines, or create your own take-home drop at Penfolds using Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre grapes. There’s also the Butcher, Baker, Winemaker Trail to explore, taking in some of the Barossa’s distinctive culinary delights including olive oil, dukkah, fruits and cheeses. Otherwise, head to Maggie Beer's Farm Shop for pantry and cellar items as well as cooking demonstrations by Beer, one of Australia’s most beloved cooks. Finish the day with a sunset hot air balloon ride over the valley and then sleep in style among the vines at The Louise, a luxury hotel that also houses national dining institution, Appellation.

DAY 3: QUORN VIA THE CLARE VALLEY

Clare Valley,
South Australia

Follow the Main North Road for about 100 kilometres (62 miles) into the Clare Valley for more gourmet indulgence. Taste sacramental wine made by Jesuit priests at Sevenhill, then explore the restaurants, cafés and pubs of Auburn. Buy country produce from the colourful markets in Sevenhill or take a cooking course at Thorn Park. If you want to burn off some energy, walk or cycle the 25 kilometre (16 mile) Riesling Trail passing restaurants, cafés and cellar doors. Make time for the heritage town of Mintaro and its stately Georgian mansion of Martindale Hall. Continue on the Main North Road to Melrose (roughly one and half hours), in the foothills of Mount Remarkable in the southern Flinders Ranges. It’s a moderate, 14 kilometre (nine mile) hike to the mountain’s summit, or skip the walk and continue driving to Quorn where you’ll find the historic Pichi Richi Railway.

DAY 4: WILPENA POUND

Rawnsley Park Station,
Rawnsley Park, South Australia

Continue 45 minutes north towards the Flinders Ranges and stop at the township of Hawker, where you can see ancient Aboriginal rock art in the Yourambulla Caves. From here, it’s a short drive to the huge natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound in the heart of Flinders Ranges National Park. There are several impressive walking tracks you can take to the rim of the pound, from the leisurely hour-long Drought Busters trail to a full-day return hike to St Mary Peak, the highest point in the mountain range and popular with mobs of rare rock wallabies. To really appreciate Wilpena’s size and majesty, take a scenic flight over the Outback landscape and its unique rock formations. There’s also Arkaroo Rock to explore, a significant cultural site for the Adnyamathanha people, which features a rock shelter rich in ancient rock paintings. Stay overnight at Wilpena Pound Resort, with a choice of hotel rooms, upscale safari tents or camping, as well as a restaurant, swimming pool and guided tours. Alternatively, there is Rawnsley Park Station, where you can stay in self-contained eco villas, a  homestead, holiday units or simply camp among the gum trees on the banks of Kangaroo Creek.

DAY 5: ARKAROOLA

Ridgetop Tour, Arkaroola,
South Australia

Travel through Blinman, South Australia’s highest town, which you will find 160 kilometres (100 miles) north in Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park. Due to road conditions you should prepare for a long drive (roughly seven hours) but the pay off is attractions such as Bunyip Chasm, a naturally carved narrow slot, as well as photogenic Italowie and Weetootla gorges. Then continue another two hours north to the multi-award winning Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary with its granite peaks, magnificent gorges and waterholes. The sanctuary is home to more than 160 bird species as well as the endangered yellow-footed rock wallaby. You can get among this natural wonderland via a bushwalking, mountain biking, 4WD or scenic flight tour. Stay within the sanctuary at a lodge, self-contained cottage or at the camping ground.

DAY 6: ARKAROOLA TO PARACHILNA

Prairie Hotel, Parachilna,
South Australia

Begin the day with a rock art and bush tucker tasting tour with an Adnyamathanha guide in Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park. Then head out of the Flinders Ranges and drive 207 kilometres (129 miles), past Copley and Leigh Creek, south to the tiny railway town of Parachilna. The roads are rough so give yourself a good six hours. After a long drive, watch the sun sink into the saltbush plains from the famous Prairie Hotel, where you can also stay the night in contemporary hotel rooms. Otherwise, from the hotel drive half an hour east to Parachilna Gorge and see the sunset light up the towering rock walls.

DAY 7: PARACHILNA TO MCLAREN VALE

Alpha Box and Dice,
McLaren Vale, South Australia

Continue the journey 230 kilometres (126 miles) south, back through Hawker and towards the township of Peterborough where, if you stop at Magnetic Hill, an optical illusion appears to make your car roll uphill. Drive another hour south to admire the heritage cottages of the old copper mining town of Burra, and pick up a bottle of apple cider from local cider mill Thorogoods. Then weave another 245 kilometres (152 miles) through to the ever-photogenic McLaren Vale, where art galleries and wineries await. Spend the last beams of afternoon sunlight overlooking the expansive views from Hugh Hamilton Wines cellar door, then for something quirky, Alpha Box and Dice promises an extensive A to Z wine list. Dine on spectacular local fare at The Barn, surrounded by fairy lights and a leafy courtyard, then sleep among the vines at The Vineyard McLaren Vale, with four elegant guest houses to choose from.

DAY 8: McLAREN VALE TO VICTOR HARBOR

Beach Huts Middleton,
Middleton, South Australia

Spend the morning with McLaren Vale winemaking royalty at d'Arenberg where, from 10.30am, you can book a seat at The Blending Bench and become a winemaker for the day. Create your own custom bottle to take home and round things off with a dégustation lunch at d'Arry's Verandah Restaurant. Venture another 45 minutes south to popular Victor Harbor on the south coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Refresh with a swim at one of many local beaches, such as Kent Reserve or Horseshoe Bay, before your check in at Beach Huts Middleton. A series of 12 brightly painted cottages overlooking the sea, these charming hideaways all promise contemporary and well-styled interiors, complete with modern conveniences, balconies, and an on-site tennis court.

DAY 9: KANGAROO ISLAND

Southern Ocean Lodge,
Kangaroo Island, South Australia

From Cape Jervis on the spectacular Fleurieu Peninsula, take the 45-minute ferry ride to Kangaroo Island. Begin your island adventure by getting acquainted with the local wildlife at Seal Bay, home to the third largest and most accessible colony of sea lions. Take a guided tour to Seal Bay beach where you’ll get up close with frolicking pups, or walk the custom-built boardwalk and watch from a viewing platform. Then indulge in some of the island’s gourmet treats, such as organic honey and beeswax creations from the Island Beehive. Pop into quirky micro-distillery Kangaroo Island Spirits, which serves award-winning gin, vodka, and liqueurs in a range of flavours such as lime and ginger or honey and walnut. There are also 18 local wine producers to taste test, including the revered Islander Estate, with its seriously impressive The Investigator Cabernet Franc. Better still, if you visit on the first Sunday of any month, the Kangaroo Island Farmers Market gathers together all this local produce, and more, in one place. Stay the night at Kangaroo Beach Lodges, set atop a secluded cliff and expertly designed to maximise the sweeping ocean views. Contemporary, stylish and indulgent, the lodges can sleep two to eight guests at a time. Or for an especially lavish stay, Southern Ocean Lodge has five-star suites, a sumptuous spa and a celebrated restaurant.

DAY 10: KANGAROO ISLAND TO ADELAIDE

Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island,
South Australia

Start the day with your pick of Kangaroo Island's most popular outdoor pursuits, whether it’s the two kilometre (1.2 mile) Cape du Couedic cliff top walk, swimming with dolphins or diving around the island’s coral reefs and shipwrecks, home to exotic fish and the rare leafy sea dragon. Then after a morning of adventure, return to Penneshaw and take the SeaLink ferry back to the mainland. From Cape Jervis, enjoy a scenic drive 20 kilometres east to Deep Creek Conservation Park, and spend the afternoon doing the three hour Deep Creek Waterfall hike from Tent Rock Road. Although the waterfall generally only flows in winter or after it rains, the waterhole is permanent and is a peaceful place to cool off and sunbake on boulders before continuing 100 kilometres (62 miles) north to Adelaide. Once back in the city, celebrate the finish line with a uniquely South Australian dinner at Orana, a fine diner with an inventive tasting menu using bush tucker ingredients.

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