South Australian Loop

Clare Valley, SA. © SATC & Mike Annese

South Australian Loop

Adelaide – Flinders Ranges – Adelaide – Kangaroo Island
8 - 14 days drive

Take in fine food and wine in the Barossa and Clare Valleys, explore the rugged Flinders Ranges and meet wildlife galore on Kangaroo Island. Taste wine made by Jesuit priests in Sevenhill, climb the huge natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound and visit the historic copper-mining town of Burra. Swim, surf, snorkel and bushwalk along the Fleurieu Peninsula before getting up close to penguins in Penneshaw and a colony of sea lion at Seal Rocks on Kangaroo Island.  This scenic drive takes in South Australia’s most famous attractions on two smaller loops through the elegant capital of Adelaide. 

Barossa Valley, SA
Barossa Valley, SA

Day 1 – Adelaide to Barossa Valley

Travel north out of Adelaide to the Barossa Valley’s rolling green hills and 60 cellar doors. Visit world-famous wineries such as Yalumba, Seppelts, Penfolds and Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre and sample quality, local produce on the Butcher, Baker, Winemaker Trail. Take a wine master class and see artisans at work in one of the many studios. In the nearby heritage town of Gawler, you’ll find stone churches, galleries and museums as well as manicured vineyards. Taste strudel from Lyndoch’s German bakery, visit the Barossa Wine Centre in Tanunda and explore Kapunda, South Australia’s first copper-mining town.

Clare Valley, SA
Clare Valley, SA

Day 2 – Barossa Valley to Quorn

Follow the Main North Road into the Clare Valley for more gourmet indulgence. Taste sacramental wine made by Jesuit priests at the cellar door in Sevenhill, then explore the restaurants, cafes 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 calories, walk or cycle the 25-kilometre Riesling Trail between vineyards and restaurants, green hills, churches and stone buildings. Make time for the heritage town of Mintaro and its stately Georgian mansion of Martindale Hall. Continue on the Main North Road to Melrose, in the foothills of Mount Remarkable in the southern Flinders Ranges. Climb the mountain, wander past the town’s historic buildings or travel further to Mount Remarkable National Park near Wilmington. From here it’s a short drive to Quorn, home to galleries and the historic Pichi Richi railway. Stay overnight before your head off on your Flinders Ranges adventure.

Wilpena Pound, SA
Wilpena Pound, SA

Day 3 – Quorn to Wilpena Pound

Travel into Hawker past the homestead remains of Kanyaka and the Aboriginal rock art of Yourambulla Caves. From Hawker it’s a short drive to the huge natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound, at the heart of the Flinders Ranges National Park. You can follow a number of walking tracks to the rim of the pound, from the climb to Mt Ohlssen Bagge to the short walk to Hill’s Homestead. To really appreciate Wilpena’s size and majesty, you should soar over on a scenic flight. Visit Arkaroo Rock and read the Adnyamathana people’s story of how the pound was created in the ancient art on the walls. See stunning dawn views from Bunyeroo Valley and fossils in ancient sea beds and possibly rare yellow-footed rock-wallabies at Brachina Gorge. Stay overnight in Hawker, the tourist hub of the Flinders Ranges. 

Arkaroola, SA
Arkaroola, SA

Day 4 – Wilpena Pound to Arkaroola

Take in breathtaking mountain views as you travel through Blinman, South Australia’s highest town, and past Vulkathunha–Gammon Ranges National Park. You can pitch a tent or sleep in a rustic outback lodge and explore attractions such as Bunyip Chasm and Italowie and Weetootla gorges. Further north is the remote and rugged Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, where you can bushwalk, mountain bike, tour by camel or take a scenic flight. Take a Ridgetop tour across the hilltops, see the shimmering saltpan of Lake Frome and stare into space from one of the three observatories. 

Prairie Hotel, Parachilna, SA
Prairie Hotel, Parachilna, SA

Day 5 – Arkaroola to Parachilna

See rock art, taste bush tucker and visit sacred sites with an Andnyamathana guide in Vulkathunha–Gammon Ranges National Park. Then head out of the Flinders Ranges, past Copley and Leigh Creek to the tiny railway town of Parachilna. Watch the sun sink into the saltbush plains from the famous Prairie Hotel or drive to Parachilna Gorge and see it light up the tall walls.

Fleurieu Peninsula, SA
Fleurieu Peninsula, SA

Day 6 – Parachilna to Cape Jervis

Drive back through Hawker and stop in Magnetic Hill, where an optical illusion appears to make your car roll uphill. Explore steam train history in Peterborough and Steamtown and admire the heritage cottages of the old copper mining town of Burra. Discover megafauna fossils on the interpretative Red Banks trail, mountain bike the Burra Trail or experience the outback landscapes from horseback. Taste apple cider at Thorogoods before heading through Adelaide to the 60-plus wineries, almond orchards and galleries of the McLaren Vale wine region on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Go fishing from the jetty or bushwalking through nearby Deep Creek Conservation Park. You can also extend your trip with a four day hike along the Heysen Trail to Victor Harbor.

Kangaroo Island, SA
Kangaroo Island, SA

Day 7 – Cape Jervis to Kangaroo Island

Take in the spectacular coastline of the Fleurieu Peninsula on the 45-minute ferry ride to Kangaroo Island. You’ll arrive in Penneshaw, where in the evening you can watch packs and pairs of little penguins make their pilgrimage to the shore. From nearby American Beach, you can dive through shipwrecks and with leafy sea dragons. Then head to Kingscote and feed pink pelicans at Beares Point. Fish from the historic jetty at Emu Bay then swim in the rock pool alongside koalas and lorikeets at Stokes Bay. As you circuit the island further west, you’ll find windswept and remote Cape Borda. Watch canons being fired and read the diaries of disgruntled lighthouse keepers from the last century on a lighthouse tour. Continue south to the Remarkable Rocks in Flinders Chase National Park and the magical underground caves of Kelly Hill. Back on the coast, you can swim and surf from the beaches of Vivonne Bay and meet the friendly seal lions on the beach at Seal Bay. Head back to Penneshaw, stopping to pick up some fresh Ligurian honey from Cifford’s Honey Farm on the way.

Penneshaw, SA
Penneshaw, SA

Day 8 – Kangaroo Island to Adelaide

From Penneshaw, take the SeaLink ferry back to the mainland, then take a scenic drive along the peninsula’s south coast. Bushwalk in Deep Creek Conservation Park and spot migrating whales and waddling little penguins in Victor Harbor. Swim and boogie board from Horseshoe Bay in Port Elliot, where you can also bike ride or walk the top of the cliffs. Stop in Goolwa and chug down the Murray River or canoe past wetland birds in the Coorong’s shimmering, shallow lagoons. Head back through Strathalbyn and Mount Barker before arriving in Adelaide.

At a Glance

SA Loop

 

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