South Australia

South Australia Travel Guide

Introduction

As Australian states go, South Australia often gets left behind when it comes to attention from travellers. Lacking the beaches of Queensland and Western Australia, the big cities of NSW and Victoria, and the austere grandeur of Uluru in the Northern Territory, many pass over this misunderstood place.

This is a mistake, as the undervalued cultural attractions of Adelaide, the wildlife viewing opportunities on Kangaroo Island, and a unique view into life in a mining town (Coober Pedy) make a strong case for their inclusion for anyone exploring Australia on a long trip.

Cultural Attractions

Get an insight into the creative talent present in Adelaide by visiting the Art Gallery of South Australia. With over 38,000 works sourced not just from Australian sources, but from Asia, Europe, and North America, there are plenty of pieces here to keep fans of outstanding visual art satisfied.

With paintings, photographs, drawings, ceramics, jewellery, and more from various periods of history. The collection here is made even richer by regular visits by travelling exhibitions from some of the greatest museums in the world, so be sure to check this place out!

Brush up on the history of South Australia by spending an hour or two perusing displays at the South Australian Museum. Within, you’ll find galleries dedicated to Australian Aboriginal and Pacific Islander cultures, mineral, and meteorite specimens, and a giant squid suspended within a re-purposed elevator shaft.

With free entry and plenty of opportunities to learn not just about South Australia but various subjects in general as well, it is the perfect place to take the family, or if a rainy day makes outdoor activities unattractive.

Learn about the history of trains in South Australia and in the rest of the of the country at the National Railway Museum. Situated in Port Adelaide, this institution has over 100 exhibits which include a variety of passenger carriages and locomotives from a variety of eras of rail transport in Australia, and a variety of buildings used to house and maintain these vehicles over the years.

Among the cars here is a reproduction of Thomas the Tank Engine, making this place another fine choice for the travelling families and train fanatics.

While most cultural attractions in South Australia are concentrated in the Adelaide area, the opal mining town of Coober Pedy stands out as the glaring exception. A mostly subterranean settlement situated well out in the South Australia outback, it is home to a variety of unique attractions that will fill an entire day of sightseeing and conversing with town residents.

Start at the Old Timers Mine. A series of tunnels stripped of their opal long ago, they were rediscovered during the excavation works for a new underground home. Repurposed into an attraction meant to educate visitors on life in a remote outback mining town, this museum shows you what the first subterranean dwellings were like, and what working conditions were like for the first miners.

Afterward, move on to Faye’s Underground Home. This will give you a better idea how modern-day residents of Coober Pedy live. While it is a far cry from homes found elsewhere in South Australia, the furnishings and interior decoration within gives this place an atmosphere unlike any you’ve experienced in other houses around the world.

Other Attractions

Love animals and wide open landscapes? Board a ferry bound for Kangaroo Island. The third largest isle in Australia, this place offers plenty of opportunities to spot koalas, sea lions, penguins, and kangaroos in their natural habitat.

In addition to abundant wildlife, there are stunning geographic features that are worth checking out. Start with Little Sahara, a spectacular dune field that looks as if someone took some straight from North Africa and dropped them on this unsuspecting isle in South Australia.

Also, make time to take pictures of the Remarkable Rocks. Sculpted by a couple hundred million years worth of wind and water erosion, these gnarly formations will give landscape photographers plenty of amazing shots to take home to friends and family.

Wine lovers will love South Australia, as it is home to prize-winning growing regions such as the Barossa Valley. Situated southeast of the city of Adelaide, visitors will find some of this country’s most beloved wineries in this region’s vine-covered hills.

While there are many varietals represented here, Shiraz is the wine that is most commonly produced in this region. With plenty of cosy stone cottages in the area dating from its colonization by German settlers in the 19th century, you’ll have auspicious surroundings to enjoy some of the finest vino and food South Australia has to offer.

Enjoy exploring the underworld in your free time? Indulge this habit while in South Australia by visiting the Naracoorte Caves. More than just a series of underground caverns, it is home to fossils dating back 200 million years.

This fact has made this complex of caves the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Australia – if you are into geology or the early history of our Earth, don’t miss it.

Green thumbs won’t want to miss the Umpherston Sinkhole. Formerly a limestone cave whose roof had collapsed, a landowner in Mount Gambier decided to make it into a sunken garden a century ago. The gamble paid off, as it blossomed into a vibrant collection of flowers and greenery in short order.

If you are looking for a peaceful place to relax on your travels through South Australia, or you are looking for a great place to snap some amazing shots of flora, you’ll love what you’ll find here.