Choose-your-own-Adventure Weekends from Adelaide
Within a few hours of Adelaide, visitors have their pick of weekend escapes. Fancy an island getaway with a car-boot full of delicacies to show for it? How about a wilderness experience featuring forest bathing, outdoor yoga and a luxuriously remote tiny house? Whether it’s comfort and romance, food and wine or wellness and nature you’re after, we’ve found a South Australian short break to inspire.
The Gourmet Good Life on Kangaroo Island
Adrift off the coast of South Australia, a 30-minute flight from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is a cornucopia of farm gates, dairies and cellar doors where the food miles are few and the flavours many. Add freshly shucked oysters, rare native honey and fresh lavender gin and tonic to your must-try list and make sure to rise early for Kingscote Farmers and Artisan Market [hyperlink: https://www.kingscotemarket.com.au/] (second and fourth Sundays of the month) where you’ll be able to taste a little bit of everything.
Fly to: Kangaroo Island
Dine in a fairytale forest
Named after the 120-year-old gnarled leafy ficus that literally forms the dining room, Gastronomo at The Enchanted Fig Tree is the place to live out your storybook dreams while feasting on King George Whiting drizzled with saltbush butter.
“Every day I’m blown away by how much there is to eat and taste,” says head chef Stephanie Vass.
A big favourite is local oysters, which she tricks up with fuchsia karkalla flowers and fragrant mulberry oil – they’re “juicy but not too salty, because the waters near The Oyster Farm Shop at American River are naturally quite sweet”.
Planning a night out? Slide into a booth at the new wine bar and kitchen The Shy Wren in Penneshaw for zesty Clockwork Orange cocktails (muddled orange peel, Kangaroo Island lemon, lime, vodka, Cointreau) and plates of hot-smoked trout that are served alongside ocean views.
Follow sandy trails to bush wineries in this cook’s paradise. Get great deals on flights to Kangaroo Island at qantas.com
Swim at a secret beach (BYO sticky figs)
At Stokes Bay on the sunny North Coast, lush orchard The Figgery grew from cuttings off The Enchanted Fig Tree.
“I stock up on sticky figs and syrup on the way to Stokes Bay beach,” says Vass. “Once you’ve arrived at the beach car park, you weave your way through a secret cliff path of caves to find a beautiful sheltered beach.”
Winemaker Yale Norris of The Islander Estate Vineyards has a secret beach of his own to recommend: “Boxing Bay is my pick,” he says, “it’s got white sand, a sheltered bay and amazing snorkelling.”
Sip and snack along a wine and distillery trail
The Cygnet River Artisan Trail connects The Islander Estate Vineyards with organic Springs Road winery and Kangaroo Island Spirits, where Australia’s craft gin boom launched back in 2004.
"We do European-style wines that are quite different to what you find in the rest of South Australia," explains Norris, pointing to the Wally White as a perfect example. This elegant barrel-fermented semillon puts texture and acidity in moreish balance.
Sleep in a hilltop eyrie
At Snelling Beach, four family-friendly eco WanderPods perch on a hillside overlooking The Enchanted Fig Tree and the waters of the Great Australian Bight.
“The sound of waves and salty sea breezes are just magical,” says Vass, “especially in January when pods of dolphins splash about in the bay.”
An eco escape on the Eyre Peninsula
Pristine windswept coastline and untouched bushland makes the Eyre Peninsula a wild wonderland that’s teeming with native creatures, bountiful bush food and vantage points to gaze upon it all.
Fly to: Port Lincoln
Wave good morning to the whales
Whales sailing through the pristine waters of Sleaford Bay, 25 kilometres southwest of Port Lincoln, may be as close as you get to rush-hour at Maldhi, a sustainable luxury tiny home overlooking coastal cliffs on the south coast of the Eyre Peninsula.
“It’s just you and nature,” says owner Amanda Hogg, who angled the deck to make the most of an electric Southern Ocean sunset that she says is even better accompanied by a tumbler of savoury Rare Coastal Gin by local makers Coffin Bay Spirits.
Stretch and shuck
Journey through the wilds of Lincoln National Park with Australian Coastal Safaris’ Health & Wellness Weekender experience.
“When forest bathing at Stamford Hill, you’re in the middle of dense mallee bushland but you can tune into the ocean,” says local breathwork and yoga instructor Sarah Hayes, who leads the weekends of yoga, healing and conservation.
And because wellness also means treating yourself, you’ll dine on “the best oysters you’ll ever taste'' according to Hayes, minutes after they’ve been plucked from the water at Coffin Bay at lunch.
Fall happily off the grid on the rugged Eyre Peninsula. Book flights to Port Lincoln now at qantas.com
Go bush for a mindful degustation of local flavours
An immersive conservation and dining experience, Yarnbala is quite unlike anything else. A one-and-a-half-hour guided tour through the last remaining intact grassy she-oak woodland in South Australia culminates in drinks, live music and a banquet of local, seasonal bush foods in a spectacular outdoor eating and meeting place behind Coffin Bay. Think saltbush leaves crafted into taco shells and kangaroo fillets crusted in acacia seed dukkah.
Before the 45-minute drive from Port Lincoln to the Eyre Peninsula, Maldhi’s Amanda Hogg recommends stopping off for rich, buttery croissants from L’Anse café, where “a taste of Paris in Port Lincoln” makes for an unexpected and very welcome pit stop.
Wild romance on the Fleurieu Peninsula
Idyllic landscapes, crystalline beaches and world-class wine? The Fleurieu ticks all the boxes for a romantic weekend for two. Make a dedicated playlist for the drive from Adelaide and come prepared to fall in love.
Fly to: Adelaide
Snuggle up in a cottage built for two
Sitting beneath the western ridge of 40-hectare property Hillenvale lies The Coach House, a two-storey sandstone cottage for couples, nestled within roaming distance of both the Fleurieu Peninsula’s pristine beaches and charming Adelaide Hills vineyards. Even so, a fridge full of local produce (including wine from carbon-neutral winery Hither & Yon) and a roaring wood fire makes leaving harder than you think.
Feast on picnics and prawns
Right on Aldinga Bay sits Pearl, a cheerful beach shack serving up sustainable South Australian seafood. An ever-changing rotation of bycatch (what owner and chef Jules Rydon calls “the underdogs of the sea”) could see you feasting on Spencer Gulf prawns tossed in saltbush and nori or a line-caught nannygai that was swimming offshore hours earlier.
Head to nearby Willunga Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning for your pick of the region's best produce for a romantic beachside picnic.
“Aldinga Beach is rare in that you can drive right out onto the sand,” Rydon explains.
Spot seadragons and trek in style
“The cliffs at Newland Head are a spectacular hidden gem,” says Barry Duykers, co-owner of Southern Ocean Walk, a four-day guided trek through Deep Creek National Park and Newland Head Conservation Park.
Hikers on the bespoke wilderness walks are treated to hyper-local fare: three-course, wine-paired dinners featuring alpaca salami from Mount Compass and boutique wines from McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek.
Experience the mighty Murray Mouth from the water with Canoe the Coorong, and spot the creature that tops Sir David Attenborough’s favourites list: the leafy seadragon, known to enjoy a spring fling in the waters of Rapid Bay between October and January.
Wind down at wineries
Bathed in golden light and strewn with picnic rugs, Down The Rabbit Hole winery never looks better than after 5.30pm on a Friday night in summer, when live music goes down as easily as the chilled buckets of Friends & Lovers rosé.
But don’t stop there – local treasures Brash Higgins, Bec Hardy and Gemtree (the 2021 Luna Crescente Fiano will delight those who love a zingy, textured palate) all deserve a visit.
SEE ALSO: 15 Out-of-this-world South Australian Experiences and Stays
Image credit: Wander Pods, Amy Rowsell Photography (Maldhi)