From the coast to the hills, epic adventures to island getaways, South Australia is packed with unique long weekend escapes to suit every kind of traveller. Here we round up seven of the best weekend getaways in South Australia to inspire your next adventure.
For hiking: Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail Fire Recovery Experience
Eighteen months after bushfires swep through Kangaroo Island’s western half, the overwhelming picture is one of resilience. In some places the regrowth is so strong it threatens to hide walking tracks and many of the charred trunks are covered by tufts of greenery.
Where the vegetation remains sparse, the gentle contours of the land are revealed and wildlife spotting is easier than ever. Keep an eye out for goannas, echidnas, koalas, roos and birds beyond count as you pass through old-growth forests, meander beside bubbling tea-coloured creeks and walk atop rugged coastal cliffs.
The blazes may have destroyed much of the infrastructure associated with the 61-kilometre Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail but just like the fastgrowing plant life, it has emerged in a new form. The modified five-day Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail Fire Recovery Experience covers almost all of the same territory as before, in a series of day walks with licensed tour operators (accommodation is included).
Fortunately, not everything has changed; the island’s spectacular geological formations are unharmed and you can still plant footprints in the sand on secluded beaches that feel like they’re on the edge of the world.
For an off-grid escape: CABN X
Backing onto the rumpled foothills that ring McLaren Vale, the surprisingly roomy adults-only CABN X tiny houses snuggle cosily between towering gum trees and manicured rows of vines.
From the outdoor bath you can see all the way to the Gulf St Vincent while inside the log fire calls. Warm up as you dig into a hamper of hyperlocal food and wine, the colours of the sunset glowing through floor-toceiling windows. Once darkness falls, you can keep an eye on the night skies through the window above your king-sized bed.
Despite the feeling of seclusion, you can be at the intimate Gemtree Wines cellar door within minutes. If even that seems like too much effort, let the wine come to you by adding an exclusive on-site tasting to your Cabin X booking and see how the fragrant full-bodied wines repay the care bestowed on them by biodynamic farming practices.
For family: Victor Harbor
Image credit: The Cockle Train/Karen Smith
The coastline around Victor Harbor, just over an hour south of Adelaide, is a mix of beautiful beaches and rugged headlands framing rolling grassland. See it on foot – and watch for whales, dolphins and the occasional sea lion – when you take the Victor Harbor Heritage Trail. This dog- and child- friendly walk joins up with the coastal stretch of The Heysen Trail, a 1200-kilometre track that extends to the Flinders Ranges. Victor Harbor is full of all-ages attractions, including The Cockle Train, a heritage chugger that travels the oldest steel railway in Australia, charting a scenic route between Goolwa, Port Elliot and Victor Harbor. If that sounds too industrial, climb aboard a horse-drawn tram and allow a trusty Clydesdale to transport you 600 metres across a causeway to Granite Island, where you can book in for a twilight tour and the chance to spot one of the island’s little penguins. After what might feel like a packed itinerary, retreat to Meerblick, a family haven sleeping up to seven, less than 10 minutes away in Waitpinga. This spacious holiday home is set on two hectares, with a solar- heated pool offering views out towards the sea, a firepit, cubby house and a welcome sense of space and fresh air.
For ocean views: Port Willunga
Image credit: Tyrone Ormsby.
On the western side of Fleurieu Peninsula and 45 minutes from Adelaide’s CBD, The Jetty in Port Willunga overlooks the sparkling blue of Gulf St Vincent, its three luxury apartments providing an ideal base for visiting the world-class wineries of nearby McLaren Vale. But you won’t need a car to explore other highlights: wander along the sand to find caves in the yellow cliffs, carved out by fishermen. And just three minutes stroll away is your waterfront dinner: King George whiting and chips with a glass of Deviation Road sparkling at the Star of Greece (pictured above).
For adventure: Limestone Coast
Image credit: Glamping tent at Bellwether Wines Zak Kazmasek
Although this area is home to several wine regions, the terroir that produces its excellent shiraz harbours other thrills. Dive with licensed operators in the freshwater-filled Kilsby Sinkhole and if the sun hits at the right angle you’ll be submerged in beams of light (its clear water also produces Sinkhole Gin; dives by appointment only). Head south-west to Coonawarra and settle in at Bellwether Wines, where its bell tents sleep two and you’ll enjoy morning birdsong.
For a gourmet getaway: Adelaide Hills
Of course, there’s the wine. But the Adelaide Hills are also rich with artisan producers, growers and experiences and it takes only about 20 minutes to get back to the city. Rest your head at Mount Lofty House, once the home of South Australian pioneer Arthur Hardy. Bookings for Sequoia, the new exclusive lodge with 14 luxury suites and onsen-style pools, are open now for February 2021 onwards
For an island escape: Kangaroo Island
There’s more to this idyllic isle than wildlife and coastline. Indulge in the spoils of a small but mighty food and wine scene, such as The Islander’s exceptional malbec and the local produce-driven menus at its restaurants . Have your fill then retreat to one of two self-contained luxury villas at Stowaway Kangaroo Island. Secreted away and with views of Stokes Bay, the spa on the deck will give you some time out to decide to go out into the wilderness or stay in and switch off.
Top image credit: Port Willunga/South Australia Tourism Commission