What an incredible few days we’ve had touring south australia, our 5am start was a lot easier than expected and we made it to the airport with enough time to chill out and get sorted before boarding our Tiger Air flight to Adelaide. The flight is only an hour and 5 minutes and it goes so quickly, I’m terrified of flying but was strangely okay this time, probably because we barely got into the air before we were landing again! There’s a 30 minute time difference to Melbourne which is weird! We picked up our rental car from Budget and got straight on the road to try and find a K Mart so we could pick up a tent, got to a huge one with a Coles as well so we could do our food shopping but it didn’t open until 11am, whoops! After that little mishap we set off on our five hour drive down to Mt Gambier, SA is exactly how I imagined it, lots of vinyards, farmland, empty fields and vast open spaces! It’s a lovely drive down south and we barely saw another car on the road which was sort of nice but sort of a bit odd, the towns we passed through were all so small with tiny populations, they maybe had a general store and that was it, crazy! Mt Gambier is actually very much a town and we stopped off to do our shopping and explored round there a bit, before heading to Umpherston Sinkhole which was awesome! It’s a huge garden at the bottom of a sinkhole that was formed in the 1800’s, it looks so weird when you stand at the bottom and look up. After that we visited Blue Lake, which changes colour with the seasons, it wasn’t as deep blue as it is in the summer but it was still a beautiful colour. It started to get quite late by the time we had seen everything we wanted too and we wanted to set our tent up whilst it was still light, the tourist centre provided us with a list of local campsites so we headed about 20km south of Mt Gambier to Port Macdonnell to set up for the night. Port Macdonnell Foreshore Tourist Park is $25 a night for unpowered site, which is more then we probably wanted to pay but in terms of facilities, location etc. it was very worth it. Once we’d set the tent up we BBQ’d our burgers on the free BBQ which was great, then went for a little drive to see if there was much of a town, there really wasn’t so we just headed back to the tent and got probably the earliest night either of us have had in years!
It was fairly windy and cold during the night so I was so happy when it got to 6am and it started to get light! We hit the showers which were in such good condition and so clean, before taking a walk down to the beach to have a look there, then driving along the coast to Cape Northumberland. It’s the most southernly point of SA and has an amazing variety of birds that hang out on the rocks. There is a penguin viewing point but I think they’d already left with the sunrise as there were none to be seen, the views alone were incredible though, definitely worth a visit. We then headed back towards Mt Gambier via Mt Schank, it’s south australias youngest dormant volcano, whilst it was quite small and not much to look at, it did provide us with a great place to sit and have breakfast. We fueled the car up in Mt Gambier and had a coffee at Sorrento’s Cafe, they have free wifi so we used that to plan our next couple of days, I’ve found that the best way to see everything in an area is to google places and get a general route, then when you stop at each place go to the tourist centre and get local information so you can check out other places nearby that you may not have found on the internet. I hate to feel like I’ve missed out interesting places or beautiful views so it really helped us to see so much more by doing it that way. We then continued on the journey to Naracoorte via Coonwara which is a really nice litle wine region, Naracoorte is a small town which was nice to drive around, but we mainly went there to visit the Naracoorte Caves which were awesome! You can’t go to any of the caves alone so they run guided tours to various caves at various times of the day, the staff are great and explain what there is in each cave so you can pick the stuff you’re most interested in. We paid $30 each to go to Victoria Cave, which has incredible stalagmite and stalactite formations, as well as fossils that are hundreds of thousands of years old, it really was an amazing experience and completely worth the money. Once we’d been on our tour we drove towards the west coast to some lovely little seaside villages and towns, including Robe and Kingston SE, the rest of the drive was through the Coorong National Park which was beautiful. We then reached a town called Meningie where we stopped and cooked dinner, we’ve been very lucky with choosing great places to stop and eat our meals! There was one campsite there but we wanted to avoid paying for another night so decided to sleep in the car, at this point it was already nearly dark so we thought we may as well carry on driving further north to be closer to our next destination for the next morning. The next town, Tailem Bend, was the biggest we’d seen on the trip so far, there were signs for a ferry port and tons of big trucks driving through constantly so I think it was quite a big shipping place. We chose a quiet little car park with a couple of caravans already parked, near a service station and set up for the night, seats back, pillows out and in our sleeping bags! We were just settling down to sleep when a huge frieght train passed us! Turns out we hadn’t chosen a quiet park at all, it was weirdly comforting though to have a park, service station, train track and even a little police station right nearby us and I slept all night except when another train went past at around 3am!
We woke around 6am just as the sun was starting to rise, the sky was a beautiful pink colour and it was already quite warm which was nice. We used the showers and bathrooms at the service station before setting off on day three and heading up to Murray Bridge. We really only went to see the bridge which is just an old bridge really but it was a nice little place and the views of the river were lovely. We then headed towards Cape Jervis where we were going to get a ferry to Kangaroo Island, to get there we drove through a tiny place called Wellington, we thought we were just going to drive over a bridge but when we got there we had to get a tiny ferry over the river, it was great! After that great little experience we drove through lots of lovely costal villages and towns on our way to Victor Harbour, including Clayton Bay, Goolwa, Middleton and Port Elliot. Victor Harbour itself was very quaint, there’s even a horse drawn tram from the Harbour over to Granite Island! We walked over instead of the tram (I think it was quicker, ha!) and had a nice walk round the island, it had lovely views of Encounter Bay, you can sometimes spot dolphins, penguins and whales from there but we didn’t see any unfortunately. The next stop was Caper Jervis which is where the ferry leaves to Kangaroo Island, about the only thing I didn’t bother researching before we left was the cost of the ferry and I really wish I had! You pay for the vehicle you travel in and then a price per person as well, which made it a lovely $400 for us and the car, not a cost we had factored in to the trip! We had also missed a ferry by one minute and there wasn’t another for three hours so we decided against that, there wasn’t much we had wanted to do on the island so we weren’t too bothered, it also meant we could now add somewhere even better in to the trip that we thought we wouldn’t have time for, the Flinders Ranges. We drove along the coast via Hallet Cove which was another beautiful spot for lunch, before heading inland towards Clare Valley. Clare is a beautiful wine region and it was so warm and sunny the drive was lovely, we also stumbled across Leasingham Campsite that was a great little find, $15 for an unpowered site plus lovely showers, camp kitchen and the owner was so friendly too. After a little drive to to the town of Clare we spent the evening sat under the stars which were incredible, I didn’t realise just how much light pollution there was in the UK until I looked up at the Australian sky. We even made friends with an owl that kept us entertained for the evening!
Day four of our trip and we began the epic drive to the Flinders Ranges, we passed through more lovely little villages including Georgetown, Laura, Melrose and Quorn. There are great views of Mt Remarkable from Melrose and the petrol station there has a great cafe called Store 54. Flinders Ranges are classed as the outback so it was awesome to know we had ventured out so far, there wasn’t much in the way of wildlife on the four hour drive though except for the emus that were roaming around everywhere! We stopped off at Arkaroo and went on a great walk up into the rocks to see the Arkaroo Aboriginal Rock Paintings. There were plenty of interesting birds, lizards and even goats along the way, but the real treat is the actual rock paintings, they are incredibly clear and look absolutely amazing. Definitely worth the walk in 34 degree heat! We carried on driving to the Wilpena Pound visitors centre although unless you are camping there there isn’t much going on, the views you get as you are driving round Wilpena Pound are amazing though, the whole mountain range looks incredible and I would definitely recommend a visit if you find yourself in South Australia! It took us most of the day to drive to the ranges and then walk around so once we were done we made our way back to the coast to Port Augusta where we thought we might camp, although once we got there I struggled to see why it was even in the South Australian guide we’d picked up at one of the tourist centres, it was just an industrial town that had nothing to offer, such a let down after the incredible sights we’d seen over the last few days. We headed further down the coast towards Adelaide and stopped off in Port Germain, a very sweet little village with the longest jetty in the world, it used to be 1.7km long! There was only one very expensive campsite there so we went to Port Pirie instead which was another industrial town that had no tourism appeal whatsoever! At this point the sun was setting so we just wanted to find a campsite and get settled for the night, Port Pirie Beach Caravan Park offered just that and again had great facilities for just $20 a night. The only problem with the sunsetting so early is there isn’t much to do, so we played a lot of games of cards before getting another early night.
The really great thing about early nights is how early you can then get up in the morning without feeling tired! On our final road trip day we drove back to Adelaide via the Barossa wine valley region, we’d had great weather the whole trip but the rain finally caught up with us on the last day, but we still spent a couple of hours in Barossa having a bbq and walking round the town which was lovely. We took the scenic tourist drive through the Adelaide Hills via Williamstown, Birdwood and Woodside finally finishing at the adorable town of Hahndorf. It’s an early german settlement and everything is built in that brilliant old school style, with lots of lovely little shops and cafes etc. Once we got to the city we went to Port Adelaide and Glenelg, another lovely little seaside place with lots of great shops, restaurants and bars, although it was strange to be back in a city rather than out in the countryside and outback! We slept in the car again that night near another little park in Glenelg, ready to take the car back early the next morning and explore Adelaide itself.
sunrise in tailem bend.
the ferry over the murray.
amazing little car in melrose.
beautiful views on the drive to flinders.
aboriginal rock paintings.
vintage buildings in quorn.
vintage sweet shop in barossa.
shops in hahndorf.
artwork in hahndorf.