THE GREAT SOUTHEAST
Sweeping surf beaches, breathtaking caves, blindingly white saltpans and good guzzling in a world-class wine region – could there be a better way to start your trip into South Australia.
NARACOORTE CAVES & COONAWARRA
Just near the Victorian border, the World Heritage–listed Naracoorte Caves National Park is a great diversion. Plunge underground to tour the stunning limestone caves or take a self-guided tour of the eerie Wet
Cave, but whatever you do, don’t miss the amazing Bat Cave. Arrive at dusk to witness mass migrations
of bats clouding the sky or peek into their home using infrared TV cameras. It’s thirsty work, so pull into the Coonawarra wine region to taste the famous peppery Shiraz from this compact wine-producing powerhouse. There are more than 23 cellar doors offering tastings and sales, so pick up a few examples of the world’s finest reds to sustain you on the journey ahead.
COORONG NATIONAL PARK
The vast coastal lagoon of the Coorong takes in shimmering saltpans, towering sand dunes and the largest
breeding ground for pelicans in the state. Taking its name from the local Aboriginal word kranangk (meaning long neck), this impressive vista was a location for the classic Australian film Storm Boy. Take a gander at
these remarkable birds, or the host of ducks, waders and swans throughout the park. Take the old and unsealed
Coorong Rd south of Salt Creek to get an inside look at the dunes of the Coorong. For an insight into the traditional lifestyle of the Ngarrindjeri people, head to Camp Coorong (www.ngarrindjeri.com), where you can go on guided walks and cultural tours.
VICTOR HARBOR & THE SURF COAST
The gateway to the Fleurieu Peninsula, Victor Harbor’s sheltered beaches, great pubs and laid-back vibe make
it the quintessential Aussie seaside town. Crowds of ‘schoolies’ (highschool graduates) flock here at the
end of the year, keen to party after finishing their exams. Nearby, the excellent beaches of Goolwa, Middleton
and Port Elliot are perfect for tanning or tackling the big waves. To work up a sweat, you can hire a bicycle to ride
the 23km sealed Encounter Bikeway that follows the coast east from Victor Harbor’s Bluff to Goolwa, where you
can indulge in the adrenaline-pumping buzz of skydiving – one experience you’re never likely to forget. And
if you’re feeling peckish after all that action, head to the Port Elliot Bakery and line up with the locals for some of
the best pies, pasties and cream buns in the state.
While in Victor (as locals call it), drop into the South Australian Whale Centre (www.sawhalecentre.com) to find the best places to spot the southern right whales (seen JuneOctober), which are making a strong comeback after being hunted almost to extinction. From Victor it’s only a five-minute stroll across the causeway or a short ride aboard the oldfashioned Clydesdale-drawn tram to the penguin parade at Granite Island.
Rug up at sunset to watch the comical antics of the penguins as they return from a hard day’s foraging in the surrounding waters.
Head down the peninsula that has Adelaidians sneaking out of work early on Friday to hit top-class beaches like
the surfie hang-out of Christies, or get back to basics at Maslin, Australia’s first nudist beach. For a change of
pace, head for the nearby wineries of McLaren Vale, which produce some of Australia’s most drinkable Sauvignon
Blancs and Sémillons. A good way to experience the region’s cellar doors is by taking the McLaren Vale Cheese
and Wine Trail ($10 per person). The self-drive trail starts at Blessed Cheese (www.blessedcheese.com.au), where owner Mark Potter (local foodie extraordinaire) will send you on your way with a picnic hamper to enjoy with
your tastings at four wineries. Or for something different, hop on a camel to do the rounds of the wineries.
At the tip of the peninsula, the town of Cape Jervis is just a ferry ride from the natural wonders and relaxed ambience of Kangaroo Island, while the beaches, bushwalking and fishing of nearby Deep Creek Conservation Park
will keep you happily occupied for an afternoon’s play. Finally, divers will be in seventh heaven at Yankalilla Bay, where HMAS Hobart has been scuttled amid superb reefs and dramatic drop-offs.
TOP 10 SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Want to get straight to the best that South Australia has to offer? Here’s our top
• Bushwalking around or taking a scenic flight over Wilpena Pound
• Exploring Kangaroo Island’s pristine wilderness and wildlife
• Slurping and sampling the Barossa
• Tucking into feral food at the Prairie Hotel
• Getting underground in Coober Pedy
• Fabulous festivals of Adelaide
• Discover the natural wonders of Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary
• Surfing in the sun of the Fleurieu Peninsula
• Swimming with sea lions at Baird Bay
• Whale watching at Head of Bight