Off the beaten track: Secret South Australia

There’s plenty to love about Adelaide; the South Australian capital has long been known as a quaint and quirky city with a church on every second corner and the famed Barossa Valley a stone’s throw away. However, we’re here to let you in on a little secret that most South Australian’s already know; beyond the city limits, there are many lesser known but equally impressive attractions waiting to be explored.

If you’re keen to get your adventure on and discover the secret side of South Australia, head out to one of these glorious natural gems.

Marvel at the Pink Lakes

South Australia is the home of many stunning, naturally occurring pink lakes. These marvels of nature arise when high-salinity water meets salt-loving algae and can vary in colour depending on the salt levels at various seasons. With riotous colours creating plenty of opportunities for Insta-worthy shots, it's well worth venturing out of Adelaide to experience the lakes first-hand. If you’re keen to explore the outback, head out to Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre or Lake Hart. Lake Bumbunga near the beautiful wine region of Clare Valley is a little closer to Adelaide and makes for a marvelous day trip if you’re based in the city. Visitors to the Eyre Peninsula should check out the striking hues of Lake MacDonnell, South Australia’s most popular location on Tourism Australia’s Instagram account in 2018.

Explore caves and sinkholes on the Limestone Coast

You’ll find the Limestone Coast tucked away in the Mount Gambier region, the state’s south east corner. The coast is home to stunning, naturally occurring limestone caves and sinkholes. You'll also find South Australia’s only World Heritage Listed site here; the Naracoorte Caves National Park, with four of the caves in the park are open for self-guided tours and adventure caving tours. Arguably the most famous sinkhole in the area is the Umpherston Sinkhole or Sunken Garden, whcih has been transformed into a beautiful garden and is open to the public. Other popular spots include the Cave Garden, located in the centre of Mount Gambier and Caroline Sinkhole in Penambol National Park, approximately 40 minutes south from the city. The area is also a paradise for experienced divers; explore the underwater tunnels of Engelbrecht Cave located under the city streets of Mount Gambier, delve deep into The Chasm at Piccaninnie Ponds or marvel at the breathtaking visibility on show in the Kilsby Sinkhole.

Drive along the Great Australian Bight

The Great Australian Bight is the longest stretch of continuous coastline in the Southern Hemisphere, with kilometre after kilometre of steep, jagged cliffs and glorious beaches stretching out across two states. If you’re visiting South Australia and are keen to experience this stunning slice of Australia’s landscape, jump on a tour or start your self-guided adventure at the Head of Bight on the Eyre Peninsula, one of Australia’s best-known whale watching sights. Explore beautiful Baird Bay, with a swim with dolphins and sea lions, do a spot of surfing at the world-famous Cactus Beach in Penong and take in the stunning Bunda Cliffs. If you’re game (and well-prepared!), head out on drive across the magnificently expansive Nullarbor Plain, which boarders the Bight; stop off the Nullarbor Road House to refuel and recharge and be sure to grab a quick selfie with one of the great native animal road signs along the way.

Hike in the Flinders Ranges

Located approximately five hours’ drive north of Adelaide, the ruggedly beautiful Flinders Ranges offer a glimpse into Australia’s ancient past. The ranges can be explored on foot with various walking tours offered by knowledgeable operators, by four-wheel-drive or by air. Encounter marvels like the pink salty waters of Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre and the massive, natural amphitheatre that is the Wilpena Pound. Take an Advanced Ecotourism accredited tour of the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary or learn about the region’s ancient indigenous culture on the guided Arkaba Walk.

Keen to get your adventure on and explore the secret wonders of South Australia? Virgin Australia has a range of great value fares to Adelaide to help you get on your way.

Words by Rebecca Walker. Image courtesy of South Australian Tourism Commission/Adam Bruzzone - Published 22 July 2019
Quick Facts 
Population Approx 1.2 million
Area 870 km2
Time Zone GMT +9.5
Languages English (official)
Currency Australian dollar (AUD)
Electricity 220–240v 50Hz
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