It feels like so long ago that we were in South Australia. We crossed over into Australia’s driest state in early April, stopping in the very picturesque and unique city of Mount Gambier with its sinkholes and amazing blue lake. Being a little in the dark about South Australia, that faraway free settler state, we were keen to explore it, and we did about half of the state in the next 2 months. The Eyre Peninsula and everything west of that will be explored on our round trip home.
South Australia is so unique, it has a dry, rugged beauty, sharing some beautiful coastline similar to what you see on the Great Ocean Road, minus the crowds, then the wine regions like Barossa, gorgeous towns like Hahndorf where we spent Anzac Day, the famous Lake Eyre (it was wow) and then moving into ancient desert escarpments and terrain, like the Flinders Ranges that is imbued with something so old and magical. South Australia is a special state when it comes to natural beauty and cultural significance and so much settler history too. Its sheer vastness and scale is hard to fathom.
Here’s our top 5 of places visited so far, it had to be top 5 because there were too many for a top 3!
#5 Painted Desert. If you are travelling to Coober Pedy, do yourself a favour and go 30mins up the road and take the Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park loop track, the landscape and the colour of the mountains is mind-blowing and will give you a taste of what you will see in the Painted Desert. Driving into the Painted Desert, 150kms north of Coober Pedy, will have you wondering if you crossed into a portal to another world, like Mars. It was once an ancient inland seabed but over time the elements have taken shape in a colourful desert landscape. We spent a few days camped at Arckaringa Homestead, a huge cattle farm, and spent our days exploring the Painted Desert. Its best to behold at sunset and sunrise but with the kidlets mid-morning was still mind-blowing.
#4 Innes National Park. On the south point of the Yorke Peninsula you will find Innes National Park. We spent a few days bush camping and almost had it to ourselves. The coastline is spectacular, the colours of the water, sky and the rugged coastline similar to the Great Ocean Road, but you wont compete for a glimpse of the view here. We saw plenty of wildlife here, including lots of emus. Shipwrecks are littered across the coastline and there’s even an abandoned but well looked after mining town from the 1800s– Inneston that’s well worth a walk through.
#3 Witjira National Park. This is one way to get away from everyone. Witjira National Park borders the Simpson Desert, and quite the mission to get there, 180kms northeast of Oodnadatta on some rough tracks. It’s famous for its mound springs, from the Great Artesian Basin, deep in the earth and millions of years old, Dalhousie Springs is the most popular with a perfect temperature like a warm bath. We camped about 20 minutes away among the red mulga trees at 3 O’Clock Creek, no-one to glimpse for miles, except dingoes and other wildlife and some desert blooms. There’s some interesting settler history around here with Dalhousie Ruins, the old homestead and stockyards, the isolation they must have felt, but so beautiful too.
#2 Flinders Ranges. One of the best-known regions for South Australia, but I have to admit I really didn’t know what to expect. So when we started researching where to stay and what to see in the Flinders Ranges I was so surprised to learn about the ancient mountain ranges, gorges and how erosion has weathered this place better than any artist could have imagined. We chose to stay at one of the many station stays, Upalinna near the famous Wilpena Pound, a great bush camp away from others with beautiful sunsets on the setting mountains. There’s so much indigenous history here too. It is a must for anyone who is travelling to the region.
#1 Coorong National Park. This may be a surprise for some, but this place was the Camplin family No1! We spent 5 nights nestled amongst the sand dunes, long stretches of beach on the other side, sand dunes to run around in, animals and birds to observe and pipis to dig, cook and eat, and some dune driving to boot. We all had a blast. It was very Robinson Crusoe even though we weren’t that far from Adelaide. We stayed at 28 Mile Crossing campground.
That our top 5 for half of South Australia, feel free to drop me a note if you need any further info.