The Ghan, exploring the Outback, before arriving in Adelaide. (courtesy South Australia Tourism)
Adventure travel is an art-form in South Australia, most likely because they have a keen understanding that your idea of adventure includes food, wine and wildlife.
Kangaroos, koalas, oysters straight from the sea to your plate, Barossa Valley reds, and the country’s new capital of cool, Adelaide. Beyond, there are ways to get out, do a walkabout, sip a vintage or two, taste the freshest seafood, and get your G’day Mate on.
Here, some must-do’s for our travel bucket list we were able to discover from our local expert, and why you should, too:
Murray River Walk: A member of the Great Walks of Australia collection, the Murray River Walk is a uniquely engaging way to experience the Riverland of South Australia, via day hiking and overnight river cruising in the comfort of a well-appointed houseboat. Over four days and three nights, you’ll see a wide variety of wildlife in the wild (including red and grey kangaroos, emus, black swans and more than 179 bird species), stunning natural scenery and historical sites. And, at the end of each day’s walk, you’ll be met with a drink at a campfire and a 3-course meal, before boarding the houseboat to take you to the next day’s starting point. www.murrayriverwalk.com.au
“Geoff and Irene Scholz are the founders and operators,” he tells us. “They are the quintessential Aussie couple: charming, extremely knowledgeable about the history and culture of the region, and just a delight to be around.”
You’re met in Port Lincoln (Australia’s seafood capital, just a 30-minute flight from Adelaide), and whisked away in a 4×4 headed into the outback for three days/two nights. On the way up, you’ll visit a wild koala sanctuary, where you’ll see dozens of them gazing at you from the trees and sometimes from the ground.
After a while, the paved roads make way for dirt roads, and eventually you’ll come to the remote Kangaluna Camp, the home base. It starts with a drink on the porch, as kangaroos, emus and brightly-coloured birds have a drink of their own from the water basin just a few feet away. A savoury home-cooked meal is served inside the dining tent with a selection of delightful South Australian wines.
After some star-gazing through the telescope, leave the campfire area and head to your bed. “You’ll have the option of glamping in tents, or (as I did) you can try the swagon- a covered wagon with flaps you can open to sleep under the stars.”
The next day, you are driven to Lake Gairdner, a lake that for most of the year is a massive salt flat. Along the way are more wildlife encounters and hiking opportunities. After another relaxing night at the camp, you’ll go to Baird Bay to don a wetsuit for swimming with seals and dolphins (they truly are the playful puppies of the sea). At the end of the afternoon, you’ll arrive in Port Lincoln in time to catch the flight to Adelaide. http://gawlerrangessafaris.com
The Ghan and Indian Pacific: These are the classic luxury rail adventures, and then some. Departing from Darwin and going south, The Ghan Expedition provides many opportunities to get off the train and explore the outback (including the underground town of Coober Pedy) before arriving in Adelaide. The Indian Pacific can be boarded in Adelaide, and then taken west to Perth through the Nullarbor (Latin for “No trees”) and outback.