In the full throes of celebrating the release of our Bridge the World brochure, we’ve spent a couple of weeks touring Australia to bring you some of our favourite wilderness adventures and luxurious retreats. This week we are in South Australia – a state of extraordinary natural wonders, unapologetic puns, and a corner of the world in which we have fallen hopelessly in love (or at the very least in serious wander lust).
Home to hauntingly beautiful and diverse ancient landscapes, stretching from the scorched jagged ridges of the southern outback to the crashing white peaks of the Southern Ocean, there is a rawness and wildness to South Australia’s beauty that cannot be found anywhere else.
A trip here will take you to the mind-blowing extremes of nature and geology; diving with prehistoric Great Whites in the wild waters off the Eyre Peninsula, climbing Kangaroo Island’s remarkable rocks sculptured by 500 million years of Antarctic winds and ocean spray, and hiking into the vast lunar crater of 800 million year old Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges. In stark contrast to this giant and dramatic wilderness, are the rolling woven hills, undulating countryside and intimate vineyard retreats of the Barossa Valley, and the gentle colonial charms and long alfresco summers of Adelaide.
And, if this wasn’t enough, South Australia is also the country’s gourmet capital – with delicious seafood hauled from its oceans, fresh produce pulled from its pastures, and world-class wines drunk from its picturesque vineyards.
How to See the Very Best of South Australia
So, quite clearly, we’re smitten. But should you need more convincing, here’s how to blow your mind, expand your waistline, and lose your heart to South Australia in 5 stops.
Recently voted by Lonely Planet as one of the planet’s Top 10 cities to visit in 2014, Adelaide’s laid-back charms, delightful heritage architecture, leafy parks and farmers markets won’t stay secret for long. Within half an hour of the CBD, you can be swimming with wild dolphins, exploring the Bavarian bakeries and artisan producers up in the idyllic Adelaide Hills, or taking an epicurean journey through the rugged coastal wilderness and boutique wineries of the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Stay: Majestic Roof Garden Hotel. Moments from Rundle Street, this boutique styled hotel is a sophisticated inner-city sanctuary. Enjoy the finest regional produce and vintages from the hotels acclaimed restaurant, as well as the anticipated views across the city from its roof gardens.
Just 90 minutes drive from Adelaide; you’ll discover that many of the Barossa Valley’s 80 wineries are household names back in the UK (that is assuming your house, well wine rack more precisely, is anything like ours). However, as well as world-famous vineyards and boutique cellar doors, the captivating countryside of the Barossa Valley hides a multitude of non-grape delights. Take a leisurely few days cycling through the glorious hills and vales, or sampling your way through the food markets, cheese makers, farm shops and craft breweries.
Stay: Novotel Barossa Valley Resort. Built into a natural amphitheatre overlooking Jacob’s Creek, this award-winning resort shares breathtaking views across the Barossa Hills from private balconies. Indulgent in every sense – enjoy the spa, outdoor pool, golf course, tasting room and renowned restaurant.
Ocean Ledge Hotel.
Port Lincoln & the Eyre Peninsula
This wild and remote tip of Southern Australia, around 6 hours drive from Adelaide, will not only take you to the extremes of Australia’s coastal wilderness landscapes but to the extremes of the planet’s wildlife. A 3 hour boat from Port Lincoln, past spectacular marine life, allows visitors a rare opportunity to dive with the world’s more predatory and endangered marine animals – Great Whites. Eco-certified companies send sound vibrations through the water to attract these magnificent sharks and, somewhat fittingly for this dramatic scenery and hardcore pursuit, ACDC is apparently a proven favourite of theirs.
Stay: Port Lincoln Hotel. Inspired by a spectacular ocean front position, this hotel offers unsurpassed luxury, hospitality and charming boutique coastal design. Enjoy native Coffin Bay oysters and Kinkawooka mussels in front of roaring fires or on the courtyard overlooking Boston Bay.
You don’t have to fly to the Red Centre to experience Australia’s outback. 4.5 hours drive from Adelaide, the rust-stained mountains and sunburnt plateaus of the Flinders Range’s almost incomprehensible prehistoric landscapes make up some of the most epic scenery on the planet. Inhabited for tens of thousands of years by the Adnyamathanha people, this extraordinary land of 800 million year old natural amphitheatres and vast salt lakes is cloaked in the sacred ancient legends of one of the oldest civilisations on the planet.
Stay: Rawnsley Park Station. Tucked into the southern face of Wilpena Pound, this 4th generation family-run outback station captures the rich indigenous culture and raw wilderness beauty of the area through it’s outback adventures, country hospitality and environmentally designed luxury accommodation. Explore miles of bush trails freely roamed by native kangaroos and emus by bike, foot or 4WD; and at night sleep under outback planetarium stars from underneath the retractable ceilings of your luxury eco-villa.
Isolated by the endless white peaks of the Southern Ocean; the soaring cliffs sculptured over millions of years, crystalline white beaches, and wild forest interior of Kangaroo Island are home to some of the planet’s most pristine landscapes and unique wildlife. This untamed island paradise, abandoned to the elements over 2,000 years ago my its Aboriginal settlers, is home to epic windswept clifftop hikes, colonies of basking fur seals, beached sea lions, and namesake Kangaroos.
Stay: Southern Ocean Lodge. Perched aloft pounding surf to uninterrupted views across the Southern Ocean, this is one of the most inspirational designer hotels in the world and a member of the illustrious ‘Luxury Lodges of Australia’. Enjoy award-winning contemporary coastal design, a cliff-top spa, exquisite dining, and a cellar of Australia’s finest vintages to enjoy in front of log burning fires and cinematic ocean views.