6 Best Road Trips in South Australia

South Australia is the most picturesque state in all of Australia (Sorry Tasmania) and it is not difficult to see why. From the luscious green wineries in the south, the charming red outback in the north and, if you’re a seafood lover, the long chain of seafood eateries that hug the Eyre Peninsula, there’s something for everyone. There’s no better way to capture the beauty of this state than to take a road trip.

Here are the best road trips in South Australia. 

Southern Ocean Drive

Car driving on a dirt track on top of a cliff by the ocean
Vivonne Bay. Photo Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission
  • Distance: 940 km
  • Time : 5-9 days

Starting from Mount Gambier in the south of the state, you can visit the Umpherston Sinkhole which features a garden and you can cool off in the afternoon by having a swim at the famous Blue Lake. Heading north from here you will come across the Penola & Coonawarra wine region where there is no shortage of wine tasting tours!

Also on your road trip, you will come across the Big Lobster in Kingston S.E. and many national parks with a number of hikes. Once you reach Kangaroo Island there are plenty of activities available such as observing a colony of sea lions, quad bike tours and after a fun filled day, you can relax by paying a visit to the Kangaroo Island Distillery, the oldest gin distillery in Australia. 

Hugging the coast after Kangaroo Island, you will soon arrive at Adelaide, a city bursting with culture. There are a great number of fun things to do here including art galleries, botanic gardens and the oval rooftop climb

Eyre Peninsula  

a seaside town with residential homes and docked boats
Port Lincoln Marina. Photo Credit: Isaac Forman
  • Distance: 955 km
  • Time: 8-10 days

The Eyre Peninsula road trip is also known affectionately as the seafood frontier. This road trip will take you through gems of coastal towns beginning in Whyalla, down to Port Lincoln and up the other side of the peninsula ending in Head of Bight where you can go whale watching

Be sure to dine at restaurants along the way including The Fresh Fish Place in Port Lincoln, 1802 Oyster Bar in Coffin Bay and the Port Kenny Hotel which are some of travellers favourites eateries on this much loved road trip. 

Other must do activities are cage diving with white sharks in Port Lincoln, driving along the pink Lake Macdonnell and the massive Woolshed Cave near Talia. 

There’s accommodation on this journey to suit all budgets. Free camping and hostels for those on a lower budget to paid camping, caravan parks and hotels for those on a higher budget.

Epicurean Way

a cube building surrounded by a vineyard
d’Arenberg Cube. Photo Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission/ d’Arenberg Cube
  • Distance: 223 km
  • Time: 4-5 Days

The Epicurean Way is a fantastic road trip for wine lovers and is one of the best road trips in South Australia. This trip will see you pass through four of South Australia’s major wine regions that are home to hundreds of wineries and cellar doors. The regions of Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and Clare Valley are all known for the unique wines they make. 

Some of the best wineries in these regions are Kies Wines in Barossa Valley, Seven Hills Cellars in Clare Valley and The Lane Vineyard in Adelaide Hills. All of these areas have plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets. 

This is a relatively short trip compared to the others which means you can spend less time driving and more time having gourmet meals at the fantastic local restaurants, oh and wine tasting too of course… 

Beyond food and drink, you can take a relaxing stroll through nature at Morialta Conservation Park or get lost in time at the historic Mintaro village.

Coastal way

a car driving down a sealed road on top of cliffs by the seaside
Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park. Photo Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission
  • Distance: 460 km
  • Time: 5-6 Days

This road trip will see you travelling around Yorke Peninsula, an area rich in heritage and great for those who love the outdoors. Fishing, hiking and surfing are just a few of the many activities you can do on this trip. Being only an hour away from Adelaide makes this trip very convenient. 

Port Wakefield is the first port of call (no pun intended). From here the journey takes you south through the town of Stansbury where you can stop off and take a relaxing walk before heading to the town of Edithburgh. Go back in time at Edithburgh museum and have a bite to eat at the highly rated location cafe. 

From here you can head to the tip of the peninsula where the fun really begins! Marion Bay has plenty of fishing charters available as well as great swimming spots. The nearby Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park is home to some of the best surfing spots inSouth Australia!

For something a little different, you can stay in a lodge in the ghost town of Inneston. It used to be a thriving mining town before being abandoned. Nowadays it is a tourist attraction within the national park. There are also a number of lighthouses here with some spectacular views. 

Heading north on the west side of the peninsula which is also known as the copper coast due to its copper mining heritage, you will pass through the towns of Port Victoria, Wallaroo and Port Broughton. A great way to spend the evening is to attend the silo light show in Wallaroo. If you are looking to take the kids somewhere fun, Little Farmer Tours are a great option.

Mighty Murray Way

a paddle boat in a river with an outback red Cliff in the background
P.S. Murray Princess Cruise. Photo Credit: Sealink Travel Group
  • Distance: 382 km
  • Time: 5-7 days

The Mighty Murray Way follows the Murray River, Australia’s longest river and one of the longest rivers in the world. The river is 2508 Km (1558 miles) long and runs through the states of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. However, we will discuss the South Australian leg of this road trip here which is 382 Km long. You can indulge in unique river cruises, amazing river cliffs, stargazing and a great variety of food and drink on this epic road trip.

This trip begins in Renmark and follows the river down Lake Alexandria and the town of Coolwa. While in Renmark, you can catch incredible views of the Murray River at the Headings Cliff Lookout which is one of the most photographed places in the area. If we haven’t mentioned it enough already, there are a number of wineries in this area, that’s South Australia for you!

Once you reach Mannum, you have a chance to embark on the Murray Princess. This paddlewheeler offers a few different experiences and truly is the cruise of a lifetime. You can also go on a dark sky tour in Mannum if you are the stargazing type. 

Further down the river there is a state of the art motorsports facility called The Bend. They offer a fantastic range of driving experiences including go karting and laps of the circuit in a V8 Mustang. If you are in need of more motorsports on your road trip you could also pay a visit to the Goolwa Motor Museum.

There is no shortage of accommodation on this trip. As you pass through many townships, there’s a huge variety of hotels available as well as caravan parks and campgrounds. 

Explorers Way

dirt track with mountains in the background on a cloudy day
Flinders Ranges. Photo Credit: R.M.Williams
  • Distance: 1142 km
  • Time: 8-10 days

The Explorers Way is another cross state road trip that runs from Adelaide to Darwin and covers over 3000 km of road. The South Australian leg of this trip covers over a 1000 km and is perfect for those who desire to explore more of this country’s beautiful outback, specifically the breathtaking Flinders Range mountains and the world famous Uluru. 

The first phase of the trip takes you from Adelaide to Clare Valley. Beside all the wine tours previously mentioned, there is also a cycling trail between Clare and Auburn. The Clare Valley Riesling Trail is a leisurely 35 km bike ride and there are plenty of bike hire shops in the area. If cycling doesn’t float your boat there is also the historic mining town of Burra that you can spend the day discovering. 

From Clare Valley to Wilpena pound, you will notice the environment turn more mountainous and the landscape red as you approach South Australia’s epic outback. You will pass through the old towns of Melrose and Quorn that host amazing cafes such as Store 54 and Emily’s Bistro respectively. As you get into Flinders Range there are multiple hikes you can do in Wilpena Pound, Brachina Gorge Geological Trail and Bunyeroo Gorge to name a few. 

You can also check out old mining shafts at Blinman Mine or aboriginal artwork at Arkaroo Rock. For those who really want a sight, you can also see Flinders Range from the air

Your final leg of the South Australian Explorers Way road trip is from Port Augusta to Coober Pedy which is a 540 km stretch. Along the way you can visit Lake Hart and the nearby military town of Woomera. The town features military museums and an observatory for those interested in the night sky. 
Coober Pedy is famous for its opal mining heritage. Due to the immense heat in this part of Australia, residents built underground homes. In fact, you can even visit some of these underground structures including Faye’s Underground Home, a church and the opal mine museum.

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