Adelaide transforms during the festival period in February and March, as stages pop up all over the city’s parks and pubs. The festival hubs feel like self-sustaining sovereign territories. It’s easy to stumble from show to show without ever seeing the world beyond. But lift your eyes and you’ll discover a state renowned for its world-class wineries, secluded beaches and farm-fresh local produce.
Always a few degrees cooler than the plains below, the Adelaide Hills region is full of cool climate wineries, orchards and charming villages that look as if they haven’t changed in decades (or sometimes centuries). The Uraidla Hotel offers craft beer and locally-sourced pub food to go with the stunning views, while across the road Lost In A Forest is a haven for pizza and natural wine in an old church. In nearby Hahndorf, the influence of German Lutherans is still visible everywhere. Bratwurst and beer steins jostle for space on the main street with local cheesewrights and distillers. It's the perfect place to stock up for a picnic.
Though it’s less than two hours’ drive north of Adelaide, the charming Clare Valley feels like it’s a world away. Famous Australia-wide for its riesling, this bucolic region is home to a range of small family-owned wineries. The best way to explore them is via the bicycle trail that runs the length of the valley along an old railway line. At nearby Red Banks Conservation Park, admire the rich red alluvial cliffs and pass through deep gorges that give an idea of what the landscape looked like before human habitation.
The Great Ocean Road ends on the Victorian side of the border, but South Australia’s limestone coast is just as picturesque. The karst is dotted with fossil-filled caves and sinkholes that make excellent freshwater swimming spots. At the other end of the spectrum, Beachport’s Pool Of Siloam is seven times saltier than the ocean. This means you can literally sit back and relax while you float easily on the surface. Robe is an idyllic beach town that has the added bonus of a local coffee roastery and brewery to really help you get in the mood.
The Central Markets are the beating heart of Adelaide’s culinary scene. Filled with fresh produce stalls and restaurants serving food from around the world, it’s the perfect place to head to for everything. There's fresh oysters to hand-made pasta and smashed avo on toast. Just make sure to save room for dessert at one of the fabulous cake shops.
With rows of bright green vines, surrounded by golden slopes on three sides and the ocean on the other, McLaren Vale would be a star attraction in any other state. The flipside of its relative obscurity is that it’s easy to enjoy the beautiful scenery and wines without crowds most days of the week. Looking out over grand old gum trees set among the vines, Mitolo’s sleek cellar door has quickly become one of the area’s highlights. The snapper ceviche is legendary. But why stop there when you can indulge in a degustation accompanied by small batch wines? The entire region is dotted with wineries, breweries and small producers. If you find yourself staying for the night, Hotel California Road’s cellar door contains three boutique rooms. There's a private view over the vineyard from the deck, the bed and – best of all – from the large soaking tub.
You can almost see the worries slipping away from passengers ferrying across the short passage from Cape Jervis to Kangaroo Island. Home to a plethora of native wildlife, unspoilt beaches and dramatic rock formations, Kangaroo Island is a low key paradise. You can go for a swim at the hidden beach of Stokes Bay in the morning, grab an outdoor brunch at Kingscote’s Cactus. Then you can pop into Australia’s first boutique gin distillery at KI Spirits for an afternoon tipple. You'll think you really have gone to paradise if you check into the nearby Cliff House. Like something out of a fairytale, it’s set in regenerating bushland and has a deck and spa. It also overlooks a secluded beach often visited by local dolphins.
Adelaide has plenty of rooftop bars, but for the ultimate view join the Adelaide Oval RoofClimb. The old scoreboard and hill make this one of the world’s most iconic sporting grounds. You'll get a whole new appreciation for the venue from 50 metres up in the air. Time it right, and you can even score the best seat in the house for one of the oval’s regular events.
Every weekend, groups of cyclists make the gruelling trip up to Mount Lofty for magnificent views over the Adelaide Plains. But you can skip the hard part and get a lift up with Escapegoat Adventures. After admiring the views, they’ll take you to Cleland Wildlife Park where you’ll have the chance to get up close with a range of native wildlife. Then it’s all downhill along new trails through native bushland leading down to Adelaide’s suburban streets (and a well-earned beverage).
Buffeted by the waves of the Southern Ocean on three sides, the Eyre Peninsula is an adventure-lover’s paradise. The region’s biggest tourist town is Port Lincoln. Here you can get in the water with great white sharks on a cage dive, or there are friendlier swimming buddies with playful sea lions frolicking in the shallows closer to shore. Renowned surf spots like Cactus Beach and Fowlers Bay dot the rugged west coast. If you’ve got a 4WD, tackle some of the tracks that pass between the towering sand dunes of Lincoln National Park. And if you’ve worked up an appetite after all that, head to Coffin Bay and wind down with oysters fresh out of the water at the recently opened Shellar Door.
In Adelaide’s Eastern suburbs, Morialta Conservation Park is dense with trails for all fitness levels. The name comes from a Kaurna phrase meaning “ever-flowing” and the park’s three main waterfalls do indeed flow year round. A 7.5km hike links the three cascades. And there are many shorter trails that explore the creeks, gullies and quartzite cliffs of the park that are also popular for rock climbing. If you’re with children, check out the new play area inspired by the park’s landscape and traditional owners.
The limestone cliffs of the Fleurieu Peninsula provide the imposing backdrop to some of South Australia’s best beaches. At Port Noarlunga you’ll lose count of the fish while snorkelling along the reef next to the jetty. Or head a few kilometres south to the Onkaparinga Mouth. You can pass beneath multi-coloured cliffs as you float down the river on an inflatable tube. Maslins has a nudist section and you can take the car right onto broad Aldinga beach but it’s hard to go past Port Willunga. There you can enjoy the shade of the caves dug into the cliffs. Or snorkel over to a nearby shipwreck, catch a few waves before digging into some fish and chips from the local cafe.
In the State’s mid-North, the ancient red-capped Flinders Ranges gaze over the outback. From the deserts of Australia’s interior they stretch south to Mt Remarkable. It's only a four-hour drive from Adelaide. The steep walls of Alligator Gorge keep it cool even in the height of summer. Walking between them is like stepping back into a time before humans. Let your whoops of joy echo off the crumbling rock before heading to the Mambray Creek, where broad redgums line the sandy creek beds. Emus and kangaroos also walk between the tents. You don’t even need to worry about getting dirty – the campground has an amenities block with hot showers.