Eclectic, unique, delicious and surprising: South Australia’s best weekend getaway ideas offer a wicked plan for every type of traveller.
With its stunning coastline, superbly scenic countryside, some of the finest wine-growing regions in the world, and an array of unique country towns, South Australia offers innumerable chances for unforgettable weekend getaways.
Our favourite spots to get away from it all and do something amazing for an entire weekend?
Go Fossil Spotting @ Naracoorte Caves National Park
Image Credit: southaustraliantrails.com
If exploring ethereal underground caves and discovering ancient fossils is totally up your alley, then the rural town of Naracoorte (A 3-4hr drive south of Adelaide) is where you’ll want to spend your weekend getaway. The town itself is super cute and chock-full of fascinating galleries and museums, as well as awesome country pubs and café and even a heavenly swimming lake. The primary reason for heading down south, however – and the real crown jewel of this corner of the Limestone Coast – is the Naracoorte Caves National Park.
South Australia’s one and only World Heritage site comprises underground caves where researchers found ancient animal fossils dating back more than half a million years. This is considered the most important geological site in the entire country. The caves (26 in total and 4 accessible to the public) are an absolute dream for fossil spotters and anyone who appreciates extraordinary stalagmites and stalactites. What impresses most is not just the quantity but primarily the size and quality of the fossils discovered here.
For a comprehensive fossil-rich experience, head to the Wonambi Fossil Centre in Naracoorte first – the kids will love seeing all the prehistoric animal exhibits and you can organize your cave tour right there and then.
Catch the Almond Blossom Festival @ Willunga
One of South Australia’s most charming little towns, Willunga’s recent rise to prominence was due to it hosting its first ever Almond Blossom Festival, in November 2020. The 2021 edition will take place in the last weekend in July, promising two days jam-packed with family-friendly activities, rides, performers, a petting zoo, a gazillion local food stands and even a nut-cracking competition!
If you’d love to discover the quieter side of Willunga, visit at any other time of year and you’ll experience a truly idyllic country town, in the heart of the McLaren Vale wine region. Spend a day soaking up the splendid emptiness of Port Willunga Beach (imagine, if you will, a totally deserted Bondi!), tackle the scenic Coast to Vines cycling trail (37km of outstanding scenery), indulge in a superb wine and food tour, and then stock up on the most delicious local goodies at the farmer’s markets.
If that’s not a perfect weekend getaway in South Australia, what is?!
Tackle the Ultimate Foodie Road Trip @ The Epicurean Way
Speaking of food tours! Here’s your chance to make your entire weekend getaway aaaallll about spectacular food.
The most delectable road trip in South Australia is a bona fide route conveniently mapped out by the state’s tourism board. The Epicurean Way, should it please your palate (and we think it will) combines the best scenery and gastronomic gems the state has to offer. Meander through the four major wine regions of McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, the Barossa and Clare valleys, stop in several exceptional wineries and quaint little towns, and have yourself an utterly drool worthy weekend.
Unplug and recharge on a 3-night cruise @ the Murray River
Image Credit: murrayrivercruises.com.au
Few weekend getaway ideas are as relaxing and sublimely convenient as a multi-night cruise along Australia’s longest river.
The mighty Murray is a stunning playground for those who cherish a constant change of scenery and a sensory overload of mammoth proportions. Take a 2 or 3-night cruise on the Proud Mary or the P.S. Murray Princess and you’ll discover the untouched wilderness of this iconic ‘river highway’, relaxing on the classic paddle steamer and enjoying gourmet dining at its finest. For a quiet, contemplative and recharging way to spend an unforgettable weekend, without the need to pack and unpack every day, a journey of discovery on the Murray is tailor made.
South Australia’s Murray River Cruises operate all year long – check out the website for departure dates and availability.
Discover the Fascinating Railway Heritage @ Peterborough
A once-thriving trading hub built along the Indian Pacific railway route, Peterborough is nowadays a historic treasure that’s barely bigger than a one-horse-town. Everything about this quirky little city makes for a fantastic weekend getaway, particularly if you have train enthusiasts in your midst.
Set on the southern fringes of the Flinders, Peterborough is, unsurprisingly, very proud of its railway history. Jumpstart your weekend with an informative guided tour of the Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre and enjoy exploring all the lovingly restored carriages. Continue on to the Town Carriage Museum where you can take a selfie with beloved Bob (the famous Railway Dog statue!) and spot the exhibited historic locomotives spread out around the town’s centre. The late-19th century architecture is impossibly charming and you’ll find a perfect cluster of shops, cafés and pubs. Peterborough is just 250km due north of Adelaide.
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