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The 5 Most Epic Road Trips in South Australia

Despite being one of Australia’s lesser known destinations for years, South Australia is having a moment. Word is spreading about the many experiences on offer in the state, so it’s no wonder that many visitors are flocking to it. Best of all, its size, varied attractions and high-quality roads make it an ideal choice for road trips.

The only difficulty is choosing where to go. To help you make this important decision, we’ve enlisted a local to share with us the five best road trips in South Australia.

A Seal on Kangaroo Island

Go Wild on Kangaroo Island

Best for: a little bit of everything!

Suggested time frame: 3 – 4 days

Distance: The entire loop (with stop offs) is around 300 kilometres.

Located about a forty minute ferry trip from the mainland, Kangaroo Island is a paradise for travellers of all kinds – including road trippers. Thanks to its ‘Goldilocks’ size (not too big and not too small), it is ideal for exploring by car.

It’s possible to drive around the entire island in a day, however we recommend spending a little more time enjoying the many sights. From getting up close and personal with wildlife to sipping a Sauvignon Blanc over some jaw-dropping views, this road trip is as diverse as it is entertaining.

Admiral's Arch on KI - one of the best road trips in South Australia

Note – this itinerary will take you to a few locations that are only accessible via dirt road. Make sure before you leave your car is roadworthy and in particular that your tyres are in good condition.

Suggested itinerary/highlights

  • Land in sleepy Penneshaw after taking the car across on the Sealink ferry. 
  • Check out the beautiful views at Prospect Hill.
  • Sample the locally-made wares at Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery and Clifford’s Honey Farm
  • Stop off in American River to pick up some fresh (and absolutely delicious) seafood. 
  • Take a magical walk with sea lions at Seal Bay – this cannot be missed!
  • Learn about native birds (or, if you’re feeling brave – reptiles!) at the always entertaining Raptor Domain.
  • Surf the dunes at Little Sahara
  • Check out Vivonne Bay, once voted Australia’s most beautiful beach
  • Explore Flinders Chase National Park, with its highlights including Admiral’s Arch, Cape du Couedic Lighthouse and the Remarkable Rocks
  • Meet some cuddly critters at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park
  • Sample some local wine or spirits – don’t miss the views (and the golf) at Dudley Wines.

Beautiful beaches along the Eyre Peninsula

Find Epic Adventure along the Southern Coast Trail

Best for: Epic adventures and epic oysters

Suggested timeframe: 2 – 3 days

Distance: This entire trip (Whyalla to Ceduna) is close to 700 kilometres

One of Australia’s best kept secrets – although maybe not for long – is South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. Rugged, adventure-filled and utterly captivating, this is a road trip that you won’t soon forget. In fact, we rate it as not only one of the best road trips in South Australia – but one of the best in the whole country!

Starting in South Australia’s “steel city” of Whyalla before traversing onward to Port Lincoln and surrounds, get ready for adventures. Whether your idea of an epic adventure is swimming with Great Whites, or devouring oysters pulled from the sea right in front of you – or anything in between – this road trip really delivers.

Suggested itinerary/highlights

  • Start in Whyalla, checking out the brand new jetty and beautiful beach. If you’re there in May to August, you can also swim with giant cuttlefish.
  • Stop off in charming little Cowell for a humble lunch with picturesque views.
  • Swim with great white sharks in Port Lincoln – or seriously adorable and friendly sea lions, if that’s more your style.
  • Be wowed by the rugged beauty of Lincoln National Park
  • Admire the koalas at Mikkira Station
  • Check out the pink lake of Lake Macdonnell
  • Enjoy an epic mini road trip by driving the Whaler’s Way near Port Lincoln
  • Don some coveralls and eat oysters – shucked right in front of you – at Coffin Bay
  • Beach hop between Port Lincoln and Ceduna.

The Flinders Ranges - one of the best road trips in South Australia

Discover the Outback in the Flinders Ranges/Wilpena Pound

Best for: Outback adventures

Suggest timeframe: 1 day is OK, 2 is better

Distance: Quorn to Wilpena Pound (via Hawker) is around 120 kilometres

As you head north from Adelaide, townships become fewer and further between, while the dirt becomes redder and the scenery becomes wilder. You’re on your way to “the Far North”, one of South Australia’s most beautiful and untouched areas – and one of the best road trips in South Australia.

The first thing you notice about Flinders Ranges and Wilpena Pound are the stunning views – but beautiful as they are, they are just the beginning. Culture and history are in ample supply here, as is outback hospitality.

Suggested itinerary/highlights

  • Start in Quorn, a charming railway town that wouldn’t look out of place in a Wild West movie. Check out the Pichi Richi Railway and even take a trip.
  • Drive around the Buckaringa Gorge loop for some spectacular views (or hike Dutchman’s Stern instead).
  • Check out Kanyaka Homestead Ruins near Hawker
  • Hike, ride or fly around Wilpena Pound, the unique and jaw-dropping geological feature of the region
  • Take a cultural tour to learn more about the history and culture of the Adnyamathanha, the traditional owners of the land in the northern Flinders.

the McLaren Vale in South Australia

Gastronomic Delights Abound on the Epicurean Way

Best for: Anyone who loves good food and wine

Suggested timeframe: 1 day

Distance: The McLaren Vale to Clare is around 250km. The journey from the Barossa to Clare adds approximately 100km, so this could be removed for non-wine enthusiasts.

It was a well kept secret for many years, but word is finally out – South Australia really is foodie paradise. So, if your idea of the perfect South Australian road trip involves delicious gastronomic delights, you’d best set out for the aptly-named ‘Epicurean Way’.

While this itinerary meanders you through some of the state’s most famous wine regions, don’t think it’s all about the beverages. This itinerary will also introduce you to some of SA’s best and most delicious dining experiences.

Note – if you are planning on sampling wine, please make sure someone is the designated driver!

Suggested itinerary/highlights

  • Check out the d’Arenberg Cube, the McLaren Vale’s newest and most fabulous foodie hotspot
  • Sample some local wines or charcuterie platters from local producers such as Mollydooker or Alpha Box and Dice
  • Head for the Adelaide Hills, picking fresh fruit at Beerenberg Farm, sampling cheese at Woodside Cheese Wrights and indulging at Melba’s Chocolate Factory
  • Try a beer, cider or gin at Applewood Distillery in the picturesque town of Gumeracha
  • Pick your own picnic or get a pre-packed basket at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop, a Barossa Institution
  • Sample some of Australia’s best red wine at wineries including Rockfords and Charles Melton
  • (Optional) Finish up at the Clare Valley trying wines at Grosset Wines or Jim Barry, recently named Australia’s top winery

The Murray River in South Australia

Lazy Days in the Riverland

Best for: Those looking to sit back and relax

Suggested timeframe: 4 hours to 2 days… it depends how slowly you want to take it!

Distance: the entire loop below is around 100 kilometres

If your ideal road trip involves more “lazing by the river” than “hitting the open road”, the Riverland is really a treat. Relaxed and friendly, the Riverland is sometimes overlooked but not easily forgotten once you’ve experienced it.

With more than enough experiences to keep you interested but few long drives without stopping, this is the perfect itinerary for those wanting to recharge. 

Suggested itinerary/highlights

  • Swim or kayak along Lake Bonney, a much-loved holiday spot that is particularly popular with families
  • Take a cruise down the Murray River on a boat tour, spotting birds and other wildlife on the riverbank
  • Sample some delicious, locally-grown fruit from humble stalls along the side of the road (especially in Berri and Loxton)
  • Sample some wines and enjoy delicious food at Banrock Station – then watch the birds in their nearby wetland

There you have it – five of the best road trips in South Australia (according to a passionate local). Have you tried any of these road trips before? Let us know in the comments!

Don’t forget, while South Australia has safe, wide roads, it’s always important to be prepared so tyre trouble doesn’t ruin the fun! We recommend changing your tyres before you go, and making sure that they suit whatever terrain you’re planning on visiting. Check out our comparison tool which can help you make the best choice for your trip, and your budget!

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