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WHAT TO DO IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA

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South Australia vacations feature Australian wines, the Outback and wildlife, according to John Daw, marketing manager, the Americas, for the South Australian Tourism Commission.

Dining at Rundle Street restaurant in Adelaide
Dining at Rundle Street restaurant in Adelaide
South Australian Tourism Commission photo

The state of South Australia is located in south central Australia. South Australia is about 1.5 times the size of Texas.

Adelaide South Australia

The city of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is in the southeast corner of the state. Adelaide is about a one-hour flight from Melbourne and a 105-minute flight from Sydney.

"Adelaide is a very compact city," says Daw. "It's about a square mile in size." It's also the only city in the world surrounded by parklands.

Adelaide has beautiful weather and a Mediterranean climate. "We love our outdoor dining and outdoor activities," states Daw.

Kangaroo Island

Located very close to Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is only a 30-minute flight out of Adelaide airport. You can also get to Kangaroo Island on the SeaLink ferry.

Baby koala
Baby koala
Exceptional Kangaroo Island photo

The size of Long Island, New York, Kangaroo Island is the third largest island in Australia. Known as Australia's Galapagos, Kangaroo Island is the place to see Australian wildlife.

Kangaroo Island has a population of 4,500 people, according to Craig Wickham, managing director of Exceptional Kangaroo Island. Visitors can enjoy one to four-day all-inclusive packages with flights, transfers, four-wheel-drive tours, accommodations, good food and wine.

Accommodations on Kangaroo Island range from farmhouses to the luxury Southern Ocean Lodge. Visitors enjoy fresh local seafood, including lobster, abalone and King George whiting.

Besides native wildlife like KI kangaroos and koalas, Kangaroo Island is home to penguins, 260 bird species, 10,000 Australian sea lions and 890 species of native plants. "Kids say that visiting Kangaroo Island is like being in the Discovery Channel," says Wickham.

SeaLink ferry
SeaLink ferry
SeaLink Travel Group photo

SeaLink ferry tours

SeaLink ferries travel 12 times daily from Cape Jervis, which is located 75 miles (113 kilometers) south of Adelaide. "SeaLink ferries carry 350 passengers and 55 cars", explains Paul Victory, business development manager of SeaLink Travel Group. Ferry crossing time is 45 minutes.

SeaLink offers self-drive packages, as well as Kangaroo Island and South Australia tours with accommodations and rental cars, if needed. SeaLink tours include trips to Flinders Chase National Park, Murray River cruises and Barossa Valley wine tours.

Cellar Door wine tasting
Cellar Door wine tasting
A Taste of South Australia photo

Barossa wineries

"South Australia produces two-thirds of Australia's export wines," explains John Daw. South Australia wine country, located just one hour north of Adelaide, is home to the oldest Shiraz wines in the world.

At Barossa Valley Cellar Door, you can blend your own Penfolds wine and walk away with your name on the label of your own wine bottle.

Mary Anne Kennedy, director of A Taste of South Australia, offers group and private food and wine tours. They include Best of Barossa, McLaren Vale Food and Wine, Fleurieu Fine Food, Wine and Wildlife and Taste of Adelaide Hills tours. She also arranges home-hosted dinners and private tastings of Hill of Grace and Grange wines.

Wilpena Pound in Flinders Ranges National Park
Wilpena Pound in Flinders Ranges National Park
South Australia Tourism Commission photo

Flinders Ranges National Park

South Australia vacations should also include a trip to the Flinders Ranges. "There are lots of things to see and do in Flinders Ranges National Park," explains Lynette Rasheed, sales and marketing manager of Wilpena Pound Resort, the only accommodations in the national park.

Air Wilpena offers scenic flights over the Flinders. Visitors can also take 4WD tours of the Flinders Ranges and guided and self-guided walks, including a full-day hike to St. Mary's Peak, the highest point in the Flinders Ranges.

Coober Pedy Opal Fields
Coober Pedy Opal Fields
Desert Cave Hotel photo

Opal jewelry

What other things can you do in South Australia? Don't miss a flight to Coober Pedy, where you can stay in the world's only underground international hotel, the Desert Cave Hotel. Managing director, Robert Coro, notes that 60% of Coober Pedy's population lives in underground homes carved out of rock. "That's 2,000 people," he says.

"We do our own tours to the mine museum, underground church and the golf course," he adds. The Coober Pedy golf course has browns instead of greens, made from sand mixed with oil so the wind doesn't blow it away. Visitors to the South Australia Outback town also have numerous opportunities to buy opal jewelry.

The Ghan
The Ghan
Great Southern Rail photo

Australia train trips

Renee Cornelissen, business development executive with Great Southern Rail, explains that the Australian railway has four routes: The Ghan, The Indian Pacific Route, The Overland Route and The Southern Spirit Route. The Ghan travels between Adelaide and Darwin in three days. "It's the only north-south cross-continent railway journey in the world."

Swimming with sea lions on Eyre Peninsula
Swimming with sea lions on Eyre Peninsula
South Australia Tourism Commission photo

Besides enjoying great food and wine and meeting Australians on holidays, passengers can buy Whistle Stop tours on Great Southern Rail trips. The Ghan, for example, offers Whistle Stop tours of Alice Springs and Katherine.

Eyre Peninsula

"Visitors on a South Australia trip can also swim with tuna, great white sharks and sea lions," says Maité Conway, executive director The Americas, for the South Australian Tourism Commission. The sea lions are also called puppy dogs of the sea because they mimic you if you do somersaults.

Tasting Australia is held every other year (even numbered years), in late April and early May in Adelaide. The food and wine festival features cooking demonstrations, celebrity chef lunches, food and wine pairings, kids' cooking classes and visits to South Australia food and wine regions.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

South Australia Tourism Commission: www.southaustralia.com

More things to see & do in Australia:

Outback Cuisine

Australia Aboriginal Tours

Tjapukai Cultural Park

Sydney Encounter