From hiking ancient landscapes in the outback, to discovering underwater worlds and hunting ghosts on the Limestone Coast, there’s no need to hibernate in South Australia come cool weather. Warm up with our top once-in-a-lifetime South Australian adventures best experienced on a crisp winter’s day.
1. Arkaba Walk, Flinders Ranges and Outback
Swap your ugg boots for hiking boots and experience the rugged beauty of the Flinders Ranges on a three-day walking tour through some of Australia’s most breathtaking bushland. Traversing Wilpena Pound and 60,000 acres of private wildlife conservancy, the Arkaba Walk takes in some of the most spectacular scenery from rugged mountain ranges, to dramatic gorges and of course the ancient ramparts of Wilpena Pound. Learn about the ancient indigenous culture of the area and the unique geology, flora and fauna of the outback. Fall asleep under the stars in your cosy swag camp and wake up to jaw-dropping views. Kick back in luxury on the final night at the beautifully restored Arkaba homestead.
2. Heli-swag Experience Flinders Ranges and Outback
Imagine being flown to your own secluded campsite perched above the Flinders Ranges. Discover the beauty of the outback from the air with an epic overnight Heli-swag Experience. Jump on your own private helicopter and enjoy views over Rawnsley Bluff and Wilpena Pound before landing at your epic camp spot on the Chace Range. Watch the setting sun and marvel at the milky way in the clear winter sky before tucking in to a two-course meal and falling asleep under a blanket of stars.
3. ARKAROOLA Ridgetop Tour, Flinders Ranges and Outback
Wander off the beaten path and explore ancient Arkaroola in an open-top four-wheel drive with Ridgetop Tours. Uncover some of the most breathtaking rugged country on earth as you traverse Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary where granite mountains and golden Spinifex-covered hillsides give way to a breathtaking view across the Freeling Heights, Lake Frome and desert beyond. Stop for morning tea with a view on Streitberg Ridge and soak in the 360-degree panorama of the outback. Not your average commute.
4. Flinders Bush Retreats, Flinders Ranges and Outback
Experience the outback like a true blue Aussie on a sixth generation station hidden away in an almost untouched corner of the Flinders Ranges. Flinders Bush Retreats offer a boutique farm stay experience in Hawker with self-contained houses, glamping and camping options. Be immersed in the real outback on this authentic station stay and experience first hand the sheep and cattle stations that have been a huge part of South Australia’s history for more than 150 years.
5. Ghost Mushroom Lane, Limestone Coast
It’s the most exclusive lightshow in South Australia and fungi are the headline act. Rug up, grab your torch and go ghost hunting on the Limestone Coast as the unearthly green glow of Ghost Mushrooms illuminate Glencoe pine forest. A result of a chemical reaction between fungal enzymes and oxygen, Ghost Mushrooms typically emerge after late autumn rains, with the glow in the dark phenomena lasting for just a few magical weeks a year, generally during May and June. Best of all? Access to Ghost Mushroom Lane, about 16km outside of Mount Gambier, is totally free.
6. Kilsby Sinkhole, Limestone Coast
Tucked away beneath a rural farming property 15 minutes outside Mount Gambier lies a magical underwater world. The Limestone Coast’s Kilsby Sinkhole is world-renowned as one of the best sinkhole dive sites, with crystal clear water and breathtaking visibility. Jump on a scuba diving, snorkelling or site tour and explore this serene underwater wonder with a qualified guide. While you’re there, be sure to taste the other local miracle, Sinkhole Gin, produced from crystal clear limestone-filtered water and local native botanicals.
7. Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park, Flinders Ranges and Outback
South Australian sunsets in winter are epic and you’ll find one of the best at The Breakaways in the outback, where the sun drenches the land in a blanket of orange, red and yellow. Less than half an hour’s drive from Coober Pedy, the striking sandstone tablelands are also home to a unique array of native flora and fauna. Jump on a guided tour with Arid Areas Tours or grab a permit from the Coober Pedy Visitor Centre and explore this ancient landscape yourself.
8. Anna Creek Painted Hills, Flinders Ranges and Outback
Hidden in the South Australian outback you’ll discover one of nature’s greatest masterpieces. The vast, magical landscape of Anna Creek Painted Hills is a spectacular outcrop of deep orange mountains that emerge from the flat desert landscape. Only accessible by air, jump aboard a Wrightsair tour from Coober Pedy, William Creek or Arkaroola and you’ll not only see this ancient landscape from the air, you’ll also get to land among it and explore on the ground.
9. Arkaroola Astronomy Tour, Flinders Ranges and Outback
Deep in the South Australian desert lays Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary: a fully accredited ecotourism hot spot known for its incredible stargazing and astronomy tours. Famed as having some of the Southern Hemisphere’s clearest skies and home to one of Australia’s largest privately owned Astronomical Observatories, Arkaroola has front row seats to the most spectacular lightshow on earth. Jump on a tour at the observatory for a close-up look at distant galaxies using impressive professional telescopes. Winter makes for the best star gazing with longer nights and mostly cloud free conditions, so rug up and prepare to marvel at the Milky Way.
10. Barossa Farmers Market Walking Tour, Barossa
There’s no better place to experience the Barossa’s unique culture and gourmet food offerings than at the Barossa Farmers Market. Armed with a local Barossa Walks guide by your side, you’ll be fully immersed in the sights, sounds and tastes of this buzzing Saturday hotspot. The ultimate foodie experience, be introduced to the producers behind the food, hear their stories, taste the incredible local produce and learn how to create the ultimate picnic featuring a star-studded line up of the region’s best produce.
11. Stargazing at Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges and Outback
Explore the universe from one of the outback’s most popular camping spots. The rugged mountain ranges of Wilpena Pound offer a special treat for stargazers, with virtually no light pollution and high altitude providing the ideal conditions to explore the cosmos. Book a glamping tent at Wilpena Pound Resort, grab a sky map from the visitor’s centre and put on your astronomer’s hat for an unforgettable night out with the stars.
12. Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens, Adelaide Hills
From waterfalls to wildlife, the cooler months are the perfect time to head for the Adelaide Hills and explore Mount Lofty Botanic Garden‘s 97 hectares of lush, green paradise. With meandering paths through some of South Australia’s most beautiful and diverse plant-life, flowing streams and camellias in full bloom, you’ll be walking in a winter wonderland bursting with the colours of autumn.
13. Ridgetop Retreat, Fleurieu Peninsula
Dial back the pace and enjoy the simple pleasures of winter at Ridgetop Retreat. A secret garden, olive grove, orchard, valley meadows and abundant wildlife welcome winter travellers to this completely off the grid Delamere retreat. It’s also the perfect base to explore Deep Creek Conservations Park, with a myriad of walking trails uncovering waterfalls and dramatic coastal views, perfect for a brisk morning walk or full day adventure. Venture further afield in the Fleurieu Peninsula and discover world-famous wine and culinary offerings at McLaren Vale.
What’s on in South Australia this winter
Embrace the best winter in South Australia has to offer and check out our tips for the cosiest places to eat, comfy winter hideaways, spots to drink red wine by a fireplace and the best bathtubs with a view