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. 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.
2. ARKAROOLA RIDGETOP TOUR, FLINDERS RANGES AND OUTBACK
Wander off the beaten path and explore ancient Arkaroola in an open-top four-wheel drive on a Ridgetop Tour. 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.
3. Shark cage diving, Eyre Peninsula
Only in South Australia could you come face-to-tooth with one of the world’s most impressive apex predators. The turquoise waters off the Eyre Peninsula are the only place in Australia you can (safely) dive into the deep with Great White Sharks. The most iconic shark species in the world, Great Whites can grow up to seven metres long, weigh more than 3000 kilograms and reach speeds of up to 32kph, making for unforgettable encounters… from the safety of an impenetrable steel cage!
In fact, it was in South Australia that the very first shark cage expedition took place when shark attack survivor-turned-researcher Rodney Fox was recruited in 1976 by the producers of JAWS to use his custom-built cage to film live footage for the movie. Now, the pristine waters off the coast of Port Lincoln are one of only two places in the world you can shark cage dive with Great Whites. Jump on board a full day boat charter from Port Lincoln with Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions or Calypso Star Charters and explore locations otherwise inaccessible, where Great Whites are abundant. Wildlife lovers will also appreciate that each operators is eco-certified.
4. River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve, Murray River Lakes and Coorong
A sea of stars will welcome you to the darkest, clearest skies in South Australia at the River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve. Tucked just 90 minutes’ drive from Adelaide on the banks of the Murray River, starry solitude awaits stargazers with low rainfall, clear skies and virtually no light pollution creating the perfect conditions to explore the cosmos. The only official Dark Sky Reserve in Australia and one of only 15 worldwide, you won’t find a better place to settle in for a slumber party with the stars. The best way to understand what part of the universe you are actually marveling at is to jump in a chauffeured vehicle with Juggle House Tours or book a dark sky night tour with Big Bend. Alternatively, take a self-guided stargazing tour. Head out before sunset and drive towards the quaint riverside town of Swan Reach. The road is dotted with a number of parking areas and viewpoints that you can pull up at, set up your blanket on the hood of your car and catch the night show. Check out our guide to the best places to go stargazing in South Australia.
5. Heli-camping 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 Camping experience with Rawnsley Park Station. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Dalhousie Springs, Witjira National Park
South Australia’s version of an outback oasis. Watch the steam and mist mingle and rise from the glassy surface of this desert swimming pool – located 900 kilometres north west of Port Augusta. Sitting flush on the edge of the Simpson Desert is Witjira National Park, that boasts over 120 mound springs – including the National Heritage listed Dalhousie Springs. The springs have been used for thousands of years by the traditional owners of the land as a source of food, shelter and medicine. No matter what time of year it is, the springs remain a balmy 37 degrees – with the main pool open to swimmers.
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. 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.
See more of South Australia this winter…
Embrace the best winter activities and experiences South Australia has to offer and check out our tips for the comfiest winter hideaways.