Fun activities in South Australia
Whether exploring the ocean depths for leafy sea dragons, sharks or shipwrecks or cycling and trekking through the Outback, there are plenty of options to choose from. Here are suggestions by blogger Paul Johnson:
Swimming with sea lions, dolphins and tuna
The Eyre Peninsula is the best place for swimming with aquatic wildlife. Options include swimming with sea lions with Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experience, swimming with dolphins and tuna with Adventure Bay Charters and for Adelaide-based travellers swimming with dolphins is easily done with Temptation Sailing who are based in Glenelg, 20 minutes from the city centre.
Scuba and cage shark diving
Scuba diving options are varied and include wreck and cave diving as well as wildlife spotting. The leafy sea dragon and Australian giant cuttlefish are specific to South Australia and can be seen with Kangaroo Island Diving Safaris. However, the best adrenalin rush can be found cage shark diving with Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions.
Surfing hotspots are aplenty with the Fleurieu Peninsula offering something for beginners and advanced surfer. Surf and Sun offers surfing lessons. Meanwhile, further afield the Yorke Peninsula, Limestone Coast and Kangaroo Island all offer a good variety of quality uncrowded surf spots. However, it is Cactus Beach on the Eyre Peninsula which is regarded as one of Australia’s finest surfing beaches.
Kite and paddle boarding
Kite boarding, stand-up paddle boarding and beach power kite flying are three activities which can be experienced on the Eyre Peninsula. Xtreme Kites and Paddle offers instruction in all three activities throughout the year with highly qualified instructors. Company co-owner, Jacqui Hockaday, is also South Australia’s female dual kite surfing champion.
The best treks are arguably to be found in the Flinders Ranges. Flinders By Foot operates out of Rawnsley Park Station and the Arkaba Walk starts from Arkaba Station and features sleeping under the stars in swags. However, it is the 1,200 kms Heysen Trail which is considered to be one of Australia’s great long distance walks. It begins at Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula and extends all the way through to the Flinders Ranges. Sections of this walk are featured by Auswalk.
South Australia is the perfect destination for cycling which is unsurprising as Adelaide hosts Santos Tour Down Under, the southern hemisphere’s largest bicycle race and only Pro Tour event outside Europe where spectators can cycle on race routes. Other than that, renowned trails include the Clare Valley’s 27 kms Riesling Trail; the Fleurieu Peninsula’s 22kms Encounter Bikeway and the most famous of them all, the 900 kms Mawson Trail which traverses the Flinders Ranges from Blinman to Adelaide.
Kangaroo Island, Australia’s Galapagos, is the best place to see free roaming native Australian wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, penguins, seals and sea lions. Operators like Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours and Exceptional Kangaroo Island offer guided tours which can be tailor-made for special interest experiences like birdwatching.
The Eyre Peninsula is ideal for wombat watching not to mention kangaroos, emus, lizards and wallabies. Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris also arranges whale watching, a seasonal activity (June to September) between Cape Jervis and Port Lincoln when 60-100 southern right whales come to give birth and play with their young.
Birdlife is prolific due to the diverse range of habitats including mudflats, wetlands, heathland, forests, desert and semi-dry Mallee. The resulting bird list tops 450 species including endemic and specialist birds such as the chestnut-breasted whiteface and scarlet-chested parrot, as well as an impressive list of seabirds. Key destinations are Coorong National Park, Birds Australia’s Gluepot Reserve, Banrock Station Wetlands. Specialist operators include Southern Birding Services.
Golf on the world’s longest course
This is the ultimate challenge for golfers – the Nullarbor Links Golf Course is officially the world’s longest golf course. The 18-hole par 72 course stretches 1,365kms from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to Ceduna in South Australia with one hole in each participating town or roadhouse. The Nullarbor Links Golf Course allows golfers to tee off in either location and follow the course along the Eyre Highway, playing a hole in each location, some as far as 100kms apart.
Self driving and four wheel drive safaris
Self-drive highlights include the spectacular Flinders Ranges where a series of 4WD tracks provide some serious driving and stunning views of Arkaba, Alpana, Arkapena, Nilpena, Oratunga and Willow Springs stations. Meanwhile, the rugged terrain of the Gawler Ranges on the Eyre Peninsula offers some exceptional experiences, as does the drive from Adelaide across the Nullarbor Plain to Perth.
Heading Bush 4WD Adventures, run by the original owner representing the fifth generation of two Outback pioneering families, specialises in small group Outback tours in comfortable off-road vehicles. Another option is to hire a fully equipped four wheel drive vehicle a from company like Britz.