Our favourite travel spots in SA

It’s finally time to plan your next getaway. The explorers of On The Record have shared their favourite regional gems to give you some inspiration! (Image source: Down The Rabbit Hole Wines)

By Lara Pacillo | @LaraPacillo

While the borders remain closed for South Australia, regional travel is now not only welcomed, but encouraged.

The state’s regions can open to travellers again as long as they road trip responsibly and observe social distancing practices, The Government of South Australia says. It recommends travelling with ‘empty eskies’ to stock up on local produce and shopping with small businesses as a way to help regional economies recover from the COVID-19 closures.

Starting June 1, South Australia has progressed to Step 2 of easing COVID-19 restrictions. Campgrounds, caravan parks, cinemas, galleries and more can reopen. Restaurants, cafes, wineries, pubs, breweries and bars can host 20 people per room, and 80 people in total.

So, what better time than now to explore the little gems of our very own backyard? We don’t need to catch a flight or splurge our savings on a cruise to travel well. Grab your friends, cram the car, and head off on a road trip roaming the glorious state of South Australia.

The explorers of the On The Record team have shared some of our favourite travel spots in SA to give you some inspiration and help you plan your next adventure.

McLaren Vale by Lara Pacillo

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(Image source: South Australia)

One of my favourite places to visit in SA is McLaren Vale. Growing up with parents who work long and hard, it isn’t often that we are able to go away together as a family; so, we have made a habit of planning special Sunday drives out of town.

McLaren Vale is perfect for our little getaways. Only a 45-minute drive from Adelaide, the region is known for its fine wine, food and scenery. It’s one of Australia’s oldest and most well-known wine regions, and is decorated with stunning vineyards, cellar doors and wineries. McLaren Vale boasts local produce through its premium dining spots, food stores and farmers’ markets. An iconic spot to try is The d’Arenberg Cube where visitors can experience art through its sensory room, a prestigious restaurant, wine tasting and blending and more.

If the weather’s looking good, you can explore the region through walking or cycling its scenic trails, or relax on one of its pristine beaches. A favourite and most recent memory of mine at McLaren Vale was a perfect summer’s day trip spent hopping the town with my extended family. We started the day sharing delicious pizzas at Pizzateca, made a pit stop at Settlers Spirits for fancy gin tasting, and then spent the afternoon relaxing on picnic rugs and pillows at Down The Rabbit Hole. It was so much fun to splurge and immerse ourselves in all things luxurious, right in South Australia.

If you’re heading to McLaren Vale for the day, I’d recommend starting off early to make the most of the trip and experience its diverse activities. While I haven’t stayed there overnight myself, the accommodation options are endless. From caravan parks to vineyard retreats, there’s a place to stay to suit everyone’s taste.

What’s next on my SA bucket list?

My friends and I love to go on road trips, so one of the next places I hope to visit is Lake MacDonnell on the Eyre Peninsula. It’s one of SA’s beautiful pink lakes and its vibrant colour is insanely stunning.

Black Point by Viki Ntafillis

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(Image source: South Australia)

My favourite travel spot in SA is Black Point because it has the best beach. The water is always really clear and calm, and it’s nowhere near as crowded as the beaches in Adelaide.

I wouldn’t recommend this place to those who are naturally restless and crave a tightly packed schedule on vacation. However, if you’re looking to get away and relax, Black Point is the place for you.

The beach there is perfect for snorkelling, stand up paddle-boarding, and kayaking. I’d also recommend bringing a couple of good reads, a deck of cards and two or three of your favourite board games to pass the time. Another good idea is to invest in a speaker that is sand-proof and waterproof so you can bring your music onto the beach with you.

My favourite memory of Black Point is the annual summer holidays there with my family and cousins. Somehow, we were always lucky enough to be there during a heatwave, so every day we’d be swimming and when the heat became unbearable, we’d go inside to play a board game or have a movie marathon. My dad always brought a projector, so we’d rearrange the living room to make the couches face our ‘cinema screen’ wall. Then the air conditioner would be set to high, we’d rug up with our blankets and have snacks galore.

What’s next on my SA bucket list?

I’d love to visit Almonta Beach and Memory Cove on the Eyre Peninsula. The water there looks amazing, as though you’re somewhere in the Maldives or the Mediterranean.

Bendleby Ranges by Ashleigh Buck

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(Image source: Bendleby Ranges)

I haven’t been to many places within SA, but I would say Bendleby Ranges was one of the best trips I have been on.

Although it’s been six years since I went, I remember it like it was yesterday. My family and I went for the long weekend in October and stayed at the Crotta Homestead house. We were isolated from the campsites and hiking trails. As a kid, I felt like I was in a completely different part of the world when it was just a small four-hour drive north of Adelaide.

We spent a lot of the time four-wheel driving; I would highly recommend having a car suitable for uneven roads, tracks and the terrain in general. It will make it both practical and easier to travel around, and most of the places were hard to access without the use of a truck of some sort.

My favourite memory from this place was the moment I almost rolled our truck. As we were on open tracks with paddocks surrounding us, my dad let me have a go at driving. Now as a 12-year-old, I wasn’t exactly the world’s most experienced driver. I was driving down the main entrance to the house in fourth gear and my dad told me to make a U-turn. He said to turn the wheel – I took this literally – and next thing I know my dad has taken a hold of the other side and spun us back onto four wheels. Lesson learnt that day – don’t try and turn in fourth gear…especially when you’ve never driven before.

What’s next on my SA bucket list?

I hope to travel more within South Australia once I get my licence, maybe take a small road trip up to Second Valley and explore around the Peninsula with a small group of friends.

Hahndorf by Nahum Gale

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(Image source: Caty Malo/Adelaide Hills)

When it comes to my favourite spot to travel to in South Australia, my money is usually on Hahndorf.

It’s not too far out of the city – always in arm’s reach – yet it has a feeling of such distance, like you have actually just drifted into a small European town. Hahndorf may not be a far-off land on the Yorke Peninsula or down near Mount Gambier, but it does have its charm.

Based on a German aesthetic, Hahndorf is genuinely the cutest, most quaint town to visit in South Australia. Accessed via scenic and relaxing drives through the Adelaide Hills, Hahndorf relishes in restaurants, bakeries, clothing and antique stores, lolly shops and cheese spots, all with sides of minigolf and park walks. In the autumn season, strawberry picking is a leisurely activity found just outside the town, and a listing of pubs reside on the main street for your occasional night out.

Not too far out of town is a Big4 holiday park for accommodation purposes. I would personally recommend seeing the village in autumn to catch the leaves fall and drift in the incoming winter winds. The German Arms is hard not to visit for a big, hearty traditional German meal, and when you want to grab dessert, the FruChocs Shop has you covered. I would also personally recommend the 3 Wishes Candle Barn for some high quality candles as a gift you can give literally anyone you love and cherish in your life.

What’s next on my SA bucket list?

Hahndorf aside, I would love to return to Port Lincoln one day. I visited around a year ago and instantly fell in love with the seaside town. My main objective of going back though? Swim with sharks!

Robe by Chelsea Shepherd

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(Image source: Happyshack)

My favourite travel spot in SA would have to be Robe on the south-east coast. My aunty and uncle lived there for over 20 years, so all of our family from across Australia would come once or twice every summer for a week or two and get up to all sorts of trouble.

Robe is surrounded by beautiful beaches, some that you can drive on, others that you can explore via foot. The town itself is rich in history and has so much to see and do. There’s a cinema for those rainy days as well as landmarks and old ruins to explore. The obelisk, north of the town centre, is a landmark for the town which is perfect for a happy snap or two. I then recommend making your way around the corner to the Old Gaol where I have fond memories of playing cops and robbers with my cousins as kids. My favourite thing to do in Robe is drive along Long Beach on the outskirts of town and pack a boogie board. Also take some food and spend the day soaking up the rays and going for a big swim.

My favourite memories of Robe would definitely be the times where my whole family would go to the west beach and have running competitions down the steep sand dunes. At the top, there’s a view of the whole town. My dad would film and time us all running down as quick as we could – even the adults too. Then we would climb the rocks and search for sea creatures until it was time for a swim.

There is a lot to see and do in Robe, and it’s a four-hour drive from Adelaide, so I would recommend allowing for more than three days here.

What’s next on my SA bucket list?

I have always wanted to visit Marion Bay on the Yorke Peninsula, but am lucky enough to be heading there on the June long weekend, so I am pumped for that.

Robe by Alexandra Bull

My favourite travel spot in South Australia is Robe. I have been going to Robe during summer and sometimes over Easter for about six years now. It’s one of my favourite spots because although it’s usually quite cold (aside from the middle of summer), the beaches are always beautiful and there is always something to do even if the weather is not great.

You can go surfing (or take surfing lessons if you are like me), shop at the local boutiques which have an array of unique pieces, and take coastal walks along the beach or through the Little Dip Conservation Park.

Going down with my friends and family over New Year’s has always been a favourite pastime of mine as I have always created some of my favourite memories. Also, going to the Robe Ice Cream & Lolly Shop the minute you get into town is another favourite memory of mine.

For dining, I recommend the Caledonian Inn for a great parmigiana, and the Robe Ice Cream & Lolly Shop for milkshakes and ice cream. The Project Robe for pizza is also a must. As for accommodation, I would recommend either getting a house with your friends and family, or staying in the caravan park.

New Year’s is definitely the busiest time in the town, so if you are looking to see Robe at its liveliest, definitely head down a few days before the end of the year. Make sure you book accommodation well in advance too, as the summer months are usually booked out by the middle of the year. If you are wanting to go when it’s a bit quieter, head down the week after New Year’s when things have settled down a little.

What’s next on my SA bucket list?

I am hoping to head over to the Eyre Peninsula once things slow down, as their beaches are absolutely stunning. I would also love to go back to Kangaroo Island as it has been a while since I have travelled there and it is always such a beautiful place.

2 thoughts on “Our favourite travel spots in SA

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