Despite knowing very little about it, I was surprised by the beauty of the places, this includes the weird and wonderful town of Coober Pedy!
There are a lot of things to do in South Australia. These are not confined to the capital Adelaide, which I believe is one of the most underrated cities in Australia!
I recommend you include South Australia on your Australian backpacking itinerary.
Despite the impression, there isn’t that much to do, there are actually some of the best places to visit in Australia located in this amazing state!
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South Australia Travel Guide
South Australia, as the name would suggest is located in the south of Australia! Previously, it used to include the Northern Territory, before the separation in 1911.
An interesting fact is that South Australia is the only state to share a border with all of the other mainland states. Handy to know if you are planning an Australian road trip!
South Australia is the driest state in the driest continent in the world. As a result, it’s not surprising that over 75 per cent of the state’s 1.7 million population is located in the metropolitan area of Adelaide! As a result, the weather in South Australia can get quite hot!
The southern part of the state has a Mediterranean climate, while further north it is drier, but in both parts, it can get very hot! For instance, during the summer I was in Adelaide, temperatures reached 46 degrees in the summer.
South Australia is one of the most diverse and interesting states in Australia. You have the Mediterranean climate towards the South in Adelaide and Port Eliot, with the barren landscape of the outback to the north.
There is also Kangaroo Island to visit, which makes the state a must-visit in a backpacking itinerary of Australia!
The fact that South Australia is not as heavily visited by backpackers as the East Coast is a bonus in some ways.
For one, it means that there won’t be as many backpackers. So, you won’t have the ridiculous amount of people you can get at certain hot spots such as the Great Ocean Road or in Sydney!
This is especially true, depending on when you visit Australia. There will be a smaller number of people travelling in South Australia during the winter than in the summer. If you’re looking for somewhere to visit during the Australian winter, travelling in South Australia might be an option!
Some of the best beaches in Australia, are in South Australia. Glenelg was a favourite of mine. It’s located outside of Adelaide and is easily accessible via tram. Not only is the beach great, but the place itself is really cool, with some great bars and cafes to check out!
Henley is another great beach and with miles of unspoilt coastline. There are plenty of beaches to choose from in South Australia!
Visually, South Australia is beautiful and there is a complete range of scenery in the state, from the barren outback to the incredible coastline.
In many ways, the state is a microcosm for the whole country. Apart from the tropical rainforests in Northern Queensland, most of the different climates are present.
From Port Augusta upwards, the state is a vast wasteland. Some of these areas are so remote, that is highly probable that no human has set foot in certain areas for thousands of years, if ever! Things are a bit more normal south of Port Augusta, but no less spectacular!
There are many unique places to visit such as Blue Lake near Mt Gambier, which is a lake that changes colour depending on the season.
If you love wine, then you will want to head into the Adelaide Hills to check out the numerous vineyards. The Flinders Ranges are also worth visiting for adventurous types!
There are so many reasons to visit South Australia that I could go on and on, but don’t worry I’m not!
Hopefully, the previous gazillion paragraphs will provide you with all the wanderlust and desire, you desire, to include this state on your backpacking itinerary of Australia!
Where to stay in South Australia
There are a number of great hostels in South Australia which I had the pleasure of staying at. This list is not exhaustive, and there are other great hostels in South Australia. However, these are the ones that I personally recommend!
Despite its reputation as a bit of a backwater, South Australia is actually a lively place with lots of stuff happening throughout the year.
There are more events in the summer, such as the Tour Down Under and Adelaide Festival. There is also plenty of stuff going on in the winter as well. Here’s my pick of activities you should check out in South Australia!
Even if you don’t like cycling, I would still have a look. You’ll be amazed how close you can get to the cyclist and how fast they are travelling.
You can even pick some freebies, such as hats, key rings and bags, which are given away in the fan park!
South Australia is the wine capital of Australia, so you should visit one of the many vineyards while you are here!
Unfortunately, I don’t follow my own advice, so I never visited one of the vineyards.
However, if you are a wine lover and want an interesting day out from Adelaide, then visiting a vineyard is the way to go!
You can only go whale watching during the winter. The whales head close to the shoreline in Port Elliot, to give birth to their offspring.
If you’re lucky you may see numerous whales close to the shore, or you could just see a few in the distance as I did.
Either way, it was a cool experience, and an underrated activity to do while travelling in South Australia!
Where to go in South Australia
There are a lot of places to visit in South Australia. From the capital to Adelaide, to the numerous peninsulas that make up the state, there are a lot of places for you to go!
If you fancy something more adventurous, you can venture into the outback. It makes up a big chunk of South Australia and has interesting sites such as Coober Pedy, and fossil sites at Naracoorte, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
As the capital of South Australia and the biggest city in the state by far, you will definitely end up in Adelaide at some point while travelling in South Australia!
In my opinion, it is the most underrated city in Australia. It may not have the incredible sights of Sydney or the culture of Melbourne, but if you’re wondering what to do in Adelaide, well, there is a lot of stuff you can do!
Adelaide Botanic Gardens are perhaps the best in the country, while a trip to the Adelaide Hills, offers incredible views of the city! The Hills are also home to numerous wineries, which is a great way to spend a day!
There are also numerous beaches to visit, with Glenelg and Henley particular favourites for me!
A friend of mine did some WWOOFing there for 2 weeks and absolutely loved it. He said the people and the scenery were great! So if it’s good enough for him, then it is definitely good enough for you!
There are a number of interesting places to visit on Kangaroo Island. Seal Bay and Flinders Chase National Park are among the top attractions on the island.
As the name suggests, there are a few kangaroos on the island, so if you’re yet to see these crazy animals, then you will definitely see them here!
Port Elliot is a small town on the Fleurieu Peninsula, although it’s small it is definitely worth visiting. Even in the summer or the winter, there are a lot of things to do.
If you come in the summer, there will be more travellers, but you will have better weather. You will also have the opportunity to practice or even learn surfing in Horseshoe Bay.
The winter is considerably colder, but it allows you to go whale watching, which is something I recommend. Between May and October, scores of Southern Right Whales venture close to the shore to give birth to their offspring.
In some cases, they get very close to the shore and you could potentially see them from your hostel window!
How much does it cost to travel in South Australia?
Travelling around South Australia should be cheaper than other states such as Victoria and New South Wales. Melbourne and Sydney are the two most expensive cities in Australia, and other cities such as Adelaide and Brisbane are cheaper.
That is certainly true of eating or drinking out, prices in South Australia are more reasonable than in other big cities. Expect to pay around $2/3 less than in Melbourne and Sydney if you eat out.
Accommodation is certainly a lot cheaper in South Australia. If you spend the winter here, then expect to pay as little as $20 a night in some hostels.
That price does increase in the summer, but the majority of hostels should still be charging under $30 a night for a 6-bed dorm.
Food shopping can be reasonably cheap in South Australia, although that depends on what you’re eating. Coles and Woolworths are the best supermarkets to find cheap deals.
The backpacker staple food of pasta, is very cheap, with 500g bags costing around 60 cents!
If you are staying in Adelaide, a tip would be to check out the Central Market. Generally, you can find a few bargains here, and the produce is all locally sourced.
It’s open every day except Monday and Sunday. If you go later in the day, then you can pick up stuff a bit cheaper as well!
Going to South Australia might not be the first place people think of visiting in Australia, but it should definitely be included.
The state is very diverse and there are many interesting places to visit.
As a bonus, travelling around South Australia is cheaper, than backpacker-heavy hotspots such as the East Coast.
This should all be taken into consideration when you are planning your Australia trip. All I can say is that if you do include South Australia on your trip, you won’t regret it!
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