Just when you thought you knew all of the road trips and touring routes in Australia, another one pops up on your radar. Today, we will be exploring the South Australian Loop. This road trip through South Australia takes you from Adelaide to Flinders Rangers, back to Adelaide, around the Fleurieu Peninsula and over to Kangaroo Island. In between, explore the Barossa and Clare Valleys, experience excellent food and wine, and meet new wildlife. Follow along our 8 day getaway filled with fun, adventure and relaxation.
South Australian Loop Photo Credit: Australia.com
South Australian Loop Photo Credit: Australia.com
Hiring a Car in Adelaide
Adelaide Car Hire Map Photo Credit: Budget.com.au
Hiring a car in Adelaide is easy with Budget. There are 5 different car rental locations in and around Adelaide, so it is quite convenient to hire a car in Adelaide. There are car hire locations in Adelaide City, at the Adelaide Airport, in Adelaide North – Salisbury, Adelaide South – Reynella, and an Adelaide Trucks location close to the airport for hiring trucks, 4 wheel drive, and all-terrain vehicles. Check with your car rental agent about any driving restrictions for the area as well as driving tips and safety guidelines. Since the South Australian Loop covers some rugged terrain, be sure to let your rental agent know where you are planning to go so that they can recommend the right vehicle for you and also offer up some maps, guidelines and tips from a local. While in South Australia, you might want to travel around and take in any of the following places we previously covered on our blog:
The South Australian Loop Day 1: Adelaide to Barossa Valley
South Australian Loop Day 1 Photo Credit: Australia.com
Adelaide Photo Credit: FirstLightTravel.com.au
Barossa Valley Photo Credit: FirstLightTravel.com.au
Barossa Valley Wine Area Photo Credit: FirstLightTravel.com.au
Day One of this road trip begins in the city of Adelaide. Things to do in Adelaide include visiting Victoria’s Square, the Art Gallery of South Australia, swim at Glenlg Beach, shop at Jetty Road or the Central Markets, and explore Adelaide’s Chinatown for more shopping and dining options. Once you leave Adelaide, the road to Barossa Valley is filled with rolling green hills and world-famous Barossa Valley wineries. Enjoy samplings from some of the 60 cellar doors like Yalumba, Seppelts, Penfolds, and Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre. Local food samplings, wine master classes, and local artisan studios should be on your itinerary as you tour through the beautiful countryside. Some of the other stops near Barossa Valley can include the towns of Lyndoch, Tanunda, Gawler, and Kapunda.
The South Australian Loop Day 2: Barossa Valley to Quorn
South Australian Loop Day 2 Photo Credit: Australia.com
Cycling in Barossa Photo Credit: FirstLightTravel.com.au
Day 2 begins where we left off in Barossa Valley and takes you north on the Main North Road through the Clare Valley to the foothills of the Flinders Ranges in Quorn. The highlights for this day include more wine tasting, delicious restaurants, cafes, and pubs, markets, biking the 25 kilometre Riesling Trail, visiting the Martindale Hall mansion. You should take some time to visit Mount Remarkable National Park near Wilmington. Remember, our itinerary isn’t set in stone. When you have your own car rental, you can choose to stay longer when you find someplace you like. Mount Remarkable National Park is a perfect example of someplace you might stay an extra day.
The South Australian Loop Day 3: Quorn to Wilpena Pound
South Australian Loop Day 3 Photo Credit: Australia.com
Wilpena Pound Self Drive Tour Photo Credit: FirstLightTravel.com.au
Wilpena Pound Walking Tour Photo Credit: FirstLightTravel.com.au
As you head from Quorn into the Flinders Ranges, you will find different ways to experience the varying terrain and mountains. Some of the not-to-miss sights here include the Aboriginal rock art in the Yourambulla Caves and Wilpena Pound, the natural amphitheatre at the centre of Flinders Ranges National Park. Whether you decide to hike the walking tracks, climb Mt Ohlssen Bagge, or soar over the sights on a scenic flight or do a bit of everything, one thing is for sure: the landscape here is beautiful. Look out for some of the wildlife in the Bunyeroo Valley and Brachina Gorge. Spend the Night in Hawker, known as the tourist hub of the Flinders Ranges.
South Australian Loop Day 4: Wilpena Pound to Arkaroola
South Australian Loop Day 4 Photo Credit: Australia.com
Camel Rides through Flinders Ranges Photo Credit: FirstLightTravel.com.au
Hot Air Balloon Rides Over the Flinders Ranges Photo Credit: FirstLightTravel.com.au
Day 4 from Wilpena Pound to Arkaroola includes more strikingly gorgeous mountain views. From Blinman, which is South Australia’s highest town and into Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges National Park expect scenic landscape the whole way through. Then tour the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary where you can get up close to the scenery bushwalking, mountain biking, or on camel back. You can camp out in the Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges National Park or stay overnight in the rustic outback lodge. Staying overnight in the park will help you get a closer look at the gorges and have more time to explore the attractions. Arkaroola is the northernmost point of the loop.
South Australian Loop Day 5: Arkaroola to Parachilna
South Australian Loop Day 5 Photo Credit: Australia.com
Flinders Ranges Rock Climbing Photo Credit: FirstLightTravel.com.au
As you head back south you will get a chance to see some different parts of Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges National Park before heading south and out of the Flinders Ranges. On the way, you will pass through Copley and Leigh Creek and the Parachilna Gorge. You can stay the night at the famous Prairie Hotel and watch the sunset over the saltbush plains.
South Australian Loop Day Six: Parachilna to Cape Jervis
South Australian Loop Day 6 Photo Credit: Australia.com
As you make your way down south on the loop, you can choose to see different stops along the way or re-visit some of your favourite places. One place you shouldn’t miss is the fascinating Magnetic Hill in Hawker. This unique place features an optical illusion that makes your car appear to roll uphill. Other stops along the way include Peterborough, Steamtown, and Burra. You can learn about the stream train history and experience the heritage cottages in the old copper mining town. In Burra, you will also be able to explore megafauna fossils on the interpretative Red Banks trail or mountain bike on the Burra Trail. This is definitely the South Australian outback and is remote. You can also take an outback tour on horseback as well. During this stretch of the road trip, you also pass back through Adelaide so you can stop back into your favourite places there, or pass right through and onto the Fleurieu Peninsula region where there are more wineries, almond orchards, and galleries. The peninsula provides adventures such as fishing from the jetty, bushwalking and the Deep Creek Conservation Park. Here you will also find another opportunity to extend your trip a bit. You can hike along the Heysen Trail to Victor Harbor, a four day trek.
South Australian Loop Day 7: Cape Jervis to Kangaroo Island
South Australian Loop Day 7 Photo Credit: Australia.com
The drive along the Fleurieu Peninsula affords you magnificent views of the coastline. From there, you can take the ferry over to Kangaroo Island. Of course, there is so much to do on Kangaroo Island, you can extend your holiday there or, just spend the day exploring and plan to come back for an entire vacation on the island on your next visit. Kangaroo Island is known for being a food lover’s paradise. However, there is much more to do than eat. You can surf, snorkel or dive along the beaches, hire a fishing charter or boating cruise, drive through the terrain and witness the spectacular colours of the Remarkable rocks, explore underground caves, and visit with the unique wildlife on the island include sea lions, penguins, pelicans, parakeets, koalas, and kangaroos, of course, plus much more. We haven’t even mentioned Flinders Chase National Park, so large and diverse, you can spend an entire holiday just within those borders alone. There are plenty accommodations on Kangaroo Island if you choose to stay there longer, you have options for everything from camping, to bed & breakfasts, to luxury hotel and spas. Whether you just stay the one night or more, you will recognise that Kangaroo Island is a special place to visit. For more details on Kangaroo Island, see our blog entries: Hop on Over to Kangaroo Island, Kangaroo Island Food Safari, and A Getaway within a Getaway: Flinders Chase National Park.
South Australian Loop Day 8: Kangaroo Island to Adelaide
South Australian Loop Day 8 Photo Credit: Australia.com
For your last day of the road trip, as you head back to Adelaide, you have another opportunity to either retrace your steps or circle back on some of your favourite places or there are still new things to see and do all in close proximity to the route. Some new options include whale watching during season, watching the little penguins in Victor Harbour, Swim or boogie board in Horseshoe Bay near Port Elliot. If you stop in Goolwa, you can hire a canoe to paddle down the Murray River or the Coorong’s wetlands and lagoons. See our blog links for more on the Murray River Region or The Coorong. The route back to Adelaide can include stops in Strathalbyn and Mount Barker. As you can see, there is so much to see and do along this route. It is easily customised to your own tastes, time frame, and schedule. With your own rental car, you are free to change course, stay or go as you please.