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South Australia

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Oceania : Australia : South Australia
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View over the Barossa Valley
South Australia [1] is a state of Australia in the south of the country between Western Australia to the west and Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria to the east, and south of the Northern Territory. It was first proclaimed a colony in 1834 and unlike other states in Australia was settled entirely by free settlers from Britain from the 1830s onwards. With nearly 1.6 million people, however, the state comprises less than 10% of the Australian population and ranks fifth in population among the states and territories. However, the state covers a vast amount of land area, including some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of 983,482 square kilometres (379,725 sq mi), it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories. The state also includes Kangaroo Island, Australia's third largest island which lies off the coast of the mainland in the south-east of the state.

South Australia is a state that has remained politically innovative and culturally vibrant throughout its history. It is known for its festivals and fine produce. While South Australia is not the tourist magnet that its northern neighbour is, South Australia offers a different perspective on Australia from many of its different parts. With world-class wine and other produce, friendly people, unspoilt environment and a very relaxed pace of life, it offers the break in Australia that you may have been looking for.

Regions

South Australia covers a vast amount of area, from coastal towns to arid desert. The more settled areas are in the south east of the state, hence the smaller regions around that area.

Adelaide and surrounds (Adelaide, Adelaide Hills)
Adelaide, the state's capital and its surrounds have plenty to offer for tourists and travellers. The Adelaide Hills surround Adelaide on the eastern side and have small villages with lots of history and lots of natural wonders.
Winery areas (Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale)
The home of some of Australia's best wines, the Barossa Valley, the McLaren Vale and the lesser-known Clare Valleys are the reason why many travel to South Australia. Besides wines, there's lots of history to see here too.
Fleurieu Peninsula
South of Adelaide, the gateway to Kangaroo Island and home to coastal villages where you can escape to.
Limestone Coast
The south-eastern part of the state, home to the city of Mount Gambier
Murray River (Riverland, Murraylands)
The area surrounding the winding Murray River; South Australia's fruit-growing areas.
Kangaroo Island
Off the coast of mainland Australia, Australia's third-biggest island contains a vast amount of natural beauty unique to this part of Australia.
Yorke Peninsula
Where South Australians go for their holidays. Enjoy beaches, national parks, and more.
Eyre Peninsula
Where 2000 kilometres of coastline and spectacular scenery meets treeless plains and desert. Home to the cities of Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Port Lincoln and Whyalla.
Flinders Ranges and Outback
The Flinders Ranges are home to Wilpena Pound, a spectacular natural amphiteatre and a great base for walking and exploring. The Simpson Desert also presents its own adventures and opportunities.

Cities

  • Adelaide - the state capital
  • Mount Gambier - in the south-east of the state, home to the famous Blue Lake
  • Murray Bridge - centre of South Australia's farming area
  • Port Augusta - at the top of Spencer Gulf at the very east of the Eyre Peninsula, gateway to the Flinders Ranges
  • Port Lincoln - at the bottom of the Eyre Peninsula and a good base for seeing this part of the state
  • Port Pirie - city centred on the mining economy, but centrally located to most attractions in the state
  • Victor Harbor - coastal playground to the south of Adelaide
  • Whyalla - mining town halfway down the Eyre Peninsula

Other destinations

Itineraries

  • Highways and tracks:

Understand

Time Zone

South Australia is 9 hours & 30 minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and 17 hours & 30 minutes ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). Daylight Saving is observed from the first Sunday of October to the first Sunday of April the following year.

ACST - Australian Central Standard Time UTC+9.5

ACDT - Australian Central Daylight Saving Time UTC+10.5

Get in

Quarantine

You can't bring fruit and vegetables into South Australia. There are disposal bins on roads and at airports, and checks are made - including dogs at airports and on trains and inspection stations on the roads. You will notice the signs and announcements. On-the-spot fines of around $400 are payable if you are caught with fruit or vegetables.

The main routes from New South Wales and Victoria and Western Australia into the State have roadblocks. You must stop and have your vehicle searched. Officers have the power to seize any prohibited item. Roadblocks are found in the following locations:

  • Sturt Highway at Yamba between Mildura and Renmark
  • Eyre Highway at Ceduna
  • Barrier Highway at Oodla Wirra
  • Mallee Highway between Murrayville and Pinnaroo

By plane

South Australia's main air gateway is Adelaide Airport(IATA: ADL) [2], which has most domestic and all international flights direct into the state. International flights direct into Adelaide include those from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and New Zealand. There are regular domestic flights into Adelaide from all Australian capital cities.

Mount Gambier Airport in the far south-east of the state has services from Melbourne, flown by Regional Express (REX).[3]

By train

Adelaide is a hub for Great Southern Railways [4] which runs long-distance train services. Note that GSR's services are aimed at tourists and are are a trip in themselves rather than something to use to get to places. All GSR's services pass through or depart from Adelaide. Train services include:

  • The Indian Pacific (between Perth & Sydney, normally twice a week in each direction)
  • The Ghan (between Darwin and Adelaide, twice a week in each direction)
  • The Overland (between Melbourne and Adelaide, three times a week in each direction)

From Adelaide, Brisbane can be accessed by the Indian Pacific to Sydney and changing for the CountryLink XPT service to Brisbane.

V/Line have a daily coach service from Adelaide connecting to the Countrylink XPT Service in Albury to Sydney.

By Bus

Interstate services are provided by Greyhound Australia [5], Firefly [6], VLine[7], these services also serve multiple intrastate destinations on route. Transfers are available to Adelaide airport and Keswick interstate rail terminal from the Adelaide Central Bus Station. [8]

By car

There are main road connections through to the other states and territories. The main routes are:

  • From New South Wales:
    • via the Barrier Highway (A32), west of Broken Hill
  • From Victoria:
    • via the Sturt Highway (A20) east of Yamba
    • via the Mallee Highway (B12), east of Pinnaroo
    • via the Dukes Highway (A8), east of Bordertown
    • via the Princes Highway (A1), east of Mount Gambier (coastal road)
  • From the Northern Territory:
    • via the Stuart Highway (A87)
  • From Western Australia:
    • via the Eyre Highway (A1)

Note that South Australia has a very large land area with most settlements in the south-east of the state. Driving to the Northern Territory and Western Australia are very long drives. From Adelaide to Perth is 2,700km and will take at least 2 days, probably 3. It is the sort of trip that even most locals only do once or twice in their lifetime. Driving from Adelaide to Darwin is just over 3,000km and travels through some very remote parts of Australia. A minimum of 4 days is recommended. Sydney to Adelaide takes about 18 hours drive (allow 2-3 days), and Adelaide to Melbourne is around 10-11 hours depending on the route taken. Allow 2 days to admire the towns on the way.

By ship

Adelaide's Overseas Passenger Terminal is at Outer Harbor on the LeFevre Peninsula in the north of Adelaide. Visiting cruise ships often dock here.

Get around

By car

The State has a well developed highway system, however in the northern and western regions many roads are un-paved gravel or dirt roads and extra care must be taken. The article on driving in australia has some useful information and guidance. Road traffic laws and regulations [9] are vigourously policed in South Australia and visitors from other states, territories and foreign countries should familiarise themselves with the local conditions and requirements prior to planning a trip by road in South Australia.

By Bus

Statewide regional and intrastate routes are provided by several bus companies and they serve the Adelaide Hills, Mid and Far North, Mid North, Barossa, Murray Bridge, Eyre Peninsula and Far West, Riverland, Fleurieu Peninsula, South East, Kangaroo Island and Yorke Peninsula.

  • Mid North Passenger Services (operated by Yorke Peninsular Coaches) [13], Operates to Adelaide Central Bus Station and destinations in the Mid North of the state including Clare, Burra, Peterborough, Orroroo, Blyth, Gladestone.
  • Yorke Peninsula Coach Services [14], Operates to Adelaide Central Bus Station, throughout Yorke Peninsula, Copper Coast, Balaklava, Mid North, Southern YP-Intertown, Upper North YP-Intertown, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Peterborough.
  • VLine, neighbouring Victoria's bus and rail system also connects some South Australian centres, including Adelaide Central Bus Station, Adelaide Hills Bordertown, Broken Hill (NSW), Geranium, Murray Bridge, Mount Barker, Mount Gambier, Pinnaroo and Tailem Bend.

By train

The state is served by a limited commercial rail passenger network with services only provided to limited stops within South Australia that fall on the national mainline routes. Interstate services [15] from Adelaide connect to some regional centres on route and are limited to the the Overland to Melbourne [16], The Ghan [17] to Alice Springs and Darwin and the Indian Pacific that links Perth, Adelaide, Broken Hill and Sydney and the Southern Spirit that links to Brisbane. Great Southern Rail [18] operate all these services, ☎ 13 21 47 in Australia ☎+61 8 8213 4592 if calling from outside Australia.

Adelaide Metro operate the remnant suburban and local train and tram services in and around the capital city and details are available in the Adelaide article

Several historic rail journeys are available. The SteamRanger preservation group in the Adelaide Hills has restored a number of steam and diesel locomotives for tourist services, and the Pichi Richi Railway based in Quorn operates on part of the former Central Australia Railway.

  • SteamRanger Heritage Railway, +618 8263 5621, 1300 655 991 (, fax: +61 8 8391 1933), [19]. 8.30AM-5.30PM, M-F, 9AM-5PM, Sat. Operate a number of different heritage steam* and diesel hauled tourist trains between Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills, the southern Mt Lofty Ranges, Strathalbyn and the coastal holiday towns of Goolwa, Port Elliot and Victor Harbor. Trains operate on up to 140 days a year and are manned by volunteers from the Australian Railway Historical Society, who are also responsible for maintenance of the rail line and the heritage locomotives and carriages. Cockle Train, Bugle Ranger and Strathlink services do not require pre-booking, and tickets can be purchased at the station on the day of travel.
  • The Cockle Train, operates year-round between Goolwa and Victor Harbor along the route of Australia's first railway. It operates with a steam locomotive in school holidays, and historic diesel locomotives or railcars other weekends.
  • The Southern Encounter runs from Mount Barker to Victor Harbor during winter, utilising most of the remaining broad gauge branch from the main Adelaide to Melbourne line.
  • The Bugle Ranger, runs from Mount Barker to Bugle Ranges using a Redhen railcar set. Services operate one Sunday each month from late April to October
  • The Highlander operates from Mount Barker to Strathalbyn using steam locomotives when possible. Operates on the second Sunday of each month from June until the end of November (excluding October).
  • StrathLink - from Goolwa to Strathalbyn using a restored heritage "Brill" railcar. Operates during School Holiday periods.
  • Pichi Richi Railway, Railway Station, Railway Terrace Quorn, 1800 440 101 (free call), Quorn Railway Station (when staffed) +61 8 8648 6598). Historic railway and preservation society in the Mid North or South Australia.
  • Transcontinental, Quorn to Woolshed Flat. After a brief stop, on to Port Augusta, arriving in time for lunch. There is ample time for a stroll around the nearby area, including a range of food outlets, before the 2.30PM departure back to Quorn.
  • Pichi Richi Explorer Quorn to Woolshed Flat (32 km) and return. Uses a historic Barwell Bull railcar 106, built in 1928 that spent most of its working life based at Peterborough working services between Terowie and Quorn., as well as steam services during school holidays and long weekends using historic South Australian Railways carriages, some dating from the 19th century.
  • Afghan Express, turns the clock back to the 1930s when the famous old Ghan travelled through the Pichi Richi Pass. Wherever possible, the Afghan Express uses distinctive timber-bodied carriages built in the late 1920s for the narrow gauge old Ghan train service, and restored old Ghan steam locomotive NM25. The Afghan Express is the name railwaymen gave to the passenger train that ran from Terowie to Oodnadatta, through Quorn, in 1923.

Note: The National Railway Museum [20] is the largest undercover railway museum in Australia and is situated in Port Adelaide.

By aircraft

Scheduled air services go to regional centres in South Australia. The main destinations are, Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Port Augusta, Ceduna, Mount Gambier and Broken Hill (NSW). The two main regional operators in South Australia are Rex Regional express [21] and QantasLink [22].

The state also has a General Aviation sector including charter operators and wet lease operators such as National Jet Systems Cobham [23] and other smaller operators that service the airline industry, private individuals, tourism and the fly-in, fly-out services for the mining, oil and gas production industries active in the state.

By ship

Kangaroo Island, Yorke Peninsula and Eyre Peninsula have, or have planned ferry operations.

By bicycle

South Australia has a vibrant bicycle culture and the capital city of Adelaide has many established cycle paths and bicycle travel networks [24] and regional trails. [25] Adelaide and regional cities have well stocked bicycle shops [26] and many clubs and associations. In Adelaide the City Council provide Free City Bikes [27] at several locations.

By taxi

South Australia has a number of taxi companies that serve both the main city of Adelaide, regional cities and regional areas. [28]

See

Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island

South Australia is home to Kangaroo Island , an internationally renowned wildlife haven.

It's also known for its wine. The Barossa Valley is here - Australia’s richest and best-known wine region. Premium wines, five-star restaurants and cellar doors abound among the hills and vineyards. Local winemakers include household names such as Seppelt, Penfolds and Peter Lehmann.

South Australia also offers other world-class wine regions, including the Clare Valley [29], McLaren Vale and Coonawarra.

Visit the world-heritage listed Naracoorte Caves, or awesome Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges – one of Australia's first official national landscapes.

Swim with wild sea lions at Baird Bay on Eyre Peninsula , dolphins at Glenelg, and Great White Sharks at Port Lincoln.

South Australia is also known for its exciting events, like the international cycling race Tour Down Under [30]. Lance Armstrong made it his comeback race in 2009. Adelaide hosts the Clipsal 500 [31], a thrilling V8 race through a city circuit. The Adelaide Fringe [32] is an annual feast of comedy, music, theatre and fun. And the fabulous and captivating Adelaide Festival of Arts [33]takes place every second year.

In Adelaide, South Australia's capital city, you will find stylish architecture, boutique shopping, sandy swimming beaches, fabulous arts events, nightlife, fine dining, and some of Australia's best café strips.

It is easy to navigate your way around South Australia, with most of the regions just an hour or two drive from Adelaide.

Do

Eat

Drink

Beer

  • Coopers Beer is an icon of South Australia. It is often described as the biggest small brewery in Australia. It is still family-owned. All Coopers products claim to be made by "natural" methods. There is a range of products from crisp lager styles to dark stout. South Australian pubs will often have Coopers Pale Ale on tap, which while not as distinctive as a craft beer, certainly gives the beer aficionado a tasty beer option not widely available in other states.
  • West End is the local mass produced lager, on tap just about everywhere.
  • Southwark Premium is also produced by mass produced Lion Nathan, but at a smaller brewery in Thebarton. Arguably one of the best brews produced in Australia by the mega-brewers.

Beer measures in South Australia are the schooner and the pint. A schooner is a smaller measure, known variously as a middy or a pot elsewhere in Australia. A pint isn't a pint at all, and is a larger size known as a schooner everywhere else in Australia. In most pubs in SA a pint of pale will return you a reasonable measure of Coopers Pale Ale.

Stay safe

Get out

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