South Australia: Australia’s Premier Wine State
Head to South Australia for an experience that’s all about contrasts: rich wine regions, long sandy white beaches, abundant wildlife and great festivals. It’s also the gateway to the reddest sands and outlandish towns of the Outback.
South Australia is a state of extremes: it’s the country’s driest state with some of the most inhospitable deserts on the continent, and at the same time, it’s also one of the country’s most fertile – the lush green valleys and hills produce some of the best wines in Australia, if not the world. With its red, rocky gibber plains and wild windswept coastlines, pristine beaches, ancient mountain ranges, wide sweeping rivers, soft forested hills, and sea-scrapped islands, South Australia is Australia in microcosm.
Renowned for its celebrations of the arts, its multiple cultures, and its bountiful harvests from vines, land, and sea, South Australia is both diverse and divine. Here you can taste some of the country’s finest wines, sample its best restaurants, and admire some of the world’s most valuable gems.
South Australia contains a wide range of landscapes that are worth exploring. Adelaide is a chilled-out, gracious city offering world-class festivals, restaurants, pubs and a hedonistic arts scene. A day trip away, McLaren Vale and the Barossa and Clare Valleys are long-established wine regions. Further afield are the watery wilds of the Limestone Coast, and the Murray River, curling Mississippi-like towards the sea. Kangaroo Island’s wildlife, forests and seafood await just offshore. To the west, Yorke Peninsula and Eyre Peninsula are off the beaten track: both beachy, slow-paced detours. Wheeling into the Flinders Ranges, wheat fields give way to arid cattle stations beneath ochre-coloured peaks. Further north, eccentric outback towns such Woomera and Coober Pedy emerge from the dead-flat desert haze.
Top Reasons to Visit South Australia
South Australian wines are arguably the best in the world, and there’s no shortage of wine regions – both established and emerging – in which to taste them.
South Australia is famed as home to Australia’s premier wine regions. South Australia produces almost half of Australia’s wines, including many of its finest. From its numerous vineyards comes a dazzling diversity of wines – several are made from some of the oldest vines in the world. The state has a long history of wine-making and is home to some very famous producers, such as Hardys, Penfolds, Jacob’s Creek and Banrock Station. Virtually all wineries welcome tourists for tastings.
The major wine regions are:
From gourmet produce to bush tucker, South Australia offers some of the best and freshest food in the country.
Foodies are spoilt for choice in South Australia; the region is famous throughout the country for its excellent produce. Make sure you try some of Adelaide’s Mod Oz cuisine, with dishes showcasing oysters, crayfish, and King George whiting prepared with Asian and Mediterranean flavours. The Australian palate has also been re-educated in the pleasures of bush tucker – food that has been used for millennia by the Aboriginal people. Kangaroo, crocodile, emu, and other regional fare are now embraced by all.
Best regions to try local produce:
FANTASTIC FESTIVALS & EVENTS
As local licence plates attest, South Australia is the ‘Festival State’. Its art and music scene is second to none in Australia.
Adelaide truly is the festival state, and with the majority of the major events running at the end of summer in “Mad March”, this is the best time to visit, as the city takes on an extra festive feel. A continuous stream of high-calibre international and local events lures artists and audiences from around the world, particularly for the Adelaide Festival of Arts, WOMADelaide and the Adelaide Fringe.
Top festivals & events:
South Australia History
Home to Aborigines for more than 10,000 years, the South Australian region was settled by Europeans in 1836 when Governor John Hindmarsh proclaimed the area a British colony. William Light, the Surveyor General, chose the site of the city of Adelaide.
In the 1840s German Lutherans fleeing persecution in Europe settled in the Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley, bringing traditions of wine-growing and social liberty that have flourished here ever since.
In the early 1970s the election of flamboyant rebel Don Dunstan as premier launched a decade of social reform unmatched in any other state. South Australians are proud of their history of social innovation, and their state has a well-earned reputation for tolerance and cultural diversity.
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South Australia has maintained its socially progressive creed: trade unions were legalised in 1876; women were permitted to stand for parliament in 1894; and the state was one of the first places in the world to give women the vote, and the first state in Australia to outlaw racial and gender discrimination, legalise abortion and decriminalise gay sex.
South Australia Weather
Adelaide has the least rainfall of all Australian capital cities, and the midday summer heat is oppressive. The Outback in particular is too hot for comfortable touring during this time, but Outback winters are pleasantly warm. South Australia’s national parks are open year-round. The best times to visit are in spring (Sep-Nov) and autumn (Mar-May). In summer extreme fire danger may close walking tracks, and in winter heavy rain can make some roads impassable. Boating on the Murray River and Lake Alexandrina is best from October to March, when the long evenings are bathed in soft light. The ocean is warmest from December to March.
Map of South Australia