One of the most beautiful places to take a scenic road trip is South Australia. From beaches to bushland, native animals and more, SA has a lot to offer. It is also a haven for off-road adventurers and road trip lovers who are in search of new and exciting travel spots.
South Australia is one of the less appreciated Aussie states for tourists and caravanning – in this article, you’ll find 12 reasons why SA should be on your next travel itinerary.
In South Australia alone, there are several spectacular destinations perfect for your next road trip or caravan adventure. Many beaches, national parks and trails are scattered through the state. There are plenty of worthwhile road trip itineraries for South Australia that you should add to your bucket list.
But wait! Before you pack your bags, read on to learn more about the best South Australian road trip destinations. We will give you tips and other information that will help you plan your itinerary and experience the best of South Australia, from 4WD camping to fishing and bushwalking.
Our guide will help you plan your next South Australian road trip itinerary and become the best road trip planner. Read on to learn the best places to visit in SA.
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1. Perlubie Beach
The first stop on our South Australia itinerary is Perlubie Beach. This beach has calm waters and low to medium waves that make it a very family-friendly beach stop. It also has fine sand, creating a flat, firm beach suitable for 4WDing.
Other than its three facilities – toilets, barbecue grills and shelter shades – everything is self-sufficient in Perlubie Beach. The simplicity of this location really highlights the beauty of the beach and the sea. It is quiet, calming and relaxing – perfect for people who like to recharge and enjoy nature. It even allows guests to drop off their $10 per night donations, aka camp fees, to an honesty box.
If beach camping is your thing, Perlubie Beach is best for you.
How Do I Get To Perlubie Beach?
Located at the western end of the Eyre Peninsula coastline near Streaky Bay, just by the highway, Perlubie Beach is accessible to many types of vehicles. Just travel 20 km north of the Streaky Bay township, a 15-minute drive away.
If you are coming from Adelaide, it would only take you about 8 hours to reach Perlubie Beach.
Where Can I Stay at Perlubie Beach?
Perlubie Beach has no amenities for an overnight or even daylight stay aside from its shelter shades. But visitors may set up their own camping tents and caravan cars along the beach’s campgrounds. It only takes resourcefulness and creativity to have a wonderful stay at Perlubie Beach.
What Should I Do While I’m at Perlubie Beach?
Perlubie Beach is so bare that you can bring anything you need and do whatever you want–swimming, walking, surfing, fishing, you name it.
You may also explore the rocks and caves at the north end.
2. Flinders Ranges
Bring out the mountaineer in you and traverse the mountains of the Flinders Ranges and Outback SA! Also known by its Adnyamathanha name, Ikara, Flinders Ranges gives you a natural amphitheatre of mountains at the heart of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.
Enjoy the breathtaking views of the mountains, gorges, and creeks, as you drive along the Aboriginal Dreaming Trail or take an aerial tour of Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre. Some of the spectacular scenery it offers are Elder Range, Edeowie Gorge, Lake Torrents, the Heysen Range, St. Mary Peak and Wilpena Pound.
How Do I Get To The Flinders Ranges?
Flinders Ranges and Outback is only a five-hour drive from Adelaide. You may also take a road trip along the Explorer’s Way or a short plane trip to Port Augusta, Coober Pedy or Wilpena Pound.
Aboriginal cultural tours and 4WD tours are also available for those who opt not to bring their own 4WD.
Where Can I Stay in The Flinders Ranges?
Take a pick from a wide variety of accommodation ranging from nature camping, off-grid cabin and glamping to luxury resorts. The Wilpena Pound Resort offers 15 luxury safari tents where you can stay and cosy up while in the area.
What Should I Do While I’m in The Flinders Ranges?
You will never run out of things to do in the Flinders Ranges. Have an outback experience through hiking and wildlife encounters. Join the day tour and drive around the area.
The ultimate experience at the Flinders Ranges are the scenic flights. The Wilpena Pound Resort offers scenic flights where you can explore and enjoy the aerial attractions of the mountains. The shortest scenic flight lasts for 20 minutes, while the longest one lasts for a full 4 hours.
3. Coorong National Park
Relaxation, nature experience and wonderful scenery are the main reasons you should not miss going to the Coorong National Park. Not only is it a home for 12 campgrounds with 63 camping sites, but it also serves as a homeland of much endangered flora and fauna. This is the reason Coorong National Park is a wetland of international importance.
Aside from the beaches, visitors to the National Park may enjoy the attractive dunes around the area that serve as a protection from the Great Southern Ocean.
How Do I Get To Coorong National Park?
Using a 4WD is ideal for exploring Coorong National Park. If you are coming from Adelaide, go south. It will take you about 1.5-2 hours to reach Coorong. Read more about directions to Coorong National Park in our dedicated article.
Where Can I Stay in Coorong National Park?
There are two places where you can stay at Coorong National Park. If you want to be along the beach in front of the dunes, you may opt for do-it-yourself camping with your families and friends. If you prefer to be in one of the designated campsites, you may choose the campgrounds behind the dunes. These designated campsites allow a maximum of 8 guests and 1 vehicle for each campsite. The best campsites in Coorong National Park are located at Salt Creek – check out our Salt Creek camping guide for more information.
What Should I Do While I’m in Coorong National Park?
Visitors often come here for bird watching, boating, kayaking, fishing, camping, walking, 4WD driving and for its European and Indigenous history.
The main attraction in the Coorong National Park is the Point Malcolm Lighthouse. It is Australia’s one and only inland lighthouse. You can view the lighthouse by taking your way toward The Narrows between Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert.
If you’re staying at Salt Creek, read more about things to do at Salt Creek in our dedicated article.
4. Eyre Peninsula
Eyre Peninsula is often visited because of its rich story and breathtaking views. The caves and caverns in the peninsula, called the Woolshed and the Tub, were formed through the erosion of the rugged sandstone cliffs. The Woolshed is a large cavern, while the Tub is a large crater in the cliff with a tunnel connection to the sea.
How Do I Get To The Eyre Peninsula?
Head south from Port Kenny to Port Lincoln. From there, take a 2-hour drive to reach the Talia Caves in the heart of the Eyre Peninsula.
Where Can I Stay on The Eyre Peninsula?
Put up your own tent anywhere from the Talia Caves campgrounds to the Great Australian Bight to the west. Experience camping the primitive way because there are no toilets or plumbing. However, there are 20 sites for bush camping that you can choose from.
What Should I Do While I’m on the Eyre Peninsula?
Aside from enjoying the scenery, fishing and surfing, most visitors come to the Talia Beach in Eyre Peninsula to take a glimpse or two of the sea lions, dolphins and southern right whales, which are frequently sighted in the area.
There are four popular places to visit within the Eyre Peninsula:
- Talia Beach is an ideal place for rock fishing and its wonderful beaches.
- The Woolshed is the place to visit for rock viewing and exploration of caves with honeycombed ceilings and dark crevices.
- The Tub is for the more adventurous guests who want to climb down its crater to see its granite base.
- You may also opt to head to ‘Beyond The Tub’, which is a dramatic cliff face that offers long views to the south along Talia Beach.
5. Kuitpo Forest
Our next stop is the one-of-a-kind forest called the Kuitpo Forest. The Kuitpo Forest Reserve was established in 1898.
You can find this 3,600-hectare plantation and native bushland in the middle of Eucalypt woodland. It forms a part of South Australian Forestry Corporation (ForestrySA), which provides sustainable softwood production and protects conservation areas.
Make the most of the exquisite beauty of the Fleurieu Peninsula beaches and capture astounding photos worthy to have a spot on your mantle. Moreso, get fancy and take a sip of the world-famous wines of McLaren Vale found in the heart of Kuitpo Forest.
If you are in Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula, take a route to the forest and you will be there in less than an hour.
Where Can I Stay in The Kuitpo Forest?
You can stay in Chookarloo, the main campground of Kuitpo Forest where you can set up your camping or glamping tents or caravan cars within the designated campsites. It is located 1.5 kilometers from the Kuitpo Forest Information Centre.
Nearby, the ForestrySA’s Rocky Creek Hut provides forest hut accommodations except during fire season.
What Should I Do While I’m in the Kuitpo Forest?
Traverse with your families and friends through the Heysen and Chookarloo walking trails. Experience horse riding, bushwalking, mountain biking, camping and community events organised by the management.
6. Mount Remarkable National Park
Mount Remarkable National Park is an all-in-one destination, perfect for your next South Australia road trip with your friends and families who want to see and do something different. It has mountain ranges, forest, gorges, valleys, cliffs, ancient landscapes and wildlife. Below is a detailed description of the park’s attractions to help you visualise what to expect in the area.
- Mount Remarkable Range is the series of majestic mountains towering around the national park and through the native forest and valuable Peppermint Box Eucalypt ecological community.
- Willowie Forest is found inside the park. It is a great spot for mountain biking and walking.
- Some landscapes in the park are about 800 million years old.
- Active wildlife can be seen around the national park, including yellow-footed rock-wallaby, lace monitors, tree goannas, echidnas, scorpions and western grey kangaroos.
- Valleys full of vegetative plants, cliffs made up of red quartzite and marvelous gorges are also part of the Mount Remarkable National Park.
How Do I Get To The Mount Remarkable National Park?
Mount Remarkable National Park is located between Spencer Gulf and the southern reaches of the Flinders Ranges. Travel about 240 kilometers from Adelaide’s city centre and you will find yourself at the foot of the National Park.
Where Can I Stay in The Mount Remarkable National Park?
There is a large campground 45 kilometres north of Port Pirie where there are plenty of campsites suitable for caravans and camping tents. In Mambray Creek, you can book cabins. These cabins are open plan with no bedrooms nor electricity, but provide cooking utensils and cutlery. Each cabin accommodates a maximum of four people.
What Should I Do at The Mount Remarkable National Park?
Aside from nature and wildlife sight-seeing, you can do a lot of other activities in Mount Remarkable National Park’s three primary sections Alligator Gorge, Mt Remarkable (via Melrose) and Mambray Creek. Each of these sections has its unique features. Some of these features are walking trails for all ages and fitness levels, picnic areas, scenic lookouts, gorges, creek lines, ruins and campgrounds with great facilities.
Other activities and events happen in the park during winter seasons like many parks in South Australia as part of Nature Play SA.
7. Coffin Bay National Park
Coffin Bay National Park was named after Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, 1st Baronet, an officer of the British Royal Navy, who was part of Matthew Flinders’ voyage and discovery of the Port Lincoln area. It is now a developed and famous park for tourism and conservation of approximately 31,000 hectares of the Coffin Bay Peninsula.
For road trippers who prefer coastal scenery, the Coffin Bay National Park is the top spot. It lets you experience the refreshing island life that you long wanted. You can feast your eyes upon the breathtaking views of its coastal landscapes, cliffs and dunes. Then soak your body in its pounding surf and sandy bays.
How Do I Get To Coffin Bay National Park?
Drive along the Coffin Bay Road from the Flinders Highway to reach Coffin Bay National Park located 50 kilometres west of Port Lincoln. From Adelaide, travel for 8 hours or about 680 km to the tip of Eyre Peninsula. You can also take the ferry from Wallaroo to Cowell.
Use your 2WD if you are going to the southern end of the park known as the Yangie Bay. Otherwise, take your 4WD to access the beaches in the northern part.
Where Can I Stay in Coffin Bay National Park?
There are six designated campgrounds in the park, most can only be accessed by 4WD:
- Yangie Bay campground
- Big Yangie Bay Campground
- Black Springs Campground
- Black Springs Overflow Campground
- Morgan’s Landing Campground
- Sensation Campground
- The Pool Campground
What Should I Do While I’m in Coffin Bay National Park?
- The park contains trails for bushwalking, from easy walks up to moderate hikes.
- You can also surf in the waves of Mullalong Beach or enjoy its sandy white beach.
- Go fishing on Gunya and Almonta Beach.
- Play in the sand dunes.
- See the beautiful sights of Golden Island.
- Go on a 4WD adventure at Sensation Beach and Point Sir Isaac.
8. Deep Creek National Park
Here is another national park in our selection of South Australian road trips. The Deep Creek National Park contains the largest portion of natural vegetation in the Fleurieu Peninsula. Some of the popular attractions in the park are the scenery of the Backstairs Passage, Kangaroo Island, the Deep Creek Valley, the Heysen trail, the ruins of the 1860 silver and lead mines, and the wide variety of native wildlife, such as grey kangaroos, short-beaked echidnas and 100 species of birds.
How Do I Get To Deep Creek National Park?
Starting from Adelaide, travel 108 kilometres south through the Main South Road. You may also access the park from Victor Harbour via Range Road.
To fully experience the park, it is advisable to use your 4WD for those parts not accessible to 2WD or for tracks which do not permit access to 2WD such as the Boat Harbour Beach track and the Blowhole Beach track.
Where Can I Stay Near Deep Creek National Park?
There are five campgrounds in Deep Creek National Park where you can stay, one of which are exclusive only for 4WD vehicles or ‘hike-in’ only.
The Southern Ocean Retreats also provide self-contained accommodations within the park. You can choose from simple cottages to elegantly designed eco retreats.
What Should I Do While I’m In Deep Creek National Park?
Start your itinerary by bushwalking, ranging from easy walking up to hard hikes, depending on your chosen trails. While resting from the walk, relax by watching the nature and wildlife in Kangaroo Island. Take a picnic in the Cobbler Hill and experience whale watching as they migrate to the east during the winter months.
Read more about things to do in Deep Creek National Park in our camping guide.
9. Yorke Peninsula
Yorke Peninsula takes pride in its 700-kilometre coastal scenery. It is considered one of the most accessible seaside destinations in South Australia. It is not surprising that Yorke Peninsula is famous for its pristine beaches and white sands where you can relax while refreshing yourself with a drink from one of its local breweries and wineries.
How Do I Get To Yorke Peninsula?
Yorke Peninsula is only an hour drive from Adelaide.
Where Can I Stay In The Yorke Peninsula?
Expectedly, Yorke Peninsula provides accommodations from beach camping to off-grid cabins. Designated campsites and caravan spots are also scattered around the area. There are also Hamptons-style cottages just minutes from the Dhilba Guaranda-Innes National Park.
What Should I Do While I’m At The Yorke Peninsula?
Lazily sit or walk or drive by the shores of its beaches. If you are feeling active and adventurous, try surfing, swimming, boating and fishing. If you are more of a drinker type, explore Yorke Peninsula’s local breweries and wineries and have a taste of its finest beer and wines.
10. Rapid Bay
Rapid Bay is home to an important South Australian landmark: a boulder carved by Colonel Light with his initials when he first stepped ashore and discovered Rapid Bay in 1830. They named it after the brig they used HMS Rapid.
Currently, Rapid Bay is well known for its very long jetty where you can enjoy fishing or the beautiful views by the bay. Although it is an unpatrolled beach, it is calm and safe for diving and snorkelling. Underwater, you can observe dramatic shipwrecks and rich marine life, such as the famous leafy sea dragon.
How Do I Get To Rapid Bay?
From Adelaide, head 105 kilometres south through the Normanville-Cape Jervis Road. You are going to find Rapid Bay just between long beaches and cliffs.
Where Can I Stay Near Rapid Bay?
You will find designated campsites, and caravan spots around the area where you can stay. The Rapid Bay campgrounds is a great option for families with barbeques, showers and toilet facilities available. It is located near the jetty for added convenience.
What Should I Do While I’m At Rapid Bay?
Diving, snorkelling and sightseeing are the best things to do at Rapid Bay. It’s unpatrolled, so you may try to explore what other activities you can enjoy while in the vicinity.
11. Newland Head Conservation Park
There are two long beaches under Newland Head Conservation Park’s protection–Waitpinga and Parsons. Aside from these two, the park is also a home for rocky headlands and coastal vegetation.
Unfortunately, the beaches are not suitable for swimming due to hidden gutters and strong rips, but you can go surfing and fishing which are worthwhile activities. In fact, this spot is renowned for its surf fishing with salmon and eye mullet filling the waters.
Some of the best attractions in the park are the Waitpinga Creek, Encounter Bay, the Pages in Backstairs Passage and Kangaroo Island. The park offers panoramic views of these unique attractions.
How Do I Get To Newland Head?
You can reach Newland Head Conservation Park by driving 91 kilometres south of Adelaide through the Waitpinga Road in Victor Harbour.
Where Can I Stay Near Newland Head?
Only a few steps from the beach lies the Waitpinga Campground where you can set up camp. The campsites are unpowered, but most of them are only a short walk from your vehicles. The campground also contains toilets and barbeque areas.
What Should I Do While I’m In Newland Head?
Camping, sightseeing, walking, surfing and fishing are the popular tourist activities around the area.
12. Lipson Cove
Lipson Cove is a popular tourist destination in South Australia because of its accessibility to the public. It is between Port Neill and Tumby Bay.
The beach offers some of the most accessible and safe swimming in the region. There is also a beach access point suitable to launch your boat.
If you enjoy fishing, the northern end of Lipson Cove is also a popular fishing destination. The beach is also suitable for off beach fishing too.
Besides the beach, Lipson Cove is also a conservation park. The southern part of Lipson Cove contains flat sands, while the northern part contains low dunes.
How Do I Get To Lipson Cove?
Take the Lincoln Highway through the Lipson Cove Road and you will reach Lipson Cove 7.6 kilometres off the highway. From Cowell, it is 90 kilometres south of Cleve Road junction. From Tumby Bay, it is 14 kilometres North.
Where Can I Stay Near Lipson Cove?
Around the area, there are designated campgrounds with basic facilities. They are either privately owned or managed by government, councils or other community groups. One of the most popular is the Lipson Cove Camping area. With payment via an honesty box and basic facilities, it is a simple camping option.
You can also find caravan parks in some portions of the area. Nearby town, Tumby Bay, offers several RV parking options you can choose from.
What Should I Do While I’m At Lipson Cove?
Swimming, surfing and fishing are popular in Lipson Cove. Its beaches are safe, accessible to the public and with low beach breaks. Fishes are found by the water’s rocks at the northern part of the cove.
How Long Do I Need For A South Australia Road Trip?
Being a relatively small state, South Australia can be explored in a matter of weeks depending on how long you’d like to spend at each individual destination. You can explore about four to five destinations in South Australia by travelling for a few weeks by road.
South Australia is easy to explore with any kind of vehicle. Conveniently use your 2WD, a regular SUV, or a 4WD, for driving around the state. If you’re keen on off-roading, don’t miss the best 4WD camping spots near Adelaide.
When Should I Visit South Australia?
The best time to visit South Australia is during Autumn from the months of March through May and also September. During this season, there are low chances of rain, and there is not too much heat or sunlight. However, peak seasons in the region fall during summer from December to February.
But if you want the cheapest accommodation, visit during winter from June to August. It is also the time when whale migrations are observed in South Australia
Are There Powered Campsites In South Australia?
Yes, there are plenty of powered campsites in South Australia, especially near its capital, Adelaide. Here are some of them:
- Belair National Park Caravan
- Brighton Caravan Park
- Christies Beach Tourist Park
- Discovery Parks
- Levi Adelaide Holiday Park
- Windsor Gardens Caravan Park.
Is It Legal To Sleep In A Tent On A Beach In South Australia?
Camping, in general, is illegal in South Australia or even in other states in Australia, unless it is in authorised areas. This means you can only camp on the beach in ‘designated campsites’ in South Australia, and otherwise it isn’t legal.
Regardless whether the area is a tourist spot, never sleep in a tent on a beach outside permissible campsites. If a ranger or a lifeguard catches you, you will either be asked to leave or pay a fine.
Learn more about how to camp on the beach legally.
What Is The Coolest Place In South Australia?
A small town in South Australia called Yongala holds the record of having the lowest minimum temperature in the region. Having a warm, semi-arid climate, the town temperature ranges from an average minimum of 7.3 °C (45 °F) to an average maximum of 21.9 °C (71 °F).
How Long Does It Take To Drive Through South Australia?
It would take months to drive around the whole of South Australia, but to cross South Australia by road, it takes about 5 hours. This will take you along the scenic route of the Great Ocean Road. However, you can make the trip more meaningful and fun by visiting some of SA’s best road trip destinations on the way.
What are you waiting for? Pack your stuff up, start the engine and drive along the beauty South Australia offers.