South Australian Road Trips

South Australia's Best Road Trip Itineraries

14 October 2020
Read Time: 9.2 mins

Aussie holidays don’t get much more iconic than hitting the old frog & toad for a true blue roadtrip. Cranking up the playlists, car packed to the brim with necessities (and snacks) as you make your way along familiar routes or roads you’ve never been before. South Australia, with its otherworldly outback ranges, lush wine country, rugged coastlines and quaint towns is a great state for a road trip. You could travel in any direction and hit the jackpot, but for ease I’ve pulled together three of my favourite routes, and the must see spots along the way. 

South Australia Road Trip stops - Pikes Winery Pikes Winery, Clare Valley

Epicurean Way: a gastronomic getaway from McLaren Vale to Clare Valley

Escape the daily grind and feast your way through the Epicurean Way, a route that seamlessly connects the state’s four highly renowned food and wine producing regions. Stretching 240 kilometers from McLaren Vale in the south, through the Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley, into the Clare Valley up north, this foodie freeway boasts cute country towns and picturesque scenery, not to mention the tasty fare you’ll get to sample along the way. We’re talking cheese, chocolate, Cabernet, Riesling, beer, berries, paddock to plate, farm to fork, all that jazz, plus more. 

Several of Australia’s high-profile wineries live here, many of which offer tours, delicious cuisine and cellar-door tastings. (As well as courier service, because trust me, you’ll want to take home far more than you can carry.) If you’re in the mood for food, or have a palate that is partial to a pinot or a crisp Cabernet, we suggest you stop in at a few (or all) of these beauties: 

Willunga Farmers Markets, Fleurieu Peninsula

This place is a must do, just make sure you bring your shopping basket. Buy everything from seasonal fruits, vegetables, pastries, olive oils and small goods, to fresh bread, local cheese, nuts, honey, beer and cider, all directly from the farmers and producers themselves. 

Woodside Cheese Wrights, Adelaide Hills

Sink your teeth into the award-winning artisan cheese here and you’ll never be able to eat Kraft again. Whether you’re into gooey, crumbly, creamy or sharp, the seasonal ranges made with local dairy will have you covered. Of course you can try before you buy, and if you have a little more time, you can even have a go at cheese making with a masterclass.

South Australia Road Trip stops - Maggie Beer Farm Maggie Beer's Farm Shop, Barossa Valley

Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop, Barossa Valley

This place is simply unmissable on an Epicurean Way road trip and we recommend you set aside a decent amount of time here. Dine at the newly opened restaurant, Farm Eatery, that specialises in quintessential South Australian flavours, shop up a storm, or even take a cooking class (Maggie Beer is Australian culinary royalty after all). 

Seppeltsfield, Barossa Valley

Founded in 1851, this is arguably the Barossa’s most iconic winery. The team here produces a plethora of award-winning wines which regularly appear in world’s best lists, so you’d be a fool to drive past. Sip and swirl in the cellar door, or dine a little longer in the historic estate, and if spirits are more your thing, stop in at Seppeltsfield Rd Distillers afterwards for a gin flight. 

South Australia Road Trip stops - Pikes Winery Slate Restaurant, Pikes Winery

Pikes Wines, Clare Valley

Boasting more than 20 different grapes, including some of the most impressive Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet varietals, this vineyard is tucked away in picturesque rolling hills. Relax in the tasting room where you can enjoy a complimentary sip of five of their signature wines, or if you’re more partial to beer, Pikes Beer Company has you covered. Hungry? Head to the adjoining Slate Restaurant that serves up tasty, fresh and seasonal produce from around the Clare Valley.

If you're a foodie who appreciates the finer things in life, this is the road trip for you. Accommodation ranges from homely cottages and luxury lodges to hotels, glampsites and quaint B&Bs. 

Explorers Way: where vineyards meet the outback - Adelaide to Flinders Ranges

If you’ve got a thing for open spaces and epic scenery and a wanderlust to explore the rugged Australian outback with a side of fine wine, this is the itinerary for you. The Explorer’s Way road trip begins in Clare Valley, just a two hour drive north of Adelaide where vineyards blend into South Australia’s outback plains. (Technically it runs all the way up to Darwin, but that's a serious road trip we can talk about another day).

South Australia Road Trip stops - Sevenhill Sevenhill Cellars, Clare Valley

Kick things off with a sip and a swirl, with more than 50 cellar doors dotted throughout the valley best known for its Riesling. Ideally you’ll need a night or two to make the most of the area (and the wine). I love taking a step back in time with a visit to Clare Valley’s oldest vineyard, Sevenhill Cellars, which was established in 1851. Here you can admire the historic buildings, museum and of course, the tasting room. 

Moving north you’ll notice a change in landscape; rolling wooded hills blend into dustier desert landscapes as you pass through Burra, a historic copper mining region, before hitting the iconic Flinders Ranges. This is the largest mountain range in South Australia, stretching 430 kilometers from Lake Callabonna to Port Pirie. 

South Australia Road Trip stops - Burra Burra, Clare Valley region

The oldest town in the ranges is Melrose which is a good place to take a break. My tip is a visit to the North Star Hotel, a local watering hole that serves up great pub grub seven days a week. Continue through the ranges to the quaint town of Quorn. If you have the time, I recommend taking a railway ride through the picturesque Pichi Richi Pass, before making your way to Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheatre like formation. 

The ranges are made up of towering ancient rock formations, cliffs, gorges, dusty red roads and you could easily be used as a Hollywood set for somewhere like Mars. Scientists believe that Wilpena Pound began forming over 600 million years ago. For the best views you can’t beat Yacca Lookout in Willow Springs Station. Accommodation options out here range from luxury eco villas, to simple accommodation or campsites. You’ll be sure to find something suitable for your style and budget.

South Australia Road Trip stops - Eyre Peninsula Whyalla Foreshore, Eyre Peninsula

The oldest town in the ranges is Melrose which is a good place to take a break. My tip is a visit to the North Star Hotel, a local watering hole that serves up great pub grub seven days a week. Continue through the ranges to the quaint town of Quorn. If you have the time, I recommend taking a railway ride through the picturesque Pichi Richi Pass, before making your way to Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheatre like formation. 

The ranges are made up of towering ancient rock formations, cliffs, gorges, dusty red roads and you could easily be used as a Hollywood set for somewhere like Mars. Scientists believe that Wilpena Pound began forming over 600 million years ago. For the best views you can’t beat Yacca Lookout in Willow Springs Station. Accommodation options out here range from luxury eco villas, to simple accommodation or campsites. You’ll be sure to find something suitable for your style and budget.

South Australia Road Trip stops - Eyre Peninsula 1802 Oyster Bar, Coffin Bay

Coastal Drive: The Eyre Peninsula 

Boasting a plethora of aquatic activities and marine life, picturesque coastline and incredibly, fresh seafood, the Eyre Peninsula is a bit of a hidden gem. It’s a region bordered by the Spencer Gulf, the Great Australian Bight and the Gawler Ranges. This coastal hub has all the attractions, without the crowds, making a fantastic spot to roadtrip through. Watch sea lions play, cage dive with great white sharks or snorkel somewhere a little calmer, whatever your pace, this is the spot.

Whyalla

On the eastern end of the peninsular you can witness the annual migration of Giant Australian Cuttlefish, one of the most spectacular underwater events, which is unique to the South Australian coast. Annually between May and August visitors can swim with these creatures as they pass through waters off Whyalla. 

South Australia Road Trip stops - Eyre Peninsula 'Experience Coffin Bay' tours, Coffin Bay

Port Lincoln

One for the adrenaline junkies. Just off the coast of Port Lincoln is the only place in Australia where you can get up close and personal with great white sharks in their natural environment. Take a full day charter and cage dive with these mysterious creatures, or for a less hair raising experience, you can opt to view the action from a glass aqua-sub. If that’s still a bit much to handle, a 15 minute drive will get you to Lincoln National Park, a coastal paradise ideal to stop and stretch, soak up the sun, and splash around in the crystal clear waters. 

All that salt water is sure to work up your appetite, and if you like fresh seafood, you couldn't be in a better spot. A few of our faves include Fumo 28 Oyster Bar and Seafood, 1802 Oyster Bar, Fresh Fish Place and Beer Garden Brewing. You’ll find a stellar line-up of fresh seafood, local produce and craft beers fit for a Queen (or King). 

South Australia Road Trip stops - Eyre Peninsula Oyster Farm Tours, Coffin Bay

Coffin Bay

Oysters for some are an acquired taste, but whether you’re a fan or not, it's worth stopping in here for the scenery alone. If you are an enthusiast, I recommend jumping on an oyster boat and heading to the oyster lease where you can enjoy freshly shucked oysters paired with local wines. Of course you’ll also learn about the farming process. If you prefer to keep your feet on land, pop into Oyster Farm Tours, on the foreshore where you can dine on solid ground. 

Baird Bay

This quaint fishing village is a true hidden gem. Here, you can snorkel with sea lions and dolphins, just a 15 minute boat ride off the mainland. Tour operators here provide snorkel gear and wetsuits so all you’ll need to do is show up ready to play, the local marine residents are quite an energetic crew.

South Australia Road Trip stops - Eyre Peninsula A friendly local in Baird Bay, Eyre Peninsula

So whether it's the surf, the sea lions or the seafood you’re into, this road trip will have you covered. Accommodation ranges from boujee villas with water views, to hotels, beach cottages and campgrounds.

All images courtesy of South Australia Tourism Commission

Jess Holmes

Jess Holmes refers to herself as a walking contradiction, yearning for life's little (or large) luxuries one minute, eat-drink-treking her way through offbeat destinations another.  She's just as happy exploring the street(food)s of Oaxaca, putting her body through its paces atop Peruvian mountains, and sunning herself on Sri Lanka's secluded beaches as she is wandering through Napa Valley vineyards, indulging in NYC's best spa treatments or sipping Chianti on the Amalfi Coast.