Coober Pedy a cowboy town that's as wild as it is weird as it is wonderful. Here's where you'll find underground hostels, Martian landscapes (much favoured by Hollywood), hippy cultures, the 'dog fence' (the world's longest manmade structure), a stunning 'paintbox' desert called the Breakaways and - if you're lucky -- opals. Remember to try your hand at 'noodling' for the fiery stones and if you don't strike it rich, do what all desert diggers do - go to the pub.
Big beaches, big surf and big sharks… yup, it’s Australia as you imagined it. This is five-star adventure country, where you can kick back on a deserted beach and suck up the solitude.
A two hours drive from Adelaide and you will find yourself in the peaceful Yorke Peninsula. To the west and overlooking Spencer Gulf are lovely coastal towns with secluded bays for swimming and perfect shallow reefs for snorkeling.
The Murray River runs from the north east of this region where Lyrup Flats, Bulyong Island and Katarapke Island form the Murray River National Park. This wetland area stretches from Berri to Loxton and is an important breeding ground for many native birds.
The south east includes beautiful seaside towns and world heritage listed areas such as Canunda and Cooring National Parks and the magnificent Naracoorte Caves.
A killer combo of hills, wineries and beaches and all within an hour of Adelaide. McLaren Vale is as easy on the eye as it is on the palate, so hire a bike and try the original Cheese and Wine tour (you get a selection of cheeses, a map and a wine-tasting/cheese-matching itinerary).
Adelaide is the feel-good city that’s all about easy-living and having fun. Kick your shoes off at the door… read more about Adelaide.
Kangaroo Island is about wilderness and wildlife, scenery and solace, country living and kicking back. Highlights include walking among sea lions on Seal Bay, witnessing the Remarkable Rocks, going on a night time penguin tour, and losing yourself on a big, bronzed, bonza beach. Rightly being considered as one of the world's great destinations.
Much like its famous red wines, Barossa is beautiful, rich and fruity. Join any number of tours out of Adelaide - after an hour's drive you're in amongst stunning scenery, charming towns, renowned wine labels and (oops) lots of free tastings. If you get an urge to propose to your partner, try ballooning over the Barossa at dawn: guaranteed to elicit a 'Yes'.
Know what they say about South Australia? WOW. That's Wine, Outback,
Wildlife. Get ready for the state that serves it up in one great big hit...
Shark diving: Cruise out to one of Port Lincoln's outlying islands, get suited and booted then dive in a steel cage to meet Australia's most fabled and feared native - the Great White Shark. It's difficult to gasp/laugh/scream when you have a regulator in your mouth, but this is still one of the hottest tickets in South Australia.
Aboriginal: Tour the world's largest collection of Aboriginal artefacts at the SA Museum, meet the local Kaurna people at nearby Tandanya, do a bushtucker tour of the Botanic Garden... then take off into 'Country' to immerse yourself in the many cultures of SA's Aboriginal peoples. Aboriginal guides in the Adelaide Hills, Coorong and Flinders Ranges can help you go bush, find tucker, see rock art and most importantly, learn how the bond between the people, the land and the ancestors has ultimately meant survival.
Adventure Caving: Super-safe public trails take you deep into World-Heritage listed Naracoorte Caves, revealing bizarre animal
fossils along the way. But why not go deep and dirty on an Adventure tour? Pull on a pair of overalls, grab a light and join your
professional guide; after a prelim Novice Tour, you qualify for the 3hr Fox Cave tour. Expect lots of tight situations...
Road trip! Adelaide to Darwin is the mother of all journeys, a 2900km journey along the Explorer's Highway, going from the olive hues of SA, through the red centre of Alice Springs to the tropical greens of NT. Adelaide to Perth traces a 2700km westward route between desert and deep blue sea, with the weirdness of the Nullarbor Plain keeping you company for at least 2000km. The Great Ocean Road is an action-packed 1000km from Adelaide to Melbourne, taking in the amazing Coorong, Coonawarra Winelands and the 12 Apostles.
Swagging under the stars: The "Million Star hotel" is still the cheapest and still the best... 'Swagging' is about rolling your bed out beside the campfire and looking up at the warm night sky. After the usual rounds of jokes and animal noises, the crackle of the fire and the mysteries of the Milky Way take over, lulling you into a deep, deep sleep...
Adelaide Fringe & WOMADelaide: Second in size only to Edinburgh, Adelaide Fringe is a two-week fun-fest when the city surrenders to an all-out offensive from the world's comedians. WOMADelaide is a three-day bliss-out to the best of world music, held in the sublime Botanic Garden. Both events run in Feb/early March.
Central Markets: noisy, colourful, aromatic 19th-century shed to assault your senses. Explore over 70 stalls peddling wares from South Australia, the Gourmet State. Try before you buy and don't forget coffee at any of the hip cafes found throughout.
Why backpack in South Australia?
OK, you’ve climbed the bridge, circled the rock and snorkelled the reef. Now it’s time to meet the real Australia… We’re talking about a wild night in an outback pub with the townsfolk of Parachilna (population four).
We’re talking about a week of hiking around Kangaroo Island, the wildlife haven they’re calling the ‘Galapagos of Australia’.
We’re talking about a month’s work during the crazy ‘Vintage’ season, harvesting grapes in the beautiful Barossa valley – doing hard yakka, earning good coin and kicking back with the locals.
It’s time to do the stuff that other people are only just beginning to discover… diving with Australia’s fearsome Great White Sharks off Port Lincoln, looking for opals in Coober Pedy, cycling through valleys and vineyards, swimming with sea lions and dolphins in Baird Bay, exploring unrivalled collections of art in Adelaide, driving cattle for a day in the Flinders, relaxing with a beer on the deck of your own houseboat as you drift down the River Murray, and doing the massive Adelaide Fringe Festival when the entire city becomes the butt of its own jokes…
But wait. Maybe we should introduce ourselves.
We’re South Australians. We’re renowned for being the friendliest, most laid-back, politest people in the country. We reckon this is because we’ve got one of the world’s biggest and richest back yards and only a tiny population to fill it up. Visitors are left gasping when they discover the diversity of our landscapes, the luxury of our spaces and above all, the lifestyles we lead.
Why are we telling you this?
Simple. In South Australia you’re not following a backpacker trail. You’re mixing with the rest of us, doing what we like to do – eating well, living large and immersing in what we call ‘good country’.
Find a beach to call your own (it’s easier than you think in SA), catch some whiting and fire up a barbecue under the stars. Sit out on the wooden verandah of a country pub, drinking Shiraz while kangaroos gather at dusk. Dive wrecks, kayak in wetlands, surf sand-dunes, camp in the desert, play nine holes over a 1,300km golf course – blaze trails, get lost, discover yourself…
And one other thing. We don’t pay big-city prices, and neither will you. Our hostels, our B&Bs, our cafes and restaurants are friendly, affordable and all part of living it up in South Australia. Which means you’ll pay less, go further and do more.
Whether you chose to join some of our award-winning tour operators or head out armed only with a hire car and a spirit of adventure, be sure of one thing. You’ll be experiencing the greatest icon of them all.
The Aussie way of life.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA NEEDS YOU!
Yes it’s true. The local mining boom has caused a shortage of workers in South Australia, which means there are plenty of jobs for people who would like to earn some money while they’re on an Australia holiday.
Interested? Then let’s start from the beginning…
Q: Let me guess – I need a special visa…
A: It’s called a Working Holiday Visa. You can apply for this visa if you’re over 18 and not yet 31, and a citizen of the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Ireland, Korea, Malta, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong (HKSAR), Finland, Cyprus, France, Italy, Belgium, Estonia and Taiwan.
(There’s also a ‘Work and Holiday’ visa available to people from Chile, Thailand, Turkey and the United States of America)
Q: What does a Working Holiday Visa allow me to do?
A: It allows you to visit Australia for up to 12 months. While you’re here, you’re allowed to take temporary or casual work, working with as many employers as you like, but staying with a single employer for no more than six months.
South Australia is calling for backpackers to come and work here. In fact when you finish your first year’s Working Holiday Visa, you can apply for a second. Adelaide is the only Australian capital where you can do this.
Q: What sort of work might I find?
A: Anything from casual labouring to temporary professional roles. Typically, it’s office work, kitchen work, bar work, hotel work, construction work, mining work. But one of the most interesting – and work-hungry! – sectors that needs hired help is agriculture.
Q: Tell me more about agricultural work…
A: There are lots of seasonal jobs in rural South Australia, especially during harvest times. You can find work in our famous wine regions, in the fruit orchards of the Riverlands, in the fisheries off Eyre Peninsula, on the grain farms of Yorke Peninsula, even on the outback cattle and sheep stations around the Flinders Ranges. Q: Is it hard work?
A: Isn’t it always?! But it’s also fun – and an opportunity to live in a friendly, (grateful!), rural community, usually surrounded by beautiful scenery and mixing with fellow travellers. Imagine a few months living and working near the River Murray, in the Adelaide Hills, or in famous wine regions like the Barossa, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale or Coonawarra… Think about those summer evenings enjoying a well-earned drink at the local pub, or weekends spent down on the beach, exploring the hills or heading off to stay in outback towns. It’s a great way to do things you might not be able to do at home.
Q: How much can I expect to earn?
A: Working on a farm or winery, you can expect to earn A$13-$16 an hour. Some employers will also offer deals on accommodation and meals. If the farm or winery is located close to Adelaide, employers may offer to transport you between your hostel in the city and your place of work. For jobs such as secretarial, administration or hospitality, you can expect to be paid around A$17-$20 an hour.
Q: What’s the cost of living like in Adelaide? Is it like London or Hong Kong?
A: Definitely not! In fact Adelaide offers cheaper living than many Australian cities. You can live in the centre of Adelaide without paying a fortune, and public transport is quick and cheap (even our upmarket restaurants are relatively affordable). Which means you can save more and do more.
Q: How do I start?
A: Start out by registering with Adelaide-based Work In SA . This local agency specialises in backpackers, the website is easy to use and you’ll get some idea of what sort of jobs are available. For harvesting work, try Here’s where you’ll find the jobs you can expect to find (everything from harvesting grapes to cockles) and, just as importantly, when those seasonal jobs are available.
After you’ve received you Holiday Working Visa from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, you might want to apply for jobs before you leave home. But it’s just as easy to get work when you’re here. Adelaide’s backpacker hostels all have web-access so you can check out what’s on offer. Work in SA, incidentally, has local programs to help you apply for work, sit interviews, get a Tax File Number, and open a bank account.
Q: I’m a volunteer! Is there anything for me in South Australia?
A: Heaps! Check out websites for WWOOF, FAME, Earthwatch, The Nature Conservation Society, Conservation volunteers Australia and Threatened Species Network SA. These operations are hungry for help. And by the way, you don’t need a Working Holiday Visa to do voluntary work.
Words supplied courtesy of the South Australia Tourism Commission