While many visitors in the magical land of Australia head straight for the sunshine coast, South Australia and Victoria are home to a plethora of their own treasures, from enticing wine regions to serene national parks.
Talk to any local in South Australia and the first thing they will tell you is to be prepared – in this region, you can expect to get four seasons in a day. This part of Australia boasts an extended, balmy summer as well as a chilly winter, so it’s best to come prepared with all the right kit.
Tourism in South Australia centres around the quaint city of Adelaide, the ideal destination for those in search of a place to unwind and enjoy the scenery – as well as the state’s 16 unique wine regions, of course. Nestled just below South Australia is Victoria, the smallest of the mainland states. However, what Victoria lacks in size it more than makes up for in the vibrancy of attractions and activities on offer.
Melbourne is at the centre of Victoria’s tourism industry, and is perhaps the country’s central cultural hub thanks to its diverse arts, music and cuisine scene. Travellers who want to sample a little bit of everything often take a trip along the Great Ocean Road that runs between Melbourne and Adelaide, revelling in the dramatic scenery of the rugged coastline.
A drive along the Great Ocean Road reveals a wealth of dramatic scenery interspersed by charming spa towns, fishing villages and gleaming beaches. A drive from Adelaide to Melbourne will typically take in the Grampians National Park, a magnificent cluster of mountains rising powerfully from the flat farmland of West Victoria. The Grampians National Park also offers the opportunity to learn more about the region’s aboriginal communities at the Aboriginal Cultural Centre, and the significance of the area to the indigenous peoples. The park also boasts an abundance of wildlife and a striking sandstone mountain range, so amateur photographers have plenty of creative inspiration to get snapping.
Amongst locals, the spectacular coastal wilderness that is Wilsons Promontory is known simply as ‘The Prom’. This natural sanctuary stretches across 50,000 hectares of dazzling coastal wilderness on the southernmost tip of Victoria. Hiking is the main attraction, and the Loo-Errn Track in particular is ideal for families in the mood for a short and scenic trail as opposed to a four-day trek! The park is dotted with campsites for visitors that want to delight in the serene beaches, eucalypti forest, rainforest gorges and majestic mountain tops for a little longer, and the three-day Wilsons Promontory Circuit Trail gives an impressive overview of the landscape.
A Break in Bendigo
While the vast majority of visitors make a beeline for Melbourne, the gold mining town of Bendigo is another of Victoria’s urban gems. Transformed by the gold rush of the 1850s and 60s, this historic and elegant town also boasts a rich Chinese heritage. Thousands of Chinese miners flocked to Bendigo during the boom years, leaving behind attractions such as the 1860 Joss House and even Australia’s largest Chinese burial ground. If you’re in the vicinity at Easter time don’t miss the annual Easter Parade, in which one of the world’s oldest and longest dragons dances through the streets. To get to grips with the history, a ride on the city’s talking tram followed by a visit down an old gold-mining shaft will provide the overview you need.
Time for Wine
Southern Australia is one of the world’s premier destinations for wine lovers. Victoria’s Yarra Valley boasts over 80 wineries, and is celebrated for producing some of the country’s highest quality pinot noirs and sparkling wines. If you’re a foodie as well, Yarra Valley is famous for its magnificent fresh produce, including freshwater salmon and trout and artisan cheeses. In South Australia, the Clare Valley is a favourite destination if you want to explore the state’s wealth of vineyards. Thanks to its Mediterranean climate, the Clare Valley produces some fine Reisling, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. South Australia’s McLaren Vale is also a wine haven, and is home to an abundance of boutique wineries. If you want to work off some calories from all the cheese and wine tastings, a bike ride along the Shiraz Trail from McLaren Vale to Willunga is a great way to absorb the region’s creative character.
The City of Churches
Sophisticated, elegant and full of culture, Adelaide is the central hub for travellers discovering the delights of South Australia. The city is electrified by a lively arts and live music scene, and the growing number of chic bars and restaurants tucked away in the lanes offer some of the city’s finest attractions. The farmer’s market is a great place to go to graze your way through a selection of South Australia’s gourmet produce, from handmade breads and cheeses to organic veggies and seafood. If exploring South Australia’s wine valleys doesn’t quite sate your appetite for wine a trip to the National Wine Centre of Australia should be at the top of your to do list. The Wine Discovery Journey provides insight into the challenges faced by winemakers, and a wine tasting is even included in the price of your ticket.
- If you are determined to snap a picture of a kangaroo before you leave Australia, take a trip to South Australia’s Kangaroo Island. A convenient day trip away from Adelaide, you should also keep your eyes peeled for koalas, wallabies and Australian sea lions.
- Thanks to the endless miles of coastline and abundance of mighty rivers, the Aussies like to fish – which means the land down under is a great place to tuck into some mouthwatering seafood. Fishing related attractions include everything from aquaculture farms to quaint fishing villages, and you can look forward to feasting on fresh oysters, scallops, prawns and fish.
- If the great road trip tradition isn’t for you, why not opt for a great railway journey instead? The journey from South to North Australia is one of the longest train trips in the world, and you can hop right on in Adelaide to take in the rolling green hills as they fade into desert.
- If you’re headed out onto the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne, grab a coffee to perk you up for the ride. Melbourne is known for its coffee specialist joints, so make sure you sip a few magical brews during your time in the city.
- Like the gold coast, the southern part of Australia has its own fair share of beaches. Situated in the Gippsland region of Victoria, Ninety Mile Beach is one of the longest uninterrupted stretches of beach on the planet. Whether you’re in the mood for walking or whale watching, this is the place to go.