South Australia (Adelaide, Barossa Valley, Kangaroo Island, Clare Valley...)

Barossa Valley Vineyards
Barossa Valley Vineyards
South Australia is unlike many Australian States in that is was never settled as a penal colony. The capital city of Adelaide was settled in 1836 by Colonel William Light and it was named after Queen Adelaide, the wife of the English King William IV. South Australia is Australia's fourth largest state but it is larger than Texas. The climate is a lot like California and, like California, some of the best vineyards on the world are located in South Australia, the most famous being the Barossa Valley.

There are approximately 1.4 million people living in South Australia and 1 million of those live in the capital city of Adelaide. South Australia is a mixture of the wineries of Barossa Valley, the city life of Adelaide, the wildlife of Kangaroo Island, secluded beaches of the coastline and the Flinders Ranges and the Outback desert.

Adelaide, South Australia
City of Adelaide, South Australia

Some Key Attractions:

Adelaide has a population of 1 million people and will give you access to the sea, the wine country or the hill country. This city is all about wining and dining. Surrounded by parklands, the city has more restaurants per head than any other in Australia. Its city streets are filled with lively cafes and restaurants that provide the best value and quality in Australia and reflect the huge diversity of its ethnic communities. And with immigrants from 150 countries making their home in South Australia, there's a culinary sensation to suit every taste.

Glenelg, South Australia
Glenelg, South Australia

Two of the more popular suburbs are North Adelaide and Glenelg. North Adelaide is a culinary delight with excellent restaurants on O'Connell and Melbourne Streets. Glenelg is a quieter seaside town, which is popular with the locals during the summer.

To get to Adelaide you can fly with one of the domestic carriers, such as Qantas or you can drive. The drive may be a long one depending on where you are starting.

The Adelaide Airport is only around 4 miles from the city center of Adelaide, which makes for a very short drive.

The Adelaide Hills are only 20 minutes from Adelaide. There are 625 miles of walking trails, wildlife sanctuaries and 15 wineries in the region. The Adelaide Hills are known for their white wines and sparkling wines.

One of the oldest settlements is Hahndorf, which was settled in 1839 by 187 German Lutherans who were escaping religious persecution. Today, the town is a great stop for arts and crafts, private museums and a place to eat and have a coffee.

The Barossa Valley is one of the premier wine areas in the world and it is located only one hour north of Adelaide. It is probably Australia's version on the Napa or Sonoma Valleys. The Valley was settled in 1842 by Lutheran Prussians and Silesians and then followed by Germans. There are approximately 50 wineries from the larger commercial vineyards to the smaller boutique variety. Approximately 25% of Australian wines are produced here. The region is famous for the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz production but there is also a good selection of white wines as well. As in Napa, the Barossa Valley has an excellent selection of restaurants to accompany the wine.

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Clare Valley: An hour from the Barossa Valley and 2 hours from Adelaide, there is another successful wine growing region called the Clare Valley where there is approximately 30 vineyards. The Irish settled the area originally but today the area produces some of the popular cool climate wines such as Riesling.

The valley is made up of seven small valleys. In fact there is a town called Sevenhill which is the home to Sevenhill Cellars which is the only winery in Australia run by a religious order. The first vines were planted in this area in 1851 by Austrian Jesuit monks and they are now producing these wines commercially.

Kangaroo Island is paradise for nature lovers. It lies off the South Australian coast and is about 90 miles by 37 miles in size. You can get to Kangaroo Island by air or by ferry and the ferry will take you an hour from Cape Jervis.

Once on Kangaroo Island, you will see some of Australia's most beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. The Flinders Chase National Park is on the western region of the island and covers over 180,000 acres. The park is home to koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, goannas, echidnas and platypus. On the coastal area there are seals, sea lions and ospreys. Another area to see the seals and sea lions is the Seal Bay Conservation Park. The park is located on the south coast of the island.

The Eyre Peninsula is for people who love the water. It is a popular area for surfing, whale watching and fishing. As with Kangaroo Island, there is a population of seals and sea lions and dolphins. In fact, you can take some tours that will allow you to swim with the dolphins in the wild.

Fleurieu Peninsula: Twenty miles south of Adelaide, you will find The Fleurieu Peninsula. There are wineries, beaches and 940 miles of hiking trails. One of the wine regions here is McLaren Vale with over 50 wineries. For hiking, strolling along the beach or trying some of the local wines, the Fleurieu Peninsula is a great attraction.

Flinders Ranges and Outback: The Flinders Ranges are the largest mountain range in South Australia and they stretch for 300 miles. It's hardly the Rockies but it is a place to hike, see wildlife and to look at some 12,000 year old aboriginal rock art. Other activities include 4WD driving and scenic flights.

One of the more famous towns in this region is Coober Pedy which is the opal mining capital of the world. You may or may not know but Australia produces over 90% of the world's opals and they are much deeper in colour that the ones available in the United States.

The Murray River is the second longest river is Australia after the Darling River. It originates in the alps in New South Wales and has played a major role in Australia's history much like the Mississippi River in the United States. It has been used for irrigation and for transport although much of the transportation today is for recreation. Many vacationers have houseboats and you are also able to cruise on a paddlesteamer not unlike St. Louis and New Orleans. That will probably be the only likeness however as South Australia is largely unpopulated, at least by humans.

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