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The Top 3 Holiday Spots Near Adelaide

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by Sean Goedecke (subscribe)
Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published June 7th 2012
Holidaying in South Australia

According to psychologists, stress isn't just uncomfortable but potentially deadly. If we didn't take the occasional day off to relax and refresh ourselves, society would collapse. A few days' holiday might be the only thing stopping you from snapping and going postal on your co-workers – so take the time to pick a place that won't stress you out even more.

Victor Harbour
A picture of the Victor Harbor tram.
Photo by Ian Fieggen (Wikimedia Commons).

Turn off your phone, leave your laptop at home, and just get away from it all. Where, though? Here are a few holiday spots near Adelaide that are pretty reliable options.

Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island was called 'Karta' by mainland Aborigines, which means 'island of the dead'. It's separated from Cape Jervis by the 'Backstairs Passage', which mainland Aborigines say flooded when Ngurunderi commanded the water to rise up and drown his two fleeing wives. Since then, it's gotten a bit less depressing, and is now one of South Australia's most popular holiday spots. About one and a half hundred thousand people visit each year, thirty thousand of which are international visitors.

Remarkable Rocks
The Remarkable Rocks, presumably named by an unimaginative British person. Photo by Diceman
Wikimedia Commons).

Kangaroo Island is a great place to go see Australian animals. Despite its name, the island isn't known for its kangaroo population but rather its sea lion population, which hangs around Seal Bay. Tourists can get rangers to guide them through the bay and watch the sea lions as they bask on the sand. If you think seals in general are just slugs with flippers, then you're a terrible person – but there's still plenty on Kangaroo Island for you. The island is host to six vulnerable species of birds, including the Fairy Tern and the Western Whipbird, and some very interesting geological formations: Admiral's Arch, in particular, is a Madonna-of-the-rocks style stone cave, complete with stalactites and waves breaking up to the entrance.

Victor Harbor

Eighty kilometres south of Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula, Victor Harbour is another popular tourist town. It's got camping, cafes and sandy beaches. Swim out a bit, and the bay floor is covered in waving strands of green seaweed, cushioning the rocks like bubble wrap and providing the perfect hiding spot for crabs. Snorkelling is a good idea here, especially for kids. From June to September, Southern Right Whales come to Victor Harbor to mate, providing an excellent opportunity for whale lovers and inter-species voyeurs alike.

Granite Island Causeway
Picture of the Causeway.
Photo by Ian Fieggen (Wikimedia Commons).

Perhaps the main attraction to Victor Harbor is nearby Granite Island, connected to the harbour by a long white causeway. You can either walk across or take the old-fashioned horse drawn tram, which smells faintly of paint and horses but is an interesting cultural experience. Granite Island itself is known for its Fairy Penguins, which shelter on the island at night and fish during the day. They aren't hard to find on the island, so if you go for a walk around you'll probably see one hiding in a bush or under a rock. Interfering with them is, of course, a crime (and probably some kind of mortal sin as well.)


Unlike Victor Harbor and Kangaroo Island, Goolwa is pretty quiet. It's on the Fleurieu Peninsula next to the Murray River mouth, and the whole town is centred around the river. The Steam Exchange Brewery, a little gem that always has four house beers on tap, offers great views that overlook the Murray, and there's a nice little cafe on the water in the Wharf Precinct. Goolwa architecture drips class, with buildings that wouldn't look out of place in a period piece about early Australia.

Australasian hotel
Case in point: this hotel.
Photo by Peripitus (Wikimedia Commons).

On odd-numbered years, Goolwa hosts the South Australian Wooden Boat Festival, which features tiny one-person box boats right next to impressive-looking wooden yachts. Constant dredging at Goolwa keeps the mouth of the Murray open and prevents the Murray (and, by extension, the South Australian) ecosystem from stagnating and collapsing. If you're a visitor to Goolwa, why not take the time to thank a local for maintaining civilisation as we know it?
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Why? Because we all need to relax now and then.
When: During summer, usually.
Where: All over South Australia.
Cost: Depends where you stay.
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