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Top 5 Day Trips in Adelaide

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by Barry J (subscribe)
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Published November 12th 2020
The best things in life are done in a day
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Horse power (by Horse Drawn Tram)

Beyond Adelaide's city centre, endless adventures await you. Take a short trip outside your comfort zone on a day trip to these top destinations:

Victor Harbor
Once a port for sailors to offload oil after slaying majestic whales in the 19th century, Victor Harbor, 80km south of Adelaide, is now our popular summer escape.

Most Australians spell harbour with a u, but the locals stuck with the "ye olde" English spelling. Whether you support harbour or harbor, visitors are welcome to enjoy the town's highlights.

Drive south for just over an hour on Main South Road and transfer onto Australia's only horse-drawn tram for a 600m ride over the causeway to Granite Island. On New Years Day in 2019, passengers panicked as a pylon collapsed into the bay but the historic line has been restored and over 100,000 passengers ride the rail every year.

Search Granite Island for fairy penguins, growing to only 33cm. Fur seals hunt the tiny birds, almost wiping out the local colony.

In winter, slip on your thermals and scan the bay for southern right whales as they swim north, sometimes with their playful calves.

The town centre is full of heritage landmarks. Work up an appetite for lunch at Nino's on the 3km heritage trail.

Plan your visit to Victor Harbor here.

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Surf Little Sahara (by Kangaroo Island Tourism)

Kangaroo Island
Aboriginals first walked on Australia's third-largest island millennia ago, naming it "Karta", the island of the dead. In 1823, Matthew Flinders, perhaps lacking imagination on the day he stepped ashore, named the island after the first animal he saw, a kangaroo. Unfortunately, the island was of the dead during the 19th century.

Gangs of men, living with local women they'd kidnapped, killed seals, and dozens of sailors perished as their ships smashed along the island's rocky coastline. Four lighthouses have kept watch ever since. In 2020, the island became "Karta" again, as bushfires destroyed over 500,000 acres, and claimed 2 lives and countless native animals.

Despite the devastation, the island still hosts plenty of natural wonders.

Head just over 2 hours southwest of the CBD to see the island's plantlife regenerate and support the locals as the nurse native animals and try to prevent the loss of more of our endangered species.

Scan the beaches on the southern coast for giant fossilised footprints of the megafauna that once walked the island, including the world's largest known marsupial, and a massive ancient ancestor to our modern-day kangaroos.

Unless you're a strong swimmer, steer clear of the tough ocean currents at these beaches. Instead, cool off in the ocean pool at Kingscote or the beaches on the northern coast.

In the Flinders Chase National Park, remark at the Remarkable Rocks or give a Benny Hill salute to the Admiral's Arch.

In Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, koalas can sleep easy after a rough summer.

To the south, wide sand dunes are the island's "little Sahara". Survey the entire island from atop Mount Thisby, and stick around as the sun sets for visiting penguin colonies at Kingscote.

Listen for barking sea lions at Seal Bay see the bush regenerating and support the efforts of locals to restore the endangered species.

"Birders" can rejoice at the more pleasant song from the island's birds, from cormorants, oystercatchers, and ducks, to honeyeaters, parrots, and fairy terns.

Return home with Ligurian bee honey from local apiaries, or eucalyptus oil from the Emu Ridge Distillery.

Reach the island from Cape Jervis on the Kangaroo Island SeaLink ferry.

Plan your visit to Kangaroo Island here.

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Pick your own berries (by Hahndorf, SA)

Hahndorf, Adelaide Hills
27km southeast of the CBD, Prussian migrants established Australia's oldest German community in the 1830s.

They named the town Hahndorf, after Dirk Hahn, the captain of the ship that brought them here almost 200 years ago, it is unconfirmed if anyone suggested Dirkdorf...

During World War I, as anti-German sentiment led to street and suburb name changes, the town's name was changed to Ambleside. The original name was restored on the eve of WWII, but the local gin makers, Ambleside Distillery, have stuck with the interwar title.

Drive into town on the South Eastern Freeway and visit St Michael's, Australia's oldest Lutheran church, and continue to Beerenberg Farm to pick strawberries in the summer months.

In autumn, leaves change colour on the elm, ash, and birch trees and quaint streets are alive with the bright hues.

It's easy to see why the peaceful village of Hahndorf is a South Australia heritage area as you stroll the main street, lined with 19th-century architecture.

Shop for curios and artisan handicrafts and artwork. Foodies can sample local smallgoods, pastries, bread and cakes, lollies, honey, cheeses and chocolate.

For lunch, loosen your belt and order the "'Original' Taste of Germany Platte" at the Hahndorf Inn. The feast for four people is a selection of Vienna, Bockwurst, Bratwurst, Cheese Kransky, smoked Kassler chop, Eisbein pork hock with mashed potato, sauerkraut, red wine gravy, mustard and 2 fresh baked Bavarian pretzels.

Plan your visit to Hahndorf here.

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Feeding time (by Cleland Wildlife Park)

Cleland Wildlife Park
Adelaide's city centre hosts dozens of parks and quiet natural spaces, but just 20km southeast of the CBD, Cleland Wildlife Park allows visitors to get up close to our furry friends.

Survey the landscape on an uphill hike on the summit trail. You'll climb the western side of Mount Lofty, reaching 700m above sea level. On your way to the peak, marvel at the surging water tumbling over the waterfall gully and sniff the flowers at the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden.

Even though some are nocturnal, you ought to see a range of native animals, including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and Tasmanian devils. Dozens of native bird species flit between the trees and reptiles, including the central bearded dragon, creep on the forest floor.

Pick up some animal food at the entrance to hand feed the natives.

For the most spectacular colours in the park, head for the butterfly aviary, our state's only enclosure where you can walk amongst the graceful insects.

The tracks are ideal for mountain bikes and some extend far beyond the 4 sq mile park to challenge hardened hikers.

Plan your visit to Cleland Wildlife Park here.

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Sci-fi in SA (by d'Arenburg Cube)

d'Arenberg Cube, McLaren Vale
30km south of the CBD, a giant Rubik's cube extends out of the rolling McLaren Vale vineyards.

The puzzle of the d'Arenberg Cube only becomes more intriguing as you approach the five-storey wonder. The otherworldly design might excite ancient alien theorists, but it was designed and built by humans.

d'Arenberg's winemaker, perhaps after a long wine tasting session, imagined the modernist museum, gallery, and restaurant in 2003. It took over a decade to convince his backers, but in 2017 the Cube opened to the public.

The d'Arenberg Cube is now one of our South Australia's distinctive landmarks, and even if you're a teetotaller, there is plenty to enjoy.

The Alternate Realities Museum is a multi-sensory experience, with a wine aroma room, 360į video room, and hands-on displays.

The cube is also the perfect place for the surreal Salvador Dali exhibition.

For lunch, d'Arry's Verandah restaurant provides scenic views of McLaren Vale, as you savor the seasonal degustation menu, paired with house wines.

A highlight on wine tours, the cube's wine cellar is open for tastings.
Plan your visit to the d'Arenberg Cube here.

What's your favourite day trip out of Adelaide? Please let us know with a comment.
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Why? For a great day out
When: Anytime!
Where: Throughout SA
Cost: Free, with optional paid activities.
Your Comment
Open Gardens are always worth a visit, as are the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens and Wittunga Botanic Gardens in Blackwood. The Adelaide Hills in Autumn are a highlight too. For plant nurseries you can't go past Newman's Nursery in Tea Tree Gully - which has tearooms too.
by Jenny Esots (score: 3|1608) 381 days ago
I think that Kangaroo Island is more than a day trip from Adelaide if you want to experience it properly. The shortest timeframe I would recommend is 2 days.
by vinks (score: 1|11) 381 days ago
As much as I love K.I. - visiting for about the 16th time for two weeks this September - at $80 return per person, and thatís just for Seniors, itís an awfully expensive day trip! And thatís only the passenger fare on the ferry, let alone any other transport costs to Cape Jervis or on the island.
I feel inclusion in an article about day trips could actually put people off from experiencing one of the wonders of our state, once they realise the cost.
An article about places to visit for longer stays around our state would be great, especially while overseas travel is curtailed, and for this, Kangaroo Island is perfect!
by hjay1 (score: 0|4) 381 days ago
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