9 Top Places for Tourists to Visit In Southern Australia

By Josh •  Updated: 04/08/21 •  13 min read

Australia is a vast, vast continent. It is also a unique location. Travelers can venture from vibrant cities to the coast, from the rugged and untamed Outback to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, Australia has something for everyone so where to visit South Australia to get the biggest experience you may wonder.

With so many places to visit and things to see and do, how do you take advantage of as much as you can on your visit to Southern Australia, similar to the Twelve Apostles? What are the top nine must-see places?

Sydney

Even though it isn’t the capital, Sydney is one of the most popular places to visit in Australia. The Sydney Harbor welcomes visitors to this oceanfront city, and there are a plethora of sites to see while visiting. The Harbor Bridge is one must-see place.

BridgeClimb Sydney is a company that offers Harbor Bridge climbs directed by expert climbers. There are four different climb packages to choose from, along with four different climb times—dawn, daylight, twilight, and night. Prices found online range from $264 to $348, but currently, there is a special offer of $198 available.

Bondi Beach is about a 15-minute ride, by either public transportation or car, from Sydney’s city center. Bondi has an outstanding beachfront promenade, which is an excellent location for taking in the cacophony of casual locals, enthusiastic tourists, and families playing on the beach. There are also market stalls that line the promenade each Sunday.

The Sydney Opera House is an iconic symbol in Sydney Harbor. The opera house is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The shell-shaped building is located on a narrow finger of land jutting out into the harbor and surrounded by water.

The opera house has recently undergone a multimillion-dollar restoration and offers guided walking tours that illuminate the history and offer a behind-the-scenes look at the well-known building.

Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island is located off of the Fleurieu Peninsula and is considered a must-see when traveling to South Australia. It is the third-largest island in Australia and is surrounded by pristine sparkling blue seas. There is a rugged coastline with jagged rock formations and gorgeous scenery.

Wildlife that can be seen are seals, penguins, kangaroos, and a wide variety of avian in their habitats. It is also a well-loved spot for scuba diving, with warm waters that are clear and perfect for viewing sea life.

Don’t miss a look at the Remarkable Rocks and the sea lions who make their home in appropriately-named Seal Bay.

Flinders Chase National Park is a must-see on Kangaroo Island. Located on the western end of the island, the park features spectacular coastal views and landscapes accompanied by diverse wildlife and vast wilderness areas.

Contained in the national park is the Admiral’s Arch, a natural formation that is home to a colony of fur seals. This is a great spot for photos!

A top pick for animal lovers is a visit to Raptor Domain. Raptor Domain is a wildlife rehabilitation and education center. The center offers interactive, educational experiences.

Visitors can get up close and personal with birds of prey, including falcons, kookaburras, owls, eagles, and many others There are also numerous reptiles for travelers to interact with.

The island can be visited by taking a direct flight from Adelaide or a ferry from Cape Jervis.

Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy is an opal-mining town in the Outback of Southern Australia. To escape the extreme cold in winter and the intense summer heat, the inhabitants live in dugouts underground. Gold miners found opals in Coober Pedy in the early 1900s.

Visitors can try their luck at prospecting the white gems by getting a prospecting permit, available from the Mines Department. There is also an Old Timers Mine and Museum for history and mining buffs.

Noble Tours Australia is a tour company based in Coober Pedy. The company is family-owned and provides informative and high-quality tours at competitive prices.

It is the highest-rated tour company in the area. Travelers can sit in a comfortable 4WD bus while the Australian tour guide narrates a tour of the Outback.

They offer combination town and Breakaway tours. The Breakaways portion of the tour includes the Breakaways areas as well as the opal fields. The Breakaways Conservation Park showcases magnificent geological formations and the beauty of the outback.

Travel tip: Scenes from Mad Max and Pitch Black were filmed in the area, and visitors can see why…the landscape takes on an otherworld feel that can’t be described.

Melbourne

Melbourne is located on the south coast. It is a vibrant city with a wide variety of things to do and see. One must-see spot is the Royal Botanic Gardens. The gardens feature over 8,500 plant species and are in their full splendor in the fall. There are peaceful lakes, a wide range of wildlife, and vast expanses of lawn.

Another great spot to visit is the National Gallery of Victoria. The gallery features over 75,000 pieces of art and is at the center of the gallery’s collection, programs, and activities.

The collection encompasses the design, architecture, history, and growth of Australia. This expansive collection reflects the cultural diversity of Australia and its people.

For visitors itching for a great shopping experience, look no further than Queen Victoria Market. The market is located in central Melbourne and showcases over 600 vendors. There is an abundance of fresh, specialty produce, food, coffee, hand-crafted and unique gifts, and just about anything you are looking for.

The market has a multicultural atmosphere and often hosts events and activities. On Wednesday night, the Night Market is up and running. It features global street food offerings as wells as bars, live music, and shopping, shopping, shopping.

Fleurieu Peninsula

The Fleurieu Peninsula is located on the south coast of Australia. It is picturesque and breathtaking. There are many things to experience on the peninsula including kayaking on the Murray River in Goolwa, visiting the McLarenVale wine region to sample a few wines.

One way to see the peninsula is on the Coast to Vines rail trail. The trail is 37 km in length and is easy riding. It provides some of the most scenic and memorable vistas including vineyards as well as sea views and small villages oozing with history.

Another top activity on the Fleurieu Peninsula is whale watching. There are a variety of choices for travelers, from seeing the peninsula and its whales from the air, from boats while on a tour, or from kayaks.

As previously mentioned, the McLaren Vale wine region is a popular day trip for wine lovers. The area has quality wine and food, and a maritime climate with gentle breezes. McLaren Vale is located around 30-minutes south of Adelaide. The region has more than 80 wineries that produce a variety of other wines, besides their famous cabernets and shiraz.

The region has a vibrant collection of restaurants producing quality cuisine. Quite a few of the wineries have eateries of their own including The Salopian Inn and the Star of Greece, which is perched on the cliffs overlooking Gulf St. Vincent. It serves modern, seasonal dishes in a great atmosphere.

Travel tip: To sample a variety of regional produce, plan to visit Saturday morning to the Willunga Farmers’ Market. The cobblestone town square is home to the market, featuring 60 market stalls. Produce choices feature locally grown produce, while local specialties like olives, nuts, and milk can also be found available to sample and purchase.

Adelaide

Adelaide used to be known as a more laid-back, sleepy town. Now, it has a booming bar scene with art and music, and in non-Covid times, a vibrant festival scene.

One not-to-be-missed spot in Adelaide is the Central Market. The market is a hub of activity with 80 stalls filled with fruits, vegetables, and other products. There are pastries, charcuterie, and sweets, as well as live music on Fridays and events throughout the year.

Accommodations in Adelaide run the gamut of choices. Options range from hostels to luxury hotels. The Eos by SkyCity hotel is luxurious. The location features 120 rooms and offers guests indulgent experiences. Amenities include air conditioning, room service, a restaurant, and a bar. Rates can be found for around $275 per night.

The Ibis Hotel Adelaide is another popular choice. It offers numerous amenities including air conditioning, wi-fi, a fitness center, a flatscreen TV, room service, and 24-hour security.

The Ibis is a four-star premium economy accommodation It offers 311 rooms of all types and had Ibis Kitchen and Level One Bar and offers a quality menu of locally sourced food products. Deals can be found for as low as $76 per night.

Glenelg is also a great place to explore on your trip to Adelaide. Glenelg is a resort in suburban Adelaide on the west side, located by the sea. Locals and travelers love to spend time on the attractive beach and enjoy some rest and sunbathing. Glenelg’s Jetty Road is the retail district that has a plethora of shops, and also has the fun Beachouse theme park.

A journey on the Glenelg Tram is an experience that travelers will not want to miss. It is the only tram line that runs in Adelaide. The tram begins at Moseley Square and passes through the Jetty Road retail district before running to Adelaide.

There are a wide variety of activities to explore including strolling the walking trails, go on a fishing charter, or swimming in the sea alongside the friendliest of dolphins.

There are many accommodations available in Glenelg. A top pick is Stamford Grand Adelaide. It is one of the best, most luxurious hotels in the area. It is located beachfront and is in a perfect location to explore the area.

It includes many amenities including wi-fi, beach access, and a fitness center. Room features include air conditioning, room service, a mini-bar, and a flat screen TV. Rates can be found starting under $100.

The Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley is located about an hour from the city center of Adelaide. The Barossa Valley is Australia’s most internationally recognized wine region. There are many tours offered to the Barossa Valley region, visiting some of its 130 wineries.

Yalumba winery is located in a historic home in Barossa. It is well over 165 years old and features breathtaking grounds that provide visitors with stunning scenery to take in. Local food sampling and wine tasting provide visitors the opportunity to experience the best that Barossa has to offer.

Jenke Vineyard’s cellar door is located in the original 1850s Koch Cottage. It is considered one of the best wineries in the Barossa Valley. Jenke Vineyards produce single vineyard wines by hand in small batches. They specialize in Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Semillon, as well as other varieties.

When looking for a place to stay, Lanzerac Country Estate is the top choice for accommodations in Barossa. It has many amenities including air conditioning, wi-fi, free breakfast, and flat-screen TVs to name a few. The estate is located on five acres and is the perfect jumping-off point for travels around the Barossa Valley.

Shark Cage Diving

There are a few charter companies that offer opportunities for thrill seekers to cage dive with the sharks. Calypso Star Charters offer one-day shark cage dives off of the south Australia coast.

The dives include a hood, gloves, boots, mask, and 7 mm wetsuit. The majority of the dives result in memorable great white encounters either from a shark cage or from the boat.

Calypso Star Charters also offers Swim with the Sea Lions adventure tours. This is an interactive tour where visitors can participate in an Advanced Eco Certified tour and interact with the endangered Australian sea lions. Each location the company visits offers a different experience in a beautiful location, surrounded by sea lions.

The company also offers combo charter voyages which allow visitors to swim with the sea lions and then cage dive with the sharks. There are packages available through Calypso to meet all travelers’ needs.

Adventure Bay Charters and Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions also offer cage diving expeditions for adventure seekers and wildlife lovers alike.

Numerous accommodations are available in Port Lincoln, including the Port Lincoln Hotel. The hotel offers a variety of amenities including wi-fi, air conditioning, beach, and pool access, room service and flatscreen TVs.

The hotel overlooks Boston Bay and has both luxury and deluxe spa suites available. Rooms have town or ocean view rooms. The accommodations are perfect for families, couples or solo travelers. Rates can be found below $100 per night, and the hotel has excellent reviews.

Tanonga Luxury Eco Lodges are a different change of pace when it comes to accommodations. Tanonga offers a luxury eco experience well-placed on acres of natural bushland.

Visitors can use the walking trails and enjoy gourmet food and local wine. The lodge is beautifully designed as well as being solar powered. Rates can be found around $228 per night.

Mount Gambier

Mount Gambier is located between Adelaide and Melbourne. It is a perfect stopping point between the two, but also has a variety of activities and must-sees in its own right. It is truly a hidden Australian gem. Located on an inactive volcano, Mount Gambier has outstanding dive spots that rival some of the more well-known locations.

Umpherston Sinkhole is also a must-see location. It was a limestone cave until the roof collapsed in 1886. James Umpherston used the sinkhole to create a beautifully spectacular sunken garden.

Another top attraction, high on the Mount Gambier list, is the Blue Lake. Blue Lake is one of four crater lakes surrounding Mount Gambier. Blue Lake is thought to be approximately 75 meters deep and 1,000 meters across.

It takes on a bright, cobalt color during the summertime. It changes from the gray color it normally is, to the bright, blue hue.

Swimming in Blue Lake is not permitted. However, visitors are welcome to walk around the entirety of the lake.

Visiting the caves in Mount Gambier is another noteworthy site to be seen. There are over 800 caves in the region. Naracoorte Caves is South Australia’s only world heritage site where fossils are preserved that are over 500,000 years old.

The Princess Margaret Rose Cave, named after Princess Margaret, is known as “the jewel in the crown” because it is the most decorated and showy of all of the caves.

The Tantanoola Caves are well-known for their brown and peach colors of the crystals due to the dolomite bedrock. They are spectacular to see and have an amazing curtain of hanging formations.

Conclusion

In a country as vast as Australia, the whole country cannot be seen in a few months or even years. However, when traveling to Australia and focusing on one region at a time, South Australia is definitely worth the trip.

From relaxing on the beach to adventuring to the top of the Harbor Bridge, a visit to South Australia is a trip-of-a-lifetime waiting to happen.

The famous twelve Apostles stacks at the Great Ocean Road in Southern Australia Victoria. Beautiful view over stacks with turquoise ocean water orange sand and cliffs and blue sky.
Twelve Apostles on Great Ocean Road Victoria Southern Australia

Josh

Josh is a loving dad and husband, writer, business owner, and someone who loves to explore the world. He last travelled to Australia to visit Sydney, Brisbane, and Cairns and am looking to head back soon to see more! He is a huge fan of hiking, drawing, and so much more!

Keep Reading