Spread across the plains between hills and sea, Adelaide is deceptively big – more than a million Aussies live here, sustaining a hyperactive artistic calendar, a slew of characterful bars and world-class restaurants. Highlights of your visit should include a day trip plundering the foodie haunts of the Adelaide Hills, a tram ride down to beachy Glenelg, a morning detour through Central Market, and a few well-chosen bottles of vino from the surrounding wine regions. Nature-lovers will fall for nearby, unspoiled Kangaroo Island, home to abundant wildlife, and the Fleurieu Peninsula’s colourful coastal playground.
Spotlight on: Fleurieu Peninsula
Miranda says "The stunning Fleurieu Peninsula, just south of Adelaide in South Australia, is well known for its vineyards, wildlife and 250km-plus of dramatic coastline – a perfect combination for a holiday!
The handsome – and very tall – Ben Neville from Off Piste Tours met me and took me on a white-knuckle 4x4 adventure through the Onkaparinga Gorge. It’s not my normal way of approaching wildlife (!), but Ben has privileged access to this area carved by the river and the surrounding forests of eucalyptus trees. Where there are eucalyptus trees, you can often find koalas – and we weren’t disappointed! Just a short drive from our starting point, we spotted one asleep in the foliage above – completely oblivious of the excitement it had created below, as I leapt out of the car to take pictures. Sleepily, it managed to turn its head towards us and I caught my first proper glimpse of this unusual creature. Ben explained how fussy they are about the types of eucalyptus they eat and how vulnerable they are when there are bush fires.
Leaving the fluffy sleeping marsupial behind, we leapt back in the 4x4, and Ben drove me down to the river to meet Karena Armstrong, chef and owner of Salopian Inn. Despite the intense heat of the midday sun, Karena managed to serve a stunning meal of local food: Port Lincoln tuna sashimi, Spencer Gulf Dumplings and my first taste of a local delicacy, red-braised kangaroo tail."
Spotlight on: Kangaroo Island
Australia’s third-largest island is where the wild things are: expect to share it with dolphins, seals, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, goannas, birds, echidnas and some very special bees. Like the sound of natural wonders, succulent lobster and coastal honey? You’ll fit right in on Kangaroo Island (affectionately known as KI). This eye-bogglingly beautiful patch of South Australia is incredibly untouched: half of KI has never been cleared of its native vegetation; a third is protected national parkland. Here, granite boulders – the Remarkable Rocks – meet Little Sahara’s milk-white sand dunes, and grains grow in abundance, perfuming the air.
Miranda says "At my favourite time of the day – albeit very early – I witnessed a magical sunrise over the grasslands of Kangaroo Island. And it was at this time that I was brought almost face to face with Australia’s most iconic animal and the island’s namesake: the kangaroo. My guide was Craig Wickham from Exceptional Kangaroo Island, who greeted me with a smile, a much-needed coffee and a great view of the roos. I imagined they would run away when we tried to get close, but Craig visits this area with guests fairly regularly; the roos just sat on their hind legs, nonchalantly munching the dried grass as we wandered past."
Smith insider tip #1 Head for... the bucolic Adelaide Hills, east of Adelaide, which is famed for its intoxicating cool-climate wines. Items for your itinerary include Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement, Cleland Conservation Park and Mt Lofty Summit. Stop for refreshment at Hahndorf Hill Winery, Prancing Pony Brewery or the Stirling Hotel.
Smith insider tip #2 Eat at... Restaurant Orana, where brilliant Scottish chef Jock Zonfrillo puts the spotlight on indigenous ingredients, following his rare immersion in Aboriginal culture. There’s a more casual dining space downstairs, Street-ADL, which champions fuss-free global street food.
Don’t miss... pipis (clams), samphire and sprouted bunya. Smith insider tip #3 Drink at... Clever Little Tailor, a small but perfectly formed drinking den on popular Peel Street. This handy Tailor brilliantly exemplifies Adelaide’s emerging small-bar scene.
Don’t miss... the moreish bar snacks.
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