I’m Nathan Godwin. Welcome to my guide on the best things to do in South Australia. I actually grew up in the suburbs of Queensland. When I was 12, my family moved just outside of a town called Jimboomba. It was a bit of a shock to the system. However, I grew to love the country life.
In high school I took film and TV as a subject. I didn’t get into photography until about five years after high school. A photographer by the name of Thomas Shahan – who was known for his macro photography of jumping spiders and other arthropods – just drew me into it.
My first camera purchase was a Sony A55 with a 60mm macro lens. I then spent many days hunting high and low for spiders. As time went on, I moved to shooting different styles of photography. Now, I predominantly shoot landscapes. I have a passion for cycling and shooting on the side.
I moved to South Australia 15 years ago when I was 18. It was originally only meant to be for a few months. However, I now call South Australia home.
South Australia: A Photographer’s Playground
I would describe South Australia as a photographer’s playground. The landscape varies so much across the state – both along the coast and further inland. That ever-changing landscape and the fact that you can travel a few hours and find incredible landscapes is what I love most.
Every time I am back home in Queensland it feels like I am driving for far too long to get to different spots. At times this can kill the mood. South Australia just doesn’t have that same feeling. Not even on longer road trips to Innes National Park. There is just so much to see along the way.
How South Australia Differs from the Rest of Australia
There’s still so much of Australia that I am yet to explore. However, one thing that stands out to me with South Australia is the old buildings. Whether this be one of the many old churches or homesteads – I am continually in awe of how many of these buildings I find along my travels.
I always jot down the locations both in my phone and in a little note pad I keep in the car. Capturing the history of these old buildings is a little side project that I am currently working on. They won’t be here forever and I want to capture them in their current beauty.
Since moving to South Australia, I have always found that the majority of people in SA are friendly and welcoming. I hear stories of friends in other states who get asked questions of what they are doing when they are out taking photos. Yet, I have only experienced that once here.
I find that people, no matter where I visit around the state, are curious and love seeing my images on the back of the LCD. I love nothing more than having a good chat with folks. The locals always know the hidden spots. I even hand over my drone controller at times to let people fly it.
7 Best Things To Do in South Australia
I’m not really a person who likes to do all the touristy stuff in a destination. I try to get off the beaten path and explore a place on my own terms. However, I have done a few of the tourist attractions in South Australia. Below are some of my favourite experiences that I would recommend:
1. Explore the Natural Beauty of Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island would be my favourite place in South Australia. I have only been there once for some cycling photography, yet I was blown away by how beautiful this island was. I had seen photos and heard about friends’ trips there but nothing compared to seeing it with my own eyes.
For me it was special for the fact that whilst it is a tourist destination, it still had that feeling of being so pristine and untouched in parts. I am looking forward to getting back to Kangaroo Island in the near future as the island has just recovered from the recent bushfires.
For those who know me and follow my travels, they might have thought Port Willunga Jetty or Porties Stairs were going to be my favourite spots. I love these places too and often find myself there shooting. However, they just don’t provide the same feeling that Kangaroo Island does.
2. Discover the Remarkable Beaches of South Australia
South Australia has some of the most remarkable beaches in the world. My top 5 recommendations (in no particular order) would be: Carrickalinga Beach, Vivonne Bay, Sellicks Beach, Port Noarlunga and Port Willunga.
Each of the above are unique. From the crystal-clear waters of Carrickalinga Beach and Vivonne Bay, to the reef at Port Noarlunga Jetty and the coast next to Sellicks Beach and Port Noarlunga beaches.
There are still many beaches in SA that I am yet to visit. I am looking to do some more exploration as the year goes on. A couple of places that I am looking forward to seeing are Streaky Bay and Ceduna. That whole area is a region I want to explore, as I have never ventured that far.
3. Visit the Fantastic Wine Regions of South Australia
We are incredibly lucky in South Australia to have two great wine regions to visit. Driving between these wineries and tasting the various different wines just makes for a great day or two. We are honestly spoilt for choice!
If this is your first time in SA, I would definitely put d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale as one of the first places to visit. Not only will you have an incredible experience with the food and wine here, but the whole adventure of exploring the multiple floors and surrounding area will leave you in awe.
Following d’Arenberg, the Bird in Hand and Down the Rabbit Hole wineries are two of my other favourite wineries in SA. They both offer superb wine and food options. Then there’s Press* Food & Wine which has a great menu catering to a wide range of requirements including vegan food.
4. Go on a Dolphin Cruise around Port Adelaide
There is something so beautiful about dolphins and seeing them up close is incredible! Port Adelaide offers many cruise options with a variety of different companies. Cruise down the historic Port River and experience the natural beauty and wonder of these majestic dolphins.
5. Enjoy a Tree Climbing Adventure in the CBD
As someone who isn’t really an adrenaline junky and prefers to have my feet firmly planted on the ground, I loved doing the tree climb just outside of the CBD. TreeClimb Adelaide is Australia’s first inner-city aerial adventure park built within the natural environment of the Adelaide City Park Lands.
The park has over 70 different obstacles and over eight different routes which are progressively challenging for climbers. It’s a great way to get some exercise. The perfect activity for backpackers, couples and families.
6. Get Spooked on a Haunted Horizons Ghost Tour
If you’re into the paranormal then these are great little adventures. There are a few different options of places to visit and experience. I had a great night with a work friend as we explored Old Tailem Town. To this day, I swear I felt the presence of someone else there that I couldn’t see.
7. Watch a Movie at Adelaide’s Moonlit Cinemas
During the summer months, I have enjoyed getting together with friends and enjoying the moonlit cinemas in the botanic gardens or the one down at the bay. These cinemas are open seasonally for different screenings of cult films and new releases. Plus they offer light meals and drinks to enjoy.
My Favourite Travel Memory of South Australia
I slept in and missed the sunrise on the morning trip down. I locked myself out of my car on the second morning. An hour after that, my battery went flat. I also had a little crash with the drone which luckily caused no damage.
Even with the little misadventures along the way, it was a great weekend getaway. The two mates I was with provided many laughs and we all captured a series of images which we were all happy with.
We drove a little further on the first day and stopped in Mount Gambier and Port MacDonnell. We captured some images in the unique and amazing Umpherston Sinkhole (Cenote), and then sunset along the coast.
We were lucky and got perfect conditions for sunset. Then as we drove back to Robe, the skies cleared up and the stars came out. Being so far away from people means the light pollution down that way is very minimal and you can make out the core of the Milky Way so easily.
I came away with a few images that I just love. The first being an almost 40-minute exposure of the Robe Obelisk and the star trails the exposure captured. The second, was an image that I have wanted to capture for a little while now. With next to no wind, I knew I could capture it.
The idea behind the image was to capture my drone as it flew in a circle above the pine trees, with them being lit from underneath the canopy with my Lume Cube lights. This meant capturing two separate exposures and then blending them together in a Photoshop edit.
What I love about this image is that the halo created by the drone appears as if the drone is flying in a circle. It’s as if you’re looking directly at it. However, it is actually flying in a circle from directly below it. Whilst I took more images, these two are what made the trip to Robe unique for me.
Best Places to Stay in South Australia
If you’re looking to base yourself south of the city, I would recommend Coast Motel and Apartments. There is so much to do and see here. You’re not far away from the McLaren Vale wineries, you can hire kayaks to paddle the Onkaparinga River or snorkel the Port Noarlunga Reef.
I don’t have a particular place in mind for Robe. However, I recommend if you’re visiting South Australia that you take a trip here. Base yourself for a few days and explore the local area or venture a little further south to Mount Gambier and explore the various sinkholes.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
Before heading to South Australia, I would suggest adding a few more extra days than what you had originally planned. A lot of people come to SA and feel that they don’t need a great deal of time to explore the region and have a good time. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The beauty of SA to me is that whilst it does have that small town vibe, there are some really incredible places all within a few hours drive of the CBD. The Eyre and Yorke peninsulas are just two examples of this.
Depending on where you go, I would also suggest packing some warm clothes. Whilst personally I don’t really feel the cold, some of the places you may visit can get rather cold and windy all year round.
Don’t be afraid to venture away from the main area of Adelaide. There is so much to see and do. Just drive without a plan and follow the coast. This will lead you to some great adventures and experiences in South Australia.