Brought to you by South Australian Tourism Commision

Explorer’s Way: Top 9 things to do

Here's an opportunity to follow the path, more or less, of one of South Australia’s greatest explorers – John McDouall Stuart who, in 1861, set out to cross the Australian continent from south to north. It's remarkable much of your route in South Australia follows in Stuart's footsteps, from a coastal Mediterranean climate in the south to arid desert landscapes.

Roadtrip through Explorer's Way

  1. Worship wine at Sevenhill Cellars - Clare Valley

    Tasting fine wine can be a profound experience, and especially so at this winery with a sacred purpose. Sevenhill Cellars, Clare Valley’s first winery, was built by Jesuits in 1851 to produce sacramental wine. It still does, but alongside the altar drops you’ll find cracking estate-grown expressions of some of Clare Valley’s oldest vines. You won’t regret sampling the premium Saints series at the cellar door, and taking time to appreciate the tranquility of the old stone winery, St Aloysius' Church, the Jesuit College building, the gardens and surrounding vineyards.

    MORE INFORMATION

    Sevenhill Cellars

  2. Tread remarkable rocks - Flinders Ranges

    Situated in the Flinder’s Ranges, Mount Remarkable National Park’s ancient geological formations are as awe-inspiring as the name suggests. Plunging gorges, jagged ridges and redgum-lined watercourses hewn across the ages by nature through ochre bedrock create unforgettable vistas, with the 960m Mount Remarkable Summit towering over it all. Trek across vivid red quartzite to The Narrows and The Terraces at Alligator Gorge, or Cathedral and Gibraltar rocks near Melrose, and the panoramas might also include riots of wildflowers and glimpses of the rare yellow-footed rock wallaby.

    MORE INFORMATION

    Mount Remarkable National Park

  3. Step into the Pastoral past - Clare Valley

    If the stately sandstone façade of Martindale Hall looks familiar, you’re probably recalling its turn in the Australian classic movie Picnic at Hanging Rock. The setting for the haunting tale remains just as atmospheric 41 years after the movie was made and 136 years after its 32 rooms, sweeping staircase and seven room cellar were built by wealthy pastoralist Edmund Bowman Jr. Wander through the mansion’s halls on a self-guided tour and you’ll glimpse the opulence enjoyed by yesteryear’s super rich. Prolong your visit to the past by visiting the almost impossibly picturesque nearby hamlet Mintaro.

    MORE INFORMATION

    Mintaro

    Martindale Hall

  4. Puff through Pichi Richi -Flinders Ranges

    The journey from Port Augusta to historic outback town Quorn takes you through the ancient outcrops and red earth of the Pichi Richi pass in the Flinders Ranges. As the surrounding beauty rolls by, you’re travelling in style aboard one of the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society’s lovely old heritage trains. These treasures include the Coffee Pot, an Edwardian-era ornate steam railcar more than 100 years old and the last of its kind in the world. A half-day or full-day tour is an enchanting escape from the everyday.

    MORE INFORMATION

    Pichi Richi Railway

     

  5. Go wild at Arkaba - Flinders Ranges

    The greatest luxury at private conservation retreat Arkaba is room to breathe; no more than 10 guests at a time can enjoy its 242 sq km swathe of Flinders Ranges (imagine that idyll next time you’re stuck in commuter traffic). Once there, you’ll experience the Australian outback at its most spectacular; rock strata carved into dramatic formations over millennia, dotted with casuarinas, pines and gums and populated by kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, emu and more.

    The high-end homestead accommodation boasts all the finer things but it makes more sense to embrace the wilderness and disappear into the horizon on a 4WD safari, or camp under the stars in a swag on one of five timber swag decks. Arkaba’s scenic flights are also highly recommended. The landscape begs to be viewed from above.

    MORE INFORMATION

    Arkaba

  6. Settle in at the Prairie Hotel - Flinders Ranges

    Regulars call this rangy old 1876 hotel “the outback Hilton” but that doesn’t begin to capture the character of the Prairie, social hub of teeny township Parachilna. This speck on the map out on the plains just west of the Flinders Ranges, has a population of just seven, and two of them are Jane and Ross Fargher, the Prairie’s friendly owners. They’ve turned the place into a destination in itself, where touring pilots fly in and Explorer’s Way wanderers stop for a drink then find themselves booking a hip heritage room and tucking into the signature Feral Mixed Grill, a critically acclaimed symphony of kangaroo mettwurst, emu pâté, goats cheese, bush tomato chilli jam and other delicious native produce. A seat on the front verandah at sunset, sharing tales with fellow travellers, feels like the world’s best spot.

    MORE INFORMATION

    Prairie Hotel

  7. Be awed by arid landscapes - Flinders Ranges

    If “arid” makes you think of all things dry and dull, the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden will very quickly convince you otherwise. Here, celebration and conservation of Australia’s arid zone plants makes for a glorious display, made even more scenic by the location on the shores of Upper Spencer Gulf.

    From medicinal and food plants used by Aborigines to a stunning, manicured AridSmart garden, these 250 hectares against a Flinders Ranges backdrop inform and delight in equal measure. Be sure to lurk in one of the bird hides to spot native creatures enjoying their habitat.

    MORE INFORMATION

    Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden

     

  8. Soar above the outback - Flinders Ranges

    To comprehend the sheer scale of the South Australian outback you really need to rise above it.

    Seen from aloft, the giant patchwork of otherworldly contours unfolds like a mad artist’s creation. You’ll see the Wilpena Pound’s behemoth amphitheatre formed by mountain ranges, and the vast 11,000 square kilometre Lake Eyre, Australia’s largest salt lake. Local pilots know this terrain well and they’ll enrich the experience with facts about the Earth’s oldest landscapes.

    MORE INFORMATION

    Scenic flights are available alongside excellent accommodation at Angorichina Station and Wilpena Pound Resort

    Air Adventure

  9. Go underground in Coober Pedy - Outback

    What goes up must come down, and if you end up at Coober Pedy after an airborne adventure, you can descend beneath the earth to experience life in Australia’s opal mining capital. Here, in the heart of the hot and dusty outback, it makes sense to live underground and so homes, shops, hotels, churches, a swimming pool and even a campground are beneath the surface, creating one of the strangest town skylines ever – just a collection of dirt hummocks.

    If you think it all sounds more burrow than beautiful, sample the subterranean comforts of four-star Desert Cave hotel, the welcoming Radeka Down Under, or check out Faye’s Underground Home, a self-chiselled labour of love dugout dwelling fit for any interiors magazine.

    MORE INFORMATION

    Coober Pedy

  10. TRIP NOTES

    MORE INFORMATION

    South Australia 

    GETTING THERE

    Virgin Australia flies to Adelaide from all major Australian cities. Most major hire car companies are at Adelaide Airport.

More in Adventure
Beachside walks ... Ethel Beach, Innes National Park. Photo: Adam Bruzzone
Go wild in South Australia’s astonishing national parks

Close