By Julietta Jameson
Want to sleep under the stars in South Australia? There’s so much outdoor beauty in which to immerse yourself that you could pitch a tent in spots from one end of the state to the other and always be surprised by something different. Whether you set up near a rocky outback mountain or on gleaming coast, you’ll never be short of things to do. Hike, go wildlife spotting, practise your photography, canoe, kayak or swim. Of course, you can also light the campfire, lay on a blanket, gaze at the sky, let the serenity wash over you and simply just be. That, after all, is the beauty of camping.
Get out of town without going far
Travel less than half an hour to reach the Adelaide Hills. As well as Cleland Wildlife Park and Morialta Conservation Park you’ll find Belair National Park, South Australia’s oldest national park and an important habitat for native plants and animals. Then, of course, there are those amazing wineries and restaurants. In the historic German settlement of Hahndorf is Big4 Hahndorf Resort Park, where you can pitch your tent on beautiful cool terraced lawns with power and water on hand. There’s a pool and other activities for kids, a camp kitchen and bistro. The famous Barossa – about 70 kilometres from Adelaide – also offers places to pitch a tent. The newly opened Discovery Parks – Barossa has good amenities for children, including a waterpark with three slides providing a great way to balance adult wine tasting time with fun for the kids.
Your own private starry, starry nights
Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is like nothing else on Earth, and to camp here is to feel its power intimately. This landscape is full of immense gorges and dramatic rock formations, and features Wilpena Pound, a huge ancient natural amphitheatre formed by mountains including St Mary Peak, the highest in the Flinders Ranges. The Wilpena Pound Campground has 40 powered campsites and more than 300 unpowered bush campsites surrounded by river red gums. There are plenty of amenities, including showers, toilets, laundry and a general store where you can stock up on wood for the campfire. Watch the changing colours from dawn till dusk and settle back for the starriest night sky you may ever see.
Where wild and wonderful await
You could spend weeks camp-hopping on the Fleurieu Peninsula, a diverse playground of natural beauty and fantastic food and wine. Eight conservation, recreation and national parks are home to amazing wildlife – including little penguins at Granite Island. Walk an amazing network of trails, including a section of the famous Heysen Trail, camp in any of five campgrounds and take in the stunning views across to Kangaroo Island at Deep Creek Conservation Park, the only bush camping within 100 kilometres of Adelaide. Or camp right next to the beach in the Newland Head Conservation Park. It’s a great fishing spot. Other superb locations included McLaren Vale Lakeside Caravan Park, where kids love the pool and playground and adults enjoy the proximity to local wineries.
Get on island time
Find your own wild, secluded spot, with kangaroos your only neighbours apart from some passing whales and dolphins and maybe a seal or two. Walk meandering trails and take a solitary dip in a sparkling ocean at sunrise. Kangaroo Island is a nature-loving camper’s nirvana. There are camping grounds spread across the island. You can try a selection of them and see many facets of this extraordinary place. Stay at American River to experience village life and some great boating and fishing. Take away from The Oyster Farm Shop and wash your seafood down with some local white wine by the campfire. Or head into the wilderness, staying by unpopulated beaches and serenity-inspiring rivers.
Coasting along where bush meets the sea
Did somebody say road trip? The Limestone Coast is one of those “something for the whole family” holiday destinations that kids lap up. From the Coorong saltwater lagoons where hundreds of migratory birds rest, to the fossils of Naracoorte Caves, to the volcanic Blue Lake at Mount Gambier, the wow factor abounds. Choose bush, beach or easy-does-it holiday park camping. The Eyre Peninsula to the west is South Australia’s coastal outback, where the Nullarbor meets the sea. Four-wheel driving? Stay at one of the many bush camping sites at the end of a gravel roads. You’ll find secluded bush overlooking the ocean and maybe have an expanse of iridescent aqua and shining white sand all to yourself.
Virgin Australia flies to Adelaide from all major Australian cities. Most major hire car companies are located at Adelaide Airport.