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Wilpena Pound

South Australia’s ultimate bucket list

Cage diving, roof climbing, wine tasting? Oh, my! Life is short, and if you’d rather collect memories than stamps, South Australia has no shortage of experiences to try. Thrill seekers will delight in the highs of a scenic flight, and lows of diving with Great Whites. More temperate individuals may prefer a gastronomic encounter in the surrounds of a heritage estate. Whatever your flavour, speed or curiosity, South Australia has a peerless bucket list of things to try at least once. We’ve handpicked five possibilities. How many of them have you ticked off?

  1. Shark cage dive off Port Lincoln, Eyre Peninsula

    In the waters off Port Lincoln, 640km from Adelaide, swimming with tuna is out but heading underwater to stare down a great white shark is in. One of the operators, Adventure Bay Charters, offers two ways for participants to come eyeball to eyeball with one of the ocean’s most feared creatures. For the shark cage dive, people wriggle into wetsuits before being lowered to about a metre below the ocean surface while accessing a surface air supply – meaning no cumbersome air tanks and no need for scuba-diving qualifications. The operator attracts the sharks not through bait (which could distract them from normal feeding activities) but by playing rock’n’roll through underground speakers. They say the acoustic vibrations that come from playing the likes of AC/DC and The Hilltop Hoods encourage curious sharks to come closer to investigate the source. People who want to stay dry have another option. The Aqua Sub can also submerge six people at a time to see the sharks at close range. The shark cage diving takes place at the North Neptune Islands, about a 2 ½ -hour boat ride from Port Lincoln. Those prone to seasickness should pack preventative medication.


    Adventure Bay Charters


  2. Grange wine tasting at Penfolds Magill Estate, Adelaide

    To those who come from bigger cities than Adelaide, it’s astonishing to find an urban vineyard just 15 minutes’ drive from the city centre. Yet that’s how easy it is to reach Penfolds Magill Estate - the original home of Penfolds wines as well as Australia’s most famous drop, the legendary Grange. The winery, once on Adelaide’s outskirts, is now enveloped by suburban sprawl. Visitors are welcome to tour the historic bluestone cellars and wander through the underground tunnels (known as “drives”) where winemaker Max Schubert kept working in secret on Grange even though the Penfolds board universally disliked his initial efforts. Today, Penfolds winemakers continue to visit the barrels stashed in the tunnels to keep watch over the latest vintages. There’s an entry-level tour for those interested in the basics (which concludes with a wine-tasting at the bar) but aficionados will sign up for the Ultimate Penfolds Experience that includes extras such as visiting Grange Cottage (the original home of pioneering winemakers Mary and Christopher Penfold). Of course, the real drawcard is the tour’s finale: a structured tasting of some of Penfolds’ most sought-after drops, including the famed Grange, RWT Shiraz and rare tawny ports, in the new private tasting room.


    Penfolds Magill Estate


  3. RoofClimb the iconic Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

    Sydney and Brisbane both have bridge climbs but Adelaide now offers a very different structure to conquer – the iconic Adelaide Oval where many a mighty cricket match and AFL game have unfolded. The two-hour guided experience, which made its debut in 2016, offers panoramic views over the entire city. The CBD’s flatness means views stretch all the way to the Adelaide Hills on one side and to the ocean on the other. Just like those other two urban climbs, participants don a fully enclosed climb suit for safety reasons and listen to commentary through an audio system. Take your pick from three climb options. The day climb offers the best views at an affordable price. The twilight climb is for romantics who like to admire a good sunset and sparkling city lights. The most extravagant package is the one that allows climbers to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of a full quarter of a Port Adelaide AFL match from 50m above the southern goal square. Adelaide Oval authorities inspected similar roof climbs, such as London’s Up at the O2 and Dublin’s Etihad Skyline climb at Croke Park Stadium, when developing its RoofClimb, which includes crossing the Western Stand roofline and a link bridge.




  4. Scenic flight over Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges

    The centrepiece of the Flinders Ranges (named after the explorer Matthew Flinders) is Wilpena Pound – an extraordinary natural amphitheatre encircled by jagged quartzite ridges that rise up sharply out of the surrounding landscape. The crater and remnant valley floor were formed as natural forces whittled away an ancient mountain range over millions of years, leaving behind only the resistant quartzite walls. Trees and shrubs envelop Wilpena Pound’s flanks, the greenery contrasting sharply with the surrounding rust-red arid landscape. Many visitors explore the area on foot but to really appreciate the sheer scale of Wilpena Pound – the crater-like formation measures some 17km long and 8km wide – take a scenic flight over the ancient landscape. There are a range of scenic flights to choose from. One operator offers flights varying from 20 to 60 minutes that depart from the Wilpena Pound airstrip to showcase geological highlights such as St Mary Peak, the highest point along the formation’s rim, and Pound Gap where a road once led into the valley floor. Early pastoralists kept horses within the Pound (in fact, the word “pound” means an enclosure for animals); the valley floor was also once used for wheat farming.


    Scenic Flights


  5. Long lunch at Hentley Farm, Barossa Valley

    Is there anything more delightful than a long, languid lunch? Those who take their lunching seriously should point themselves towards the Barossa Valley’s Hentley Farm, an hour’s drive northeast of Adelaide (or even better, skip driving and organise transport there). Hentley Farm won’t tell you what’s on either of the two set menu options (the 1 ½-hour, four-course lunch or the three-hour, seven-course affair, both of which feature lots of little added treats and palate cleansers). Head chef Lachlan Colwill prefers to surprise with theatrical, textural flourishes that might include oysters arriving in a camp stove packed with dry ice, chef-poured sauces at the table, and sweet treats presented in eggshells nestled in a cardboard egg carton or chocolate-coated lollipops poking out of a weathered log. There’s an option for matched wines, which pairs the courses with drops from the Hentley Farm portfolio (smartly, the restaurant also offers half-pours). Colwill sources as much produce as he can from the 60ha farm’s gardens and orchards. The modern dining room, all texture itself with stone walls and rough-hewn ceiling beams, is fashioned from 19th-century stables built on the banks of Greenock Creek.


    Hentley Farm


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