Two Aussie driving holidays that are tough to beat

Food, wine, scenery, history, hills and glorious straight drives: these road trips tick all boxes.

Capital Drives: Adelaide

Travel writer, photographer and author, Lee Atkinson , has been writing about her adventures on and off the road since 1991. Her latest book, Australia’s Best Nature Escapes, is published by Hardie Grant Travel and is available from all good bookstores.

Home to several of the country’s best wine regions, including the Barossa, Clare and Coonawarra, almost every road trip in South Australia is a great gourmet getaway. But when it comes to scenic drives from capital cities, the winning combination of beaches, wildlife, food and wine on the Fleurieu Peninsula, and the history of the Adelaide Hills, are very hard to beat.

Fleurieu Peninsula
It’s not just the fabulous coastal views at every turn, restaurants, wineries and fascinating history that make a road trip on the Fleurieu Peninsula a winner, it’s that all this is practically on the outskirts of the Adelaide.

The drive to McLaren Vale – the heart of the main wine-producing area – will usually take less than 45 minutes via the Southern Expressway and Main South Road.

A snug valley wedged between the tail end of the Mt Lofty ranges and the coast, McLaren Vale is a pretty patchwork of vineyards dotted with historic stone and timber wine cellars. If you’re a foodie, make sure you catch the Saturday morning farmers’ market at Willunga, where trestles and tables are piled high with almonds and olives, venison, hand-made cheeses, berries, beef, lamb, organic vegetables, trout and marron, as well as fresh baked breads and tempting pies and pastries, home-made jams and preserves and delicious cakes.

From the township of Willunga, head towards Port Willunga on the coast for the first of the expansive coastal views that are a highlight on this drive, and follow the route signposted as the Fleurieu Way. From here all the way to Cape Jervis on the tip of the peninsula (where you can catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island), you’ll find yourself pulling over again and again to take photographs of the bald green hills dropping abruptly into the sea.

Allow plenty of time for your trip north along the eastern coast. In Victor Harbor, you can learn about whales at the SA Whale Centre, the historic meeting of explorers Flinders and Baudin, and the local history at Encounter Coast Discovery Centre.

You can take the country’s only horse-drawn tram out to Granite Island – guided tours of the penguin colony are available in the evenings – or, if it’s a Sunday, ride the historic Cockle Train (Australia’s first railway) between Victor Harbor, Port Elliot and Goolwa.

Port Elliot and Goolwa are full of beautiful sandstone buildings, now many of them art galleries and restaurants. From Goolwa, head inland back towards Adelaide via the Currency Creek wine region and Strathalbyn, an attractive heritage town with 30 or so historic buildings and a popular place to shop for antiques.

So close to Adelaide, the peninsula is do-able in a day, but with so much to see and so many good places to eat and drink, three days would be ideal.

Day tripper: Adelaide Hills
Less than half an hour’s drive from Adelaide, the rugged hill-top scenery, vineyards, art galleries and history in and around Hahndorf – Australia's oldest surviving German settlement – makes for a great day drive.

Set in the Adelaide Hills, Hahndorf is the perfect place to snack on traditionally made wursts or indulge in a German teacake or strudel for afternoon tea. Visit Cedars, the home of famous landscape painter Hans Heysen, enjoy a chocolate fix at Melba’s Chocolate Factory in Woodside, spend a couple of hours in the National Motor Museum at Birdwood and take in the city views from the summit of Mount Lofty.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    80 plus
    3rd Nov 2018
    Re your heading picture, should not the vehicle be parked along the slope NOT facing up or down.
    3rd Nov 2018
    Yes, looks a bit stupid to me too.
    3rd Nov 2018
    Wow, it's just a picture they get from a stock image agency, they don't plan it, capture it, they buy the image.
    3rd Nov 2018
    Where I grew up, 10kms out of Victor Harbor on a farm.Great area.
    3rd Nov 2018
    Where I grew up, 10kms out of Victor Harbor on a farm.Great area.
    4th Nov 2018
    I'm sure its a nice area but then almost every city has them.
    I'd be concerned going anywhere near Adelaide given the extreme heat in the eastern states so early in the year. If anywhere Tassie would be the pick, although not a heap to see and do when you've been there once. People are nice though.
    Yes....this does sound a lot like an advertising promotion. Need to take with a grain of salt.

    4th Nov 2018
    Australian cities and towns are really boring to drive to or around

    European countryside and cities are so much more beautiful diverse and amazingly picturesque. Having 4 seasons helps too. The colours of autumn and spring in some of these places is simply breathtaking
    2nd Dec 2018
    Have you ever been to the Barossa Valley - visited the reservoir in the area just outside of Williamstown? Its wall is kniwn as the Whispering wall. One person can stand one end in the designted safe spot and another person the other end. You can have a full conversation just talking softly. It is the only one in the Southern Hemisphere. There is only 2 in the world. The other one is in Europe.
    The colours in some parts of the Adelaide Hills are spectacular during some seasons too, including in the Stirling area.
    You need to know where to look.

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