Visiting South Australia - help with logistics

Jun 12th, 2009, 01:14 AM
  #1  
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Visiting South Australia - help with logistics

I'm in the very early stages of planning a trip to SA, and I'm a bit lost. We're most interested in the wine region and walking in National Parks, reserves, etc. I've always wanted to visit Cooper Pedy, but I'm not sure we can fit that in, as we're looking at a short visit of about 8 days.

I'm under the impression that flying into Melbourne and driving from there to Adelaide, and then flying out from Adelaide is the best way to see some of the scenery in between, such as the Grampians, but I just can't get a handle on the logistics or how much time is needed.

I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who can offer some guidance, as I'm not even sure where to start.

BTW - we'll be coming from Perth
Melnq8 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2009, 07:09 AM
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I can't be of great help as our month in Aus. was planned by a friend who lived in Sydney for 3 years. We flew between Adelaide and Melbourne having spent the bulk of our time in the McClaren Vale/Barossa areas and used Melbourne as a departure point for our 2 weeks in Tasmania.

However, as I have culled many tips from your trip reports, I feel you should know that if you overnight near McClaren Vale you want to stay at Willunga House. Rosie and Kingsley are by far the most fun, interesting,gracious B&B hosts we have ever encountered. Also the best beds and the best breakfasts. The town of Willunga itself doesn't have a lot going on, but it is well located for wine tasting, is close to many good restaurants and the beach. We rented bikes one day in McClaren Vale to overcome the results of 2 full weeks of wine tasting and dining out!

I am sure that you will receive great input to your query.
PJTravels is offline  
Jun 12th, 2009, 07:15 AM
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Flying to Melbourne may not be a bad option Mel depending on just how much scenery Vs wineries you want to mix in.

Grampians are about 1/3 way from Melbourne to Adelaide and so in general terms, you can think of a 250 km. drive from Melbourne and then another 500 to Adelaide or something like a 1000+ km. round trip from Adelaide to get as far as the Grampians and back.

Of course there'll be quite a bit of variation depending on just how much you want to meander about for you have wineries south of Adelaide, McClaren Vale region and then across the hills towards Lake Alexandra, Strathalbyn area and then to far south east of SA Yyou have the Coonawarra area and then the riverland region, Barossa a little NE up in Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley further north, about 100 km. north of Adelaide.

So a kind of longer loop out of Adelaide could allow you to just about take in all those regions, and choose from the Coorong [a bit barren in some ways], Mount Gambier Lakes, Glenelg River/Princess Margaret Rose Caves, a bit of Vic south coast [perhaps far west end of GOR] and then Grampians and of course Adelaide Hills, and other than some very flat country either side of Lake A, along the Coorong and up about the Vic/SA border, there's some nice undulating open country driving with very little traffic.

I'd say 5-7 days would about cover something like that without rushing too much and depending on how many wineries you want to visit.

Alternately, driving from Melbourne you'd have the option of covering some wineries heading out west of Melbourne to Gisborne and around Mt. Macedon and Hanging Rock area and then head across to Ballarat to pick up the Western Hwy, maybe stay first night at Sovereign Hill which does a dinner show called "Blood Under the Southern Cross", based on events at Eureka Stockade and Miners Rebellion.
You can peel off from Ararat heading west to get to Halls Gap which is Grampians central and then decide whether you head back to Western/Dukes Hwy that'll take you in through Adelaide Hills to Barossa or head south down to Glenelg Hwy and then pick up the other wine regions I've mentioned and then travel north up through the Barossa to Clare before looping back to Adelaide.

So you'd probably end up driving about the same distance as the loop from Adelaide and maybe include some different things, ie. Mt. Macedon Vs dropping of some coastal bit, say 6-7 days needed.

If you want to get Coober Pedy included, I'd reckon it's a fly up and back from Adelaide job - have a look at www.rex.com.au and under their products they have what is called a backpacker pass but it's for anyone with an other than Aussie PP and something like $450/mths flying might even work out to be reasonable value - you might even want to fly Adelaide - Mt. Gambier - Melbourne before doing drive back and then getting a flight up to CP but getting flights with the pass may not always be a certainty and would be more something you might want to try if you were not so confined with days.
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 12th, 2009, 09:00 PM
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My wife and I did a wonderful trip to SA three years ago (Aug 2006). Weather was nice, not too cold - one night with frost (Flinders Ranges).

Day 1: Flew to Adelaide from the Gold Coast. Rented a car, walked around town, ate dinner with friends in the evening. Stayed at the Director' Studio Hotel (2 nights).

Day 2: Toured the lovely Barossa Valley by car, visiting several wineries. Lunch in Tanunda. Stopped at the incredible Whispering Wall Dam (where you can stand several hundred feet away from someone and hear them whisper as though they were sitting next to you)

Day 3: Drove north from Adelaide, visiting wineries in the beautiful Clare Valley. Had a great lunch at the rustic Skillagalee winery. Continued north through increasingly arid, yet beautiful terrain into the Outback. Stopped for a beer at the Cradock Hotel. A classic old pub, it is one of the only remaining occupied buildings in the ghost town of Cradock, just south of the Flinders Ranges, which at this point are jutting up on the horizon. Continued on to Wilpena Pound (Flinders Ranges), checking in at the Wilpena Pound Resort for 3 nights.

Day 4: Took a 4WD tour (operated by the resort) on private property outside the Pound (a huge circular cliff formation). Fantastic views of the Pound and nearby ranges. In the afternoon, we took a scenic flight over the Pound and adjacent ABC ranges. Absolutely magnificent scenery! Toward sunset, we walked from the resort up to a lookout on the edge of the Pound with great views across to the other side, some 5 miles away.

Day 5: Climbed St Mary's Peak on the edge of the Pound, one of the premier hikes in the Flinders Ranges. Fantastic! Returned to the resort via the interior of the Pound - lots of wildlife, mostly 'roos. Total hiking distance: about 15 miles.

Day 6. Up early for the long drive to Coober Pedy via Quorn and Port Augusta. Arrived in this crazy town just before sunset. Stayed at the Desert Cave Hotel (underground room!).

Day 7: Explored around town in the AM, then took a great 3-4 hr tour in the afternoon organized by the hotel. Toured an old and a modern opal mine, the golf course (no grass - oil is used to mark the "greens"), an underground Serbian Orthodox Church, and a very interesting graveyard. For sunset, the tour took us out of town to the Breakaways, a line of cliffs with a spectacular view over the surrounding moonscape (Mad Max was filmed there). Also saw part of the famous dog fence, the longest fence in the world.

Day 8. Drove all the way to the McLaren Vale, just south of Adelaide. Dinner again with our Adelaide friends. Overnight at a very clean, friendly and pleasant B&B in the McLaren Vale.

Day 9: Explored the McClaren Vale (a few more wineries!), the Adelaide Hills (including the quaint town of Hahndorf and the Mt Lofty Lookout over Adelaide. Late afternoon flight back to the Gold Coast.

A great trip and an itinerary I'd highly recommend...

Ralph
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Jun 13th, 2009, 01:09 AM
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Thanks for the heads up on Willunga House PJ, I'll take a look. You too Bushranger for pointing out the distances...1000+ km is more than we want to drive.

Ralph, I was hoping you'd chime in, as I recall you mentioning a trip to Coober Pedy. Your itinerary sounds like a great combination of wineries, hiking and sightseeing and just about perfect for our 8-9 days, all the better since we're talking about the same time of year. Did you have any issues renting a car? Here in WA, car rental companies have some restrictions on driving into the Outback.

Perhaps I'll just have to leave the Grampians for another time.

Appreciate the ideas...
Melnq8 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2009, 03:40 AM
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Willunga also has the most wonderful Saturday morning Farmers Market that is really worth the trip . We went there first , bought a dozen freshly shucked oysters and ate them whilst buying things for a picnic lunch later that day .
JohnFitz is offline  
Jun 13th, 2009, 04:12 AM
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The auto hire restrictions are usually [and Australia wide]standard cars for sealed roads Mel, hence need to take a tour of some description for locations involving getting off the black stuff or paying extra for hiring a 4WD.

If 1000 km. is more than you wanted to drive, you had better get www.travelmate.com.au or something up for you're looking at a tad under 500 km. just to Wilpena in Flinders Ranges, just on 700 km. from there to Coober Pedy and Coober Pedy back to Adelaide is going to be over 850 km.

To keep to under 1000 km. you're really looking at confining yourself to a closer circuit about Adelaide, there being some interesting areas about the Mt. Lofty ranges, Remarkables NP not too much further north than Clare and Victor Harbour and Fluerieu Peninsula in the south.
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 13th, 2009, 04:50 AM
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Mel; We had no issues renting a car to take to Wilpena and Coober Pedy - sealed roads the whole way, though I was tempted in a couple of places to deviate onto dirt.

Our trip did involve a lot of driving (note Bushranger's distances), but there was a lot of beautiful and/or interesting countryside to see. The stretch from Port Augusta north to Coober is pretty straight and flat with very few cars (sometimes we'd go for 20 mins before seeing another vehicle) - you can make very good time.

Haven't been to the Grampians - I've seen the pictures and would like to go sometime. In any case I believe they are in Victoria, not a true "South Australian" destination (not that it really matters).
RalphR is offline  
Jun 13th, 2009, 05:13 AM
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Bushranger -

Here in WA car rental companies generally restrict their cars to a 500 km radius of Perth, although some companies will extend this for an additional fee. We had to do this to take a rental car to Kalgoolie and Esperance. I thought SA might have a similar policy.

Ralph - would you recommend a trip to Coober Pedy? I'm intrigued by the whole living underground thing, and of coure the lure of those opals...but would you suggest it as a place worth going out of one's way for? Most people laugh at me when I even suggest it.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2009, 06:54 AM
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Hadn't heard of the 500 km radius restriction Mel other than with some companies running older vehicles and then it can be even less than 500.

I flew into Coober Pedy quite a few years back and that certainly gives an interesting perspective of outlying diggings making for a lunar landscape effect but CP itself it would like a lot of inland Australia have to be one of the driest dusty ramshackle places you could ever find - think Kalgoorlie which I seem to recall you were not overly impressed with and then consider somewhere about tenfold worse!.

I know of other people who scoff at the idea of going there and though the underground premises are something different, it's hard to get overly worked up about the place, as different as it may be, the reason for my visit having been that it was a convenient stop on the way flying to the centre and likewise if one was doing an inland trek it is about the only choice for a break on way to AS but I doubt that I would make a specific long drive to get there unless I had a hot tip for mining some opal.

And even that could be a sinking market for apparently there are good quality synthetic opals now being produced by China, Japan etc.
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 13th, 2009, 07:03 AM
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Just discovered that Willunga House has new owners. If you go I will be anxious to hear your report.
PJTravels is offline  
Jun 14th, 2009, 07:36 AM
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Mel: I loved Coober Pedy - thought it to be well worth the drive. My wife isnt a big fan of long car trips, and she agrees. Maybe that's because she she got a nice big opal out of the deal, which we purchased from a local miner at a good price. Have to say I was intrigued with the dusty ramshackle underground aspect. Also loved our side trip to the nearby Breakaways - stunning scenery, at least as we saw it in the late afternoon sun and at sunset. Also, enjoyed our stay at the Desert Cave Hotel. The underground rooms are very comfortable, quiet and DARK - best sleep ever.

Correction from my previous post: Just remembered we did not drive all the way from Coober to Adelaide - in fact we overnighted in Port Augusta en route, the next day taking a leisurely drive back to the city via the southern Flinders Ranges, Melrose, Gladstone and the Clare Valley (lunch at another charming winery).

Again I don't think you'll find any problem renting a car to take to Coober from Adelaide.
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Jun 14th, 2009, 04:07 PM
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Thanks Ralph, my research continues...
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Jun 14th, 2009, 07:10 PM
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Hey Mel,

I loved Cooby Pedy - we had a great stop there and as Ralph says The Breakaways are spectacular and is the location where Mad Max was filmed. It's just so different there Mel, the place, the people, the lifestyle etc. And nearby Andamooka is a real eye opener as well.

We had a devil of a time trying to keep our youngest son out of the noodling pits - he was hooked!

I'm just not sure if 8 days is enough to do it all. I'm thinking maybe concentrate on the wineries this trip and maybe a bit of the outback next trip - Flinders Rangers, Wilpena Pound is a wonderful spot and we are hoping to head back there around September this year.

We have friends that have spent some time in a winery on the Fleurieu Peninsula - I'll find out the name of where they stayed - it sounded sensational and will get back to you.

South Australia is a most unusual state IMHO and you'll find the variations quite amazing.
stormbird is offline  
Jun 14th, 2009, 09:24 PM
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Thanks stormbird - it seems the detractors are people who've never been there! The lack of time is definitely an issue - I'm having a hard time narrowing it down - the Grampians in VIC look promising, wineries are always on our radar and Coober Pedy has always intrigued me - so many places, so little time...story of my life.

My original idea was to combine VIC and SA by flying into Melbourne and out of Adelaide, but there's just not enough time to do it justice and the flights from Perth (at least on Jetstar) aren't making it any easier.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jun 14th, 2009, 11:45 PM
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MMMmmm Mel,

Decisions, decisions! The Grampians too, are fantastic and so is the nearby areas. We particularly liked that part of the woods also.

It's tough isn't it? It sounds to me like you're pretty stuck on Cooby Pedy...so maybe just leave it to South Australia this time and make Victoria another trip.

Good luck with the decision making Mel!
stormbird is offline  
Jun 15th, 2009, 01:28 PM
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Hi Mel,

The place my friends stayed is this one www.chapelhillwine.com.au I believe they stayed in the B&B. Apparently it is extremely well equipped - they just raved about it but I'm not sure if it would fit in with your budget though.
Stormbird
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Jun 15th, 2009, 04:24 PM
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The more I look at Ralph's itinerary, the more I like it. I've convinced myself that I cannot give up Coober Pedy. The Grampians will just have to wait.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jun 15th, 2009, 07:03 PM
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Ralph's itinerary looks good indeed. You certainly wouldn't be disappointed. I think Wilpena Pound was my husbands favourite part of SA. Ooops no the wine...definitely the wine...but apart from the wine.. and I am looking forward to heading back in September as I don't think we did the Flinders Ranges real justice last time.

Already, I can't wait for your trip report Mel!!!
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Jun 15th, 2009, 08:44 PM
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lol stormbird.

I'm now considering adding a few days...thinking we can split the rest of our vacation time into two medium sized trips instead of one short and one long. Looking at the Top End for the second trip, but that presents even more logistical issues. I'm trying to maximize our time here in Australia, but the more I look, the more I find!
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