South Australia is home to so many of Australia’s bucket list experiences. The state in the south-central part of the country covers one of the aridest parts of Australia and has one of the most spectacular coastlines.
The coastal town of Ceduna is just one of the major must-do’s in South Australia. It is home to some of the most unique experiences in the state with world-class 4×4 adventures, the freshest seafood in the country, and interesting Aboriginal art and culture. On top of this, Ceduna is also the perfect base from which to explore some of the other epic adventures in South Australia, from the Nullarbor Plain to world-class surfing spots. Its ideal location means that Ceduna is front and center to many of the state’s highlights.
This article will summarise all the best places that South Australia has to offer, as well as, outline why Ceduna is a conveniently located town in the state’s beautiful Eyre Peninsula that really can’t be missed.
Some quick facts about South Australia
South Australia is located in the southern central part of Australia. It has a total land area of 983, 482 square kilometres, making it the fourth largest state and territory in the country. The population of the state is around 1.76 million, with the vast majority living in the capital, Adelaide. Much of the state is sparsely populated outside of Adelaide and it’s surrounds, with small country towns and settlements dominating much of the north and west of the state.
It’s unique location and shape means that it borders many of Australia’s other states. It shares borders with Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. The Great Australian Bight to the south of the state and is shared partly with neighbouring Western Australia. The Southern Ocean stretches to the south until it meets the ice caps of Antarctica.
The state has a long history of human settlement with various Aboriginal tribes and languages occupying the land of which is now considered South Australia. There is evidence of human activity as far back as 20, 000 years with some of the oldest rock art found around the Nullarbor Plain.
Its colonial history is also quite unique. The area of South Australia was declared a province in February 1836 and a colonial government officially began on 28 December 1836. It’s the only state to have never received British convicts and was set up as a freely settled British province.
What is South Australia known for?
The South Australian economy is dominated by mining, manufacturing, aquaculture, and agriculture. It’s also the leading Australian state in its commitment to renewable energy and it is currently the leading state producer of wind power. However, it’s also an extremely popular tourist destination with so much to offer the adventurous traveller.
There is no single standout feature of South Australia. It’s home to a world-class food and wine scene with some of Australia’s oldest wine-growing regions. There’s plenty of spectacular coastlines and ocean scenery to enjoy with the Eyre Peninsula, Fleurieu Peninsula, and Yorke Peninsula being the most well-known destinations. On the other hand, the state has some incredibly rugged and arid landscapes, with the famous Nullarbor Plain that stretches into the Great Victoria Desert. People come searching for unique adventures and epic bucket list experiences and it’s impossible to be disappointed.
The state is also home to an abundance of wildlife. On land, you can find plenty of native animals such as wombats, kangaroos, emus, and koalas. In the sea, the Great Australian Bight is considered one of the most biodiverse places in Australia with a variety of marine life. In particular, Southern Right Whales, Bottlenose dolphins, Australian sea lions, and Great White sharks can all be found off the coast.
Visiting South Australia
There are so many places to visit and things to do in South Australia that you can easily be occupied for weeks. Many people come to the state on a self-drive or road trip-style holiday. This way it’s easy to combine a number of the state’s highlights into the same trip and also get away from Adelaide and explore some of the more remote landscapes and attractions. Most people either begin their trip in the capital, where you’ll find the state’s main international and domestic airport. From Adelaide, many of the state’s top sights and places to visit can be easily accessed by shorter flights or self-drive tours.
It’s also common for people to visit South Australia on extended road trips coming across from other states on the major highways. Some of these highways are through remote, arid landscapes such as via the Eyre Highway from Western Australia, the Stuart Highway from Northern Territory, and the Outback Highway and Birdsville Track through to Queensland. There are also major highway connections to Victoria and New South Wales that are commonly used.
When to visit South Australia
You can visit South Australia at any time of the year. However, many people try to avoid the hot summers and come either in autumn or spring, when the weather is more mild but still dry. These are also considered the shoulder seasons and mean that you’ll find fewer tourists and quieter beaches. Winter in South Australia is still quite mild and it’s a great time to visit for those who are interested in catching some of the unique marine life. Southern Right Whales can be spotted off the southern coast from May until September each year, making winter the perfect time for whale watching tours.
Places to visit in South Australia
There are so many top places to visit in South Australia to suit every type of traveller. The state is characterised by stunning natural wonders, a variety of wildlife, and plenty of outdoor activities. No matter what your interests are or the type of holiday that you’re after, South Australia has something for everyone. Here are some of the must-visit places in South Australia.
A trip to South Australia is never complete without some time spent in the capital city in the southeast of the state. Adelaide is a laidback, charming city with a mixture of high-rise buildings, heritage-listed structures, and green park spaces. It’s known for its great cultural festivals and markets with an infectious youthful vibe. There’s always something going on in the city. From WOMADelaide in March to the wine vintage festivals in the nearby Barossa Valley, there’s never a shortage of things to do. See Experience Oz for things to do in Adelaide.
This is one of Australia’s oldest wine-growing regions and often considered one of the country’s best. The fertile soils of this beautiful valley produce world-class wine, as well as, plenty of locally grown artisan products. It’s a popular day trip from Adelaide at just an hour’s drive away from the capital. However, it’s best combined with a trip to nearby Clare Valley, for the ultimate food and wine tour in South Australia. Book ahead with Experience Oz for things to do in the Barossa Valley.
Not far from Barossa Valley, Clare Valley is another world-class wine region. It’s similar to Barossa in that it has a range of small towns, heritage buildings, boutique wineries, and beautiful scenery. It’s just a 90-minute drive north of Adelaide, making it another popular day trip or weekend away.
Kangaroo Island is often considered one of Australia’s true natural gems. This beautiful island off the coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula (a beautiful destination in itself) is the third-largest in Australia and is home to incredible natural scenery and an abundance of wildlife. Over a third of the island’s area is protected by nature reserves and national parks because of its incredibly diverse and vulnerable ecosystem. It’s reachable by direct flights from Adelaide or via ferry from Cape Jervis. Book your tours with Experience Oz for things to do on Kangaroo Island.
This stunning peninsula is just less than an hour south of Adelaide. It’s known for its beautiful coastal scenery and culinary scene. It’s home to McLaren Vale, another of South Australia’s wine regions as well as a rugged coastline to the south with an abundance of marine life. Book things to do on the Fleurieu Peninsula with Experience Oz.
Flinders Ranges National Park
This national park stretches northward above Port Augusta into the outback in the eastern part of South Australia. The stunning mountain range is popular with hikers, nature lovers, and keen photographers. You’ll find plenty of native wildlife in the park, as well as, Aboriginal art and cultural sites to admire. It’s a great place to get outside and camp under the stars, but there’s also a range of accommodation to suit everyone.
Mount Gambier is an extinct volcano with beautiful blue crater lakes, close to the Victorian border. The area is also known for its caves, with the World Heritage-listed Naracoorte Caves being considered one of the most special fossil sites in the world. The city of Mount Gambier is the second most populated in the state and is where you can base yourself for trips to the surrounding volcanic landscape.
This opal-mining town in the centre of the state has become a popular tourist destination. It’s known for its underground dwellings where residents escape the extreme weather conditions by living in dugout homes. The surrounding landscape dotted with opal mines has created an otherworldly-like sight that people travel far and wide to see.
Lake Eyre is the largest salt lake in Australia and the lowest point on the mainland at approximately 15m below sea level. It’s one of the country’s natural wonders with the real highlight being when it floods with desert rain. It’s located in the northeast of South Australia and is usually explored either by a self-drive tour or scenic flight.
At just over an hour’s drive from Adelaide, Yorke Peninsula is one of the most pristine and spectacular coastal areas in the country. From the remote and secluded Innes National Park to the Coastal Way road trip, the white sand beaches and delicious seafood restaurants draw plenty of tourists every year.
Australia’s longest river runs from New South Wales to the ocean in South Australia. It’s considered the food bowl of the country, but the river also offers plenty of water sport activities from water skiing to boating. It is a very popular holiday destination for families.
The triangular-shaped peninsula in South Australia is one of the country’s most beautiful coastal areas. It offers plenty of great wildlife adventures from cage diving with sharks to swimming with dolphins and whale watching. There’s also incredible coastal scenery in Coffin Bay and Lincoln National Park. Ceduna is considered the main town on the western side of the peninsula, while Port Lincoln sits further south, and Port Augusta is the major town in the northeast corner.
The Nullarbor Plain
Located on the coast of the Great Australian Bight in the west of the state, the Nullarbor is around 200, 000 square kilometres of almost treeless, arid plain. It’s home to a number of bucket list experiences such as a drive across the 90 mile straight, the longest straight road in Australia, as part of the Eyre Highway, the world’s longest uninterrupted sea cliffs known as Bunda Cliffs, and the world’s longest golf course called Nullarbor Links.
The town of Ceduna is considered the South Australian gateway to the Nullarbor and is where many great Nullarbor road trips begin, or end, depending on the direction of travel.
The Eyre Highway is the major road that runs across the Nullarbor Plain from Port Augusta through Ceduna to Eucla and beyond in Western Australia. This is considered one of the great road trips in Australia and people come from all over the country to take a trip across the Nullarbor from South Australia to Western Australia or vice versa.
Ceduna is a large coastal town along the Eyre Highway on the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula. It’s a popular destination with nearly a quarter of a million vehicles passing through the town each year. It has plenty of sights and attractions in the town itself, as well as, in the nearby places of Smoky Bay, Denial Bay, and Penong. See more here on our detailed map of Ceduna and surrounding regions.
Located eight hours west of Adelaide, Ceduna accommodation options and the position of the town itself is perfectly located as a base for exploring some of South Australia’s top bucket list experiences. Some of these incredible things that you can see and do around Ceduna include:
Eating delicious seafood
Ceduna is considered the Oyster Capital of Australia and has some of the best oysters you can find in the whole country.
Aboriginal art and culture
South Australia has some important Aboriginal history and cultural sites and Ceduna offers a great opportunity to delve into history and understand the Aboriginal culture a bit more. The Arts and Cultural Centre in town is one of the main highlights with plenty of unique Aboriginal art and souvenirs for sale.
World-class 4×4 adventures
Keen 4×4 drivers flock to South Australia looking for adventure. In particular, the world-famous Googs Track travels north of Ceduna for 360km. The track should be reserved for hardened and well-prepared 4×4 enthusiasts as it crosses over 300 sand dunes. It is one of South Australia’s real adventures.
With such fantastic seafood available, it should be no surprise that fishing is one of the most popular activities in South Australia. Ceduna offers some especially great fishing spots. You can go boat fishing, jetty fishing, and even remote rock and beach fishing. The popular catches include tommy ruffs, King George whiting, salmon, garfish and snook, also Bluefin Tuna by boat, and mulloway by beach.
South Australia has some epic surfing spots and many of them can be found within reach of Ceduna. Cactus Beach is a world-famous surfing destination just 90km west of town. The two left-hand breaks and one right-hand break at this spot are reserved for experienced and dedicated surfers. Surf here is often high on many surfers’ bucket lists. If you’re more of a beginner, then you can try Venus Bay or Fowlers Bay for more gentle waves.
The Nullarbor Plain
As mentioned above, the Nullarbor is a unique natural landscape and a highlight of South Australia. Ceduna is considered the gateway to the Nullarbor, with many people using the town as a place to rest up and resupply before or after an epic drive across the Plain on the Eyre Highway. The Nullarbor is home to some iconic features and incredible sights, such as the imposing sea cliffs, whale watching opportunities, and the world’s longest golf course.
The world’s longest golf course known as Nullarbor Links is an epic experience that takes up to four days to complete. The 18-hole par 72 course begins or ends in Ceduna depending on which direction you’re travelling, and stretches all the way to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia across the Nullarbor Plain.