Australia Road Trip-An Epicurean Adventure from Adelaide

Grab some wheels and prime your taste buds, because this South Australia road trip will have your eyes widening in wonder and your mouth salivating at the gastronomic goodness surrounding you.

A wide-open view of the beautiful terraced vineyards you will see on a South Australia road trip.

In the South Australia wine country, the views of terraced, quilt-checked hills go on forever.

Away from the frenzy of the tourist-crowded east coast of Australia, is a laid-back and gorgeous spot that has not lit up the tourist maps of the world… yet. But I predict it soon will, because South Australia’s got it all. And most especially, it’s got what your mouth and your stomach are craving.The best way to taste all the goodness of South Australia is with your own wheels, so you can wander at your own pace, stopping wherever you get hungry or just crave a long gaze at the beautiful views. You can rent a car in Adelaide, but it’s better yet if you can get hold of a caravan or camper. These are also rentable, of course, but if you’re planning to cover more of this continent-sized island beyond South Australia, you might want to consider actually purchasing one, using it for your trip, then reselling it when you leave. You can find used campervans and trailers of all types on this gumtree website.. Also, this site lists many places to camp in South Australia.

So, let’s get you on the road for your South Australia road trip.

You will most likely fly into Adelaide, the capital of the state of South Australia. It’s a genial, casual city, with a laid-back vibe under a layer of hip sophistication. Once known as The City of Churches for its strong Lutheran roots, it now pulses with a more secular beat and an artsy underbelly. It was also named a UNESCO “City of Music” in 2015. Several world-renowned music festivals happen throughout the year, and there are live-music clubs and pubs on nearly every street.

Adelaide was my first glimpse of Australia, and I was basically blown away—by the food, the nearby milk-white beaches, proximity to the country’s best wine region…and the people. One of my favorite eye-openers about Australians was how unstuffy they are. I felt like someone had taken the best qualities of Americans and Brits, mixed them with sunshine and salt water, and given them a unique accent I sometimes had trouble understanding. And I never met one in my time there who was less than kind, helpful, and welcoming.

Beehive Corner in downtown Adeliade, South Australia, is home to Haigh's Chocolates, in a fanciful, neo-Gothic building with stripes and gables, spires and dentilated cornices.

Beehive Corner in central Adelaide houses the city’s best known chocolate shop, Haigh’s Chocolates. chocolate shop,

This is a compact city, easy to navigate. The central district is edged all around by parks and greenways and the Rundle Mall pedestrian shopping area. There’s no lack of things to do in Adelaide. You’re offered plentiful and lovely parks and gardens. Rundle Mall lures you into its 15 buildings and plazas full of things to empty your wallet. Take tea at one of the outdoor cafes and smile at the whimsical street sculptures, including some darling bronze pigs, rooting around a trash can. Also, South Australia is the opal-mining center of the country, so keep your eyes open for beautiful creations featuring the rainbow-hued stone.

A short ride away on a historic tram brings you to Glenelg Beach. Sun and sand, a jetty, a lighthouse—all the beachy things you want and need.

The white sands of Glenelg beach are just a short tram ride from downtown Adelaide, South Australia

Glenelg Beach is Adelaie’s city beach, just a short ride on a vintage tram from the city center.
Photo by eguidetravel on flickr–CC 2.0 license

To get a sense of Adelaide’s history and culture, take a stroll along North Terrace, the city’s cultural boulevard. That’s where you’ll find the city’s great cultural institutions and museums, the National Wine Centre, Parliament House, and the beautiful and serene Botanic Gardens.

The graceful South Australia Parliament building in the North Terrace district.

The South Australia state parliament building in Adelaide graces the Northern Terrace cultural district.

Where’s the Epicurean Part of this South Australia Road Trip?

But I promised you food, an “epicurean adventure,” and for that we need to head to Adelaide Central Market. It’ the oldest fresh produce market in Australia, and it was my flat-out favorite spot in town. What you get is 70-odd stalls of color, noise, smells, and outright deliciousness. Here you’ll find the freshest regional produce, artisan breads, cheeses, butchers featuring the likes of emu steaks and ground kangaroo, bright-eyed fish scarcely out of the sea. The stallholders have fought against any new-fangled glitzy facelifts and revel in the noisy, rough-and-tumble atmosphere of the place, a true taste of Old Adelaide.

After wandering around and drooling for a while, I bought 120 grams of amazing chicken pastrami, a small round of herbed chévre, one perfect crisp apple, and a small loaf of grainy artisan bread. It made the perfect picnic lunch. If you’d rather “eat in,” the place is loaded with multi-cultural cafes. Whether it’s pizza, paella, or piroshki you’re pining for, it’s waiting for you here.

The Central Court at Adelaide's Central Market features a Victorian-era glass-domed ceiling.

Adelaide’s Central Market is a landmark, a meeting place and a foodies’ heaven.

Into the Hills and Valleys

Adelaide can keep you happy, entertained, and well-fed for several days, but eventually, you’re going to want to get behind the wheel and head north on that promised south Australia road trip. You’re about to take your taste buds on an epic journey, up through what may be the most beautiful wine country in Australia. The road winds through the Adelaide Hills and into the Barossa Valley, where we’re going to find a staggering number of winery tasting rooms, or cellar doors, ready to enlarge your wine knowledge and delight your mouth as well.

The wine that built the reputation of the area is Shiraz, aka Syrah. It is a deep, dark red wine, full-bodied, even a bit heavy in the mouth. I’m no wine connoisseur, having grown up on college plonk. But it was here, in the Barossa Valley, that I had my first ever wine epiphany: “Oh, so this is what really extraordinary wine tastes like!” College plonk would never again serve.

But it’s not just about the tasting up here, as wonderful and varied as that may be. It’s also about the doing. There are many places in the region where you can have hands-on experiences of creating your own gourmet products. There are multiple opportunities to take cooking classes, blend your own gin, learn to make cheese. There is such an overflowing cornucopia of tastes, treasures and experiences, it’s impossible to cover them all. But here is a small taste of what you might want to sample as you meander west and north, traveling through some of the most beautiful rolling countryside this side of Burgundy.

Prepare for a beautiful, peaceful, and flavorful drive.

A mountain of green grapes,, the bounty of the Australia wine country.

The beauty and bounty of the South Australia wine country, a region built on grapes. Photo by Thomas Schaefer on Unsplash

The Adelaide Hills – First Stop on your South Australia Road Trip

A short 20-30 minutes east/southeast of the city takes you into the Adelaide Hills, where gold mining history meets rich agriculture soil, an age-old pioneering spirit and modern innovation. The region produces wonderful cool-climate wines, with dozens of wineries where you can stop for tastings.

Be sure to plan a stop in the village of Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest German settlement. It began in 1839 when a group of German Lutherans, wanting to escape religious persecution by the King of Prussia, decided to immigrate to a safer place. It has managed to retain its colonial charm and is full to the brim with boutiques, galleries, bakeries, pubs and cafes. Walking the length of the main street, you’ll encounter antiques and toy shops, a puppet shop, a fairy garden shop, and a candle shop where you can make your own scented jar candles. For when hunger and thirst strike, there’s no dearth of ice cream, artisan cheeses, German pastries, and flights of craft beers. Plus, there are at least five winery tasting rooms right on the main street.

One fun Hahndorf experience is at Buzz Honey Hive Door, where they offer free tastings of various single-flower source honeys. Also, you can stand in a glass-walled observation hive and safely watch the bees at work. Just outside the village, if you stop at Beerenberg Farm from November to April (the Australian summer), you can pick your own sugar-sweet strawberries and lick the juice dribbling down your newly bright-red chin as you bite into them.

Finally, before moving on you must stop at the Hahndorf Hill winery, winner of multiple awards and “best of” namings, both for its wines and for its winery experience. A highlight of that experience is ChocoVino,, which matches Hahndorf Hill’s boutique wines to some of the world’s best chocolates for a pairing you won’t likely forget. Who knew wine and chocolate could be this good together? The experience is made even greater by the spectacular views of the winery and surrounding countryside from the glass-walled tasting room.

Wine and fine chocolate, perfectly paired at ChocoVine, Hahndorf Hills Winery,, in the Adelaide HIlls, South Australia.

Wine and chocolate, oh my! At ChocoVino at Hahndorf Hills Winery in the Adelaide Hills.

The Barossa, Where Wine is a Way of Life

In the rolling, verdant Barossa Valley, wine has been a way of life for more than 175 years. That history has built it into one of the world’s great wine regions. In this viticulture area are planted some of the oldest continuously producing vines in the world, some going back to the original cuttings brought from Europe in the 1840s. Add in a diversity of weather and soil conditions and you end with a wide variety of wine types and the unofficial designation as “Wine Capital of Australia.” (Since the weather can change from warm to quite cool from one side of the valley to the other, I suggest you take a wrap with you, even in summer. Something like my favorite travel shawl) is perfect.

One thing is certain. Where there is great wine, fine artisan food is sure to follow, as well as opportunities to watch it being made, grown, cooked, and brewed, and even take a hand at doing some of that yourself.

Driving north into the valley, you come to Lyndoch Lavender Farm, where you can stroll through the brilliant lavender landscape (hint: bring your camera!) They produce all sorts of lavender products, including soaps, essential oils, seeds, organza sachets, and sleep pillows. But for me the stars were the items that came from the farm kitchen. Lavender honey, mustard, chutneys and their classic lavender jelly, are all sold, with plenty of tastings to help you decide. At the Lavender Farm Café, you can get coffee or lavender tea, cheese platters, and lavender ice cream, lavender scones, lavender biscuits… you get the idea.

A beautiful field of lavender at sunset. Lyndoch Lavender Farm in the Adelaide Hills, on your South Australia road trip.

At Lyndoch Lavender Farm you can stroll through the lavender fields, buy products made with lavender, and eat gourmet treats flavored with lavender. Photo by Léonard Cotte on Unsplash.

A pretty drive up the road a piece brings you to Tanunda. It was also settled by those fleeing German Lutherans and is still full of quirky architecture from the 19th century. It’s hemmed on all sides by vineyards. Look to the end of any street in town and there be grapes. Stop at the Barossa Wine and Visitor Centre on Murray Streets for maps and information.

The old Tanunda Railroad Station in the Barossa Valley of South Australia, it's quirky architecture influenced by the early German immigrants.

The old Tanunda Railroad Station is typical of the colonial buildings in town, influenced by the style brought by German immigrants. Photo by Chris Fithall on flickr–CC 2.0 license.

Right in Tanunda’s main street you’ll find Barossa Valley Brewing where you can try an IPA, an award-winning ale, some cider or their outrageously amazing Special Batch Chocolate Coffee Stout, a heavyweight brew flavored with Peruvian cocoa nibs and Barossa roasted coffee. Enjoy your drink on the paved terrace beneath giant gum trees. Or on chilly days, snuggle by a wood fire inside.

Back on the road, we wind through hazy valleys and vine-quilted hillsides, studded with giant eucalyptus trees. There are as many opportunities as you could hope for to stop along the way for wine tastings, photo ops, or just drinking in the beautiful rural views.

Soon we come to Nurioopta, the Valley’s largest town, also surrounded by vineyards. There are even grape vines growing on some of the buildings in town. Our next stop on this pilgrimage of degustation is Durand’s Gin School. It’s adjacent to the better-known Maggie Beers Farm (also worth a stop). We’re going to make ourselves some private-label gin. Working at your own Italian copper still, you’ll mix a base spirit with your choice of botanicals, with plenty of advice and instruction to help you get it right. Then, while your still heats up and does its magic act, you’ll sit down to a four-course lunch. Afterward, you’ll break your newly-minted spirit down with pure water, bottle and label it. Your own personal gin is now ready for you to take home.

Just up the road is Penfolds, one of the best-known Australian wineries in the world. And from blending gin we can go to blending wine. Put on a white vigneron’s lab coat and step into the Winemaker’s Laboratory for a 90-minute learning experience. Here you’ll be given three wines and lots of tips and guidance. You’ll blend, sniff and taste until you have exactly the blended wine that suits you best. You’ll go home with a bottle of your own wine, with your own label. What a great souvenir!

A bottle of your own blended wine, created by you in the wine labs at Penfolds winery.

At Penfolds winery, you can go home with your own private blend wine, blended by you in the wine labs.

Seppeltsfield Road and Estate

There’s one more unmissable stop before heading back to Adelaide to finish our South Australia road trip. And it’s a big one you need at least an entire day for, maybe more, depending on how much you like to taste wines. Get onto Seppeltsfield Road heading east. For the next 6 miles/10 km, you will pass through beautiful hills and valleys where old vines grow in the rich red soil of this part of the Barossa Valley. Along the road are at least 18 winery tasting rooms, plus a cider brewer and a distiller. The last part of the road is itself spectacular, a 3 mile/5km stretch lined on both sides with enormous Canary Island Date Palms, more than 2000 of them in total, planted during the Great Depression.

the long stretch of Seppeltfield Road, also called Palm Road, leading to Seppeltsfield Estate Winery. It's lined with 2000 old Canary Island Date Palms

The magnificent Palm Road approaching Penfolds is lined with 2000 Canary Island Date Palms that are more than 75 years old. Michale Dawes on flickr–CC 2.0 license

Besides the wineries, some of the best and most famous Barossa restaurants are located along Seppeltsfield Road. At Hentley Farms, the 1880s stables have been converted into an elegant and contemporary dining room where the focus is on locavore dining. Much of the produce comes from the farm itself. Many items are foraged from the wild around the estate or caught in the local waterways. The rest is sourced from small family farms nearby. There’s no set menu but rather a constantly changing surprise menu that depends entirely on what is fresh and good that day and what magic the chef decides to create with it. These dishes are paired with the estate’s own wines.

Finally, that spectacular Palm Drive brings you to Seppeltsfield Estate, 420 acres of ancient vineyard, lush gardens, and heritage architecture. You can set your own pace and wander at will, taking in the winery and the beautifully planted gardens, and sampling some of the complimentary tastings offered. Or you can join a tour. There are heritage tours of the buildings, a Segway tour of the grounds, and one that takes you through the famous Centennial Cellar. From this almost sacred spot, Seppeltsfield has issued a 100-year-old Tawny wine every year since 1978. You can even taste your birth year wine.

The beautiful gardens at Seppeltsfield Estate, in the Barossa Valley of South Australia, on a golden day in autumn.

The gardens at Seppeltsfield Estate are extensive and glorious.

JamFactory, located in the 1850s stables of the estate, is a hub for craftspeople and design artists. As they work in their studios, creating beauty and function in jewelry, knife-making, ceramics, millinery, glass and other fine crafts, you can watch them and even stop to chat. Then buy their beautiful creations in the retail shop.

Leather artists in a studio at JamFactory on the Seppeltsfield Estate, Barossa Valley, South Australia

At JamFactory, you can watch and interact with the artists and craftspeople in their studios.

Our South Australia road trip itinerary has barely scratched the surface of what is available in this beautiful part of the country. There is so much more I had no room to include. As you meander through Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley, keep your eyes alert for serendipitous finds along the way, From cheese-making lessons to an Italian cooking class, from restaurants specializing in native “bush tucker” meals to places you can buy house-made mettwurst—there’s that German accent again—South Australia will reach out and hand it to you.

And a South Australia road trip, at a slow and meandering, sipping and swallowing pace, is the right way to experience it all.

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For a completely different Australian experience, check out my post on
things to do in Perth.

The iconic bell tower in Perth, Australia

A Fistful of Cool Things to Do in Perth, Australia

There’s no dearth of cool things to do in Perth, the capital of Western Australia. And many of the most fun things to do in Perth can appeal to older women travelers, no matter your age or degree of comfort with “adventure.”

Perth, Australia—locals call it “The Pretty City.” And with good reason. This west coast city of 2+ million people has a special blend of nature and urban cityscape that can capture both the eye and the heart. With its modern architecture, its plethora of green spaces, and surrounded by some 25 miles (40 km) of soft-sand beaches and the glassy water of the Indian Ocean, it is beautiful for the eye and the lifestyle. And the fact that it has more sunny days per year than any other capital city in Australia doesn’t hurt. The best Perth points of interest will keep you outside a lot of the time.

Perfectly situated where the Swan River meets the Indian Ocean, Perth offers a laid-back lifestyle with a cosmopolitan accent. With such a diverse landscape and cityscape, there’s a long list of intriguing, adventurous and downright fun things to do in Perth. (To find out what’s on in Perth today, visit the Perth city Tourism website. And for a great way to save money here, check out the best offers on things to do in Perth at Groupon.

Let’s take a closer look.

A Twilight view of the skyling of Perth, Australia shows one reason it's called The Pretty City.

There’s a reason Perth, Australia is called “The Pretty City.” From skyline to greenways, river to Indian Ocean,
it’s a delight for both the eye and the lifestyle.

Step Up and Look Out

One of your first things to do in Perth is to look at it from a vantage point that will help you get your bearings. I always like getting to some high point in a new city for an overview. In Perth, the best view of The Pretty City, night or day, is from the Fraser Avenue Lookout. You can see how the Swan River snakes through the city, a watery anchor for everything else. You can also see the Narrows Bridge spanning the river.

A view of Perth showing downtown, the Swan  river and the Narrows bridge.

Perth, Australia, offers so many lovely views. Get high up to see it at its best.

And then there’s this… because Tree Tops! Head to the Lotterywest Federation Walkway along the boundaries of Kings Park. The glass-and-steel arched bridge of the walkway begins near the massive Boab Tree, a 750-year-old giant transplanted here from the Kimberley area, nearly 2000 miles (3200 km) away. In a stroll of about 40 minutes, it takes you among the canopy of eucalyptus trees and gives spectacular skyline views of the city. You’ll see the Swan and Canning Rivers, get a sense of the diverse Western Australia flora, and be treated to aboriginal art along the way. One of the most fascinating and fun places to go in Perth, the walkway is open daily from 9-5, is free and is wheelchair accessible.

The glass-and-steel arched walkway traversing the tops of the eucalayptus trees in Perth's Kings Park.

The glass-and-steel Lotterywest Federation Walkway in Kings Park lets you walk among the treetops.
It’s one of the best experiences in Perth.

Eat it Up—One of the Most Delicious Things to do in Perth!

A Cloud Gelato treat in a huge cone, enough to fill you to the brim.

Cloud Gelato–a waffle cone that’s crispy out, soft inside and filled with deliciousness.

Perth’s food scene has exploded in recent years, and you’ll find anything you’re hungering for. From high-end, chef-centric restaurants to the diverse farm stands at Twilight Hawkers Market, from a classic high tea with bubbly at Bistro 10481 to pigging out at Margaret River Chocolate Company (free chocolate tastings!), Perth’s got it. Judging by its diverse food scene, Perth is a truly cosmopolitan place. And thanks to the sunny climate (remember, it has more sunny days than any other capital city in Australia), it has a high concentration of rooftop bars and dozens of opportunities for al fresco dining.

On one of those sunny days, you should definitely hit Cloud Gelato in Hay Street to gorge on one of their signature “cloud waffle” cones, crispy outside, fluffy inside, and filled with premium gelato and enough toppings to please even the most hedonistic Nomad Woman.

Drink it In

Upshot Whiskey from Whipper Snapper Distillery in Perth, Australia

Learn about how whiskey is distilled and why Whipper Snapper Distillery’s Upshot Whiskey is so delicious.

The liquid spirit of Perth is another draw. With the nearby Swan Valley wineries creating some of the best wines in Australia, a bunch of breweries turning out great brewskies, and super-fine coffee on offer all over town, you won’t go thirsty. Take a tasting at the award-winning Upper Reach winery or the globally known Sandalford Winery in the valley. Hit Billabong Brewing for their gluten-free wheat beer, brewed on the premises. Or head to the super-luxe Northbridge Brewing Company for a brew overlooking the city’s skyline from their rooftop Skydeck. For coffee brewing turned into art, head for Standing Room Only, a tiny place in the middle of Picadilly Arcade, with no seating, as the name implies. All they do is coffee, and they do it perfectly. These guys are passionate about coffee and it shows.

If your spirit needs a spirits lift, you need to go to Whipper Snapper Distillery for a whiskey workshop and tasting. You’ll learn that the recipe was developed during World War II by a couple of bomber pilot mates—one Yank and one Aussie. Then it was tweaked 50 years later by a renowned whiskey maven from Scotland. Learn how it’s made and leave with a bottle of their goes-down-so-easy Australian Upshot Whiskey, aged two years, or their whiskey-inspired smoked honey.

Speed it Up—Get an Adrenaline Shot with These Exciting Things to Do in Perth

Need an adrenaline rush? That’s also easy to find in Perth, whether as a spectator or a super-active participant. You can have a 90-minute motorcycle lesson from Down Under Riders. Enjoy a day-long quad tour just outside town. For something a little less stressful, watch harness racing at Gloucester Park. Water babies can learn to ride that wave at Gone Surfin’ Surf School, and they’ll provide the board. At Rooftop Trapeze, you can learn to be that “daring young woman on the flying trapeze.” And for the highest thrill of all, one I’m dying to do myself, let West Oz Skydiving drop you from a plane up to 14000 feet in the air, attached to a professional for a tandem dive. What a thrill! (To see how I’ve been preparing myself for my own first skydive, check out this post about IFly Indoor Skydiving

A tandem skydive, one of the thrills available in Perth, Australia

Sskydiving is one of the thrills I am dying to experience (no deathwish intended). In Perth, it’s easy.

Throw it Back

For a totally different experience of flight, go back a whole lotta years and take a flight tour in a vintage open-cockpit 1930s bi-plane at Ozwest Aviation. See how daddy did it, complete with the wind against your face. It’s great fun.

What a cool red vintage 1930s biplane.. Rides available at Ozwest in Perth.

In an Ozwest Aviation vintage biplane from the 1930s, you’ll see how daddy (or grandpa) experienced flight.

Don’t Feed the Animals

This is Australia, and you can’t leave without a wildlife hit. I mean… kangaroos, right? You might not think you could find them close to town, but Heirison Island, a wildlife refuge in the Swan River, is teeming with the bounding cuties. They are very tame, and not at all people or camera shy. You may have to walk around the island a bit to spot them, or you can head to their enclosure at dusk, when they emerge from the bush. Get there on the free red CAT bus from the WACA stop then it’s a short walk across the causeway. You’re also likely to see lots of birds on your walk, including egrets, ravens and willy wagtails. Open daily.

A kangaroo looks out from the golden grasses of Heirison Island, not far from Perth, Australia.

To see ‘roos up close, head to Heirison Island, just a short bus ride and a walk across the causeway from Perth.

For another unmissable wildlife experience, you can take the brief ferry ride across the Indian Ocean to Rottnest Island—“Rotto” to the locals—and have a close-up look see at what may be the world’s cutest and friendliest marsupials. Expect the island’s quokkas to steal your heart. These little fellas, about the size of a house cat, will come right up to you as you sit in a café and will happily pose for photos. But please, please don’t handle or feed them. It can make them sick, and there’s a high fine for doing it. Do be prepared for a series of “aww…” moments. These guys are such cuties! Rottnest Island is also worth exploring. The whole place is car free, but you can rent a bike at many places, or just have a lovely walkabout.

A darling little quokka on Rottnest island, looks up with a beseeching face, showing why everyone loves them.

The quokkas on Rottnest Island, a short ferry ride from Perth, provide a whole lot of “Awww…” moments.
But please don’t handle or feed them!

As you can see, there are more than enough fun things to do in Perth to keep you busy for days… or weeks. It’s a part of Australia that’s not on many tourists’ radar. It should be on yours.

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Pin - Cool things to do in Perth, showing the Bell Tower.