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Flinders Ranges

South Australia

Family-friendly Activities

South Australia might be the driest state on the driest inhabited continent, but for the discerning traveller, this just means stunning desert landscapes, outback adventures to explore and a coastline lined with beaches that you can have all to yourself. Here, we look at the best places to take your family on your next holiday for something that little bit out of the ordinary.


It’s hard to imagine that 120 million years ago most of Australia was under water. It’s even harder to imagine that it was around 800 million years ago that the Flinders Ranges were created… now that’s what you call a land before time. Beautifully rugged, this arid landscape is home to sacred caves, cattle stations, country pubs and outdoors adventures galore. More than anything it’s the changing colours that make a visit truly memorable, as the mountains, canyons and skies morph from pale purples in the morning sun to stunning ochre reds at dusk.

Must do
×× 4WD to the many incredible lookouts that dot the peaks
×× Take a hike to the beautiful and mysterious Sacred Canyon
××Discover the secrets of Kanyaka Station Ruins and the Kanyaka Waterhole
×× Stop for some tucker at local pubs such as Prairie Hotel and William Creek Hotel
××Go ‘noodling’ for opals at Cooper Pedy
×× Take a scenic flight to marvel at a bird’s-eye view of the out-of-this-world landscape

Cooper Pedy mine is the world’s largest producer of opals and half the town’s population lives underground to escape the heat.

Adelaide Hills


Leafy towns surrounded by sprawling woodlands, lush gardens and world-class wineries and fruit orchards make Adelaide Hills a scenic retreat from the bustle and heat of the capital. Village hopping through rolling hills is the perfect way to spend the day or weekend. Trust us… there is no better place in Australia to spend an afternoon indulging in wine and fantastic food than the Land of the Long Lunch!

Must do
××Hit the winding mountain roads with Escapegoat Mountain Bike Tours
××Get your hands juicy cherry picking at Stella Creek Cherry Orchard or Lenswood Orchard
××Cuddle a koala; see crocodiles, wombats and dingos; walk among the kangaroos and wallabies; and explore the reptile house at Gorge Wildlife Park.
×× Immerse yourself in European culture in the township of Hahndorf and meet the adorable animals at Hahndorf Farm Barn
×× Browse the rows upon rows of kids’ books at Matilda Bookshop

Hahndorf is the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia.

Fleurieu Peninsula


The summer playground of Adelaideans for years, the Fleurieu Peninsula is an exciting mix of kid-friendly beaches, steam engines and historic towns, wineries, aquatic activities and – of course – there’s all those delicious fish’n’chip shops lining the waterfronts.

Must do
×× Spot dolphins, seals, sea lions and whales with The Big Duck Boat Tours
××Grab some beachside tucker at the Flying Fish Café in Port Elliot
××Meet native animals and farmyard pets at the Urimbirra Wildlife Park
×× Jump aboard the historic Cockle Train for a coastal journey to remember
×× Take the Horse Drawn Tram to Granite Island – you can even collect the business card from the horse that pulled you across!

In 1802, Matthew Flinders was surveying the coast for England when he encountered Nicolas Baudin, doing the same for France. Although their countries were at war, together, the ships returned to the bay and sheltered while the captains compared notes, hence the name ‘Encounter Bay’.


While it may only be minutes from the mainland, Kangaroo Island feels worlds away. This windswept and remote island’s main allure is the chance to see kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, sea lions, seals and other wildlife. Warning: once you experience the magic and natural beauty of this little gem, you may never want to leave.

Must do
×× Be bold and board the Little Sahara sand dunes
××Walk among the stunning Remarkable Rocks
×× Spot sea lions at the Seal Bay Conservation Park
××Discover the ancient cave remnants of Admirals Arch
×× Visit owls, kestrels, falcon, eagles and other feathered friends at the Raptor Domain

Kangaroo Island is seven times the size of Singapore.

Murray River


Picture this: balmy weather, red river gums, quaint riverside beaches and towns, nights spent bush camping under the stars and spectacular sunsets that spread across that endless horizon. Taking a houseboat down the Murray River is a holiday every Aussie family should do at least once. Also accessible in New South Wales and Victoria, South Australia’s own Riverland is less visited and less crowded, but just as beautiful. Expect white corellas and pink galahs to be your constant companions!

Must do
××Hire a houseboat to cruise down the river or jump aboard a paddle wheeler
××Canoe down the side rivers that aren’t accessible by a big boat
××Going water-skiing or take a ride on a sea biscuit
×× Spend a lazy afternoon on shore fishing, barbecuing and swimming
×× Visit Monarto Open Range Zoo, Australia’s largest open range zoo and home to giraffes, rhinos and chimpanzees

The River Murray Basin of 1,057,000 square kilometres is about one-seventh of the total area of Australia.



Located 394 kilometres north of Adelaide and just a one-hour drive from the magnificent Flinders Ranges, the seaside city of Whyalla combines the natural beauty of the coast, outback landscapes and rich heritage, plus an average of 300 days of sunshine each year – making it a perfect family stop for something a little bit out of the box.

Must do
××Don a captain’s hat and toot the ship’s horn on a tour of HMAS Whyalla at the Whyalla Maritime Museum
××Watch the sunset from 360-degree lookout at Hummock Hill
×× Put on your snorkel and wetsuits to witness the annual migration of the Australian giant cuttlefish – one of the most spectacular natural events in Australian waters – in the months of May and August
×× Spot dolphins at the Whyalla Marina and laugh at their playful antics
××Observe the spectacle of red hot coals emerging from the massive coke ovens touring the Whyalla Steelworks
××Meet friendly locals at the Tanderra Craft Village and delve into local history at the Mount Laura Homestead Museum

Whyalla is also known as ‘Steel City’ thanks to its production of steel and ship-building heritage.

All images courtesy of South Australia Tourism

This article appeared in volume 51 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.

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