the fp is things-to-do
Things to see and do in South Australia
South Australian Tourism Commission in the USAAddress: Suite 590, 6725 Sunset Boulevard,
South Australian Tourism Commission in the UKAddress: Australia House, Melbourne Place, Strand,
Telephone: (020) 7438 4637.
Attractions in South Australia
Cage dive with sharks
Put away your fears and come face-to-face with one of nature's supreme hunting machines – a great white shark – by cage diving at Port Lincoln or nearby Neptune Island. It's an area with pedigree where sharks are concerned: scenes from Jaws were filmed here.
Cross the Nullarbor Plain
Flat, moody and massive, the Nullarbor Plain stretches for some 1,200 km (750 miles) across the bay known as the Great Australian Bight. Catch the train across its middle to understand its size, or ponder the edge of a continent as it suddenly drops 90m (300ft) to form the Bunda Cliffs, which tower above the Southern Ocean.
Delve into the past at the SA Museum
Tracing multiple millennia of local history, Adelaide's South Australian Museum includes exhibits as diverse as 10,000-year-old boomerangs, whale skeletons and gold nuggets. Its Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery has a superb collection of artefacts, and there's also an excellent fossils gallery.
Dive with a difference at Mount Gambier
Take the time to visit Mount Gambier, a city built around an extinct volcano. The sights here include sinkholes, limestone coastal area and the Blue Lake, which boasts crystal-clear waters that change in colour with the seasons – for qualified divers, meanwhile, there's also the chance to dive in winding limestone caverns.
Find a gem in Coober Pedy
Fossick (sift dirt from working mines) for semi-precious stones at Coober Pedy, which produces 90% of the world's supply of opals. Fortunes have been made and lost in this extraordinary outback town where half the population lives underground to escape the extreme heat.
Go underground in the Naracoorte Caves National Park
Step into the Naracoorte Caves National Park near the southeast border with Victoria and see stalagmites, stalactites, bats and fossils. The Wonambi Fossil Centre – where you'll need to go to book a tour – also has exhibits that shed light on the underground features. The remains of giant prehistoric wombats have been found in the caves.
Go whale watching
Spot whales on the Fleurieu Peninsula around Victor Harbor and on the Nullarbor coast, where large colonies of Southern Right whales breed from June to September. And if you take the horse-drawn tram across the causeway to Granite Island, you'll have the chance to see penguins too.
Head into the Adelaide Hills
The part of the Mount Lofty Ranges nearest to the city is known as the Adelaide Hills, and a trip here gives the chance to take in wineries, wildlife parks and walking trails – as well as some cracking views. The one-time German settlement of Hahndorf is the main tourist hotspot.
Look out onto Lake Eyre
Australia's lowest natural point is found at Lake Eyre, the enormous salt lake in the north of the state. Given its desert environment it's usually dry, but after heavy rainfall becomes a vast inland sea. Its bright salt crust makes it spectacular at any time.
Meet Kangaroo Island’s fauna
Spot wildlife in its natural environment on Australia's answer to the Galapagos: Kangaroo Island. You might see anything from penguins, koalas and wallabies to kangaroos, seals and sea lions. While you're here, try local produce such as marrons (freshwater crayfish) and the honey from Island Beehive.
Sail the Murray River
Strap on some waterskis, jump onto a cruise or take to the tiller yourself – there's no bad way to experience the Murray River, which meanders for 650km (400 miles) through South Australia, having travelled from New South Wales and Victoria. River red gum trees line the banks, and along its length orchards and vineyards flank the waters.
Sip wine in the Barossa Valley
The Barossa Valley attracts around 60% of Australia's wine-tasting tourists – and you'll understand why when you're here. As well as producing a very nice drop (the Shiraz is particularly renowned), it's also a strikingly attractive area, with ample potential for cellar door visits and wine-based road trips.
Step out into the Flinders Ranges
Set eyes on South Australia's immense belt of peaks and bushland, the ancient Flinders Ranges. It's a region of spectacular granite peaks and colourful gorges dotted with eucalyptus trees – there are countless great hikes on offer, with some picturesque villages serving as good bases for walkers.
Take in a festival
Indulge in a plethora of world-class festivals in Adelaide, including the Adelaide Festival of Arts, which features everything from jazz to classical theatre, and the diverse Edinburgh-style Fringe Festival. On a similar note, WOMADelaide showcases musicians from around the globe – Jimmy Cliff and Peter Gabriel are among past performers.
Surf excellent waves off uncrowded beaches, particularly at Victor Harbor, Kangaroo Island and the more remote Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas (Eyre's Cactus Beach attracts surfers from all over the world). Elsewhere, Moana Beach is a surfing favourite along the Fleurieu Peninsula, while neighbouring Maslin Beach became Australia's first nudist beach in 1975.