With spectacular coastlines, golden sand beaches, and delicious food & beverages, the Fleurieu Peninsula, nestled just south of Adelaide is the perfect destination for a day trip, or even a weekend getaway.
Growing up in Adelaide, I always took the region for granted, the beaches, rolling green paddocks, majestic gum trees, fields of grapevines and stunning coastal cliffs were just a part of life – and an easy day trip from home.
I’ve been living away from Adelaide for a while now, and an extended stay at home due to the corona virus pandemic gave me the opportunity to explore my old backyard all over again (once it was safe to travel).
Having this time to explore reminded me how very special this region is. Within a short drive of Adelaide, you can explore National Parks & forests, marvel at the rugged coastline or enjoy some epicurean delights. Wherever you go on the Fleurieu Peninsula, there’s an abundance of natural beauty on offer, and plenty of adventure to enjoy.
If you’re ‘on your way to everywhere’ and don’t have time to read on now, pin it here for later .
Goolwa – Gateway to the Coorong
The historic river port of Goolwa is just one of many great locations you can visit on a trip to the Fleurieu Peninsula. Take a wander through the main street, and down to the historic wharf, and use the town as a base to explore the surrounding sights. Nearby are the south coast beaches of Goolwa & Middleton, Hindmarsh Island, the Currency Creek Wine Region, and the Murray Mouth and Coorong National Park, made famous by Colin Thiele’s ‘Storm Boy’.
I visited primarily to take a tour into the Coorong. It’s the only way to cruise the salt water lagoons, unless you have your own boat! The half day tour was run by Spirit of the Coorong and included a stop to stroll across the sandhills to the Southern Ocean. Look out for an upcoming post on the Coorong where I’ll feature the tour in more detail!
Nestled on the shores of Horseshoe Bay, Port Elliot is another popular seaside town worthy of a visit. Make a stop at the iconic bakery on your way along the main road, before heading to the coast to enjoy views of the dramatic coastline.
In Summer, grab your beach bag and book and lay your towel on the golden sands of Horseshoe Bay. Surfers might prefer to head to nearby Boomer Beach if there’s a swell. If you’re visiting Port Elliot in the winter, then park up by the Freeman Lookout and lace up your walking shoes. There are some wonderful coastal trails where you can take a stroll along the rugged clifftops. This is a great spot to look out for Southern Right Whales that often visit during the winter months.
Victor Harbor & surrounds
The quaint seaside town of Victor Harbor has been a favorite for generations of holiday makers . ‘Victor’ is a great place to base yourself overnight, or even for a couple of days. In town, stroll the streets to browse the stores, or sample local seafood delights. Then head on down to the Causeway and walk, or take the iconic horse-drawn tram ride to Granite Island. Once you’re on the island, walk the Kaiki trail – a 1.9km trail around the Island, rated as one of the Great Short Walks of SA.
For those looking for a little more activity, sign up for the sunset Penguin tour, or maybe take a walk on the Heritage Trail or the Heysen Trail. Head on over to The Bluff to walk some of the coastal trails with epic views in both directions. This is where the coastal cliffs really come into their own.
Waitpinga & Parsons Beaches
Tucked away deep on the coastline in Newland Head Conservation Park are Waitpinga & Parsons Beaches. I visited on a cold, wet and windy day, but this remote the beach was gorgeous all the same. Beautiful golden sand gives way to the crashing waves of the Southern Ocean. The beach is a favorite for surfers and fishermen. It’s equally as good as a place to relax or take a stroll along the beach. There’s a campground in the Conservation Park for those wanting to extend their stay in this lovely, remote beach side park.
Deep Creek Conservation Park
Located about 11k’s from Cape Jervis, Deep Creek Conservation Park is a haven for both flora and fauna. The park has the largest remaining stringybark forest in the region (a walk on the Forest Circuit trail is ESSENTIAL), and is home to a plethora of native Australian wildlife that you’re sure to encounter on your hikes.
On a clear day, you’ll also enjoy some great views of Kangaroo Island from the park. I enjoyed the Blowhole Beach Hike for it’s particularly epic views of KI, and the rugged coastline. This is just one of around 15 trails in the park. If you’re hiking, make sure to choose a trail that suits your level of experience. Some of the trails are quite steep (and slick in winter).
If one day in Deep Creek Conservation Park isn’t enough, then there’s a couple of campgrounds in the park. I can’t think of anything better than camping in the native bush, and sharing a sunrise with the local wildlife.
Rapid Bay & Second Valley
On the main road from Normanville to Cape Jervis, there’s a couple of great detours you simply shouldn’t miss. Follow the road that trails between emerald green fields (in winter), and then drops steeply down to Rapid Bay. Rapid Bay was always known for it’s deep bay, and long jetty, which is closed, but remains a great photographic subject. You can stroll along the new jetty to enjoy the best views, or even indulge in a spot of fishing.
Besides the jetty, you might enjoy exploring the sea caves at low tide, or don your scuba gear and go in search of Rapid Bay’s iconic Leafy Sea Dragon.
Second Valley sports a much smaller jetty, but is no less dramatic. This little cove features some epic geological formations to appreciate and explore. Done exploring? You can fish from the jetty, or don a wetsuit and dive in search of the Leafy Sea Dragon. Looking to relax on the beach? I’d recommend heading north to Normanville or Carrickalinga for a better beach experience.
This little cascade waterfall is really easy 500m walk from the parking lot. Stroll along the creek until you reach the falls – then take time to explore. Ingalala Falls is the perfect location to either relax and enjoy a picnic, or get active and explore some of the trails in the forest.
I’d highly recommend a stop at the Yankalilla Bakery to pick up some top notch baked goods for your picnic. (I LOVED their vegan pasties)
An epicurean’s delight, the McLaren Vale region is located just 30-something k’s from Adelaide. The region is home to world class wineries, natural attractions and exceptional cultural and culinary experiences.
If wine is not your thing, then the McLaren Vale region still has plenty to offer. There are some exceptional food offerings (Salopian Inn, Red Poles, Star of Greece and the Willunga Farmers Market to name a few), and a growing number of microbreweries to enjoy (try Swell, South Coast Brewing, Shifty Lizard, or a little further afield to Smiling Samoyed). Alternatively, drop into d’Arenberg to check out The Cube and it’s mind bending Alternate Realities museum!
South Coast Beaches
If it’s dreamy golden sand beaches you’re after, then the Fleurieu Peninsula is where it’s at. Check out Port Noarlunga and Moana for great swimming beaches. To drive your car onto the beach – head to Moana or Aldinga. Photographers? You can catch a great sunset at Port Willunga or Port Noarlunga South. And if you really just love to appreciate the power of the mother nature, then head to the south coast beaches of Waitpinga, Parsons, Boomer Beach or Middleton to watch as the Southern Ocean does it’s thing.
As a testament to how much I love a few of these beaches, they feature in my post on the Dog Friendly Walks South of Adelaide
Check out my map, featuring all the locations I’ve discussed in this post.
The Fleurieu Peninsula is chock full of natural beauty, so you’ll be sure to have a fun filled day wherever the road takes you.
Do you have any favorite locations on the Fleurieu Peninsula that I should check out next time? Let me know in the comments
UPDATE: I made a little video… I’m a total rookie at putting these things together, but I had a LOT of fun doing it, so let me know what you think! I might try making a few more videos for some upcoming posts.