Dolphins, Adelaide Hills and the beauty of South Australia

Wine Tasting South Australia

I was first introduced to the charms of South Australia when I was studying in Australia. I was based in Melbourne then and Adelaide was just a short 8 hour drive away. I didn’t think there was much to do there at first, but I was seduced by the sheer beauty of South Australia and loved it so much that I went back again 3 years ago.

Barossa Valley

I love food and wine and the latter is very abundant here. South Australia is home to Penfold’s and Jacob’s Creek! You can have wine tastings all day long and even if you’re not studying to become a Master Sommelier – if you truly are a foodie, you’ll love wine country. That alone is worth a trip here.

Wine Tour South Australia

I shall not bore you with details like how Adelaide has free transportation throughout the city – let that be a pleasant surprise when you come here. Chances are, you’re not going to stay in the CBD much anyway – most of the attractions are just a short distance away and I sure hope you didn’t come to South Australia to shop (nothing wrong with that, there’s just better things to do).

South Australia

Like I said earlier, you’ll not be disappointed with what South Australia has to offer in terms of wine tours. There are 18 wine regions in the state alone! Yup, I got that figure from a brochure but you have to admit it’s pretty amazing. I’ve been to wine tours and tastings in Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley, and Barossa. The Barossa Valley is said to have the world’s best Shiraz. Make sure to take some time to cycle along the Riesling Trail at Clare Valley, it’s truly a wine lover’s paradise and it’s the best way to get to the next flight of wines!

South Australia View

Of course, there are other things to do besides wine tours. Adelaide has a warmth and “smaller city” vibe which you can feel from the locals. People are generally less hurried and more helpful. I have a lot of friends who loved it so much that they stayed on and started families there. It’s also home to the World’s Biggest Rocking Horse! :)

World Biggest Rocking Horse

I’m not kidding, you can actually climb up and enjoy the fantastic view from the Horse’s head. I was told that in the past, the Horse was used as a lookout by the local South Australian Country Fire Service! It’s located in Adelaide Hills and is also home to The Toy Factory (largest in Australia) and a park and picnic area which have animals from kangaroos and wallabies to alpacas (the ones that look like llamas) to emus.

I also visited Hahndorf, a small town in the Adelaide Hills region. It’s a very beautiful place which has a strong German heritage – someone asked me at a dinner recently about my favorite place in South Australia and I had to struggle to remember the name because it’s so unusual.

There are a lot of restaurants serving German food in Hahndorf and if you love architecture, the fachwerk timber construction and the old heritage buildings would make this place a priority on your itinerary. It’s the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia and art and culture enthusiasts would be spoiled by the museums and galleries in Hahndorf.

Horse Drawn Tram Tickets

Victor Harbor is another beautiful destination I wholeheartedly recommend in South Australia. It has some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen in Australia. There’s something for everyone too – The Horsedrawn Tram takes passengers from the mainland using the wooden causeway to Granite Island every 20 minutes.

Victor Harbor Tram

Granite Island is where you can immerse yourself with a bit of nature and get some exercise done at the same time!

Kaiki Walk

I highly recommend you take the time to wear comfortable shoes and walk around the island – it’s worth your time and effort! The Kaiki Walk circumventing Granite Island take about 40 minutes and the various lookouts provide for beautiful scenes. Be sure to pack warm weather gear if you’re going in autumn though.

Victor Harbor Horsedrawn Tram

Eyre Peninsula is where nature aficionados would want to be – there’s everything from wildlife parks where you can see animals in their native environment. This is where I went swimming with the dolphins! It’s a really interesting once-in-a-lifetime experience that just cost AUD 150 (at the time). You can also spot sea lions! The dolphins are friendly and would come up and rub against you – this is perfectly normal behavior so don’t freak out. Dolphins are very social creatures and it was one of the highlights of my trip. Anyone can go – even if you can’t swim, since the provided wetsuits are naturally buoyant! It was a dream come true for me and my only regret is not having a waterproof camera. I strongly suggest you invest in one (even the disposable ones) if you go.

Dolphin Cruise

South Australia is also home to the popular Port River Dolphin Cruises. There are a few operators departing from this location and the best thing is that it’s just 20 minutes away from Adelaide CBD. You’re also guaranteed a dolphin sighting! I managed to see several pods of dolphins swim right up to our ship!

Dolphin Pod

The dolphins are very friendly and they’ll actually break the surf to try and be close to you. I loved the experience and I’m sure you’ll be charmed by our mammalian friends in the sea too!

Dolphins

South Australia is an often overlooked destination but to both the new and seasoned traveller it can offer up a lot of exciting experiences. There are direct flights to Adelaide from Kuala Lumpur and the best thing about the city is that it’s compact, with most attractions within close proximity of the CBD. Visit southaustralia.com for more details! Your Malaysian driving licence is valid in Australia too!

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28 thoughts on “Dolphins, Adelaide Hills and the beauty of South Australia”

  1. I was born in Victor Harbor, and after living away for most of my life, I’m lucky to once again call it home.

    I wish I’d know you were in town – I would have loved to buy you a beer! I’ve been following your blog since you were in Melbourne.

    • Thanks for reading mate! :)

      I didn’t have a local number when I was there, I’ll be sure to get in touch with you before I go to South Australia or Adelaide next time! Would love to meet up with you over beers! Cheers!

    • Yeah, it’s a beautiful place! :)

      Adelaide is a very underrated place, it’s very nice but few people have been there compared to Melbourne or Sydney. Happy CNY to you too Shirley!

    • Those are adult dolphins! :)

      They’re swimming in a pod though and try as hard as I could, I couldn’t take a photo of them cresting although they were following the boat very closely. It was a wonderful experience if you love dolphins!

    • Yeah, they’re awesome! :)

      I’ve swam with dolphins too and they’re really playful creatures. I was told not to be surprised if a dolphin butted me in the…er, butt. They’re just playing.

  2. What a lovely city with lots of excitements and fun everywhere. My sister who studied high school and graduated from Adelaide University always painted a boring picture to us! I love everything you have shared and I believe I could live there too with lots of wine and ocean’s dolphins to keep me happy.

    • It’s quite a vibrant city! :)

      Even when I was there in 2001, I quite liked the laid back charms of Adelaide. It was undergone a huge food revolution now, lots of interesting restaurants are open in Adelaide.

      There’s also free transport and dolphins and lots of wineries, making it a perfect place for a vacation!

  3. Did you manage to visit the Central Market when you were in Adelaide, HB? There is the Himeji Gardens; not sure if you’ve been there, but do take a trip there if you’re back here.

    I think you’ve forgotten about the coffee, too. Adelaideans love their coffee; my current accommodation has like access to around six cafés by foot and they are only separated by a couple of shops. And yes, the folks here are less hurried and it’s concentrated yet peaceful… it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of KL. =)

    I’ll definitely give the dolphins a visit. Thanks for the tip! I’ll definitely recommend it to my course/campus mates. =D Can I head to Port River by bus from the city? Or, do I have to drive or catch a cab?

    Oh yeah, if you’re in this part of town again, HB, feel free to drop me a note. ^^ Wouldn’t mind to treat you to a round of coffee. ^^

    • Yup, the Central Market was one of the first places I went to! :)

      I needed coffee and I remember eating at a nice place called Lucia’s Fine Foods. The coffee there was good too.

      Yeah, there’s a direct bus connection to Port River but I took the train, it was the Outer Harbor Line if I remember correctly. I know you can take either the bus or the train there so there’s no need for cabs. I just couldn’t remember which bus to take so I went to the train station to ask and ended up taking the train instead.

      I’ll be sure to get in touch before I go to Adelaide next! Thanks!

    • It’s a very nice place! :)

      Yeah, most people want to go to Melbourne or Sydney but places like Adelaide has a lot to offer too. A lot of my friends and classmates are now living in Adelaide!

    • Thanks! :)

      Yeah, the dolphins are amazing, it’s even more rewarding to go swimming with dolphins! Too bad I didn’t have a waterproof camera at the time or I would have taken photos with the dolphins. I’m not sure if it’s allowed though (am quite sure flash photography is prohibited, not sure if cameras are allowed to be brought along).

  4. I like the last sentence! :D haha, when I started driving for my holiday, I didn’t expect it to be awesome and I’m looking forward for more. Hmm, Australia always be in my wishlist, but do you suggest to go there in winter?

    • Thanks Hanis! :)

      Haha! Yeah, a lot of people didn’t know that. I drove using my Malaysian licence when I first got to Melbourne to study and I used it when I visited with my better half two years ago.

      Winter is an excellent time to go if you like cold weather, I spent many winters at ski resorts and learned to snowboard over my 5 years in Australia! It’s a totally different experience.

      • Is it possible to do skydiving or paragliding there too, I mean in winter?

        I always have long holidays during summer (in which it means winter in Australia), I gave a thought a lot about having proper attire, but, it didn’t seem good to me to bring my winter clothes all the way from Czech to Malaysia, then to Australia, back to Czech again.

        But, I really hope I can go there, one fine day!

        • Yes, you can most definitely skydive in winter! :)

          I got my AFF Solo A skydiving licence during winter in Australia, attended a one week (7 days with lodging, paid about AUD 3,000 for everything) course for that. It’s an International A license that allows you to skydive by yourself.

          I was back in Australia last year and two years ago went to NSW for a skydive:
          http://sixthseal.com/2011/06/skydiving-and-sea-kayaking-at-byron-bay-beyond/

          I wanted to use my Solo A licence to skydive alone but the package that was booked couldn’t accommodate me diving alone while the others had to be tandem (went with a bunch of non-certified people).

          Skydiving is the best thing I’ve ever learned to do, glad that you share the same passion!

          I’ve always been interested in paragliding but I haven’t got a certification for that but I know there are facilities in Australia for that. Skydiving in Australia is really fun, although you can only legally jump from 14,000 feet max (vs 18,000 feet in the US) the views are amazing!

          I’ve always wanted to do a HALO jump too, but to my knowledge, there’s no one offering that in Australia (due to the civilian limit of 14,000 feet).

          Hope you check out Australia one day, it’s my favorite country in the world, I’ve been back almost every year.

    • Adelaide is actually very developed! :)

      I just shared photos of the places outside CBD, coz every city looks pretty much the same. Haha.

      Yeah, the horse drawn tram is a lot of fun, the other best thing I did in South Australia was to go swimming with dolphins (and sea lions).

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