Forget airport queues, lost suitcases and cancelled flights and embark a on road trip from Sydney to Adelaide and discover the parts you would miss from the skies.
Watch stunning countryside vistas flash past your window like a nostalgic movie montage as you weave through quaint historic villages, stopping in and sampling artisan food and wine grown just a stone’s throw away. Park up for the night at a local farm stay, tiny home, or off-grid retreat for a full immersion. Ready to hit the road? Start your engines and check out our suggested scenic route for the ultimate road trip from Sydney to Adelaide.
GETTING TO SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Skirt across the top of Victoria from Sydney towards the New South Wales/Victoria border town of Tooleybuc via Wagga Wagga and Hay before arriving into South Australia. Crossing into Victoria, continue along the Mallee Highway until you hit the South Australian border, just shy of the town of Pinnaroo. This same highway will take you all the way through to Tailem Bend – where your adventure begins! If you are looking to stay overnight in South Australia before making it as far as Tailem Bend, park up at the Pinnaroo Caravan Park to catch some well-deserved Z’s. In the morning, be sure to stop past The Groundsman to sample their award-winning cold brew coffee before making tracks for Tailem Bend.
1. Tailem Bend, Murray River, Lakes and Coorong
Harness the adrenaline and excitement that comes with the start of any good adventure by testing your reflexes at The Bend Motorsport Park. The world class motorsport facility must be seen – and driven – to be believed. The best part? Experience one of Austral-ia’s best motorsport facilities from the comfort of your own car with one of their BYO car experiences ‘Breakfast and Bends’ or ‘Lunch and Laps’.
2. Monarto, Murray River Lakes and Coorong
Dreaming of an African safari? You’re in luck. The Monarto Safari Park is the largest safari experience to exist outside of Africa, and it is just hop, skip and a roar away from The Bend Motorsport Park. Spanning 1,500 hectares, Monarto Safari Park is home to one of Australia’s largest lion prides and giraffe herds. You can even jour-ney into the heart of the lions’ den – if you dare - with their Lion 360 experience, the only lion encounter in Australia that gives you a prey’s eye view into their world.
3. Paris Creek Via Strathalbyn
From Monarto, weave your way 40 minutes southwest to the quaint village of Strathalbyn – your gateway to the Fleurieu Peninsula and Adelaide Hills. Stop in at The Pickle Pot to pick up one of their pre-arranged cheese packs, or browse their selection of ethical and sustainably produced gourmet goods to build your own picnic. Gather what you foraged for and take the Paris Creek Road out of town before settling in Agatha at Devon Valley Farm Stays for the night. This quirky accommodation comes in the form of an original clipper caravan, that has been luxuriously styled in the glamour of the Art Deco period. It’s parked within a working farm, but don’t let that fool you. This take on a tiny home comes with all the bells and whistles – including velvet sofas, a queen bed, air conditioning and a sprawling deck featuring a sunken bath. But the one feature you can’t put a price on? The sound of silence, country immersion and waterfront dam views.
4. Macclesfield, Adelaide Hills
Feeling rejuvenated after your off-grid escape in Paris Creek, continue your journey just 5 kilometers up the road to Macclesfield. Here you will discover a true base camp for the bon vivant, as you officially enter the Adelaide Hills region. Stop in at one of South Australia’s best wineries - the award-winning Longview Vineyard – that features 65 hectares of rolling hills and manicured lawns. Spend your day at their rustic-chic cellar door while sampling estate grown wines, before salivating over their antipasti offering. Alternatively, treat yourself by booking one of their day spa treatments. Looking for another overnight option in the area? Or perhaps a bit more space than Agatha has to offer? Longview Vineyard is home to 12 luxury king suites, a lodge and homestead – earning them a spot on the 2022 Gold List of Australian Accommodation.
5. Echunga, Adelaide Hills
Keep motoring to Echunga, another historic village that boasts one of the oldest pubs in the state. Established in 1848, stop in at the family run Hagen Arms – that was lovingly restored in 2018 with locally sourced, recycled timber and stone. The result? A blend of olden day charm and modernism. Think a collection of skate-boards from the 1980s and colourful murals alongside heritage stonework and fireplaces.
Just outside of Echunga lies the secret to Australian beauty brand Jurlique’s success. The Jurlique Farm, in the Adelaide Hills, belongs to the pioneer brand of holistic and conscious beauty solu-tions. Take a tour of this biodynamic farm and complete your visit with a luxurious spa session, which may include an Anti-Stress Facial, or perhaps the 75 minute Rare Rose Holistic Facial.
6. Hahndorf, Adelaide Hills
No South Australian road trip is complete without a visit to Hahndorf - Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement, established in 1839 by Lutheran immigrants. It really is an artisan village, whether you’re sampling the wines, the beers, the locally distilled gin plus traditional German meats and, of course, kaffee und kuchen - coffee and cake. Hahndorf is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia and is a heritage listed town. Quick tip - skip the traffic of the main drag and park down one of the side streets, as you will want to explore their iconic main street by foot. This way, you can truly appreciate how the locals have lovingly preserved heritage German style buildings, stop in at quirky artisan boutiques specialising in everything from leather, fudge, knives and beeswax.
Want to get a local perspective? Why not join the Strudel and Stroll Walking Tour, the only foodie experience tour in the village. Learn how to make your own strudel, hear about the origins of the humble pretzel, and discover folklore and stories only a local can divulge. Don’t leave Hahndorf without a visit to Sidewood Estate - a family owned 5 Red Star Halliday Wine Companion accredited winery. Sidewood attracts trophies for its cool climate wines, which are available for tasting.
7. Stirling, Adelaide Hills
It’s hard to believe that you are just 20 minutes from Adelaide’s CBD as you weave through the rolling green hills that undulate between Aldgate and the biggest town in the area - Stirling. Stirling has grown to become almost an outer suburb of the city. And by suburb, we mean a picturesque village tucked between a patchwork of green hills and vines, waterfalls, heritage estates and castles. Get the true fairytale experience with a stay at the Thorngrove Manor Hotel or The Castle Keep B&B, before grabbing a coffee and journeying to the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens. Breathe in the fresh Adelaide Hills air as you take in the panoramic views of the Piccadilly Valley and marvel at the amazing floral diversity here. Wildlife abounds, including butterflies, parrots, bandicoots - even kangaroos and koalas.
The most direct route to Adelaide from Sydney follows almost the same route as suggested in this guide, but instead of leaving the path well-travelled for a spot of sightseeing, you continue on from Tailem Bend along the Princes Highway for a straight shot into the heart of Adelaide.
Alternative scenic route
Looking to see another side of South Australia? You can follow the same journey as the most direct road trip above until you get to the town of Balranald. Once here continue along the Sturt Highway - hugging the Victoria/New South Wales border past Euston – before quickly popping into Victoria to go through Mildura. From Mildura, you are just a hop, skip and a jump from the famous ‘welcome to South Australia’ sign that sits at the border with Victoria, alongside the Sturt Highway. Make the short journey from here to Renmark, where our Mighty Murray Way road trip begins! We suggest following the Mighty Murray Way on your way back to Sydney as an alternative scenic route to the one outlined in this guide, that way you get to experience the truly diverse landscapes our state has to offer.
For a stop by stop itinerary with all the must see spots and a downloadable map, check out our Mighty Murray Way road trip hub.
All visitors are encouraged to plan ahead to stay up to date on the latest traffic updates including road closures, road works and planned events via the South Australian Government website.