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13 Jun 2018

When the weather cools down, South Australia's wildlife comes out to play - both big and small. Whether it's under the water or in the bush, here's our guide to the best places to see and interact with our amazing wildlife in winter.

Dive with giant cuttlefish, Eyre Peninsula

The annual migration of giant Australian cuttlefish is one of the most spectacular events under the water - and is unique to South Australia. Each year between May and August, they gather in their thousands to mate and spawn off the coast of Whyalla on the Eyre Peninsula.

Known as the chameleons of the sea, cuttlefish change their colours and patterns wildly as they swim around, making for an underwater circus that snorkelers and divers won't want to miss.

Where: Stony Point, Whyalla, Eyre Peninsula (about 5 hours drive from Adelaide). Follow the 60-metre pathway that leads to the high water mark. Launch yourself from this platform on a self-guided snorkeling adventure to witness these fascinating creatures.

Join a tour: PureSA offers a 2-day tour itinerary which includes a guided dive with cuttlefish and sightseeing in the Southern Flinders Ranges.

Whale watching

There are some spectacular sights along the South Australian coast, but nothing compares to the annual southern right whale migration which takes place between May and October.

Whales can be seen along the coastline from Kangaroo Island and off the Fleurieu Peninsula around Victor Harbor just an hour's drive south of Adelaide. One of the most popular places to see these gentle 90-tonne giants of the sea is at Head of Bight on the Eyre Peninsula. Visitors follow a cliff-top boardwalk to a viewing platform from where migrating whales may be seen. Bring your binoculars for a better look.

Find out more at the South Australia Whale Centre at Victor Harbor or at the Head of Bight Interpretive Centre on the Nullarbor Plain coastline.

Where: Head of Bight, Eyre Peninsula (1.5 hour flight to Ceduna and then a 3 hour drive); Victor Harbor, Fleurieu Peninsula (1 hour drive from Adelaide); and Kangaroo Island (35 minute flight from Adelaide or 2.5 hours drive/ferry).

Join a tour: Tour operators offer boat and aerial tours from various locations. For the ultimate whale watching experience, buckle up for Chinta Tours Whales and Wheels, departing from Ceduna.

Echidnas, kangaroos and koalas

While whales can be spotted off the coast of Kangaroo Island, there's plenty of wildlife to see inland. Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive echidna train, which involves one female echidna being pursued by up to 10 males. Bird-watchers can see black swans nesting in wetlands and along rivers, while migratory wading birds arrive around August.

This is also the time you'll see kangaroo and wallaby joeys emerging from their mothers' pouches. Hanson Bay Koala Sanctuary is one of the most reliable spots for wildlife watching on Kangaroo Island.

Other places in South Australia to see koalas in the wild include Mikkira Station near Port Lincoln on Eyre Peninsula - a secluded spot where koalas live freely and in large numbers. Koalas also live happily in the Adelaide Hills.

Where: Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (35 minute flight from Adelaide. From Kingscote Airport, 1 hour drive). Mikkira Station (50 minute flight from Adelaide. From Port Lincoln Airport, 40 minutes drive). Cleland Wildlife Park (30 minutes drive from Adelaide).

Join a tour: Kangaroo Island Wilderness tours with local tour guides or book a private koala feeding tour at Cleland Wildlife Park.

Great white sharks, Eyre peninsula

Push yourself to the limit on an adventurous shark cage diving expedition off the coast of Port Lincoln - the only place in Australia where you can come face-to-face with great whites in their natural environment.

Fly to Port Lincoln from Adelaide in under an hour and join a full day boat charter which will take you to locations that are otherwise inaccessible. For those not wanting to get wet, Adventure Bay Charters offers prime viewing of the underwater action from the safety of a glass aqua-sub.

Where: Port Lincoln, Eyre Peninsula (50 minute flight, or 8 hours drive, from Adelaide).

Join a tour: Three tour operators offer shark cage diving in South Australia - Adventure Bay Charters, Calypso Star Charters and Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions.

Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions, Port Lincoln

Swim with tuna, victor harbor

Don a wetsuit and jump into an undersea aquarium to swim with southern bluefin tuna - known as the Ferraris of the sea. You can swim with tuna at Victor Harbor - just an hour's drive from Adelaide - from 2 September 2017.

The experience will bring swimmers face-to-face with the tuna as well as a diverse range of fish species. There'll also be a touch tank to allow visitors to get up close and personal with marine life.

Where: Victor Harbor, Fleurieu Peninsula (one hour's drive from Adelaide).

Join a tour: Oceanic Victor operates the Swim with Tuna experience.