There’s a world of summer fun to be had in South Australia – all you need to do is add water to get your splash on.
South Australia – the driest state, in the driest continent - is not exactly renowned as the water state. Sure, we have the most amazing coastline and awesome beaches - but inland, we’re practically a desert. (Although our most famous outback desert lake, Lake Eyre, is currently filled with water. Read more about that rare phenomenon here).
So it might surprise you to learn that away from the sand and surf, there’s a whole world of water-fun to be had. Grab your bathers, boardies and goggles and let’s go!
There’s no better place to start than at Waterworld! About 30 mins north-east of Adelaide, you’ll find a huge outdoor swimming complex with three slides, three pools and a splash zone, so there’s more than enough water to keep everyone happy - and watered. And on the hot day we visited, everyone certainly was.
Despite my age (30 something), the toddler and splash zone is the place I’m most comfortable. The water is warm and not too deep, there’s a bit of splashing from the little ones but not enough to saturate you, with small fountains to play in or sprinklers to run under if you prefer to relive your own childhood that way.
But with three very tall – two very fast and one very loopy – waterslides towering over us, I couldn’t ignore them for long. Plus it’s where all the cool kids were hanging out and where most of the fun was being had. What’s a mum to do but join in too right? Admittedly I had never been on a waterslide before, so this was a new challenge for me - but I figured Waterworld was the best place to start.
I went on the loopy, slower slide but most of it is in the dark, so that just adds to the fun, right? Yep I convinced myself that too so went on a few more times just to be sure. I left speed slide to the braver members of my family - including my five-year-old daughter - and she handled it with aplomb! And a speedy splash at the end!
A leisure pool, lap pool, lots of grass and shade, barbecues and as I mentioned before, plenty of water, complete the Waterworld experience.
If you’re south of the city and you’re in the mood for a drenching by a big - no, a giant - bucket of water, the SA Aquatic Centre is for you! It’s also a nice, somewhat rough, head and back massage if you’re in the right spot under the splash zone. Kids love it and you’ll see them gathering underneath in anticipation of the big tip!
There are a few smaller buckets over the toddler areas which are also fun, two slides in the splash zone and another waterslide that runs along the outside of the complex. If you prefer to swim, rather than splash, take your pick from the competition or diving pool, learner’s pool, leisure pool, toddler pool, jet pool, steam room or sauna. The best part is a family pass is only $23 and you could spend the whole day there if you like.
If you want to save a few dollars rather than spend them, here’s a tip - it’s hip to be square.
Henley Square’s recent revamp has resulted in a ground-level water feature that is beautiful and cooling to stroll through, but keep an eye out for the little ones lying or rolling around in the water below you.
To the right, you’ll see a shining sculpture which is more akin to a beautiful piece of art than an outdoor shower. Cool off underneath it or sit and admire it from a nearby shaded area which is gorgeous and has equally stunning views overlooking the beach and jetty.
Moseley Square at Glenelg is a favourite among kids - Miss 5 included - with its vertical water fountains that tend to squirt out a bit unexpectedly (even if you are expecting it funnily enough).
This is a great place to hang out while the kids splash around. Grab a bite to eat at any number of the nearby cafes or restaurants, then take a stroll; there’s the jetty one side of Moseley Square and Jetty Road shops on the other.
Here are some other great places to go for a dip, splash or slide:
Marion Outdoor Swimming Centre: About 5 minutes drive from the SA Aquatic Centre at Marion, this outdoor water complex has three pools, including a toddler pool, a 70-metre waterslide, lots of shade and grassed-areas.
Semphore’s Waterslide Complex: Right on the foreshore near the Semaphore jetty, the complex features a 70-metre waterslide plus amusements and sideshows. Semaphore is about 30 minutes drive from the city centre.
Adelaide Aquatic Centre: Closest to the city at North Adelaide, the leisure pool is all about fun with splash pads and indoor waterslides, as well a lap and diving pools.
Aquadome: Located in Adelaide’s northern suburbs at Elizabeth, there’s a giant indoor waterslide at Aquadome, a leisure pool and lap pool.
Victoria Square, Adelaide: In the heart of the city, Victoria Square’s water feature, with lots of vertical streams of water, is great fun on a hot day - away from the sand and not costing a cent.
Tusmore Park: To the east of Adelaide, about 10 minutes drive, is Tusmore Park, which boasts a shaded wading pool and lovely picnic grounds surrounding it.