South Australia is home to some of the most unbelievable natural wonders in the world.
Rainbow-coloured lakes, flourishing gardens deep below the earth’s surface and ancient mountain ranges older than time itself. From the farthest reaches of the outback to sitting literally on Adelaide’s doorstep, South Australia’s landscape reveals untold wonders that have to be seen to be believed. How many have you experienced? Start ticking off your South Australian bucket list.
1. Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges
What’s 700 million years older than the Grand Canyon and eight times larger than Uluru? Emerging from the red earth, the ancient ramparts of Wilpena Pound are the rocky crown of South Australia's rugged Flinders Ranges. Known as Ikara to the Adnyamathanha people, deep craters, towering, rugged clifftops and jaw-dropping mountain ranges make up this natural colosseum. Traverse the peeks on foot on the Arkaba Walk, get a birds-eye view of the Pound on a scenic flight or learn about the important Aboriginal culture of the area on a guided tour. The Flinders Ranges' natural wonders don’t stop there, either. Other highlights include Rawnsley Bluff, Razorback Lookout in Bunyeroo Gorge and Stokes Hill Lookout. Discover them all with our Flinders Ranges itinerary.
2. Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island
Seven times the size of Singapore and home to some of Mother Nature’s most remarkable creations, Kangaroo Island is a natural wonder in itself. But the wind-blasted boulders of Remarkable Rocks are arguably the island’s most breathtaking natural gem. This geological phenomenon has been crafted from granite by the pounding wind, sea and rain over 500 million years and is one of the most recognisable landmarks on the island. Tucked within the wilds of Flinders Chase National Park, commanding views over the Southern Ocean only add to the drama of this eagerly photographed landscape. Morning and late afternoons are the best times to visit as the sun transforms the lichen covered rocks into glowing monuments of Mother Nature’s artistry. Natural wonders never cease on Kangaroo Island so tick them all off with our guide to the island’s most bucket list-worthy attractions.
3. Pink Lakes
South Australia is home to some of the world’s most vibrant salt lakes, creating a patchwork of pink from the ocean to the outback. An astounding natural phenomenon, the neon pink hues are the result of a chemical called carotene, produced by algae. It’s the same chemical that give flamingos their blushing pink feathers. One of the best spots to admire nature’s handywork awaits at Lake MacDonnell on the Eyre Peninsula, where bubble gum shores are set against turquoise waters. Here, Mother Nature’s full palette is on show with a super-high salt concentration resulting in some seriously intense colours. A little closer to Adelaide (less than two hours’ drive, in fact), Lake Bumbunga’s magenta waters await on the doorstep of the famed wineries of the Clare Valley. You don’t have to roam far to see the world through rose coloured glasses in South Australia so start exploring with our guide to the best pink lakes in South Australia.
4. Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake, Limestone Coast
The Limestone Coast is a natural wonderland. The once volcanic landscape has given way to some of South Australia’s most iconic natural wonders, the most renowned of which is the Blue Lake. Once an active volcano, the 72-metre-deep crater is now filled with cobalt water which mysteriously changes shade to a deep, turquoise blue during spring. Its lesser known but equally impressive counterpart, Little Blue Lake, also boasts eye-piercingly blue waters - that you can dive straight into. The natural swimming amphitheatre is surrounded by breathtaking sheer 10-metre limestone walls and its crystal-clear fresh water is perfect for hot summer days. Start planning your adventure to this natural wonderland with our Limestone Coast itinerary, then check out some of South Australia’s other secluded swimming holes.
5. Umpherston Sinkhole, Limestone Coast
Tucked beneath the earth’s surface lies a real-life Garden of Eden, also known as Umpherston Sinkhole. Just one of the geological wonders that await in Mount Gambier, the ancient limestone walls of this subterranean oasis have been corroding for millions of years, creating the perfect flower pot for a few local green thumbs to toil. The result? A beautiful sunken garden blanketed with flowers, plants, lush green grass and palm trees bursting just above ground level. Appreciate its size and depth from the viewing platforms at the top of the sinkhole, venture down into its depths, along the terraces and behind the hanging vines, or stick around after sunset and meet some of the friendly possums emerging daily at dusk.
6. Kilsby Sinkhole, Limestone Coast
Tucked away beneath a rural farming property 15 minutes outside Mount Gambier lies a magical underwater world. Descending 60 metres deep into the earth, the Limestone Coast’s Kilsby Sinkhole is world-renowned as one of the best sinkhole dive sites with crystal clear water and breathtaking visibility. Jump on a scuba diving, snorkelling or site tour and explore this serene underwater wonder with a qualified guide. Nearby Piccaninnie and Ewens Ponds are another must for experienced divers and wonder seekers.
7. Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park, Outback
The rugged majesty of the outback comes to life at sunset at Kanku-Breakaways. One of Mother Nature’s most beautiful creations, here the sun drenches the land in a blanket of orange, red and yellow in a spectacular lightshow come sunrise and sunset. Less than half an hour’s drive from Coober Pedy, the striking sandstone tablelands are also home to a unique array of native flora and fauna and are a site of cultural significance for the Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara people. Jump on a guided tour with Noble Tours or explore this ancient landscape yourself with our guide to the most unique outback experiences.
8. Anna Creek Painted Hills, Outback
Hidden in the South Australian Outback lies another of nature’s greatest and oldest masterpieces. The vast, magical landscape of Anna Creek Painted Hills is a spectacular outcrop of otherworldly deep orange mountains that emerge from the flat desert landscape. Carved out in the red earth of the outback some 1,000 kilometres from the coast, it’s hard to believe this 80-million-year-old beauty is actually an extinct inland sea. Only accessible by air, jump aboard a Wrightsair tour from Coober Pedy, William Creek or Arkaroola and you'll not only see this ancient landscape from the air, you’ll also get to land among it and explore on the ground.
9. Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, Outback
Stretching a mind-boggling 144 kilometres by 77 kilometres, outback South Australia’s Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre is a natural wonder. Its seemingly endless expanse of shimmering salt crystals lure travellers year-round, but the real magic happens when, on the rare occasion, the lake is filled by flood waters. From across Australia’s four states and territories a network of channels, streams and floodplains converge in Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park, bringing with them an abundance of wildlife, stunning natural beauty and dreamlike pink and orange hues. Experience the beauty of Lake Eyre – be it wet or dry – on a guided tour or scenic with Chinta Air Tours and follow our guide to make the most of your visit.
10. Headings Cliffs, Riverland
Staring up at dramatic ochre cliffs towering over the Murray River, you could be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled on a miniature version of the Grand Canyon. But just downstream from Renmark awaits Headings Cliffs where golden crags that glow at sunset tower above the landscape and give way to one of the most iconic waterways in Australia. Surrounded by ancient red gum forest, meandering river channels and abundant birdlife, the beauty and tranquility of this watery wonderland is virtually indescribable. Trek to the top of the cliffs for a magical gun barrel view down river or hire a kayak and be dwarfed by the towering cliffs as you paddle by. Discover the Headings Cliffs with our Riverland itinerary or jump on a guided Murray River Walk tour.
11. Bunda Cliffs, Eyre Peninsula
Rounding out our list of South Australia’s most amazing natural wonders is… the edge of the earth? When the vast expanses of the outback roll into the ocean, something special is bound to happen, like the longest sea cliffs in the world! Stretching 100km along the Eyre Peninsula and reaching up to 120 metres in height, the Bunda Cliffs are the epic heart of the Great Australian Bight. Offering dramatic coastal views, it’s also one of the best spots in Australia to catch a glimpse of Southern Right Whales on their annual migration between May and October every year. Swap nature docos for the real thing with our Eyre Peninsula itinerary.
Around the world in South Australia
With so many natural wonders in South Australia’s backyard, there’s no need to look any further for the ultimate holiday destination. Check out our guide to 10 South Australian holidays that rival international destinations and start planning.