South Australia is the driest state on the driest inhabited continent on Earth. Most of it is designated as arid zone and only the state’s south-east, home of the famous Coonawarra wine region, gets good rainfall. Such extremes mean you can enjoy very different bushwalking South Australia experiences a few hours’ drive apart. You can tread the rippled floor of a long-retreated inland sea on one day and press footprints into white sand lapped by blue ocean the next.
Running crinkled thread-like from the state’s Southern Ocean coast to the Flinders Ranges, South Australia’s famous – iconic, if you must – ancient, inland mountains, is the 1200km Heysen Trail, which some people complete on epic end-to-end journeys.
The long-distance trail begins at Jervis Point, embarkation point for ferry rides to beautiful Kangaroo Island. Here you can tread the new Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail over six days, following a river to the coast and then the shoreline to a sea-lion colony, a lighthouse and remarkable rock formations. Or you could save your energy and instead tread the Snake Lagoon Walk, a fun family-friendly short walk.
Back on the mainland, the Heysen Trail runs east along the coast, so we will too, because there’s no better day out on foot in South Australia than following the trail along the magnificent Waitpinga Cliffs.
From there we’ll head north, to elegant Adelaide, the state capital. Here you could put your feet up for a couple of days or walk from Mt Lofty to the beach – summit to sea – on the 35km George Driscoll Sea to Summit Trail, over two days.
Rested up, or tuckered out, we’ll continue north to just beyond the tip of Spender Gulf to Mt Remarkable National Park, for a far-from-pedestrian encounter with a very rocky Crocodile Gorge.
From there we’ll push north again to Wilpena Pound, the landmark feature of the Flinders Ranges, the prehistoric mountains that so inspired artist Sir Hans Heysen, the long-distance walking trail’s namesake. As rich in aboriginal mythology as in geological history, the Pound is the ideal base for exploring this series of weathered and eroded ranges on dozens of walking tracks.
Get a breath-taking elevated view over the pound from its rim by climbing Mt Ohlssen-Bagge or St Mary Peak, the highpoint of the pound and the ranges. The Pound Traverse offers a very different perspective of the formation before you return south or continue into the Northern Territory.
Check out my other state-by-state itineraries which include lots of specific walks:
For a general introduction to bushwalking Down Under, please see my ‘Bushwalking in Australia: everything you need to know.’