Immerse yourself in nature at its most epic with these destinations in South Australia
Soar above Australia’s largest lake
In a world in which everything is measured, weighed, defined and cross-checked, one of the beautiful things about Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre is that it is so hard to pin down. The lake may be massive, extending more than 9000 square metres, but its precise boundaries are always changing, depending on the rainfall. Whether it is full to the brim with floodwaters, drawing vast flocks of birds, or revealing more of the sun-baked lake bed, gazing at its beauty is a reminder of the fact that everything changes. Sightseeing flights depart from a number of places, including Williams Creek and Ceduna.
" Tune into otherwise-invisible marvels with a tour by Juggle House Experiences to Australia’s first dark-sky reserve."
Disappear into the darkness
It is happening all around us, all the time, and we barely pay it any attention. Operatic dramas are unfolding endlessly in the cosmos that surrounds us – stars being born, galaxies dying, and so much more. Tune into otherwise-invisible marvels with a tour to Australia’s first International dark-sky reserve, near Mannum in South Australia. Juggle House Experiences hosts a River Murray Dark Sky Gold Stars Tour that will open your eyes to the dazzling dramas in the sky. An up-close view of planets, stars and nebulae, and a lesson in indigenous astronomy, will change your perspective for good.
Explore an ancient landscape
There is no one way to explore the Ikara – Flinders Ranges. With towering red cliffs, steep inclines and deep craters, to really come to terms with this landscape you need to discover it from all angles. Start by walking along dry riverbeds lined with giant Murray River Red Gums, across pebbly slopes studded with spinifex, and through rocky chasms. Add some four-wheel drives through narrow passes and across open plains, and perhaps even a sightseeing flight to admire the thrusting peaks from above. Your base for this adventure: Rawnsley Park Station, where you can choose your comfort level, from caravanning to eco-villas that give a soft landing.
"Seen from afar, the Piccaninnie Ponds could be just another lake, easy to dismiss."
Plunge into an underwater garden
Sometimes wonders are hiding in plain sight – you just have to take the time to appreciate them. Nowhere is that truer than at Piccaninnie Ponds near Mount Gambier. Seen from afar, the Piccaninnie Ponds could be just another lake, easy to dismiss. Once you stand on the shore, however, the extraordinary clarity of the water becomes clear. Snorkellers will find themselves peering into an enchanting underwater garden where fish, crayfish, long-necked tortoises and eels make their home. Divers can go deeper, into the incredible 100-metre deep chasm beneath. On land, take a walk along the beach and see the freshwater springs bubbling up onto the sand.
Drive into the desert
How far can you see right now? Many of us live in such high-density environments, we rarely do more than glimpse the horizon. Head out on a road trip through the Simpson Desert, however, and you can drive for days without ever reaching the horizon. As well as drinking in some spectacular landscapes – think red sand topped by blue sky – there are plenty of adventures to be had, from soaking in the naturally-heated Dalhousie Hot Springs to cresting a seemingly-endless series of sand dunes (more than 1000 by one count!).
Image credits: Rawnsley Park Station, Juggle House Experiences and South Australian Tourism Commission