Ready for a getaway that sets you free? South Australia’s outback opens up thrills, beauty and endless views in equal measure. Follow the historic rail trails of Port Pirie, explore the spectacular backdrops surrounding Port Augusta and delve into the vivid reds (and underground township) of ‘Australia’s opal capital’ Coober Pedy. South Australia’s incredible outback surprises at every turn.
Wide skies and open roads
Only two and a half hours’ drive from Adelaide, Port Pirie is a gateway to South Australia’s spectacular outback. SItuated near the head of Spencer Gulf, and named after the hip that brought settlers here in 1845, this historic town is surrounded by wineries, wilderness and historic drives such as the Heritage Rail Trail, a scenic drive that follows the remains of Port Pirie railway line.
Find out more about the surrounding attractions at the Port Pirie Regional Tourism Centre. The centre is also home to the jaws and life-size replica of a 5.5m shark famously caught in a local fishing net, as well as the virtual reality shark cage – an interactive experience that will get the adrenaline pumping.
After more of a birds-eye view? Mount Remarkable National Park’s 960 m high Mount Remarkable Summit delivers sweeping views of the Spencer Gulf. The 10km Pirie to Napperby Cycle Track also winds through historic sites. If that gets you ready for a dip, Solomontown Beach is tucked in a safe and tranquil inlet.
Where to stay: A short walk to the main streets of town with restaurants, cafés and shops overlooking Port Pirie Creek, Comfort Inn Flinders on Main is a great accommodation option with a restaurant, bar and year-round pool
Situated near the foothills of the stunning Southern Flinders Ranges, and only one hour from Port Pirie, Port Augusta is a beautiful and historic seaport at the crossroads of outback Australia. Learn about the wonders of the surrounding region at the Wadlata Cultural Centre – the ‘Tunnel of Time’ experience takes you on a journey back to a prehistoric world alive with Dreamtime stories.
You’ll see more of Australia’s unique beauty at the Australia Arid Lands Botanical Garden. Wander along peaceful walking tracks between thriving desert plant communities and multitudinous native birds – the garden is home to two specially built bird-hides. The nearby Matthew Flinders Red Cliff Look Out is a must-do.
Enjoy some of the region’s inspirational community artworks at the Yarta Purtli Art Gallery. Situated in the redeveloped heritage buildings of the Port Augusta Cultural Centre, Yatra Purtli (a Nukunu word meaning Place of the Stars) is home to two galleries as well as a theatre.
Where to stay: With restaurants and scenic drives nearby, Comfort Inn & Suites Augusta Westside is a great base to explore the all the region has to offer.
Sitting on the post-card edge of breathtaking red and orange vistas, the ‘underground town’ of Coober Pedy is famous for its cool subterranean houses, spectacular sunsets and rich opal history. Known as ‘Australia’s opal capital’, this unique town is a spectacular 5.5 hour drive from Port Augusta.
Tom’s working opal mine and Opal Museum cut straight to the heart of the town’s story, with mine displays and underground tunnels that are home to caldwell drill shafts and stories. Umoona Opal Mine also has daily underground tours and free entry to the museum. A great way to experience this unique town is to stay at the Coober Pedy Experience, where you’ll find comfortable accommodation sculpted within an old opal mine.
While much of the town’s underground legacy is designed to shelter from the heat, it’s not all below the surface. The country around this town unfurls incredible ancient landscapes.
Part of the traditional country of the Antakirinja Matuntjara Yankunytjatjara people, the nearby Kanku Breakaway Conservation Park unfurls awe-inspiring vistas that are home to significant cultural sites. For another indelible experience charter a flight to see The Anna Creek Painted Hills – a spectacular and recently discovered section of Breakaways country.
Where to stay: Located entirely underground and sculpted from an original opal mine, the Comfort Inn Coober Pedy Experience offers peaceful accommodation perfect for exploring the resident tunnels. Visit the Aboriginal Women’s Art Gallery and Opal Room while you are here.