Explore the hills around Adelaide on this stunning and juuust slightly bougie road trip.
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which this adventure takes place who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- Fantastic scenery including a pink salt lake
- Road side installations along the drive
- Farmers market and local produce
Build Your Own Adelaide Road Trip
Only have a couple of days in Adelaide, or a few days off from work for those lucky folk living in the City of Churches? Keen to explore beyond the botanical gardens (definitely worth a visit in the city), but not wanting to stray too far from the city?
Here we chat through the Adelaide surrounds and offer a three to four day adventure – either explore through all the segments in one road trip or separate them into individual day trips (each segment is less than two hours from the city!).
Looking for a longer adventure? Why not road trip from Adelaide to Uluru
1. Adelaide to Lake Bumbunga:
Leaving Adelaide, follow the Princes Highway (via the Northern connector) for about two hours until you come across this gorgeous pink lake at Lochiel.
We arrived just as the sun started stretching to its midday peak. For Lake Bumbunga, this was probably just a bit too late for the blossoming pink sheen on the salt pans. It had also rained during the week which meant that the salt crust lake edge was covered by a gentle layer of still water.
Despite this, the lake was a definite pink colour and contrasted starkly with the blue sky. A locally-made tyre monster, Loch Eel (yes, named after Lochiel) stood reliably in the middle of the lake.
There’s a viewpoint just off the highway with plenty of street-side parking. Signs on the left of the street promised coffee and tiny homes with a lake view (could be worth exploring as an accommodation option!).
Other than that, the area around the lake is far from the bustling tourist haven you’d expect around Australia’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster!
2. Clare Valley
Driving from Lochiel through the Clare Valley is gorgeous. Backtrack slightly from the Lake Bumbunga lookout, then turn left on to Blyth Road, which you’ll follow until you get to Horrocks Highway at Clare.
On our drive, we were met with thunderstorms along the way, which meant that we observed many of the sites from the car – even so, the views were fantastic. Think long open roads lined on both sides by farmlands, wineries, and the crumbling farm houses of yesteryear.
Although the weather limited our options, the visitor information centre offered a wealth of local knowledge and a great variety of local produce (think dukkah to add to your picnic lunch)
We didn’t get a chance to, but it could also be worth adding John Horrocks Cottage, a recently restored pioneer cottage, to your list as well as. There are also lots of boutique accommodation options along the way, and presumably a few hidden camp spots too!
3. Barossa Valley
From the Clare Valley we followed Horrocks Road to Tarlee road and then Truro road to the Barossa, taking smaller side streets to get to our accommodation. Look out for the palm-tree-lined roads around Seppeltsfield Winery and fun roadside installations (keep an eye on street corners and the lamp-posts, especially in the small townships).
Although known for its wineries, the Barossa is a foodie wonderland! Get out to the Farmers Market early on a Saturday morning to get first dibs on fresh foccacia, crisp fruits and veggies, and locally-cured meats and fish. Everything you need to complete that picnic lunch.
Read more: Remember to leave no trace!
Having started early, we found it easy to fill the rest of the day exploring local wonders. Gorgeous Lutheran churches are scattered generously along the tree-lined streets, a nod to the pioneer settlements in the area.
The Barossa Bush Gardens offered tranquility in our otherwise busy day. The gardens were planted in an effort to return local flora to the area, and signs (and a free pamphlet!) offer insights into local Aboriginal knowledge and plant uses.
For the chefs out there, Maggie Beer’s farm shop is a good stop and we enjoyed the short walking track around the lake (filled with native turtles!) and through her olive grove.
For those of us having long haul flight withdrawals given the current restrictions, the Greenock Aviation Museum is a must see! With both real and replica planes, this private plane collection was a reminder of the days before travel restrictions (hopefully they’re over soon!).
The final stop in the Barossa was the Whispering Wall – a dam somehow built to transmit a whispered message to the other side (about a hundred meters away). Definitely worth the novelty visit and conveniently en-route to Adelaide Hills.
4. Adelaide Hills
Adelaide Hills is a network of unique small towns, each with their own charm. As you drive through, look out for picnic spots and scope out a vantage point for the spectacular sunset that soaks the hills in a golden glow on a clear evening.
If you’re into wandering through quaint little shops, try Hahndorf for shops and restaurants with a fun German flavour.
Driving back to Adelaide along the National Highway make sure to stop at Mt Lofty. There’s a parking lot at the summit visitor centre, or take the walking track to avoid the parking fees!
- Money for local produce and museum entry (the aviation museum is cash only)
- Picnic gear
How To Get There:
We started and ended in Adelaide, but adapt however you wish!
Time Spent Driving / Distance / Days
5 hours 15 minutes / 385km / 3 days
Photos thanks to South Australia Tourism