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Discover the Breathtaking Beauty of South Australia’s Southern Ocean Drive Road Trip: The Ultimate Getaway for Cooler Months

Discover the Breathtaking Beauty of South Australia’s Southern Ocean Drive Road Trip: The Ultimate Getaway for Cooler Months

Vivonne Bay, South Australia

Ready for the road trip of a lifetime? Plan your own unique adventure here:

Embark on an awe-inspiring journey along the South Australian coast, where stunning seascapes and charming towns await in this perfect winter road trip adventure.

Road trips are often associated with summer, but it’s about time that changed. Yes, you heard it here first: winter is actually the perfect time to take a road trip — and specifically in South Australia, which is home to some of the most awe-inspiring natural landscapes in the country. After all, what better way to rejuvenate mid-year than getting cosy in your car with some excellent tunes, and exploring the diverse offerings of South Australia by road?

South Australia’s great outdoors really shine in the cooler months, and the Southern Ocean Drive road trip is the perfect example. The trip can be done at your own pace, usually taking somewhere between five and nine days, with plenty of natural wonders to explore along the way. Here are some of our favourite destinations along South Australia’s Southern Ocean Drive.

Explore Mount Gambier To Kingston S.E.

Duration: 2.5 to 3 days travelling across roughly a 130km stretch of the Southern Ocean Drive

Mount Gambier

Little Blue Lake, South Australia
Little Blue Lake, Photography Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

Mount Gambier boasts so many wonderful sights, with natural wonders you just won’t see anywhere else.

The Blue Lake/Warwar is a breathtaking body of water – inside a volcano! And it changes colour throughout the year. If you go in winter, it should be a gorgeous, deep blue.

If you’ve never swam in a sinkhole, the Little Blue Lake is your chance. It’s a natural pool of water accessible by stairs that’s great for kids.

You can also have one of the most beautiful sinkhole barbecues of your life in Umpherston Sinkhole/Balumbul, an enormous garden and picnic area adorned with hanging vines.

Umpherston Sinkhole, South Australia
Umpherston Sinkhole, Photography Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission/Adam Bruzzone

Once you’ve explored Mount Gambier on the surface, you can head underground for a tour of the mysterious tunnels and waterways of Engelbrecht Cave.

Penola & Coonawarra Wine Region

Rymill Coonawarra, South Australia
Rymill Coonawarra, Photography Credit: Mike Haines

There’s so much to explore (and feast on) in this area. While the Barossa offers amazing shiraz, this area is known for its world-class Cabernet Sauvignon (the shiraz is pretty good too), and it’s sitting on the same kind of terra rossa soil that produces amazing red wine along the Mediterranean.

Highbank Winery, South Australia
Highbank Winery, Photography Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission/Adam Bruzzone

You could easily spend a week tasting the offerings from over 25 cellar doors and lunch spots like Hollick Estates, Koonara Wines, Brand’s Laira, and Highbank Winery. Pick up unique treasures in the boutique shops around Penola, and even take a trip through time down Petticoat Lane, with its cute historic cottages and lavender farm.

Kingston S.E.

Larry The Big Lobster
Larry The Big Lobster, Image courtesy of Wikimedia

It’s not a real road trip unless you encounter something “Big” — which is right where Larry the Big Lobster steps in. If you’ve never eaten seafood underneath a giant crustacean before, the experience can be quite surreal.

For something more modern, check out “Wind Dance”, an augmented reality mural in town. The actual art is unique, gorgeous and culturally significant – and it can become delightfully animated on your phone.

You can also explore Pinks Beach, a beautiful stretch of sand with plenty of camping opportunities.

The scenery at Cape Jaffa is astounding and its lighthouse features rare artifacts and shines a light on the little known aspects of the lives of lightkeepers.

And if you haven’t had enough of that terra rossa-produced wine, there’s even more to enjoy in this region from wineries like Kingston Estate and Wangolina Station.

Coorong National Park to Victor Harbor

Duration: 2 days travelling across roughly a 350km stretch of the Southern Ocean Drive

Coorong National Park

Pelicans, Coorong National Park, South Australia
Pelicans, Photography Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

This serene spot offers your chance to explore Storm Boy country — Coorong National Park is the setting for the iconic Australian book and the movies based on it. You can even check out the largest breeding colony of Australian pelicans from the vantage of Jack Point Observatory.

But it’s not all pelicans. Aspiring ornithologists will be able to spot over 200 migratory birds coming from Asia, as well as grebes, terns and cormorants. The park also preserves a variety of endangered flora and fauna amid its walking trails, making it a unique natural exploration experience.

Port Elliot

Port Elliot Bakery, South Australia
Port Elliot Bakery, Photography Credit: Josh Geelen

The Port Elliot Bakery is famous for its pies, which are well worth the trip on their own — but there’s also plenty more to delight in here.

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Both modern and rustic at the same time, Thunderbird’s menu features locally sourced ingredients and an outstanding regional wine offering.

Yeo Haus is a truly unique café/bar/surf and skate shop that reflects the culture and character of the area. Come in for a beer or buy a hoodie.

Yeo Haus, South Australia
Yeo Haus, Photography Credit: Megan Crabb

You can also pick up some unique gifts — for others or yourself — in the boutique shops, antique stores, and bookstores the town is known for. The local beaches, meanwhile, draw pods of majestic Southern Right Whales during winter, making the cooler months the perfect time to stop here and see them breaching.

Victor Harbor to Kangaroo Island

Duration: 1 day travelling across roughly an 80km stretch of the Southern Ocean Drive

Victor Harbor & Granite Island

Granite Island, South Australia
Granite Island, Photography Credit: Trent John Martin

If you enjoy coastal walks and hikes, this is your ideal pitstop. Victor Harbor plays host to rugged cliff top hikes, and rich maritime heritage sites. And if you want something more quaint, you can take the horse-drawn tram (yes, a horse tram) to Granite Island, a majestic spot known for its huge granite boulders coloured by orange lichen, or even feed some alpacas at Softfoot Alpaca Farm.

The Big Duck Boat Tour, South Australia
The Big Duck Boat Tour, Photography Credit: South Australian Tourism Commission

On the breathtaking end of things, a Big Duck Boat Tour will give you the chance to see not just whales but also dolphins and seals frolicking in the bay. And if you love seafood, there’s lots of delicious and fresh local fare to try.

Vivonne Bay

Vivonne Bay, South Australia
Vivonne Bay, Photography Credit: As We Wander

Located on Kangaroo Island, Vivonne Bay has been voted one of Australia’s best beaches, and it’s easy to see why. Its U-shaped shores offer visitors a slice of idyllic island life. In other words: it’s absolutely gorgeous and an ideal place to relax — or, if you’re up for it, go sandboarding on the Little Sahara sand dunes.

Little Sahara Adventure Centre, South Australia
Little Sahara Adventure Centre, Photography Credit: Megan Crabb

Also unmissable for animal lovers: the birds of prey experience at nearby Raptor Domain, where you can get extremely close to an eagle or an owl or even a python while learning about some of Australia’s most deadly reptiles. Seal Bay Conservation Park provides an unparalleled window into the lives of a community of gorgeous, endangered sea lions in their natural habitat.

Ready for the road trip of a lifetime? Explore Southern Ocean Drive with a pre-curated itinerary or plan your own unique adventure using the Trip Planner tool.

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