A leisurely weekend spent away from the city immersed in stunning nature and enjoying great local produce is just what the doctor ordered. But where to go? South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula is less than an hour and a half’s drive from Adelaide, and ticks off every box for a relaxing weekend away. Eat locally caught seafood in a shack among the sand dunes, drink world-class wine in a casual country shed, walk along windswept cliffs and drive your car onto a ferry for an overnight jaunt to Kangaroo Island. The joy is in the journey and in making new discoveries. Here are our top picks for a weekend away in the southern reaches of South Australia.
Fresh Fleurieu produce is the star of the show at Kuti Shack, a seafood-centric kiosk nestled into the sand dunes behind Goolwa Beach. Kuti is the local Indigenous name for pippies (or cockles), which have been harvested by the Ngarrindjeri people for over 10,000 years. The kuti served up here are supplied by Ngarrindjeri-owned companies. You might find the nutty mollusc in a linguine, delicately flavoured with garlic, tomato, chilli and native greens. Or bobbing in a laksa, made with chilli jam. Equally tasty is the kingfish sashimi, tiger prawn gow gee (dumplings), crab belly tacos and tuna cheeseburger. Dishes are designed to be shared, so you might want to opt for the set menu. Kuti Shack is fully licensed, so you can match your seafood with a glass of local wine.
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Joinery Wine Room
Joinery Wine Room occupies a simple shed in a nondescript industrial area on the outskirts of Port Elliot. This enclave of micro-factories is home to a bunch of small-batch producers and artisans, off the radar but worthy of attention. The cosy, eclectically decorated wine room functions as the cellar door for Charlotte Dalton Wines and Cooke Brothers Wines (from the husband-and-wife team of Charlotte Hardy and Ben Cooke) with the winery also on-site. It’s a great spot to call in and chat to the winemakers, who have decades of experience and will happily help demystify the dark art. Try a glass of the award-winning Love You Love Me semillon, or a Beyond the Horizon shiraz, both made from Adelaide Hills grapes.
The atmosphere in the shed is casual and unpretentious, and a collaborative ethos infuses everything. The space hosts live music regularly, and showcases other local producers, serving meals fireside when the sun goes down. The wine room opens on Fridays from 12pm to 9pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm to 5pm.
Clear your head at Newland Head Conservation Park, a wild and windswept stretch of coastline that’s just a 15-minute drive from Victor Harbour. Walking tracks traverse sand dunes and cliffs, overlooking two remote beaches, Waitpinga and Parsons, with panoramic views across Waitpinga Creek and as far as Kangaroo Island. The coastal cliffs walking trail gets you fully ensconced in the landscape. Park at Waitpinga Campground and follow a trail in the mallee heath to the spectacular, sheer cliffs of Waitpinga, before joining the Heysen Trail along the coast, returning to the car via a fire trail. The 8.7-kilometre route should take you two to three hours.
Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as western grey kangaroos and echidnas. In the winter months you might be lucky enough to spot whales on their annual migration along the coast.
Penneshaw Pub Hotel
Your weekend adventure gets ratcheted up a notch as you arrive at the wharf at Cape Jervis and drive your car onto a Sealink ferry for a trip across the Backstairs Passage to Kangaroo Island. The crossing takes 45 minutes, and you’ll disembark at the town of Penneshaw. From here it’s a quick drive to the Penneshaw Hotel, a pub perched on a clifftop with views back across to the mainland. Sit indoors or out, depending on the weather, and pursue a menu that showcases the best in Kangaroo Island and South Australian produce.
Start with a “Kangarita” cocktail, a Kangaroo Island take on a tequila Margarita, or sample local spirits with a merry mulberry, made with sparkling blood orange juice and mulberry gin from Kangaroo Island Spirits. Vegetarians will love the panko-crumbed eggplant parmy (there’s also hearty veggie stack burger), and it’s no surprise that seafood is front and centre, with battered hake, lemon pepper squid and King George whiting all smart choices. The grill doesn’t disappoint, either, if you’ve got room for a 300-gram chargrilled porterhouse or scotch fillet.
Kangaroo Island is a hot spot for biodiversity, and this boutique off-grid eco-lodge sits completely within a private wildlife sanctuary an hour’s drive from Penneshaw, where close encounters with native critters are practically guaranteed. The one-bedroom, passive solar villas are constructed from rammed earth, with spotted gum floors and floor-to-ceiling windows anchoring each villa to the landscape. Open your welcome bottle of Kangaroo Island wine and take a glass to your luxurious, freestanding bath, then throw a log on the wood fire and cook up a storm in the fully self-contained kitchen before retiring to your king-size bed. Wake to the smell of freshly ground coffee and take your drink out to the deck to watch the kangaroos graze and the glossy black cockatoos fly overhead.
The countryside unfolds like a lush quilt as you drive back to the ferry, relaxed and recharged after a weekend road trip to remember.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the new Ford Everest, the perfect partner for exploring the best scenic destinations out of the city.