South Australia and the Northern Territory: an epic journey from oceans to outback

Hot Air Ballooning Australia
Hot Air Ballooning over Alice Springs

There’s no better way to sample the true flavour of Australia than an epic journey from oceans to outback. Both South Australia and the Northern Territory will show you the best of the country

There’s no better way to sample the true flavour of Australia than an epic journey from oceans to outback.

Both South Australia and the Northern Territory are perfect for travellers to start their trip and experience the best of what the country has to offer.

These neighbouring regions are packed with unique experiences – everything from wildlife to culture, exciting cities to mouth-watering food and wine.

Together they offer a diversity of experiences that will ensure your Antipodean adventure is a memorable one, whether you travel north from Adelaide, or south from Darwin, or indeed start in the Red Centre at Alice Springs.

We’ve put together a wealth of ready-made itineraries that make planning your holiday in South Australia and the Northern Territory simple.

Or you can pack a map and create your own ocean to outback adventure. It’s easy to travel between the two regions, with fantastic air, rail and road connections. There’s so much to do that the hard part is deciding what to leave out!

Here’s our introduction to the ‘must see’ highlights of South Australia and the Northern Territory, and this guide also has full details of Adelaide, Darwin, a list of unique experiences and a luxury section. Don’t forget your suncream…

Nature and wildlife

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Kangaroo Island is a short flight from Adelaide and a haven for native wildlife. Walk among sea lions, koalas, penguins and kangaroos as you explore pristine, untouched bushland.

Further inland, the Flinders Ranges are the highest mountains in South Australia. Named after explorer Matthew Flinders, the rugged peaks are linked by gorges packed with fossils and wildlife.

Alice Springs is in the Red Centre of Australia. Make time to visit the Desert Park attraction here and enjoy a ranger-led walk – or watch the fantastic birds of prey show. Then get kissed by a blue tongue lizard at the nearby Reptile Centre!

Don’t miss Kakadu, a breath-taking national park near Darwin. Cruise the rivers and search for alligators, or marvel at the outstanding Aboriginal rock art at Kakadu’s Nanguluwur Gallery.

Click here for more on nature and wildlife in South Australia, and in the Northern Territory.


Adelaide is the capital of South Australia and has a year-round feast of visual, literary and performing arts. The renowned Adelaide Festival 2015 runs from 27 February to 15 March and attracts culture-vultures from around the world.

The city boasts some fine museums too. Visit the South Australia Museum which houses Aboriginal cultural galleries, digs in to the state’s natural history – and exhibits a jaw-dropping giant squid!

Kings Canyon is part of the Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory, and doing the stunning rim walk is the best way to experience it.

Arnhem Land borders the eastern Northern Territory coast, a vast wilderness rich in Aboriginal culture. It’s one of the best fishing spots in the world and a conservation area, sheltering saltwater crocodiles and sea turtles.

Click here to read about the best of South Australian culture and here to find out about the Northern Territory.

Outback adventure

You’re not an Australian until you have ventured deep into the outback. Gawler Ranges National Park in South Australia is a mass of volcanic rock rich in geological features. Don’t miss the dramatic Organ Pipes formation.

Further north, Cooper Pedy is the opal capital of the world. Surrounded by thousands of mine holes, it’s a unique landscape. Stay in an underground hotel and visit a working mine.

Uluru is better known to many as Ayers Rock and the UNESCO World Heritage Site is an iconic symbol of Australia. The sandstone formation is unforgettable, but catch it at sunrise or sunset to see the vivid red rock at its finest.

A few hours north east is Alice Springs, situated in the geographic centre of Australia. The town is a must-stop location on the Stuart Highway that runs 1,761 miles across the outback from Adelaide to Darwin.

Click here to see our guide to the best of the outback in South Australia, and here for the Northern Territory.

Food and wine

Adelaide has one of the best food markets in the world! Central Market is gastronomic heaven, while relaxed licensing laws has encouraged a new wave of wine bars, cafes and restaurants to open.

Further inland, the Barossa, Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley produce some of the country’s finest wines. Take a vineyard tour – several offer visitors a chance to mix their own wine in the blending room. Click here to read all about the food and wine delights of South Australia.

Dining under the stars at Uluru is a once in a lifetime experience. Enjoy bush tucker, traditional Aboriginal dance and the sound of didgeridoos wafting across the outback.

Darwin’s unique Mindil Beach Market is a smorgasbord of incredible food from all over the world. The city is closer to Indonesia than Sydney, so watch the sunset over the Timor Sea and feast!

Adelaide is the perfect place to relax and explore. Whatever your interests, the Festival Capital will amaze. Discover the city’s stunning beaches, take a gastronomic tour of the Central Market, or shop at one of the many malls. Day-trips from the city are popular, with Kangaroo Island and the wine regions top of the to do list.

The recently renovated North Terrace houses the Art Gallery of South Australia and the South Australia Museum, and then there are the beautiful Botanic Gardens. Cycle on a free bike or use a tram to get around. If you get lost, just log on because Adelaide has free wifi too!

Darwin’s outdoor lifestyle has made it hugely popular with Australians. The sea provides a perfect backdrop to the Bicentennial Park, Lameroo Beach and the Mindil Beach Market.

Australia’s northern most city also has a wealth of Aboriginal art galleries, seafood restaurants and great shopping. It’s a great place to start your outback adventure – or finish it! Click here to read about Darwin and the Northern Territory’s top restaurants.

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