A collective of 13 ethically-minded, sustainably-focused tourism operators, Australian Wildlife Journeys takes you to far-flung corners of the country to spot crocs and koalas, whales and wallabies. Here’s three new immersive experiences that will help you see South Australia in a whole new light.
South Australia is a part of the world where the wilderness seems wilder, the colours more vivid, the characters larger than life. There are sinkholes transformed into lush gardens, volcanoes with turquoise lakes, marine reserves home to giant cuttlefish and sea lions, and islands that are like a mini-Galapagos, nurturing innumerable species of native wildlife.
At a time when space and the great outdoors are the travel world’s greatest luxuries, the state offers a tonic for the soul.
Uniting 13 ethically-minded, sustainability-driven tourism operators. Australian Wildlife Journeys is a collective that curates experiences designed to showcase the country’s wild side – in the best possible way. While activities vary from whale monitoring to echidna conservation, one thing unites all operators: a passion for the environment and the animals that live here.
This passion is what drives expert guides, who have the kind of knowledge of Australia’s flora and fauna that you won’t find in any book.
Here are three new experiences in South Australia that will give you an unforgettable taste of the state.
Walk Kangaroo Island
“I love sharing stories about the land, the wildlife encountered along the way, travelling at nature’s pace and enjoying the paradox of sharing my solitude,” says Craig Wickham, a guide and the managing director of Walk Kangaroo Island.
“It’s amazing what you see when you slow down to a natural pace – the tiny details, the big sky. Your senses all come into play – the sounds, the heady smell of the sandhill daisy as you brush past, the feel of dry leaves crunching beneath your feet, or sand shifting on an impossibly white beach. Things we took for granted as children we can now seek out to make us more grounded, relaxed and reconnected.”
Being amid nature makes you feel good. And nature doesn’t get any greater than that on Kangaroo Island, off the coast of Adelaide amid the Southern Ocean.
Craig’s freshly minted experience here is designed to showcase this drop of land. See all its untamed beauty over series of 11 walks, hikes, tramps and rambles over six days and 67 kilometres.
Along the way you’ll meet ecologists, producers and local characters. You can pick the brains of Craig and his wife Janet. They have more than 30 years in experiential travel, and know every secret nook across the island.
The South Australia experience is all-inclusive, with a single base, which means you can leave your suitcase behind and strap on a day pack when you head out on your daily explorations. Each day is different – whether you’re strolling beside a sculpture trail or wandering barefoot along a beach. So you’ll truly get to appreciate the diversity of KI’s community, wildlife and landscape. And stellar food and wine, of course, ideally enjoyed alfresco.
Be the first to experience this life-changing walk on the first departure, 11 April 2022. Walks run through to mid-December. The walk spans over 6 days and 5 nights. Prices start from $5,995pp
Murray River Safari by Murray River Trails
Tony and Susie Sharley launched Murray River Trails in 2016, inspired by the magic of Australia’s longest river. Tony grew up here in Renmark. He has spent his career living and working on wetlands in Australia’s Murray Darling Basin and around the world.
It’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about the destinations he and his team takes you to. Including those on the Murray River Safari, a relaxed three-day outdoor experience through some of the most dramatic countryside in South Australia.
Three days on the Murray River Safari
In true Murray style, your base is a luxury houseboat. You fall asleep to a bedazzlement of stars glimpsed through your cabin window – with little light pollution in this part of the state, the Milky Way shines through. Then you wake each morning to a new outlook. Watch birds skim over the water and spot fish swimming past. Admire kangaroos on the banks and enjoying the river’s sunrise reflections – they’re just as mesmerising at sunset.
Days are spent exploring your base: the Riverland Ramsar Wetland of International Significance, which includes a spectacular 80-kilometre stretch of the Murray and more than 200 kilometres of meandering creeks and ephemeral lakes, all enveloped by surreal river red gum forest and stretches of untouched mallee.
You might find yourself canoeing along backwaters, soaking up the silence of this magical setting. Or perhaps bushwalking to clifftop lookouts. Or taking a nature drive to remote wilderness areas, where your tire tracks will be the only ones on the dunes.
Whatever your mode of transport, Tony and his team will point out koalas, brush-tailed possums, lace monitors and an embarrassment of birds. More than 180 species call this part of the world home, from emus and wedge-tailed eagles to sharp-tailed sandpipers and the nationally threatened regent parrot. You can even participate in citizen science projects to help conserve the species you spot.
Then you return to your luxe base to toast the end of the day with indulgent meals and Riverland wines. Cheers to that!
Sign up for departures of the Murray River Safari in March, October, November and December 2022. The Murray River Safari spans over 3 days and 2 nights. Prices start from $1,750pp
Eyre Peninsula Mini Getaways, and Health & Wellness by Australian Coastal Safaris
David ‘Lunch’ Doudle is one of the most charismatic South Australian’s you’ll ever meet. His passion for the state, in particular the Eyre Peninsula, is addictive. You, too, will be raving about the long stretches of white sand and the dunes that tumble to gin-clear water. Not to mention the wildlife in between, whether sea lions somersaulting through the surf, koalas clinging to trees and more than 270 species of birds. It does help that Lunch has a twitcher with more than 30 years of experience on his team.
Lunch began Australian Coastal Safaris (then known as ‘Goin’ Off Safaris) in 2005, offering expeditions from Port Lincoln to postcard-perfect pockets of the coast. His newest experiences include the Eyre Peninsula Mini Getaways. The South Australian experience gives you a taste for the region over two incredible nights and two days. It’s packed with activities like e-Biking, great white shark cage diving and getting up close and personal with koalas.
All you need to do is pick your persuasion.
Take your pick
On the Port Lincoln Wildlife Encounters you explore wetlands, national parks and Mikkira Station, home to some of Australia’s rare, endangered and threatened animals, as well as at-risk flora. It’s a fragile, yet fascinating, landscape, and one that your guide will decode while you walk. You’ll also drop in on an oyster farm to sample Pacific and native Agassi oysters. It doesn’t get any fresher than this.
Then on the Port Lincoln Underwater Weekend Adventure, you have the spine-tingling chance to cage dive with great whites, then snorkel alongside sea lions – they’re called the ‘puppies of the sea’ for a reason.
Lunch also recently launched a Health & Wellness Weekender, uniting activities and experiences that nourish your body, mind and soul. Think alfresco yoga under soaring eucalypts. Mindful walks to connect you to the Earth. Breath workshops. Stories with a First Nations healer. E-Biking to get your heart racing. And plenty of healthful meals, including a bounty of the Eyre Peninsula’s freshest seafood.
“Highlighting our backyard is just something I love doing,” says Lunch.