The picturesque Fleurieu Peninsula, situated only a stone’s throw from South Australia’s bustling capital city, offers travellers a unique blend of stunning scenery, unspoilt beaches, abundant wildlife and country hospitality. Bordered by the aptly named Encounter Bay on one side and the Southern Ocean on the other, this remarkable peninsula is home to the place where the mighty Murray drains into the ocean, making it the ideal destination for a vast array of water activities.
Travel the Fleurieu Way and visit places like Strathalbyn, Goolwa, Victor Harbor and Normanville. Spend a night in Deep Creek Conservation Park or camp right next to the beach at Rapid Bay. Marvel at the impressive views from Myponga Reservoir Lookout and buy fresh produce at the famous Willunga Famers’ Market.
Strathalbyn, known as the antique capital of South Australia, is home to one of the country’s most impressive and photographed churches, St Andrew’s. The heritage-listed Soldiers Memorial Garden, situated along the banks of the tranquil Angas River, is the perfect spot for a bite to eat with the southern Mount Lofty Ranges providing a stunning backdrop.
Situated at the mouth of the mighty Murray, this historic river port was once a hive of activity, with iconic paddle steamers going up and down the famous water stream, carrying precious cargo. Today, you can experience a unique steam experience on the 100-year-old PS Oscar W. Treat yourself to a 30-min ride on the historic Cockle Train between Victor Harbor and Goolwa, enjoying a stretch of spectacular coastline.
The peninsula’s largest town has all the shops and services you need on your tour. Victor Harbor is a centre for whale watching with migrating southern right whales frequently seen close to the shores of Encounter Bay during winter. Ride the country’s only horse-drawn tram to Granite Island, which is home to 2,000 little penguins.
DEEP CREEK CONSERVATION PARK
One of the most spectacular parks in South Australia provides a habitat for an amazing array of wildlife. Bushwalking is the best way to explore this natural haven with a choice of 15 walking trails, differing in length and difficulty. If you own a 4WD, the short but exhilarating 4x4 trip to Blowhole Beach is an
absolute must. The scenery is breath-taking − you’ll be rewarded with extensive views towards Kangaroo Island. A short walk down takes you to spectacular Blowhole Beach, which is usually deserted and yours to enjoy.
Rapid Bay is a budget-friendly camping area located right on the beach and a short walk from the 240m historic jetty which underwent major construction works in 2009. The iconic jetty provides easy access for fishing and diving activities, featuring a special launching platform that allows the many divers who visit this section of coastline to enjoy the rich diversity of marine life, including the leafy seadragon.
The town of Normanville, established in 1849, is an idyllic seaside holiday Destination, which once served as the area’s main port. This beautiful coastline with a heritage-listed sand dune system and in-shore reefs has been witness to many shipwrecks, of which the ex-HMAS Hobart is the most famous. This naval destroyer now provides a popular scuba diving experience, though a permit is required.
MYPONGA RESERVOIR LOOKOUT
A short drive north from Normanville takes you to the spectacular Myponga Reservoir Lookout. Boasting a 49m high concrete arch dam wall and spanning 226m, the reservoir supplies water to the southern metropolitan area and the south coast. Built in 1957 and completed in 1962, the reservoir holds an impressive 26,800 mega litres. The lookout provides sweeping views across the reservoir and beyond.
WILLUNGA FARMERS’ MARKET
If you’re a fan of farmers’ markets, Willunga is the place to go. The popular Willunga Farmers’ Market, held every Saturday, is the perfect place to stock up on fresh produce. South Australia’s farmers’ markets originated here and now carry the theme ‘meet the grower and taste the region,’ drawing people from all over the state. Willunga also organises an annual Almond Blossom Festival, which takes place every July.