With its pristine beaches, open parklands, clear waters and bounty of wildlife, South Australia has a natural environment that is well worth protecting, so it is no wonder that sustainability is so high up the agenda here. With eco-friendly accommodation, rewinding projects, ethical tour companies and even sustainable wine production on offer, its easy to travel with the lightest of footprints in South Australia. Here’s how…
1. Stay in eco-friendly hotels
With plenty of space to explore, South Australia hasn’t suffered from over-tourism, allowing its holiday accommodation to develop in a more sustainable fashion. The state is dotted with seaside glamping spots, riverside eco-pods, solar-powered villas in national parks, off-grid cabins in unspoiled forests, and boutique boltholes in repurposed shipping containers.
Among countless other sustainable stays, Camel Beach House, which sits right on the sands of the Eyre Peninsula, is designed to look like a fisherman’s cottage but it’s completely off-grid, relying on rainwater, solar power, and passive heating and cooling principals.
More than 60 hectares of natural wilderness surrounds Ecopia Retreat, located in the centre of Kangaroo island. From this island retreat, guests are given "front row seats" to the untouched bushland and native animals that roam the island freely. Choose from three bespoke luxury retreats – two Villas and the Residence – each designed to be eco-friendly using 100% pure Kangaroo Island rainwater and an off-grid solar energy system. Ecopia Retreat is perfectly positioned to explore Kangaroo Island; Seal Bay is located just 15 minutes away and Flinders Chase National Park is just 45 minutes.
To really get away from it all and immerse yourself in nature, don’t miss CABN. These eco-friendly off-grid stays can be found in some of the most stimulating natural landscapes in South Australia, with the concept soon launching on Kangaroo Island, too.
2. Sip wine sustainably
South Australia is famous for its myriad wineries, of course, and — in keeping with the state’s emphasis on environmentalism — its winemakers are pioneers of numerous sustainable wine making techniques. Why not take a tour of their cellar doors?
In the McLaren Vale wine region alone, Hither & Yon has been named South Australia’s first carbon-neutral certified wine brand, Paxton Wines has been certified fully organic since 2011, d’Arenberg Wine is the largest biodynamic wine-grape grower in Australia, while Gemtree Wines — where sheep replace pesticides to control weeds — was voted the world's best winery for sustainable wine tourism at the Best of Wine Tourism awards in Bordeaux.
In the Clare Valley you can even visit cellar doors while eschewing vehicles, by hiking or cycling the Clare Valley Wilderness Wine Trail. Over the course of several days, you’ll cover 100km of trails, staggering past 24 cellar doors and numerous restaurants and cafes.
3. Embark on cultural tours with local guides
South Australia offers scores of tours with responsible, local operators, helping you to minimise your carbon footprint, and preserve the environment for future generations. Some will connect you with wildlife where it belongs — in the wild — while others will interpret ancient Aboriginal heritage on tours lead by the country’s traditional custodians.
Five hours’ drive north of Adelaide, Adnyamathanha guides will take you into Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park and share their knowledge of bush tucker, Aboriginal rock art, and the ancient stories that shaped their land.
Murray River Trails — South Australia’s most awarded river-based eco-tourism provider — runs walking and kayaking tours of Australia’s most famous river. Exceptional Kangaroo Island has maintained Advanced Ecotourism Accreditation for over 20 years, and takes guests on guided e-bike tours and sustainable wildlife safaris.
80km south of Adelaide, eco-certified Canoe the Coorong offers paddling tours of the Coorong Wetlands. Famous as a waterfowl refuge, and for its dramatic sand dunes and archeological sites, the local company aims to preserve lands significant to the Ngarrindjeri people.
4. Tuck into local produce
“I’ve never see a food explosion happen in anywhere in the world like it’s happened in Australia,” Heston Blumenthal tells us. “The quality of the produce and the enthusiasm of the people is just unbelievable.”
It’s true. Chefs and hoteliers across South Australia are obsessed with local produce, and no matter where you are — from urban restaurants and cellar doors in vineyards to Outback cattle stations — you’ll have no problem minimising your food mileage.
Food and wine has always been the fabric of Adelaide’s identity. Refined, yet playful. Worldly, but local. Inquisitive and traditional.
95% of the produce served at Fino Seppeltsfield, in the Barossa Valley, is sourced locally. At Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant in Adelaide, the watercress, herbs, mushrooms, and edible flowers are foraged from their gardens, which are fertilised using composted kitchen waste. Also in Adelaide, restaurant Allegra serves an entirely plant-based fine dining menu that focuses on local, seasonal produce. Meanwhile the menu at Topiary, in the Adelaide Hills, features edible weeds like wild fennel, nasturtium, and wood sorrel foraged from the surrounding gardens.
5. Support rewilding projects
When Europeans colonised Australia they brought with them invasive species. They brought cattle and, most famously, the European rabbit, which was such a pest that the world’s longest continuous fence was built in an unsuccessful attempt to contain them. South Australia, however, is home to numerous rewilding initiatives, which aim to restore damaged ecosystems through the reintroduction of keystone species.
Arkaba Walk is a hiking tour across a private conservancy in the Flinders Ranges, which is focused on rewilding, while Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills allows visitors to get up close with some of Australia’s most iconic wildlife, particularly koalas, with an eye on their conservation.
Most notably the Yorke Peninsula is home to one of the world’s most ambitious rewilding projects, Marna Banggara. Over the course of two decades, the 150,000 hectare sanctuary — which involves fencing off a massive area and stocking it with locally extinct species, such as quolls, brush-tailed bettongs, and red-tailed phascogales — aims to restore southern Yorke Peninsula’s landscape by reinvigorating those ecological processes that ensure the bushland’s health.
Make it happen
Fly to Adelaide with Qatar Airways, named World’s Best Airline at the 2022 Skytrax Awards. Stretch out in comfort, onboard one of the youngest fleets. While you dine, sleep or watch some of the 4,000-plus entertainment options, you’re sure to enjoy the inflight experience.
A 12-night holiday in Australia with Trailfinders including flights, 3-days car hire and 4-star hotels in Adelaide, Barossa, Port Lincoln and Sydney costs from £4,029 per person (based on two sharing). Includes 3-night 4WD tour with local guide, most meals and wildlife experiences. Call Trailfinders on 020 7368 1354.