The ‘City of Churches’ may not be a particularly sexy moniker, but there’s a lot more to ‘Radelaide’ than organ music and a CBD that shuts down after 8pm.
Even if South Australia’s capital can’t compete with Sydney and Melbourne on hedonism and black trenchcoats, it more than holds its own when it comes to food, wine and weekends.
And what self-respecting Australian isn’t a fan of those? Here’s our guide to Adelaide’s coolest weekend adventures.
1. Old Adelaide Gaol Psychic Fair
Old Adelaide Gaol is apparently very haunted (if there are degrees of hauntedness, which I’m not sure there are. Let’s just say you may or may not see a ghost). And to celebrate the possible existence of malevolent gaol spirits, Adelaide is holding a Psychic Fair on Saturday 21 May.
There’ll be ghost tours of the gaol itself, palm and tarot readers, healers, crystal shamans, along with real things like food trucks and live music. If Fox Mulder were visiting Geelong in May and looking for a Saturday afternoon activity, this would probably be right up his alley.
2. Balloon over Barossa Valley
The Barossa is a no-brainer when it comes to Adelaide weekenders. It’s one of the country’s (probably the world’s) premier wine regions, pumping out Shiraz by the cask-load.
You can do a lovely cellar door drive through the Barossa from Adelaide (it’s only about an hour away), but for something extra special, set the alarm early, make yourself a triple espresso and drive up to watch the dawn from a hot air balloon. Balloon Adventures is a quality local operator, and you can celebrate your successful flight with a hearty glass of red at Penfolds round the corner.
3. Fly with Adelaide Warbirds
Another aerial activity for anyone who enjoyed the seminal 1986 film Top Gun (I hope that’s a lot of you). Adelaide Warbirds are an adventure flight company operating out of Parafield Airport just north of Mawson Lakes.
For the price of a very reasonable gift voucher you can fly in the cockpit of a classic CJ-6A Nanchang Fighter plane, a Chinese model from the late 1940s. I don’t know a lot about planes, but these things look cool and that’s all that matters. Warbirds will fly you out over the estuaries and white sandy beaches of Northern Adelaide, or test your stomach strength with turns and loop-the-loops pulling 4G. Shotgun Maverick.
4. Explore Deep Creek Conservation Park
Any local Adelaidian will know that South Road, the one that runs direct from Adelaide to the Fleurieu Peninsula, is like a tarmac gateway to coastal adventure. Kind of the SA equivalent of Victoria’s Great Ocean Rd. And right on the southern tip of the Peninsula, tucked away behind rocky headlands and dense Stringybark forests, is Deep Creek Conservation Park, one of Adelaide’s best kept weekend secrets.
There are a bunch of trails running through the park, from a leisurely 30-minute jaunt to a seven-hour trek. You’ll pass classic cliff-top views, waterfalls, isolated beaches, and bushland filled with grey kangaroos and short beaked echidnas. Not bad for a 90-minute drive from the CBD.
5. Kite surf at Henley Beach
Strong south-westerly winds hit the beach at Henley for most of the year, whipping up the surf and making it difficult to pitch beach umbrellas. But for kite-surfers, the conditions are ideal, which is why you’ll find Kiteboarding School Adelaide teaching newbies to catch some air on the shallow blue waters.
If the closest you’ve come to kite-surfing is that time your toy kite flew away and got stuck in a tree and you cried, don’t worry. The school has lessons for beginners, as well as gear hire and pros to show you all the ropes, literally (I’m pretty sure kite boards have ropes).
6. Mountain bike in Belair National Park
Adelaide is spoiled for choice when it comes to weekend mountain bike trails. There’s Fox Creek and Devil’s Gulley in the Adelaide Hills and Melrose Trails in the Southern Flinders Rangers, but I like the Belair National Park Adventure Loop Trail.
It’s a bit of a mouthful, but it’s a great track for a beginner or intermediate rider: 12km of bushland dirt tracks within striking distance of the Adelaide CBD. The council opened it up to riders in 2013, and since then it’s been a popular weekend spot for trail riding and picnics. Some of the single tracks open up areas of the National Park that were previously off limits to visitors. You can checkout the route map here.