In A State of Wonder
Written by: Jovanka Ristich
Date: 17th December 2013
Self-driving and exploring South Australia, it’s hard sometimes to remember you’re still in the same State, in the same country, on the same continent. So vast are the distances, so different the landscapes, so breathtaking the natural wonders – cliff tops and desert, lagoons, ocean and lakes, caves and Outback, oh and an extinct volcano thrown in for good measure.
It’s a real task trying to condense everything into one simple list of top ten natural wonders, but now it’s done, behold my personal list of South Australia’s best national wonders dotted throughout the State. Be prepared for landscapes of jaw dropping beauty punctuated by spectacular sunsets and sunrises:
REMARKABLE ROCKS on Kangaroo Island. Eroded in equal measure by wind, rain and sea spray for millions of years, the result is a weird, yet stunning rock formation perched on the edge of the Southern Ocean.
WILPENA POUND in the Flinders Ranges. Resembling an amphitheatre created by a crashing comet, it’s in fact two mountain ranges joined at their southern end and legend has it, named after the Aboriginal word meaning “place of bent fingers”.
HEAD OF BIGHT on the Eyre Peninsula. This is a tale of two giants – migrating southern right whales viewed from the dizzy heights of a 90m limestone cliff whilst the vast Nullarbor Plain provides an immense moonscape-like backdrop.
LAKE EYRE in the Flinders Ranges. At 15 metres below sea level, this salt lake is both Australia’s lowest point and its largest lake, whilst the Lake Eyre Basin itself covers a sixth of the continent. However, the true drama comes when it fills, a few times each century, an area awash with birds and fish.
LITTLE SAHARA on Kangaroo Island. This two square kilometre area of eroded limestone is an unexpected little desert located in the midst of thick bushland. Not only beautiful to look at, it’s a great place for sand-boarding.
THE PAINTED DESERT in the Flinders Ranges.This is no misnomer. Eroding residue remaining from an age-old inland sea displays an array of spectacular colours on the contours of the land, colours made more dramatic by the cloudless blue of the Outback sky.
NARACOORTE CAVES on the Limestone Coast. This, South Australia’s only World Heritage Site, offers up a staggering 26 caves as well as some amazing megafauna skeletons and fossils.
DALHOUSIE SPRINGS in the Flinders Ranges. On the edge of the Simpson Desert and literally in the geographical middle of Australia in Witjira National Park, lie these 60 or so artesian thermal springs ranging in temperature from 38-43C.
MOUNT GAMBIER’S BLUE LAKE on the Limestone Coast. Located within an extinct volcano, the Blue Lake regularly turns a remarkable turquoise blue (November to March).
THE COORONG on the Limestone Coast. Covering 140 km, stretching from the mouth of the might Murray River and extending from Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert, this is a vast stretch of sand separating the ocean from the lagoon behind it whilst being home to an impressive array of bird life.