January 23, 2020
People & Places

SA’s tourism winners for 2019

If you're thinking of getting away this long weekend, support SA's best tourism businesses with this list of the 2019 SA Tourism Award winners.

Step aboard the Proud Mary riverboat for a relaxing River Murray cruise. The cruise provides a combination of activities and downtime with beautiful views throughout. Passengers can select from single or double bedrooms, each with their own balcony overlooking the spectacular natural scenery. Proud Mary also offers a range of on-shore tours and experiences, such as a visit to Murray Aquaculture. Business partner Matthew Sims says the cruise, which was recently inducted into the South Australian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame, is the result of years of hard work. “To receive this highest of accolades is truly humbling,” he says. “What makes Proud Mary unique is the boutique and intimate cruising experience we offer our passengers. You are more than just a number onboard our vessel, but instead someone the crew will get to know, share stories with and ensure an uncompromised experience full of wonderful memories.”

Find tranquillity in the River Murray on a four-day and three-night guided tour with Murray River Walk. Tour guides lead groups through the Riverland Ramsar Wetland before an evening aboard a houseboat. While walking and cruising through the Riverland, guides share stories of the ancient red gum forests and floodplain wetlands. Home to an abundance of animals – including 179 bird species, red and grey kangaroos and the nationally threatened regent parrot – hikers may even spot a rare creature. 

The business has been inducted into the South Australian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame, having won the Ecotourism section for three consecutive years. Murray River Walk co-owner Tony Sharley says, “the magic of the Murray” is key to the business’s success. “There is just so much magic out there.” He says the houseboat is a relaxing space to share tales with fellow travellers. “We offer a really lovely, modern houseboat that moves to our new destination each day. So, while we’re walking the houseboat moves up to a new destination. That way you unpack once and there’s your room waiting for you, just with new scenery, each night.” Murray River Walk operates from May until September each year.

Say hello to the only Giant Pandas in Australasia at Adelaide Zoo. One of South Australia’s institutions, the zoo has been open for more than 130 years. It has been inducted into the South Australian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame, after winning the State’s major tourist attraction category for the third year. Director community engagement Sarah Brown says the zoo’s drive to be recognised as a conservation charity has helped connect people with nature and save animals from extinction. She says the Variety Children’s Zoo, which opened in September 2019, is a prime example. “The Variety Children’s Zoo is an accessible-to-all zoo that allows children to learn and interact with animals in a way that is both educational and has a focus on the animals’ wellbeing. With regular shows and opportunities to safely touch and feel animals guided by our Nature Theatre staff, children learn about animals and how they can apply these learnings to pets at home.”

Need to escape the summer heat? Head to the South Australian Museum and check out the Dogs: a story of our best friend exhibition, which run until April 26. Stroll through the museum’s wealth of treasures, which have contributed to its 160-year success. The business has been so popular it has been inducted into the South Australian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame. Museum director Brian Oldman says he is thrilled to join the Hall of Fame and be awarded the best in cultural tourism. “Our aim is to create a visitor experience that offers something for people of all ages and backgrounds and to ensure a welcoming environment that encourages curiosity for science and the world around us,” he says.

Crawl, climb, swing and slide your way around more than 30 obstacles on challenge hill at Woodhouse Activity Centre. The venue offers single day and multiple day activities as well as accommodation ranging from a heritage-listed mansion to spaces for bush camping. For those just wanting to escape the city for a day, the “day activity pass” provides access to 9am to 5pm fun. Alternatively, set up a tent or book the manor for a longer stay. 

If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with some marine life, book an adventure with Calypso Star Charters. Take a half-day tour to either Hopkins, Langton, Grindal or Blyth Island to meet Australian sea lions. If you’re feeling particularly daring, the shark cage dive allows participants to see Great White sharks in their natural environment. For those who just can’t decide there’s a combo tour, which combines both experiences.  

Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari allows visitors the chance to witness dolphins, seals, whales and birdlife during a 75-minute boat ride departing from Christmas Cove Marina, Penneshaw. Travel along the coastline, spotting marine life along the way, as the skipper provides informative commentary. 

It’s on everyone’s bucket list: that once-in-a-lifetime trip with Journey Beyond. Explore the heart of Australia onboard The Ghan, travelling between Adelaide and Darwin, or book your seat on the brand new Great Southern journey. Running between Brisbane and Adelaide, the unique rail voyage takes travellers passed rugged coastlines and extraordinary beaches. Guests can choose between three levels of on-board service, all of which are all inclusive, as well as a range of off-train experiences.

Heading to the Clare Valley? Stop in at the Clare Valley Wine, Food and Tourism Centre to sample some of the regional produce and get advice on the best vineyards and restaurants to check out. On a Friday night, the centre also hosts a two-hour happy hour featuring a different winery each week.

Soak in the sun at Seppeltsfield Barossa with a wine in hand. The vineyard has plenty of ways to experience the hand-crafted red, white and sparkling ranges, including with a private group tasting, a village discovery tour or by Segway. 

No matter if you’re taking a wine trip from the Clare Valley or simply looking for an afternoon drop, d’Arenberg Cube is a must. As well as a selection of award-winning wines, the vineyard features a virtual fermenter, a 360-degree video room and a wine sensory room.

If you’re in need of a beach escape the Wallaroo Marina Apartments have you covered. Just a two-hour drive from Adelaide and sitting next to the Sea SA ferry terminal it’s ideal for people travelling to and from the Eyre Peninsula — or as the destination itself.

For something further afield, head to Redwig Farm. Only a short drive from the Copper Coast, the property makes a perfect base. Aptly named after a ship that sunk off the coast of Yorke Peninsula, the farm maintains its 1860s rustic charm. It also has a menagerie of animals to get to know. The award-winning farm has a variety of accommodation options, which are ideal for families and couples.

Watch the sunsets over Henley Beach with friends or family from Adelaide Luxury Beach House. Spread across three-stories, the home can hold up to 12 people. For those after a luxury treatment, there is an optional private chef, in-house therapeutic massage and personal trainer.

Nestled among the Flinders Ranges, Flinders Bush Retreats is a farm stay with a difference and the perfect spot to set up base camp for a few days exploring the outback. For those wanting modern conveniences, the bush retreat offers two self-contained houses, each of which can sleep six to eight guests. Alternatively, surround yourself with nature, with the comfort of a bed, and book the Eco Tent, or there are campsite spots for caravans, camper trailers and tents.

If you’re after a romantic night away but don’t want to leave the city, head to the Pullman Hotel. The five-star venue features the Salt Restaurant for contemporary South Australian cuisine, otherwise it’s only a short walk to some of the city’s top cafes, bars and eateries.

Take the time to explore the Adelaide Hills while relaxing at the BIG4 Hahndorf Resort. Nestled among the rolling hills and bushland, guests can camp or caravan at one of the 66 sites on the property or book a room, unit, cottage or house for up to 10 people. The resort accommodation has 360-degree views across the Adelaide Hills while the local restaurant, Three Gums Bistro, overlooks Mount Lofty. BIG4 Hahndorf Resort has been inducted into the South Australian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame. The resort’s ability to cater for holidaymakers of all ages makes it perfect for families. 

Convenient and yet private, the Adelaide Hills Convention Centre is an ideal location for weddings, conferences or special events. After winning one of South Australia’s top business tourism accolades three times, Adelaide Hills Convention Centre has been inducted into the South Australian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame. Marketing manager Steve Pearce says it is the dedicated team that keeps customers coming back. Steve says the centre is particularly beautiful in summer. “We’re perched atop a 13-hectare, fully manicured property within Hahndorf and the views across the Mount Lofty Ranges are always stunning.” 

Congratulations to the 2019 South Australian Tourism Award Winners

Premier’s Award for Service Excellence
Seppeltsfield Winery Barossa

Major Tourist Attractions
Adelaide Zoo

Tourist Attractions
Calypso Star Charters

Major Festivals and Events
OzAsia Festival 2018

Festivals and Events
South Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2019

Murray River Walk

Cultural Tourism
South Australian Museum

Qantas Award for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism
Maralinga Tours

Specialised Tourism Services
Proud Mary 

Visitor Information Services
Clare Valley Wine, Food and Tourism Centre

Business Event Venues
Adelaide Hills Convention Centre

Major Tour and Transport Operators
Journey Beyond Rail Expeditions

Tour and Transport Operators
Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari 

Adventure Tourism
Adventure Bay Charters

Destination Marketing
Murray River, Lakes & Coorong Tourism Alliance

Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services
The Tasting Room at Mayura Station

Tourism Wineries, Distilleries and Breweries
Seppeltsfield Winery Barossa

Caravan and Holiday Parks
BIG4 Hahndorf Resort

Hosted Accommodation
Redwing Farm 

Unique Accommodation
River Murray Houseboats Renmark

Self-Contained Accommodation
Flinders Bush Retreats 

Standard Accommodation
Beach Huts Middleton 

Deluxe Accommodation
Wallaroo Marina Apartments

Luxury Accommodation
Pullman Adelaide

New Tourism Business
Seppeltsfield Road Distillers

Excellence in Food Tourism
Willunga Farmers Market

Excellence in Accessible Tourism
BIG4 Renmark Riverfront Holiday Park

Outstanding Contribution by an Individual
Jo Fort, Innamincka Hotel and Birdsville Hotel

South Australian Tourism Student of the Year
Sinead Vandenbroek

South Australian Taxi Driver of the Year
Rajdeep Singh

RAA Voters’ Choice Tourism Award (Experience or Service)
Calypso Star Charter

RAA Voters’ Choice Tourism Award (Accommodation)
Woodhouse Activity Centre


This story first appeared in the December/January 2019 issue of SALIFE magazine. 

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