The results are in – the state’s best tourism towns have been crowned by the Tourism Industry Council South Australia. Go and see for yourself why these towns are garnering attention from judges and visitors alike.
SA’s Top Tourism Towns revealed
South Australia’s Top Tourism Towns were named on Thursday, May 20, at a reception hosted by Governor Hieu Van Le, who said it had been a pleasure to visit most of the towns across the state as part of his role.
“I have always been amazed with the richness, colour and outstanding experiences in each town I have visited. It is also a great pleasure to meet and mingle with the local people, wherever I go, who are warm, friendly and welcoming, and so proud of their communities and of their town,” he said.
Magic in Moonta
It’s not hard to see why Moonta has been named the state’s Top Tourism Town. Dubbed “Australia’s little Cornwall”, Moonta is set against a backdrop of pristine beaches, rolling sand dunes and gorgeous heritage buildings.
The Yorke Peninsula town has it all – fresh seafood, a rich history, quaint shopping and locally-made treats. It’s a history-lover’s paradise, with everything about the town’s origins in mining ready to discover.
Copper was discovered by – of all things – a wombat in 1861 and the mining boom began. Cornish miners worked the Moonta mines and, to this day, there’s no better way to explore that connection than with a hot Cornish pasty in hand, strolling the streets.
Visitors can wander the ruins of the mines, or sit aboard the tourist train that winds through the Moonta Mines National Heritage Area.
For those with a sweet tooth, the Moonta Mines Sweet Shop is an old-school lolly and retro sweet experience, and while the queues often spill out the door, patience is rewarded.
It’s not all about the past though, Moonta’s modern offerings include a plethora of cafes, hotels and restaurants to choose from. Visit boutiques such as Mother Duck & Mee, Stylish Bird Boutique and Vivian Frank Fashion.
To experience the area’s seafood industry firsthand, book a fishing charter and let a local fisherman show you the best spots for in-shore or deep-sea fishing.
There’s really no bad time to visit, but perhaps the best time is during Kernewek Lowender Copper Coast Cornish Festival, held every two years in May. The week-long festival is held in Moonta and neighbouring towns, celebrating Cornish heritage with food, parades, dance, music and costumes.
Aside from all the obvious offerings, Moonta’s hidden gem is in the hospitable nature of the locals, from the water bowls left out for four-legged friends, to the dish of spare coins on cafe counters that are free to use by anyone running a bit short.
Beside the seaside
An ever-popular South Australian seaside spot, Robe – named the Small Tourism Town – swells from 1500 permanent inhabitants to 15,000 sun-seeking holidaymakers over summer.
A captivating location, visitors flock to Robe’s azure waters and golden sands, along with the myriad attractions to keep the whole family happy.
Sitting between Adelaide and Melbourne, the seaside village has long been a destination for friends and family to meet, and it continues to reinvigorate itself for returning generations.
Holidaymakers visit Long Beach time and time again; one of the rare places you can drive your vehicle onto the sand. In summer, take advantage of surfing lessons, run by Charlie’s Surf School.
In the cooler months, there’s still so much to experience; stroll among the rock pools at low tide to discover all manner of interesting creatures.
The town, sustained by its Southern Rock Lobster fishing industry, is wonderfully diverse in its offerings, including art, beautiful architecture, food, wine, beer and coffee to rival that served anywhere else. To try some of the town’s best, stop into Mahalia Coffee, where they roast their own beans on-site.
Swap the coffee for a beer over at Robe Town Brewery, where they operate the only wood-fired brewing kettle in Australia. There are between 10 and 20 beers on tap daily, games for the kids and live music from 6pm on Friday nights. The Mount Benson wine region is just a 20-minute drive out of town.
The pull of Robe is undeniable and visiting creatives have been easily convinced to stay, so there’s always something interesting to discover. Make sure you stop in at Transmutation – home of the famous recycled bread tag bowl – where they are turning used plastics into beautiful products.
Don’t miss out on the stunning scenery along the coastal trails and, of course, make sure you get a photo at the Robe Obelisk before it takes its impending tumble into the ocean.
Enjoy the escape
Majestic gums, undulating meadows and rows of vines make up the tapestry of Clare’s irresistible landscape, but the town is much more than just a pretty face, which is why it’s taken out the Voter’s Choice Award.
Close enough to really make the most of your time, but far enough away to feel as though you’ve escaped daily life, a trip to Clare is always worth it.
In the heart of the Clare Valley wine region, the town is less than two hours from Adelaide and home to a network of walking and biking trails to explore it all. Hop on a bike and pedal along the Riesling Trail to soak up 33 kilometres of countryside from Clare to Auburn, stopping to enjoy all the things the region has to offer along the way.
You’re spoiled for choice, with more than 40 cellar doors and boutique wineries, but don’t forget to branch out to the breweries, with award-winning handcrafted beers. Stop by the cellar doors, artisan cafes and restaurants to celebrate the seasonal ingredients grown by the town’s producers.
Continue the love affair with the outdoors at Gleeson Wetlands, a native garden that attracts local birdlife and is a popular spot for a picnic.
Clare’s main street is a great place to ramble and discover the creations at the Art Collective and Clare Art Gallery, pick up something from a local boutique and pop into the cafes.
If you’re staying overnight, Clare is plentiful with accommodation to make you feel like the only person for miles. Enjoy the night from a B&B with an open fire, or go for grandeur and luxury. For something different, embrace the outdoors with Bukirk Glamping.
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