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Just back from: South Australia

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2 April 2012

Australia specialist Gemma Mortimer recalls her recent trip to South Australia and Victoria, which took her from Melbourne to Adelaide via some of the region's major highlights.

Melbourne

An exciting way to see this city and its sights is to take a Harley Davidson motorbike tour. We were picked up by Harley drivers in traditional outfits and spent an hour whizzing through the city as their passengers, riding both pillion and in sidecars, a wonderful experience that I would highly recommend to other visitors to this charming city.

Phillip Island

Image credit: Travelling Tamas

Take a 30-minute flight with Philip Island Helicopters for a wonderful view of this enchanting place, a favourite for Fairy penguins, the smallest in the world. Watching them arrive from the sea at dusk in what has become known as ‘the penguin parade' is a delight.

Initially just a few arrive, but patient viewers will be rewarded by the sight of many more emerging from the sea. Average sightings last year were approximately 960 per night.

We were lucky enough to watch from Penguins Plus, a small viewing platform allowing an intimate experience. Once the penguins emerge from the sea, they make their way up the hill towards their burrows. You can view them from wooden walkways and get really close. For a daytime alternative, a Wildlife Coast cruise is recommended, to Seal Rock to watch a colony of seals as they play, eat and laze in the sun.

Adelaide & surrounds

Kangaroo island Wilderness Tours and Odyssey Adventures organise great trips around Kangaroo Island, collecting visitors from the airport in air-conditioned jeeps. They took us to Flinders Chase National Park on the west of the island, where we visited the Remarkable Rocks, enormous boulders carved into extraordinary shapes by the wind - the coastline here is incredibly dramatic. The wildlife is varied and wonderful too, and we saw seals, kangaroos, wallabies and koalas.

We were in Adelaide during the Fringe Festival, in February and March. The city buzzes with locals and visitors, and we wandered down to the opening parade, which was crowded but had an addictive atmosphere. Various fringe shows and attractions were held in the Central Garden, which was great fun - you see a cabaret or theatre show lasting 15-20 minutes.

Where to stay

Crowne Plaza, Adelaide

This contemporary hotel in the centre offers modern accommodation and the fine Redsalt Restaurant, plus a lap pool, spa, sauna and gym.

Intercontinental, Adelaide

Situated on the Torrens River, this hotel has spacious, smartly designed rooms, award-winning restaurants and a fitness suite.

Southern Ocean, Kangaroo Island

Located on the wildlife haven of Kangaroo Island, this contemporary lodge has 21 smart suites, each with a private terrace and fantastic views.

Jacob's Creek Retreat at Moorooroo Park, Barossa Valley

Housed in an elegant 1840s bluestone settlement next to the Moorooroo Vineyards, this quiet retreat has just seven suites. The restaurant has a great reputation and tasting courses are served with excellently matched wines.

Rawnsley Park Eco Villas, Flinders Ranges

A comfortable retreat in the deep wilderness close to Wilpena Pond. The villas have private verandas and skylights directly and delightfully above the beds.

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