So began the history of the state. South Australia claims that it is the driest state in the driest continent on earth. With such a record, it is no wonder that agricultural development has always presented a problem here. However, wheat is grown in the coastal areas, including the Eyre Peninsula to the west of Adelaide, and this region extends almost as far west as the start of the Nullarbor Plain. However, it cannot continue very far inland.
The most famous rural area of the state is the Barossa Valley, which attracted German immigrants right from the start and soon became Australia’s first and most important wine-growing region, a reputation which it maintains. The Barossa Valley is close to Adelaide and can easily be reached as a day excursion from the capital. South Australia also produces minerals. Copper was discovered at Burra in 1845 and gold was also discovered in the same year. In recent times, however, it has been the iron ore from Whyalla which has been the most important mineral product. In addition, the lead, zinc and silver from Broken Hill is mainly transported by rail to Port Pirie, even though Broken Hill lies geographically narrowly within the borders of New South Wales. At Port Pirie, therefore, can be found the largest lead smelter in the world.
Towards the north of the state are two of Australia’s three main opal mining communities. The better known is Coober Pedy, on the way to Alice Springs. A little less famous is Andamooka, to the south-east of Coober Pedy. In terms of scenery, South Australia offers some attractive coastal views all the way from the Eyre Peninsula in the west to Mt. Gambier in the east. It offers Kangaroo Island with its history as well as wildlife. It offers the European flavour of the Barossa Valley. It offers the stately Flinders Ranges some seven hours north of Adelaide, and, for the really adventurous, it offers outstanding outback travel to the huge Lake Eyre, or along the Birdsville, Strzelecki or Oodnadatta Tracks, all of which can be covered with tours, although not with ordinary public transport.
Like other Australian states, South Australia has the bulk of its population in the capital city. Adelaide has a population of 1,100,000, making it the fifth largest city in the nation, out of a total state population of 1,500,000. South Australia is, therefore, the least populous mainland state. Only Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory have fewer people. South Australia has an area of 983,480 square kilometres, and is thus the fourth largest state or territory.
South Australia used to have its own state railway system. Indeed the state lays claim to having had Australia’s first railway line, albeit a horse-drawn railway - between Goolwa and Victor Harbor. Long distance trains through Adelaide are now operated by Great Southern Railway and consist of the Overland between Adelaide and Melbourne, the Indian-Pacific between Sydney and Perth via Adelaide and the Ghan between Sydney or Melbourne and Alice Springs via Adelaide to Darwin.
As for buses, Greyhound or McCafferty’s operate from Adelaide to Melbourne, Sydney, Alice Springs and Perth, and have competition from Firefly and V-Line to Melbourne, and from V-Line to Sydney via Albury. Within the state, a bus network is operated by Stateliner. This network consists principally of services from Adelaide east to Renmark, south-east to Mt. Gambier and Bordertown, south to Goolwa and Victor Harbor, north to Moonta, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Wilpena, Roxby Downs and Whyalla, and west to Port Lincoln and Ceduna. There are also some services provided by private operators. There is, however, no special ticket, for bus or train, designed specifically for use within South Australia. The Wayward Bus offers a service between Adelaide and Melbourne via the coast.
Free camping in South Australia
South Australia towns