A Fleurieu Peninsula Road Trip is one of the easiest to do in South Australia due to its proximity to Adelaide. From Adelaide to Cape Jervis or Adelaide to Victor Harbor, it is just over an hour in the car, and the Fleurieu is jam-packed full of exciting things to see and do.
The Fleurieu Peninsula boasts some of the States best beaches, rugged coastlines and no less than 5 of our States 18 wine regions. There is something for everyone, the foodie, adventure seeker, nature lover, beach dweller and of course wine lover.
This region is massive, stretching from Adelaide to the Southern Mount Lofty Ranges to Cape Jervis and Victor Harbor in the South and out to Tailem Bend and Meningie in the East There is A LOT to see, do, taste and experience on the Fleurieu Peninsula. It’s great for a day trip, a weekend away or a road trip over several days or even weeks. You could honestly spend weeks and months exploring and not see everything.
For that reason, this Fleurieu Peninsula Road Trip will touch on the “highlights” of the Fleurieu coastal region, Deep Creek and McLaren Vale. Starting in Port Noarlunga and doing an anti-clockwise loop and finishing in McLaren Vale.
What are you waiting for? Let’s Go!
Table of Contents
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Map - Fleurieu Peninsula
A road trip around the Fleurieu Peninsula can be achieved in a matter of hours, so perfect for a day trip. But this is a slow road trip taking in all the best that the Fleurieu Peninsula has to offer.
Also worth noting are all the yellow stars on the map of the Fleurieu Peninsula which have been included as points of interest, of which some are explained in the itinerary.
All mini regions within the Fleurieu Peninsula can be accessed from Main South Road (B23), which will get you from Adelaide to the Fleurieu Peninsula and all the way to Cape Jervis. Make sure to jump onto the Southern Expressway to shorten your trip considerably.
If you’d prefer the coastal route, exit the Southern Expressway at the Noarlunga Centre turn off, head west down Beach Road to Christies Beach where you can join the Esplanade as far as Moana. Follow the signs for Commercial Road and Old Coach Road past the cliffs and beaches of Maslins, before rejoining the Esplanade at Port Willunga. The Esplanade goes as far as Silvers Sands beach before turning inland again at Normans Road. Turn right onto Justs Road, followed by another right onto Sellicks Beach Road to get to the stunning Sellicks Beach Esplanade. To continue the journey down the Peninsula, rejoin Main South Road (B23)
Alternatively at Seaford, take the left road, Victor Harbor Road (A13), at the main junction toward McLaren Vale and Victor Harbor.
Range Road (B37) connects the East and West coasts of the Peninsula. If you are perhaps driving in from the Eastern States the best route would be via Tailem Bend and Strathalbyn. All roads and towns are very clearly marked.
This is a blog post about a road trip so of course, the best way to get around is by some sort of vehicle!
The coast and inland areas of the Peninsula just beg for you to stop, get out and explore the natural beauty, so allow yourself the space to do that by driving your own vehicle or hiring one.
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Best Time To Visit And Weather
Being so close to Adelaide the Fleurieu Peninsula generally experiences the same weather, give or take a few degrees.
Any season is great on the Fleurieu! With the stunning beaches to experience during summer, the delectable Fleuriru Peninsula wineries to explore in the Autumn sunshine, camping or hiking in Deep Creek during Spring or watching the wild weather roll in during winter while trying to catch a glimpse of a Whale off the coast of Victor or Middleton. Any season is good and there is plenty to see, do and experience in all of them.
Day 1 - Port Noarlunga to Sellicks Beach
This beautiful seaside playground stretching from Port Noarlunga to Sellicks beach deserves a full day if not MORE to explore.
Port Noarlunga Reef Aquatic Reserve is South Australia’s most used Aquatic Reserve seeing almost 170k visitors per year. With its 300m long jetty and almost 1 kilometre of natural reef at the jetty’s end, it is a fisherman’s, snorkelers and scuba divers dream. Not only that it is the perfect beach to swim, surf and kayak at.
The mouth of the Onkaparinga River and the most famous stairs in South Australia can be seen a 5-minute drive from the jetty and is an absolute must. You will have a stunning view of Port Noarlunga Jetty, quite possibly the reef depending on the tide, South Port Beach, the mouth of the Onkaparinga and of course those stairs!
Moana & Maslin Beach
Join the Esplanade and meander slowly along the coast taking in all the beauty before turning inland at Moana. Moana is the first of 6 beaches on the Peninsula you can drive your car on.
As you drive down Commercial Road/Old Coach Road you will pass by Maslin Beach, known to locals and Adelaideans alike as Maslins.
There are two sections to this beach, the northern end for everyone and the southern end is a designated nude bathing beach. If you decide to stop here make sure you stop at the right one! This designated area of Maslin Beach is Australia’s first legal nude bathing beach.
Above this beach are the rugged cliffs of Maslins and the beautiful viewpoint area known as Blanche Point, which can be found off Tuit Road. From this viewpoint, Gull Rock will be visible just off the coast. You’ll quickly realise why it’s called Gull rock!
Not another 5 minutes down Bowering Hill Road and Port Road, rejoin the Esplanade at Port Willunga. Park in the parking bay and get ready to explore another famous Fleurieu Peninsula beach site. The famous Port Willunga Jetty Pylons and Fisherman Caves.
There is a beautiful wooden boardwalk down to the beach, which gives a clear view of the remains of the old jetty. Originally built in 1851, it received storm damage in 1896, 1906 and 1910 before an assessment in 1915 deemed it irreparable, leaving what you see today.
Behind the pylons on the beach are the unique fishermen caves. They had been carved out of the cliff face by the fishermen as a place to store their boats and equipment after a long day on the water. Nowadays they are used by beachgoers as a place to escape the sun, have a picnic or take photographs.
Aldinga & Silver Sands
After exploring the beautiful history on the beach of Port Willunga, continue into Aldinga. This will be the last opportunity to grab groceries at a supermarket, petrol and other supplies until arriving in Normanville. There are small general stores in Sellicks and Myponga, however, they can be a little on the pricey side and limited in stock.
Aldinga is the second beach on the Fleurieu drivers are permitted to take their vehicles onto. Behind the Esplanade is Aldinga Scrub, which boasts a beautiful boardwalk to a viewing platform over Aldinga Beach with views as far down as the Sellicks Beach Cliffs.
If you haven’t had enough beach driving, carry on toward Silver Sands, the third beach vehicles are permitted on, before heading slightly inland to get to the last stop of the day, Sellicks Beach. Sellicks is the last beach before Cape Jervis that drivers are permitted on.
Further along the Esplanade at Sellicks Beach and at the end of Dunedin Ave is another beautiful boardwalk that guides walkers down to the beach. Walk as far along the beach as the tide permits. Wander past Cactus Canyon, find the arch in the rocks and marvel at these epic cliffs from ground level.
Time your journey to be at the top of Cactus Canyon at Sunset (follow the Esplanade to the end and park off-road in the gravel car park).
These stunning red, rugged cliffs surrounded by lush green rolling hills disappearing into the distance, cactus jutting out perfectly framing the view as you watch the sun setting into the ocean is truly spectacular and not to be missed.
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DAY 2 - Sellicks Beach to Rapid Bay
Day 2 starts with a “choose your own adventure” decision. Go through Myponga “town” on Main South Road or go over the Myponga Reservoir Dam wall?
Option 1 - Myponga Town
Option 1: head straight for Myponga and stop off at Valley of Yore for a delicious coffee, followed by a walk into the Reservoir which recently opened up with many walking trails and viewpoints, plus a kangaroo or two.
This option carries on through to Yankalilla, then Normanville, which both have supermarkets, bakeries and pubs. Stop for lunch at the Normanville Kiosk and Cafe right in front of Normanville Jetty.
Option 2 - Myponga Reservoir
Option 2: Turn right at Reservoir Road and drive along the peak of the hills towering above Myponga town and the reservoir, before stopping at the viewpoint to marvel at the dam and dam wall, before actually driving across the dam wall, very cool!
This option carries on down to Carrickalinga, which boasts two stunning beaches both with rocky outcrops in the water. Search for a rock pool to explore or to have a quick swim in. Again, stop for lunch at the Normanville Kiosk and Cafe right in front of Normanville Jetty.
After lunch, enjoy a short walk into the Great Big Gorge Walk, beginning at Garnet Kelly Reserve. This new walking trail opened in June 2021 and is a very easy and enjoyable walking trail, taking no more than 1 hour to complete.
Back on the road head south on an infamous stretch of South Australian road past all the beautiful pine trees of Lady Bay.
Second Valley is a must stop. This gorgeous little seaside stop is one of South Australia’s most photographed (and Instagrammed) locations. It has steep cliffs with walking trails for birds-eye views of the area.
The Second Valley Jetty is used by many fishermen above ground and many snorkelers and scuba divers underwater, looking for the Leafy Sea-Dragon and occasionally fur seals. Explore the rugged coastline and caves from the water by hiring a kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP).
Around the headland to the left of the jetty, find a protected little bay great for exploring. Carefully climbing on top of the rocks, will afford you a lovely view of the day’s final destination in the distance, Rapid Bay.
Rapid Bay is another stunning Fleurieu Peninsula Beach. At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much here but there is a lot of exploring to do!
The very, very long Rapid Bay Jetty, originally built in 1940 (closed to the public) and a new one built next to it in 2009 (open to the public). Walk right along the beach to the very end and find the Rapid Bay Cave. Walk a small way in and turn back toward the beach for a stunningly framed photo opportunity.
With access to a kayak or SUP, try your luck finding the secret and secluded beach around the headland.
DAY 3 - Rapid Bay to Victor Harbor (Via Cape Jervis and Deep Creek)
Today’s adventure is to the very end of the Peninsula. A short 15-minute drive away is Cape Jervis. The tip of the Peninsula. And also the departure point for the stunning Kangaroo Island.
A few notable areas of interest include the;
- Morgans Beach
- The Cape Jervis Lookout
- Starfish Hill Wind Farm
- Fishery Beach
Morgans Beach is the Peninsula’s best-kept secret! This beach is not signposted so to find it use Google Maps. The road is a dirt/gravel road so drive carefully.
Firstly, head to the viewpoint which is a slight right at the junction once onto the dirt road. Park up and take in the stunning view, it’s breathtaking. The rugged coastline and stunning blue waters of St Vincent Gulf, separated by a long stretch of crisp white beach. Head back to the junction and this time turn down the steep road to the first of two car parks next to the beach.
Morgans is a beach that can be driven on but the entrance point is very soft boggy sand so ensure you know how to drive on this terrain without getting bogged before attempting it. Better yet park in one of the two car parks and take a lovely stroll along the beach and weather permitting, have a refreshing dip in the clear blue water.
Deep Creek Conservation Park
Strap on your hiking boots because the next adventure involves heading into Deep Creek Conservation Park. A rugged, steep, naturally beautiful park on the southern edge of the Fleurieu Peninsula. There are countless campsites, hiking trails of different levels and viewpoints in the Park.
Days, even weeks could be spent in Deep Creek, hiking and camping around, exploring every nook and cranny. It is a truly spectacular part of the Peninsula.
After leaving Cape Jervis the only way into the park is to head back toward the small town of Delamere. Take a right-hand turn at Delamere onto Range Road. Once turning off Range Road into the park, all the roads are dirt/gravel roads. All key points of interest in the park are signposted.
The first stop is Blowhole Beach. There are two ways to see this beach. The first is to head straight down the road. However, this is strictly 4WD ONLY! So if you do not have a 4WD do not attempt this. It is extremely steep and not for people who are not experienced with this style of driving.
The better option is to park in the Cobbler Creek car park and follow the walking trail. It is 3.2 km return, approx 1 hour, with the return journey being entirely uphill and steep. Decide whether the full hike or maybe just a photograph from the top is the better option.
Deep Creek Waterfall Hike
Another great option for a short hike in Deep Creek is to head to Trig Campground and complete the Deep Creek Waterfall Hike.
It is approximately a 3.8km return, roughly 1-hour return, through the dense Australian bush finishing at the pretty Deep Creek Waterfall. It is easy enough for children to complete the trail, with a few spots on rocks to sit around the water’s edge to enjoy the waterfall while having a small picnic.
Time permitting there are many other points of interest in the park including;
- Tapanappa Lookout
- Pages Lookout
- Raywood Nursery along the beautiful Tapanappa Road
Getting to Victor Harbor
Outside the park and on the way to the night’s accommodation in Victor Harbor, points of interest include many Fleurieu Peninsula beaches;
- Parsons Beach
- Waitpinga Beach
- Kings Beach and Kings Beach Trail Head
- Petrel Cove and,
- The Bluff (Rosetta Head)
Victor Harbor is the biggest town in size and population on the Fleurieu Peninsula, with all the “Mod Cons” and services you need.
Day 4 - Victor Harbor to McLaren Vale
There is a lot to see and do in Victor so extending for another night is a great option to give another day of exploring around town.
Key points of interest include:
- The Horse Drawn Tram
- Granite Island
- The Cockle Train
- The South Australian Whale Centre
- Encounter Coast Discovery Centre
- Urimbirra Wildlife Park
- Dump Beach and,
- Boomer Beach
At a minimum, either take the horse-drawn tram across to Granite Island or walk over, grab a coffee at the Island Cafe and do the loop of the Island. It’ll take approximately 45 minutes and if lucky you may see some of the Fairy Penguins that use the rocky shores as their home.
Moving on from Victor, visit all the beautiful coastal towns as far as Goolwa before heading inland to McLaren Vale for the night.
Port Elliot & Middleton
Along this stretch of coast are the towns of Port Elliot, Middleton and Goolwa.
Stop off at Port Elliot and visit the famous Port Elliot Bakery. Be prepared to queue here especially on a weekend or public holiday. It is very popular! Take lunch down to Freemans Lookout Carpark and choose between Knight Beach, Green Bay, Rocky Bay and Lady Bay to sit and enjoy the view.
In fact, visit all 4 locations as they’re connected by a lovely coastal walking trail. While in the area wander down to the pretty Horseshoe Bay and the famous “ t “ shaped jetty.
Fleurieu Peninsula beaches along this stretch into Middleton include Basham Beach and Middleton Beach which is a long stretch of beach that eventually becomes Goolwa Beach.
Goolwa is the last beach on Fleurieu Peninsula that is permitted to be driven, however, this is strictly a 4WD beach only. Surfing is great in these parts and during the winter months a whale may even be easily spotted off the coast here. This area is what’s referred to as The Nursery, as Southern Right and Humpback Whale mothers use these protected waters to give birth and raise their calves before making their long journeys onwards once the babies are capable enough.
Goolwa is on the edge of the Coorong and at the Mouth of the mighty Murray. The best way to see the Mouth is to cross over the bridge to Hindmarsh Island and head for Sugars Beach and the Murray Mouth Lookout Platform. Go for a walk, stretch your legs and marvel at nature.
The next stretch of the journey is inland to the historic town of Willunga, taking the Goolwa Road and connecting with Victor Harbor Road into Willunga town. Willunga is a gorgeous little town steeped in history. Built in 1839 with an abundance of stone cottages, pubs and churches, a walk-up High Street is a must.
The day finishes in one of South Australia’s most famous Wine Regions, McLaren Vale.
Take the opportunity to rest for the remainder of the day, as the last day is entirely dedicated to this beautiful region. If that’s not on the agenda, head out to any number of the amazing restaurants in these parts for a sumptuous meal and the beginnings of a fabulous wine tasting experience.
Day 5 - McLaren Vale
Today is all about great food and great wine amongst the Fleurieu Peninsula’s Wineries in McLaren Vale Bear in mind the wineries are spread out so someone will have to be “desi” for the day (designated driver).
Fleurieu Peninsula Wineries - McLaren Vale
Grab a map of the wineries in the area from the Visitor Centre and get cracking.
Spend the day amongst the rolling hills and vineyards of the Vale, sampling wines, tasting delicious food and immersing yourself in one of South Australia’s and the Fleurieu Peninsula’s most celebrated Wine Regions.
Wineries you may be interested in;
- D’Arenberg (this is a wine, food and total sensory experience. Visiting the Cube is a must!)
- Wirra Wirra
- Alpha Box and Dice
- Lloyd Brothers Wine and Olive Company (yummy grazing platter)
- Chalk Hill Wines
- Maxwell Wines (they have a hedge maze! Fun!)
- Down the Rabbit Hole (they have a tasting room in a converted London double-decker bus)
This but scratches the surface. Realistically you could visit 2-4 cellar doors in a day without feeling rushed.
To honour the region, a minimum 3 days in McLaren Vale to fully explore, is needed.
Go to bed happy and end the day and the road trip with a belly full of scrumptious food and delicious wine.
Day 6 - Home
Have a delicious breaky at one of the Vales cafes on Main Street after checkout, before one last stop; at FruChocs! The famous South Australian confectioner has been making confectionery for over 150 years in the State under the Robern Menz name, including the famous FruChocs and Crown Mints. Fruchocs became an “official icon of South Australia” by the National Trust in 2005. Don’t miss your opportunity to buy some straight from the source.
Depart McLaren Vale for the airport, home or your next destination, with luggage full of wine and chocolate!
The Fleurieu Peninsula can be done as quickly or as slowly as you desire. It is an area with an abundance of things to see and do, whether you want to jam-pack it full of adventures or visit with the intention to do nothing but relax and be at one with nature, one thing is a must! That you visit at least once!
Luisa has extensive travel experience having visited 62 countries on 6 continents, most of them solo, before being grounded in her home state of SA due to the pandemic. She lives on the Fleurieu Peninsula and explores all of South Australia’s beautiful regions by road trip at every opportunity.
She started her travel blog The Born Wanderess in 2018 out of a desire to show other people how to travel, travel solo and on a budget. She shares her knowledge, experience and expertise to help others travel with ease and like a pro!