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October 16, 2020

Exploring South Australia doesn’t have to cost the Earth

It’s easy to leave nothing but footprints behind on your next adventure, with this guide to the best sustainable and eco-friendly stays, tours and producers in South Australia.

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  • Image 1: Ecopia Retreat, Kangaroo Island
  • Image 2: Africola, Adelaide CBD
  • Image 3: Coriole Vineyards, McLaren Vale

From luxury villas, to modern tiny homes and seaside glamping, it’s easy to look after yourself, and the environment on an eco-friendly getaway.

Like at Ecopia Retreat on Kangaroo Island, where eco-friendly villas tucked in the wilderness use an off-grid energy system and rely 100 per cent on rainwater.

Owners Yael and Rob are also committed to making a tangible impact to the surrounding environment, planting more than 500 native trees to create habitat for the endangered glossy black cockatoo.

Or check into Tanonga Luxury Eco Villas on the Eyre Peninsula, where corridor plantings of more than 25,000 native trees, shrubs and grasses have attracted an abundance of native wildlife. The passive-designed villas including solar power, double glazed windows and an organic worm treatment for wastewater.

Willalooka Eco Lodge offers unique eco-luxury accommodation in the Limestone Coast. Set in total seclusion amongst gum trees overlooking the wetlands, the Eco Lodge is superbly appointed and offers the perfect escape for couples or families, promising total serenity and the chance to embrace nature.

The ultra-modern modular building operates entirely off-grid, creating its own power, collecting its own rainwater, and disposing of its own waste, and the combination of spotted gum cladding, steel-framed decking and limestone sourced from the property has created a naturally blended palette of materials that allows the accommodation to sit comfortably within its environment.

For more regional eco accommodation options, see: Rawnsley Park Station (Flinders Ranges and Outback), CABN Georgia (Fleurieu Peninsula), CABN Chloe (Fleurieu Peninsula), Pike River Luxury Eco Villas (Riverland).

CABN Chloe, Fleurieu Peninsula

Sustainable dining

From low food mileage, minimal food wastage and ethical production, South Australia’s restaurant scene is leading the way when it comes to sustainable dining and conscious consumption. If you have a love of local, seasonal produce, there are plenty of places to find food foraged from forests, sustainable seafood plucked straight from the ocean and onto a plate, or food scraps transformed into fine dining.

FINO, Seppeltsfield

At Fino Seppeltsfield in the Barossa, the menu is curated to showcase regionality and seasonality whilst supporting small-scale, sustainable producers with 95 per cent of the restaurant’s produce sourced locally.

In McLaren Vale, Coriole head chef Tom Tilbury relies on close relationships with the region’s producers to create his seasonal fine-dining menu. Focussing on celebrating local ingredients, Tom sources regional, ethically harvested and sustainable produce from trusted farmers wherever possible.

Coriole Vineyards, McLaren Vale

Africola’s Duncan Welgemoed shares this passion, with locally sourced food underpinning the fiery African menu. Living and breathing this commitment, Welgemoed can often be spotted wandering one of South Australia’s pristine beaches, hand-picking small amounts of local seaweed and grasses to dish up at his North Terrace restaurant.

Africola, Adelaide CBD

Meanwhile at Topiary in Tea Tree Gully, the kitchen team’s commitment to sustainability starts from the ground up inside the Newman’s Nursery grounds. Every scrap of food has been deliberately selected and prepared from root to leaf and nose to tail.

Century-old techniques of culturing, churning, curing and smoking mix seamlessly with a menu featuring foraged edible weeds like nasturtium, wood sorrel and wild fennel. Whatever can’t be picked from the surrounding gardens is sourced locally, as part of Topiary’s philosophy of minimising waste, supporting those around you and respecting the environment.

For more sustainable dining destinations, see: Botanic Gardens Restaurant (Adelaide CBD), Penfolds Magill Estate (Magill), Peel St (Adelaide CBD), Etica (Adelaide CBD), The Organic Market & Café (Adelaide Hills).

Botanic Gardens Restaurant

Sustainable sipping

Sustainable sipping is a way of life for a plethora of boutique wineries, small-batch distillers and craft brewers in South Australia. From biodynamic wine to natural gin and organic beer, there’s no excuse for not ordering a second glass – it’s good for the environment, after all.

McLaren Vale’s Gemtree Wines commitment to sustainable production has roots as deep as their decades-old vines.

The winery’s organic and biodynamic credentials speak for themselves, as does their commitment to improve the land for future generations. Flocks of sheep replace pesticides to keep weeds under control, ground quartz prevents fungal infections and negates the need for chemical fungicides, cow manure and recycled water feeds the vineyard, and the irrigation system, winery and cellar door are all powered by solar.

Gemtree Wines, McLaren Vale

Under the eaves of a hand-made cobbled brew house, beer is made in accordance with organic methods of bygone days at Robe Town Brewery. Sitting seaside in the coastal town of Robe, the Limestone Coast brewery uses straw filtration, wood-fired kettles and open fermentation to create their award-winning hand-crafted brews.

The brewery believes this organic approach to brewing is unique across the world, and paired with locally grown barley and foraged local ingredients, the result is a style of beer you won’t experience anywhere else.

Low intervention methods and certified organic practices are at the forefront of boutique Barossa winery Hayes Family Wines. Winemaker Andrew Seppelt draws on generations of knowledge to farm the vineyard sustainably, boycotting synthetic herbicides and pesticides and limiting additives in the wine making process.

Solar energy powers about 60 per cent of the winery and cellar door needs, rainwater is collected to supply the vineyard and cellar door, native tree plantings attract beneficial insects, and natural grasses and composts improve the soil. The result is award-winning wine that’s good for you, and the environment, and is also vegan friendly.

Biodynamic and organic growing practices result in seriously premium wine at Battle of Bosworth. The boutique, family-run winery makes single vineyard, organically grown wines from their property on the edge of McLaren Vale.

Native revegetation plantings frame the vines, which are grown as they would have been 50 years ago, with no chemicals. Instead, weeds are combatted with strategic plantings of the humble soursob, which competes out other weeds and forms a protective ground mat. It’s such an integral part of the process that the soursob has even found its way onto the wine label.

The cellar door, a converted 1850s chaff shed and stables, lies at the end of the Shiraz Bike Trail in Willunga.

For more sustainable wineries, see: d’Arenberg Wines (Fleurieu Peninsula), Angove Family Wines (Fleurieu Peninsula and Riverland), Hutton Vale Farm (Barossa), Unico Zelo and Applewood Distillery (Adelaide Hills), Beer Garden Brewing (Eyre Peninsula).

Hutton Vale Farm, Barossa

Eco-friendly tours

By choosing a tour company that cares for and invests in the environment, you’ll not only have access to the best bits of South Australia, you’ll also be doing your bit to help conserve the environment we all love.

South Australia is home to the only touring company in Australia that offsets its carbon footprint internally. Operating 100 per cent carbon neutral, advanced eco-certified tours on the Eyre Peninsula Xplore Eyre and Nullarbor Traveller plant 1.2 hectares of native vegetation at their property Coodlie Park Farm Retreat each year, with one third of the property set aside for environmental rehabilitation.

Their commitment to conserving the Eyre Peninsula’s natural assets doesn’t end there; actively involved with environmental education programs for schools and partnerships with land conservation projects, Xplore Eyre and Nullarbor Traveller have serious eco-cred.

Sunrise at Coodlie Park Farm, Eyre Peninsula

Along the banks of the Murray River, the Riverland is also home to some of the most diverse ecosystems in South Australia.

Cast off in your own canoe and explore backwaters, creeks and lagoons with Canoe the Coorong. With the knowledge of an eco-tourism expert as your guide, you’ll be able to experience the magic of this unique ecosystem and get up close to incredible wildlife without impacting the natural ecology.

On Kangaroo Island, you can jump on tour with Exceptional Kangaroo Island or Kangaroo Island Odysseys for a sustainable encounter with wildlife in their natural habitat. With expert local guides, small group sizes and local produce, it’s one of the best ways to explore Kangaroo Island’s pristine environment, and ensure it stays that way.

An eco-friendly walking tour is another way to tread lightly and experience South Australia’s stunning landscapes. Dust off your hiking boots and explore some of the best walks in South Australia.

Traverse the ancient landscapes of the Flinders Ranges on the Arkaba Walk, journey through bushland teeming with wildlife and along the rugged Fleurieu Peninsula coastline with Southern Ocean Walk, or meander along the banks of the mighty Murray on the Murray River Walk.

Murray River Walk, Murray River. Photographer: Italo Vardaro.

For more sustainable SA gems, see: SA Eco Tours (various locations).

To plan your next South Australian getaway, head to

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