Your complete guide to South Australia

Are you thinking of visiting South Australia? Do you have questions or need some answers? Then come and discover all you need to know right now!

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The Port Noarlunga pier in South Australia
Port Noarlunga, a paradise for many
forms of water recreation!

South Australia, also known by the shortened version SA, is the 4th largest state or territory in Australia, a little bigger New South Wales. It is Australia's driest state, is home to 1.7 million people (known as South Australians), and its capital city is Adelaide.

South Australians are sometimes referred to as Crow Eaters. This weird nickname comes from their state flag, which looks like it has a crow on a dinner plate. Their first AFL (Australian Rules Football) team is called the Adelaide Crows, and when they lose a game to an interstate team the winners chant "Eat that you crow eaters".

Location

As you can see on the map above, SA is located in central south Australia, hence its name! To the north it borders with the Northern Territory, to the west with Western Australia, to the north east with Queensland, to the central east with New South Wales, and finally to the south-east with Victoria, where the Murray River (Australia's longest river), makes the connection point of the border between these two states. It borders with more states and territories than any state.

Population

By population, it is the fifth largest of all the states and territories. However, due to its large size, when this is measured by people per km² it drops down a position. It has on average only 1.67 people per km². To put this into perspective, the United Kingdom has 256 per km², Germany has 229 per km², and France has 117 per km².

Ranking of the largest cities (by population): ¹
1. Adelaide
(1.2 million)
2. Mount Gambier(24,000)
3. Whyalla(21,000)
4. Murray Bridge(14,000)
5. Port Augusta(13,000)
6. Port Pirie(13,000)
7. Port Lincoln(13,000)
¹ Sourced from, you guessed it, Wikipedia!
Population figures have been updated with the latest census data.


About 73.5% of all South Australians live in Adelaide, and you can see that the next biggest cities are not very big in population. If you excluded all the people from the cities listed above, the average population density drops from 1.67 people per km² to a tiny 0.4 people per km².

What does this mean?

Well, like all of Australia, once you get out of the cities, expect big wide open spaces! Much of southern part of the state is farm land (both crops and livestock). Up north it turns into desert, and once you get onto the back roads you can easily drive for hours without coming across the next town or even seeing a car.

The Outback mining town of Coober Pedy
The remote outback mining town of Coober Pedy.
There is too not much to see, it is all underground!

Located in the middle of the desert is the amazing town Coober Pedy. It is amazing not just for one reason, but two! It has become the opal capital of the world, after the discovery of it in 1915. Since then has been supplying the world with the majority of gem quality opal.

The other thing that makes this town such a unique place is that almost everyone lives underground in homes that have been cut out of the rock. They do this because it acts as an insulator, making it much cooler. A good idea considering that the average maximum temperature in January is a scorching 37°C and the hottest ever recorded temperature is a blistering 47.1°C!

National Parks

South Australians are very proud of the natural beauty of the state. This is evident by the 324 separate Protected Areas which covers about 22% of the state's land. This includes 18 national parks covering over 4.4% of the state.

In total, these protected areas cover 216,310 km². This is almost the entire size of the United Kingdom, which measures 241,930 km². There are many free camping spots all over the state, so for all you nature lovers, get ready to go camping!

What else?

It is also known as a surf, swimming, scuba diving, and snorkelling haven for water enthusiasts. SA has many popular beaches for all kinds of water sports, which isn't surprising, if you lived in the driest state on the driest continent (Antarctica excluded), you would want to spend as much time in the ocean as you could! There are fantastic reefs to scuba in, amazing waves to board, and beautiful beaches on which you can just relax, swim and sun-bake all day long.

The state is blessed with many other natural wonders, some of the better known being Kangaroo Island and the Flinders Ranges mountain range. There is the Barossa Valley, one of Australia's biggest, and best, wine producing regions. Let's not forget the stunning Limestone Coast and beautiful Mount Gambier. And with 18 national parks right across the state there is so much more to be discovered!

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