While South Australia does not have the wild diversity of climate and environment as Western Australia or Queensland do, there is still much to be seen and experienced in this state. Since most states reach into the centre of Australia, the tourist will find that there is hot, dry desert in part of each state and it is so with South Australia. In fact, 80% of this state is made up of the dry Flinders Ranges - basically the top three quarters of the state.
This more arid part of South Australia is host to many mining activities some of which can be viewed from the mostly mining town of Roxby Downs, well-equipped oasis in the middle of a desert area. There are many others of course, and many mine more interesting things than iron ore, like the opal-mining town of Cooper Pedy. The tourist can fossick for opals - called ‘noodling’ - either here or at Andamooka, where the mining is of an open cut type, rather than the vertical shafts of Cooper Pedy. At Cooper Pedy, many of the residents live in houses dug down into the earth to escape the heat that can reach 50 degrees C or more in summer.
Many of the outback towns have unusual aboriginal names such as Oodnadatta, Andamooka, Innamincka and Mungerannie. These names usually have significant meanings that may describe features of the surrounding environment. This could be a nearby lake or hill where the indigenous people gathered at various times and for specific reasons.
Included in the arid areas of South Australia is the Simpson Desert that starts around Mount Dare, north of Oodnadatta. Although it is a desert area, you can find hot artesian springs at Dalhousie Springs, the largest underground springs in the whole of Australia.
The Simpson is not the only desert to be found in South Australia, but it also adjoins three others, Sturt’s Stony Desert, the Tirari and Strzeleki Deserts. But you’ll find a pub and a tree-lined oasis with hot springs at Mungerannie where the four deserts join up. Mungerannie is also a cattle/sheep station of 1.5 million acres.
While these desert places experience searing heat in the summer, during the night the temperature can fall to freezing or below, so the tourist will need to be prepared. South Australia cannot boast the weather nearly all year as much of Queensland can. In spite of the dry, desert areas, the southernmost parts experience a great deal of rain, especially in wintertime. And it is along the southern parts where the biggest part of the population lives.
Adelaide, the capital of South Australia holds many delights for the tourist and local alike. Here may be experienced a climate similar to that of the Mediterranean, with long hot summers and mild winters with a low rainfall. To the north is the Barossa Valley, famed for its vineyards and wines. To the south is the coastal edge of Australia, holding such delights as penguin or whale watching from Victor Harbour or the Nullarbor coast.
Even though it is cold compared to some parts of Australia, the waves are so splendid that some bays attract surfers from across the world. This leads to some problems in that South Australia is where Great White Sharks (White Pointers) are to be found in their greatest numbers around the Australian Coasts. Boats run out of the Adelaide and some main towns providing cage diving experiences which are found in few other places in the world.