Port Augusta & Flinders Ranges Family Holiday Review | South Australia

Road trip to Port Augusta, South Australia

by Carla Caruso

Port Augusta proves a surprise winner for a quick getaway – and the towns along the way only add to the adventure.

I’ve always thought of Port Augusta as more of a gateway to the Outback and less of a travel destination. That was until I tagged along on my husband’s overnight work trip there in October and had a chance to explore the place, kids in tow.

The town is three-and-a-half-hours’ drive from the Adelaide CBD and home to about 13,000 people.

We stayed at its Majestic Oasis Apartments, overlooking the Upper Spencer Gulf’s speckie foreshore. 

Our twins enjoyed hanging out at the resort’s pool, the nearby ‘muddy’ beach (with its jetty, pontoons and historic shipwrecks), and the Eastside Foreshore playground. 

In the evening, we dined at the historic Standpipe hotel, which offers a wonderfully unexpected mix of northern Indian cuisine and modern Australian fare. The elegantly restored 1883 homestead is iconic and a must-visit.

While we were on a tight schedule, other places we hope to visit in future include the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, and Wadlata’s Tunnel of Time, showcasing the area’s history and culture.

The next morning, after the kids had dipped again in the pool, we took the scenic route home. This included stopping at the quirky, privately owned Wilmington Toy Museum, which reminded me of the antique shop in Toy Story 4 (small entry fee included), and lunching at mountain-biking mecca Melrose.

Later, we took an obligatory pic at the Lochiel Ness Monster or ‘Loch Eel’, along with other Insta-types. The humorous tyre sculpture on salt lake Bumbunga was created by local Gary Taylor and his mates in 1972. When we visited, the lake itself was looking especially pink, thanks to the warm weather and extra salty water. However, if it’s too dry, the bacteria-causing pink won’t show up as much as it can’t thrive.


While our trip north was quick, it didn’t take us long to switch off and get into holiday mode. In fact, it was just the recharge we needed. See you again, Port Augusta!

What we like about it

• Driving three-and-a-half hours doesn’t seem long to get to the Outback and such a dramatic change in scenery.
• Port Augusta’s beautiful foreshore – who knew?
• The novelty of exploring sites and towns in our own backyard, which were never on our radar before.

Things to consider

• In the Flinders Ranges, the summers are hot and the winters are cold. So, be prepared for extremes in temperatures.
• Outback trips tend to be slower-paced adventures, with a focus on getting out in nature, soaking up history, and unwinding. Expect less razzle-dazzle.
• Come prepared with kids’ entertainment, like iPads, for the car trip, and plan stops along the way.

Coffee and food options nearby

We enjoyed a tasty Indian dinner at the iconic Standpipe hotel in Port Augusta, and when on the road, lunching at the Redhill Roadhouse, and Store 54 in Melrose. 

The Pichi Richi Railway is a wonderful family experience in South Australia’s beautiful Southern Flinders Ranges – Read our review here


Review by Carla Caruso

Click here for all the Best Playgrounds for Toddlers

See our Top Parks & Playgrounds Around Adelaide here.

For more information and all enquiries please visit the Port Augusta website.

WhatFamily road trip to Port Augusta and the Flinders Ranges

When:  Anytime – especially during the warmer months!

Where:  Port Augusta and beyond, South Australia

Who:  Adventurous, nature-loving families

All photos by Carla Caruso for Play & Go Adelaide 

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.


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