We recently had a few days down on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Here’s where we stayed, what we did and where we ate, all to help you plan your own Southern Fleurieu Peninsula getaway.
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TL;DR? Here's the outline
We acknowledge that the Southern Fleurieu Peninsula SA is Kaurna land.
Best Time for a Fleurieu Peninsula Getaway
I would love to tell you I have the answer for this one, but my track record is not great. Unfortunately, it was cold, wet and windy for our whole visit – but that just seems to be my bad luck.
We visited in early March, thinking this would be at least partially a beach holiday, since that’s one of the best things to do on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
In general, I would say summer and autumn are great months to visit this area. It’s a little cooler than Adelaide in the hot weather, and the stunning coastline will keep you busy for days.
Spring may be cooler and wetter, but the area will be green and pretty. I wouldn’t completely discount winter either. This area is set up with cosy accommodation and restaurants that make it easy to brave the cold.
While a mid-week getaway might be cheaper and less busy, you will also find that some attractions and restaurants are not open.
If you are looking to do particular activities, a weekend may still be better instead of saving a few dollars and missing out on the Fleurieu Peninsula things to do.
On the way down, why not drive the Route 31 Coastal Drive to enjoy the views over the beaches?
Where to Stay on the Southern Fleurieu Peninsula
There are so many options for Fleurieu Peninsula accommodation that you are sure to find something to suit your needs. From free camping places to resorts, cute B&Bs to luxury villas, you will have many to choose from.
For this trip, we chose to stay at Lady Bay Resort in Normanville. We had not stayed here before but picked up a Travel Auction voucher last year to give it a go.
If you haven’t heard of Travel Auctions, they are a good way to save some money on short getaways. Lady Bay Resort seems to have regular auctions – I can see another one running now (March 2023) if you would like to give it a go.
Make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully as these vouchers often have a lot of restrictions – for example, ours had to be taken mid-week.
Lady Bay Resort
Links Lady Bay Resort is best known for its golf course, and most of the people who stay here do so to play a round or two. We met someone from Victoria who had driven over just to play golf for three days, nothing else.
I’m not into golf at all though, so while it’s an option, it was not going to be something I did.
The resort is a long building and every room has a balcony with views over the golf course and out to sea. It faces west, so perfect for relaxing and watching the sunset over the ocean – and watching the kangaroos graze on the golf course and beyond.
Each room is more like a mini apartment, with a kitchenette, dining and lounge area separate from the bedroom. The bathroom was huge, one of the biggest I’ve seen for a long time, with a corner spa bath and separate shower.
The resort also includes an outdoor pool, a gym, tennis courts and a spa where visitors can book in for a massage. There’s a golf shop for all your golfing needs including club and golf buggy hire.
For the kids, there is a games area with some games and a pool table.
The adjoined bar and restaurant are open every night, with happy hour on Friday and a pub quiz on Wednesday, which I can confirm is a lot of fun.
Things to do in Normanville
Normanville itself is quite a small coastal town. It has a lovely beach so is perfect for a summer break.
The beach is patrolled by surf lifesavers on weekends and public holidays between early November and Easter and every day in January.
The foreshore area around the Normanville jetty includes BBQ facilities and a new playground for kids and soon will be home to a brand new surf club with a cafe. It will be a fantastic spot to grab a coffee or a meal and enjoy the coastal views, even in winter.
Speaking of the coastal views, from Normanville beach there are sweeping views along the coastline to the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula in one direction, and back along the wide expanse of sand to Carrickalinga in the other.
Walking to Carrickalinga along the beach is popular, with the 5km return trip taking around an hour.
Another nearby walk is the Great (Big) Gorge Walk. This is a 2.6km trail through private property.
It is along the banks of the Yankalilla River, and it follows in the footsteps of Col William Light when he was looking for the perfect place to create the first European settlement in the Colony of South Australia.
The main street of Normanville is dotted with places to eat and small shops, mostly set up for the locals, but visitors will enjoy a stroll to take a look too.
We were keen to have a fossick in The Book Shed, but it only opens Fri/Sat/Sun – all the days we weren’t there!
In pre-covid times, Normanville was well known for its horse riding, where visitors could join in on a trail ride along the beach, often at sunset.
Unfortunately, High Country Trails has not recommenced their rides, and it is unclear if they plan to do so in the future or not. Check their Facebook page for updates. I’m mentioning it here in case they start running their trail rides again soon.
Things to do around Normanville
The Fleurieu Peninsula is an area packed with things to do and see. Even with bad weather, we were happily occupied during our days, even if it wasn’t the beach days we had planned.
Victor Harbor is just a thirty-minute drive away and there is enough to keep you busy there for your whole visit.
We drove over in the morning and enjoyed a walk across the Causeway and around Granite Island before grabbing a coffee and a snack in the cafe there.
Some of the other things you can do are to take Australia’s only Horse Drawn Tram across to the island, ride the Cockle Train to Goolwa and back or visit the SA Whale Centre.
Just a few minutes away is one of SA’s favourite bakeries, Port Elliott Bakery. This is the perfect place for a quick lunch. Pick up one of their gourmet pies and fancy donuts. They even have vegan and gluten-free options too.
If you are into wine, McLaren Vale is only a little over half an hour away too, for plenty of different tasting options. Or you could go to Willunga and enjoy high tea at Tealicious Cakes, one of my favourites.
If you are there on a Saturday morning, the Willunga Farmer’s Markets are some of the best in SA.
Closer to Normanville you could check out some of the local craft beers at Fork Tree Brewing at Carrickalinga or Smiling Samoyed at Myponga.
While at Myponga, you can go kayaking on the Myponga Reservoir or simply enjoy the walking trails to work off some of that beer. There are some great views over the dam wall too.
Head south from Normanville and you might like to jump aboard the Big Duck Boat Ride at Wirrina to explore the coastline from the water. Go snorkelling at Rapid Bay, home of the unusual leafy sea dragons.
You could even drive to Cape Jervis, jump on the ferry and spend a day over on Kangaroo Island (this tour would be fun!)
I’ve already mentioned a couple of walks, but for serious hiking, head into Deep Creek Conservation Park where you can walk a section of the Heysen Trail.
On the way back, stop in to see Ingalalla Falls, the tallest and some of the most beautiful in South Australia.
Where to eat in Normanville
Even though Normanville is a small town, there is no lack of good food. We ate twice at the Lady Bay Hotel.
We had only planned to eat there once, but after that first meal discovered they ran a quiz night on Wednesdays, and I am a sucker for a good pub quiz.
Both nights the food was really tasty and I would happily recommend it. Serves were a generous size too.
I did have a small issue with cheese being added to my vegan pasta, but I don’t think I have ever had a better service resolution – my meal was refunded and I was given a free drink. A very happy customer here.
Oh, and we came second in the quiz and got another $20 voucher, so we will have to go back again next time we are in the area.
Our other dinner was at the Normanville Hotel. Nothing fancy here, but good solid pub food. I wasn’t sure they would have any vegan options, but I had a delicious chickpea curry.
While dining here at one of SA’s oldest pubs, take a look at the display of historical items in the cabinet. You can also get some of the local craft beers on tap to go with your meal.
Our best meal was at One Little Sister Normanville right in the centre of town. We stopped in for an early lunch after being out hiking. I ordered a vegan yiros and Simon had a Thai beef salad, both were amazing.
It was so nice to have fresh and delicious meals, not a fried item in sight. Our coffees were really good too. One Little Sister also does dinners and has occasional events like live music. This should be a must for your visit.
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