By CAMERON JEWELL

South Australia’s capital is often derided as a one-horse town. In fact, bagging out Adelaide has practically become a national sport, usually by people who’ve never been there. You naysayers need to back off. That’s right. Leave. Adelaide. Alone.

Adelaide is the perfect escape for the city-weary. It’s big enough to have an engaging cultural scene and flourishing nightlife without the crowds, queues and traffic of other major cities.

There’s something to tickle everyone’s fancy: label junkies can get a hit of shopping at world-class Rundle Mall, Sydneysiders can walk around Gulf St Vincent’s shores fantasising about property or, if culture’s your thing, sashay to North Terrace -” home to incredible cafes, acclaimed restaurants, the South Australian Museum and Botanic Gardens.

While Adelaide is known for its art and cafe culture, you can still have a trashy fag’s/dyke’s night out. Mars Bar is an Adelaide institution where you can catch classic drag shows with drag queens like Summer Clearance and Fifi La Douche.

Other notable venues include The Eclipse Tavern, a predominately lesbian spot with a relaxed and intimate vibe, and the Edinburgh Castle Hotel, a friendly mixed spot with a great beer garden, dance floor and live music.

Although there’s plenty to do in the city, the Barossa Valley is just an hour’s drive from Adelaide and is the most renowned wine-growing region in Australia. World-famous Penfolds has been producing wine here for over half a century, with bottles from the original 1951 Grange vintage fetching up to $50,000. The area is mostly known for its shiraz and many well-known wineries have set up in the valley including Jacob’s Creek, Wolf Blass and Yalumba.

The valley owes much of its rich cultural history to the German migrants who settled in the 1840s and many of their influences can still be seen today in the food and architecture of the region.

The town of Tanunda is the capital of the region and its reputation for excellent produce has helped fuel its thriving cafe and pub scene. With a backdrop of historic buildings, particularly the magnificently restored Chateau Tanunda, it makes for a colourful excursion. Other towns you should consider include Seppeltsfield, known for its scenic drives and ancient avenues of date palms, and the town of Nuriootpa, where vines line the main street.

Just over 100km south of Adelaide is Kangaroo Island, described by the UK’s Sunday Telegraph as one of Earth’s last unspoilt refuges -” and with good reason. Nearly half of Australia’s third largest island remains untouched since Matthew Flinders set foot on it in the early 19th century. Native wildlife has thrived, making it arguably the best place for viewing in Australia.

While destinations spruiking wildlife can be more akin to oversized petting zoos, Kangaroo Island is bustling with wildlife in the actual wild. The place has some amazing scenery, too.

You may not have heard of Vivonne Bay but it was voted the best beach in Australia by a comprehensive University of Sydney analysis which evaluated over 10,000 beaches.

To get to Kangaroo Island, you can fly from Adelaide or take the 45-minute SeaLink passenger ferry from Cape Jervis (a 90-minute drive from Adelaide).

info: For more information on Adelaide, the Barossa Valley or Kangaroo Island, head to www.southaustralia.com.

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