Six of the best walks in South Australia

WATERFALL GULLY TO MOUNT LOFTY, ADELAIDE

This walking trail is barely two kilometres long but ascends 475 metres, torturing the quads and emphasising just how steeply the Mount Lofty Ranges rise from the Adelaide Plains. Loved by fitness fanatics, it can take anything from 35 minutes to an hour to make the ascent. Is there an upside? Well, yes. It's probably one of Australia's most beautiful metropolitan walks, cutting through thick eucalypt forest the entire way and ultimately offering stunning views over the city of Adelaide and Gulf Saint Vincent. Another upside: there's a fine cafe at Mount Lofty Summit. See walkingsa.org.au

ENCOUNTER BIKEWAY, FLEURIEU PENINSULA

Whether you're on bikes, rollerblades or shoe leather, this paved coastal trail is a cracker. It's a gentle 30-kilometre walk, with the Southern Ocean on one side (look out for seals, dolphins and wintering southern right whales) and luscious low hills on the other (look out for the historic Cockle Train). Port Elliot and old Middleton are pretty respites for lunch-on-sea, and be sure to spend time in the trail's termini: Goolwa's lovely historic wharf precinct is on the mouth of the Murray; Victor Harbor is a much-loved Victorian-era seaside town and home to the famous horse-drawn tram. See visitalexandrina.com

RIESLING TRAIL, CLARE VALLEY

<i>Sevenhill Cellars on the Riesling Trail.</i>

Sevenhill Cellars on the Riesling Trail. Photo: Adam Bruzzone

The 35km-long Clare Valley Riesling Trail is a rambler's delight, passing through countryside that inspires people to compare it to Ireland in winter and Tuscany in summer. As the trail name suggests, vales of eucalypt frequently give way to fields of vine, tended by famous growers such as Annie's Lane, Mount Horrocks and Sevenhill Cellars. Book-ended by the towns of Clare and Auburn, it passes through villages that wouldn't look out of place in the English shires, with distractions such as 1840s settler cottages, museums, art galleries and cafes. You can march it in nine hours, but why rush? Sevenhill is a perfect half-way point, offering B&Bs and a hearty feed at the Sevenhill Hotel. See clarevalley.com.au

ARKABA WALK, FLINDERS RANGES

<i>The Arkaba Walk, Flinders Ranges.</i>

The Arkaba Walk, Flinders Ranges. Photo: Graham Michael Freeman

From March to October, Wild Bush Luxury hosts private walking tours across the  24,000-hectare Arkaba conservancy. The inspiring – sometimes challenging – 40-kilometre hike treads an ancient path through Wilpena Pound and down into the creek beds of Arkaba. As scenery and wildlife reveal themselves, walkers are taken on journeys relating to Aboriginal story, pioneer history and a particularly compelling tale of ecological rescue. The first two days end in luxury swag stations with chests of fine wine and chef-prepared meals under the stars; day 3 ends at the very fine Arkaba Heritage Homestead. The walk costs $2400 per person, all inclusive, with private flights ex-Adelaide and overland transfer back to Adelaide via the Clare Valley. See arkabawalk.com

WILDERNESS TRAIL, KANGAROO ISLAND

Opened in October last year, this 61-kilometre trail was designed to be done in five stages. It showcases the dramatic south-west corner of the island, starting deep inside Flinders Chase National Park, emerging onto a great sweep of pristine beaches and finishing atop dramatic cliff country. Outside of the popular attractions of Remarkable Rocks and Kelly Hill Caves, walkers are guaranteed plenty of solace not to mention encounters with the island's famous wildlife. Four carefully designed camps have been skillfully worked into the bushland, offering tent platforms, toilets and sheltered cooking area. See kangarooislandwildernesstrail.sa.gov.au

WALK THE YORKE, YORKE PENINSULA

Opened in late 2015, Walk the Yorke is a 500-kilometre trail that traces the entire coastline of a rather less-visited part of South Australia. Yorke Peninsula is a treasure well worth discovering and the trail is a perfect way to do it, revealing whole chunks of cliff and beach scenery hitherto only known to local farming communities. The signed and well-engineered path comprises 16 contiguous sections that skirt mangroves, grain paddocks, cheerful seaside towns and lonely beaches you've never heard of. At the bottom of the Peninsula, you'll traverse the wild, wave-thrashed cliffs of Innes National Park – once the scourge of ships, now a haven for wildlife and surf fanatics. See yorkepeninsula.com.au

Max Anderson travelled as a guest of the South Australian Tourism Commission.

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