52 Weekends Away: South Australia's best weekend getaways for 2020

Take a cruise down the Murray, get close to the action at the Adelaide Oval or head to the hills to take in the state's glorious countryside and world-class food and wine.

The Frames

7 Panorama Court, Paringa; (08) 8595 7217; theframesluxuryaccommodation.com.au

THE LOCATION Just outside Renmark in South Australia's Riverland region, the village of Paringa is flanked by orchards and olive groves. It's a three-hour drive from Adelaide or 90 minutes from Mildura airport. 

THE PLACE The Frames comprises three residences – two one-bedders plus a two-bedroom suite – all overlooking the Murray River, with sunny decks positioned for views. Landscapes by SA artist Garry Duncan soften the minimalist decor, intentionally downplayed to augment those vistas. 

THE EXPERIENCE It gets hot and sunny on the edge of the outback, so this property is all about the water. Watch life on the river from a sunken spa, plunge pool, bath, balcony or in bed while snacking from the bountiful fruit bowl of local produce with a glass of The Frames' own shiraz. Owners Cathy and Rick Edmonds are third-generation Riverlanders, and will flip you the keys to the property's car or e-bikes, or organise a sunset sail on their gracious, 100-year-old wooden boat. Try emu whispering on a cruise through the Murray's quiet backwaters with Rick; twitchers, pack the binoculars. The suites are thoughtfully stocked with everything you forgot, and breakfast provisions, snacks and wine are included. 

DON'T MISS The 23rd Street Distillery in Renmark serves up gin tasting and platters, or grab a late-afternoon pint in the Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery.

FROM $950 a night; minimum two-night stay. - Belinda Jackson

With the property beneath a big tree overlooking a small lake be sure to watch the roos among the vines and stargaze at night.

Be sure to spot the roos among the vines, and stargaze at night. Photo: @blntpencil

Georgia CABN

Mystery location near Kuitpo, Adelaide Hills; cabn.life 


THE LOCATION An hour's drive from Adelaide's CBD, Georgia is an off-grid tiny house on a high-country vineyard near Kuitpo, smack dab between McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. 

THE PLACE The CABN playbook combines remote locations, fantasy cubby houses and a dash of secret squirrel (addresses are only supplied five days before arrival). At Georgia, you'll abandon the car and walk 100 metres through a steep avenue of trellised sauvignon blanc vines to arrive at this cute-as-a-button pre-fabricated pod. Georgia sits beneath a big tree overlooking a small lake.

THE EXPERIENCE The two-person retreat is steel on the outside, pine-panelled within and smaller than most modern caravans. It houses a double bed, a two gas-burner kitchen, shower and toilet. Artful simplicity and cute touches (such as knitted jerseys on the water bottles) are liable to invoke child-like glee. It pays to keep the self-catering basic (reheating fare works best). Tea and coffee are provided, plus there's a stash of locally grown wines priced from $25 to up the giggle factor. Sit on the deck and watch roos among the vines.

DON'T MISS The d'Arenberg Cube in McLaren Vale is a surreal, multi-storey ode to all things wine. It's reached after a luscious 20-minute drive and is perfectly complemented by a long lunch on the verandah of d'Arry's restaurant

FROM $209 a night; minimum two-night stay. - Max Anderson

Enjoy fine blend of good living and wine heritage

The polished lines of this retreat belie its 1840s earth-and-pine cottage origins.

Cambourne Boutique Accommodation

799 Seppeltsfield Road, Seppeltsfield; 0407 363 842; cambourne.net.au

THE LOCATION Cambourne is in the hamlet of Seppeltsfield, occupying a spot that's arguably Barossa's best, affording long views of vines and vales. It's also just five minutes' walk from two champion cellar door restaurants, so after the hour-long drive from Adelaide's CBD, you can forget all about the car.

THE PLACE This modest country retreat presents as a polished, cool and contemporary entertainer, so it's a surprise to find it's built (very cleverly) onto a tiny earth and pine cottage, circa 1840. Cambourne is ideally shared by three couples, occupying three suites (two with standalone baths). Communal spaces include the light and lofty lounge, open kitchen/diner and commodious verandah to enjoy long Barossa sunsets. 

THE EXPERIENCE This is a fine blend of good living and wine heritage. The dining room is set off by a glassed-in feature wall, which reveals the mud construction of the original cottage. The timber vanities in the en suites are made from barrel staves. And the stash of complimentary victuals includes Barossa cheese, chocolate, wurst, sparkling white and a superb 2017 Q Shiraz made by Cambourne's owners. (Breakfast also included.) If the vino runs out, enter what looks like a tin dunny in the garden and descend to a magical underground cellar and honesty box.

DON'T MISS Lunch with the neighbours: Hentley Farm is famous for its three-hour degustation and Fino is on Seppeltsfield's 1850s estate.

FROM $1200 a night; minimum two-night stay. - Max Anderson

Expect days of long walks followed by nights of sipping and soaking.

Follow up days of long walks with nights of sipping and soaking. Photo: Richard Lyons

Pavilions at Lenswood

Corner Swamp and Leslie roads, Lenswood; 0466 479 407; pavilionsatlenswood.com.au

THE LOCATION Orchards of apples, pears and cherries line the deep valleys of Lenswood, a little-visited township in the Adelaide Hills. Just 40 minutes drive from the city, Lenswood is also a wine sub-region and home to three especially lovely cellar doors. 

THE PLACE Pavilions at Lenswood opened in March, straight after the bushfires and right before COVID. Yet here it is: two standalone suites on an 800-square-metre site, cutting a distinct dash among the farms and apple sheds, thanks to angular architecture and bold (though still young) landscaping. Each suite has a generous deck overlooking a duck pond, an apple orchard and a steep slope of tall pines that glow at sunrise.

THE EXPERIENCE The suites, Merak and Ruhe, are tailored to evoke spaces enjoyed by wealthy Italians in the Tyrol or Swiss in the Alps: think big fires and soft furs, freestanding baths and alfresco hot tubs. Complimentary indulgences include breakfast, fruit, chocolate, cheese and juices plus a local beer, cider and bottle of shiraz by Koerner wines. Expect days of long walks over the ridges and vales followed by nights of sipping and soaking.

DON'T MISS There are three stellar cellar doors on a ridge line, starting at Harris Road: Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyards (awesome lunches); Pike & Joyce Wines (astonishing views); and Anderson Hill (relaxed country vibe). 

FROM $365 a night; minimum two-night stay. - Max Anderson

As the nation got its first stadium hotel, be sure to stay here on game day.

Treat yourself to a luxurious stay on game day at the nation's first stadium hotel. Photo: Supplied

Oval Hotel

King William Road, North Adelaide; (08) 8368 9900; ovalhotel.com.au

THE LOCATION The Adelaide Oval is the geographic and spiritual heart of Adelaide's fair city; the brand new Oval Hotel is wrapped around the eastern facade of the stadium. 

THE PLACE The idea of fixing a hotel to the Oval caused an almighty ruckus in 2019, but COVID distracted Adelaidians long enough for 138 boutique suites to be quietly bolted on to the eastern stands. Thus, in September 2020, the nation got its first stadium hotel. Outside, Oval Hotel resembles a utility belt in burnished copper. Within is all thick carpets, charcoal tones and curtains that open themselves when you walk into your room. Suites enjoy serene parkland views to St Peter's Cathedral and the Torrens. 

THE EXPERIENCE The hotel's two restaurants and voluminous wine bar look onto the hallowed ground itself; Five Regions is a degustation fine diner; Bespoke Wine Bar and Kitchen offers the trifecta of a good steak (aged meats are on display in cold cabinets), a great bottle of wine (behold the wall of stellar SA vintages) and a fiercely fought game (either live or on a huge wall-screen). Note, however, these ground-side spaces are effectively cordoned off when a match is in progress – though hotel guests can buy access packages priced according to the fixture.

DON'T MISS Overnighting when a game is on. Duh.

FROM $220 a night. - Max Anderson

There are plenty of great wineries, walks and restaurants to discover, but leave some time to unwind by the infinity pool.

The vineyard vistas make the perfect backdrop to a morning coffee or afternoon glass of wine. Photo: Mark Muller

HALL OF FAME: The Louise  

375 Seppeltsfield Road, Marananga; (08) 8562 2722; thelouise.com.au

THE LOCATION Thanks to the new freeway that cuts the travel time from Adelaide to an hour, the Barossa Valley is more accessible than ever before. That's good news for The Louise, still the area's most elegant lodging 15 years after it opened.

THE PLACE  Since 2005, stepping into one of its spacious suites has been like slipping on a cashmere cardigan, thanks to the profusion of richly textured fabrics in soothing earth tones. The terrace overlooking the vineyards is the perfect place to enjoy a morning coffee or afternoon glass of wine.  

THE EXPERIENCE From the moment you walk up the fragrant, lavender-lined entry, this hotel is all about the little touches, from the fresh-from-the-oven cookies on arrival to the calming tea supplied at turndown and the inclusions of breakfast and complimentary mini bar. The staff excel at recommending wineries, walks and more, but don't over-commit – you'll want to leave some time to unwind by the infinity pool.

DON'T MISS The hotel's fine-dining Appellation restaurant has long been one of the best in the Barossa, but new three75 Bar and Kitchen has built a buzz, thanks to flavour-packed dishes such as sticky soy beef short ribs – not to mention the region's best burgers. 

FROM $595 a night. - Ute Junker

Discover South Australian history and scenic hills in these reads.

Discover South Australian history and its scenic hills in these reads.

To read while you're here:

Writer Kerryn Goldsworthy's Adelaide will have you hopping on the next plane. It is a highly engaging blend of personal memoir and cultural history, with each chapter devoted to objects, including a map, a painting, a statue – and Don Dunstan's pink shorts.  

Peter Goldsworthy's novel Three Dog Night begins in the scenic Adelaide Hills. Australian-born Martin and his English bride Lucy have recently returned to Australia, and Martin is taking Lucy to meet his old friend Felix. A complicated love triangle ensues, reaching its shattering climax deep in the desert. Unforgettable.  - Nicole Abadee

Looking for escapes further afield? We have you covered: NSW/ACT, VIC, QLD, TASWA, NT.

To read more from Good Weekend magazine, visit our page at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times.