How to make the most of a South Australian winter

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By Melissa Keogh

Winter – it’s the coldest time of year when South Aussies turn into a glove wearing, red wine sipping and fierce footy barracking bunch.

The winter months bring no shortage of activity across the state with festivals, events and attractions lighting up the city and warming our regions.

From underground outback bakeries, to spotting southern right whales off the coast at Victor Harbor and cradling hot chocolates in cosy cafes, there are hundreds of ways to enjoy the chilly months in South Australia.

Here are 15 of the best!

1. Get lost in a bookshop
There’s nothing quite like the alluring smell of a book.

In the leafy suburb of Stirling in the Adelaide Hills, you’ll find Matilda Bookshop, a small independent store stocked with new releases combined with something a little bit different.

O’Connell’s Bookshop on Bank Street in Adelaide is another oldie but goodie, with a selection of rare and unique stories to devour.

It’s also Adelaide’s oldest antiquarian and second-hand bookshop.

2. Drop a line
It takes courage to climb out of bed at 4am and have the boat in the water by the crack of dawn when the fish are biting.

But it’s worth the effort, especially in winter – the prime time for King George Whiting.

The Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, Limestone Coast and Kangaroo Island are the go-to spots.

Stuck on where exactly to go? Head here.

The underground bakery at Farina. PHOTO: Rob Fairweather.

3. Visit the Farina Bakery
The ghost town of Farina, 55km south of Marree in the state’s Far North has a population of zero, but it’s bakery is roaring hot.

Until July 21, a dedicated band of volunteers, overseen by the Farina Restoration Group, will fire up an old underground wood-fired Scotch oven.

Fresh bread, hot pies, pasties and buns are sold to scores of visitors, who can also explore the town’s ruins, some of which are undergoing rehabilitation.

4. Sip a red in front of a fireplace
Adelaide is a member of the exclusive Great Wine Capital Global Network (alongside Bordeaux, France, among others) so the abundance of fine wine is being poured out of our cellar doors.

Sipping a smooth glass of red in a comfy armchair by a crackling fireplace? Saturday arvo sorted.

Here’s five fireplaces to warm those hands over, plus another five below!

• Café El Estanco (Greenock, Barossa Valley)
• Bendbrook Wines cellar door (Hahndorf)
• Lost in a Forest (Uraidla)
• Ruby Red Flamingo (North Adelaide)
• Wirra Wirra Wines (McLaren Vale)

The Belgian chocolate fountains at Providore. Photo: Providore, Adelaide Central Market, Facebook.

5. Head on a chocolate hunt
South Australia is home to the country’s oldest family owned chocolate maker – Haighs.

Head to either end of Rundle Mall to stock up on choccies then wander over to the Adelaide Central Market.

Here you’ll find Providore and will probably become entranced by the Belgian chocolate fountains.

Twenty minutes up the South Eastern Freeway in Stirling is Red Cacao with its handmade truffles, cakes, coffee, brownies and waffles.

6. Get outside
It can be tempting to stay rugged up with a good book or movie, but when it’s not raining, winter in South Australia is often met with blue skies.

So hit the beach, tackle the Mt Lofty Summit, explore a national park or take your four-legged friend for a walk (and then hit one of these dog friendly venues).

Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard is again hosting Pinot in the Dark as part of this year’s Winter Reds.

7. Hit a wine festival
There is a stack of wine festivals unfolding this winter, allowing wine lovers a chance to try not only the best drops, but local fare and music too.

The McLaren Vale Sea & Vines Festival is on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend (June 9, 10 and 11) offering intimate degustation dinners with winemakers and chefs, winery tours and general lounging around cellar doors.

New wine festival on the block – Sip and Sounds – will take place at the National Wine Centre on July 22.

From July 27 – 29, the Adelaide Hills’ Winter Reds will lure thousands of wine lovers to more than 30 wineries across the region.

Wine appreciators can be spotted at the Hot 100 Winter Harvest at the Adelaide Convention Centre on June 29 and 30.

8. Shop (local of course)
Hit the mall, arcade or your country town main street and buy something special.

Better yet, buy something that’s South Australian made or owned.

Looking for the State Brand will make things easier, or head to the Shop South Australia marketplace which will point you directly to all things SA, including wine, homewares, fashion, gifts, skincare and more.

Set in a private coastal garden in Robe, Trader Jack’s provides a unique and stylish stay. Photo: Robe Lifestyle Properties.

9. Travel
With a long weekend and school holidays on the horizon, a winter break is the perfect opportunity to recuperate and reset.

We’ve said it before, but South Australia offers the best playground in the country, with national parks, beaches, bushland and vibrant city laneways.

From former bacon factories to treehouses, shipping containers and fancy retreats, quirky accommodation offerings are on the rise, giving you more options to stay somewhere cool (and affordable).

We’ve nailed down the top 10 quirky accommodation spots.

10. Get arty
August is the month of the annual SA Living Artists (SALA) Festival, Australia’s largest community-based visual arts event.

Dozens of exhibitions and art showings will unfold across the state in a diverse range of locations from slick CBD galleries to regional exhibitions set before vineyard views.

Also, Colours of Impressionism is still showing at the Art Gallery of SA until July 29.

It’s been a huge hit so far, featuring 65 works by legendary artists Monet, Cézanne, Renoir and Pissarro, among others.

I Choose SA ambassadors Laura and Brendan Carter from Applewood in Gumeracha.

11. Cheers to World Gin Day
Raise your glass to the many craft gin makers in South Australia, including Prohibition Liquor Co in the CBD, Ambleside Distillery at Hahndorf and Kangaroo Island Spirits.

Applewood at Gumeracha has made gin from the hail damaged pear crop and will be releasing it on World Gin Day on June 9 at the Inglewood Inn.

12. Get thinking
We’re about to enter the season of ideas.

Entrepreneurs Week in July is once again showcasing the state’s most innovative start-ups, technologies, workspaces and ecosystem leaders.

The week of e-week events will keep you busy, as will Hybrid World, a digital entertainment and technology event that gives a glimpse into the future of the industry.

The Festival of Ideas is also unfolding on July 12–15, inviting speakers including scientists, journalists, historians, architects, economists and theologians to explore a myriad of topics.

A whale frolics off the coast of the Fleurieu.

13. Go whale watching
Head to Victor Harbor to spot these gentle giants – southern right whales – which return to our coastlines each winter.

Their annual journey to SA is part of the breeding cycle.

The SA Whale Centre at Victor Harbor is a good one to visit for families, featuring interactive exhibits, artefacts and displays.

14. Celebrate the shortest day of the year
The winter solstice is the one day of the year with the least daylight hours and this time it will fall on Thursday, June 21.

The winter solstice brings out a range of events celebrating the long night and first step towards spring.

A winter solstice-inspired pop-up wine event will reawaken the former Royal Adelaide Hospital foyer on June 15.

The SA Wine Industry Association, in collaboration with Food SA, will welcome 15 wineries to the site.

15. Head to the cabaret

Local, national and international artists will descend on Adelaide on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend for the annual Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

It’s one of the biggest events of its kind, featuring a rich program of classic and contemporary performances.

A colourful collection of burlesque, cabaret dinners, family galas and a piano man will make a weekend of pure entertainment.

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our state by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

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