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Heading to SA, otherwise known as the state of South Australia? Adelaide is the capital and biggest city, but you can also drive around the Fleurieu Peninsula or Yorke Peninsula, see the wine regions of the Barossa Valley and Clare Valley, visit Kangaroo Island, fossick in the opal mining area of Coober Pedy,or lounge on Kangaroo Island.

South Australia (SA)
Festival State/Unoriginal Name State/Alcoholics Anonymous State

"When the waitress asked, 'Would you like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Pinot Gris with your pancakes and sausages?' I knew I was in no ordinary state."  Doug Knell, Doug's Republic

Most foreigners have never heard of South Australia. When I e-mailed or called friends with the news I was in South Australia, they didn't know this was a proper noun.  They interpreted it as if I were in southern Australia.   f you informed the loved ones you were in South Asia, they'd conclude you were in Pakistan or India or Sri Lanka.  They wouldn't figure there was a new continent called South Asia.

The British have never been terribly original with colonial names.  In Canada, they had 'Upper Canada' and 'Lower Canada.'  In South America, 'British Guyana.'   In Africa, 'South Africa' and 'Southwest Africa.'   In Asia, 'West Pakistan' and 'East Pakistan' until East Pakistan became Bangladesh.   When the British Parliament passed the South Australia Act in 1834, they must've run out of nice-sounding king or queen names or British shires or regions they could plug a 'New' in front of.  I can imagine the clerk drafting the Act asking what they should call this Australian area so he could title the document properly.  When no one could come up with a grand name after two minutes of drunken thought, someone just shouted, "It's in the south.  It's in Australia.  Just call it South Australia."  Can you imagine in the United States having a state called South United States?  What if England were instead known as South United Kingdom?   You can bet no one would be impressed, and residents would flood out of those stupid-named regions to ones which had good names.

South Australian flag

Wine or grapes would've looked better

The entire state only has 1.6m people residing there.   It ranks 6th in population density out of all of Australia's states and territories.  Victoria is fifteen times more densely populated, and New South Wales about six times.  Yet the state is, for most of its residents, just as crowded as other metropolitan centers in the country.  Since over 70% of all South Australians live in Adelaide, 70% of South Australians live almost as densely packed as the 70% of Victorians who live in Melbourne.

The majority population in the picturesque and relaxed Adelaide gives a deceiving picture of the state as a whole.  South Australia is the driest state in the driest continent on earth.   Most of South Australia is vast arid desert, little seen in the southern and southwestern parts of the state where most of the traffic goes.  The wine growing regions of the fertile but still dry south are a polar opposite to the mining towns seen in the northern more reaches of the state.  Among Australians, it's the nation's least popular state and not one destination in South Australia ranks in the top ten of domestic destinations Australians want to visit. 

The beauty of Tasmania made the biggest impression overall of any Australian state or territory for Doug.  But if you talk about raw experiences, putting the beauty to the side for a second, South Australia would've been the state Doug liked best.   He got it all here -- the best wines, cheap or free accommodation, women (well . . . one woman), chocolate and cheese bashes, scuba diving and weekend peninsula getaways.  His life was good here . . . and so can yours, if you get over having to check off a list of mandatory Australian hotspots.  Although Doug never got to directly experience the 'festival' part directly in South Australia's nickname, much of the time he spent here was like one, big party with high quality South Australian wine served to wash it all down with.



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Insights From A Travel Mastermind

 SA or South Australia is a sparsely populated state. Adelaide has the largest population. Not many people drive to Port Augusta or Whyalla or, hell, visit Kangaroo Island. Coming for the tuna in Port Lincoln? Want to try grapes from the Barossa Valley or Clare Valley? Or see the leafy sea dragons in Rapid Bay?