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Travel Inspiration

8 Unique Slow Stays That Prove South Australia is Severely Underrated

Few states and territories in Australia can lay claim to doing it all quite as well as South Australia can. But when it comes to Slow Stays with a difference – that hold both the promise of relaxation and adventures aplenty – the Bight really is best.

Between what are arguably the country’s best wineries and cellar doors and the artsy heart of Adelaide, the multi-hyphenate state is home to a handful of brilliant beach shacks and off-grid bush hideouts built for slow getaways.

Here are eight of the best.

COORONG.LIFE

Coorong, SA

Coorong Life | Slow Stays by Life Unhurried
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You won’t have to actively wind down at Coorong.Life, it’s inevitable that it’ll happen. Almost as soon as you arrive. Found on Ngarrindjeri Country in Coorong National Park, the quietness of the region where the sandhills meet the calm water is hypnotising. This serene DIY nature retreat offers guests the choice of two very cosy KipPods – a name dreamt up by combining “kip” in other words sleep, with “pods” in relation to the smallness of the spaces. From a bed adorned with Kip and Co and Ponyrider linen, watch the sun rise through the feature porthole before getting stuck into whatever creative endeavour the epic scenery has ignited. If booking a Slow Stay in South Australia is currently out of the question, Coorong.Life are so passionate about helping you connect with “YOU” that there is also a free artist residency available throughout the year at the onsite studio.

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LA SHACK

Port Willunga, SA

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La Shack Port Willunga008

Let go of your time-tracking skills, they’re not needed here. Instead of minutes and hours, the days roll by to a rhythm of tides and currents at the seaside location of this South Australia accommodation. A relaxed five-minute stroll to the tapestry of cliff faces and unimaginably clear water of Port Willunga Beach, the small and homely La Shack is a sunlit haven perfect for a slow sojourn. Lovingly restored and filled with a curation of vintage and modern pieces, use this beach house as a base to explore McLaren Vale wine region or hit any of the walking tracks along the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula.

STOWAWAY KI

Kangaroo Island, SA

If you need another reason to whisk your lover away for the weekend, then you’ll undoubtedly find it after one look at the impeccable Stowaway Kangaroo Island. Spoilt with expansive views of the ocean, bush and rolling farmlands, this couple’s retreat saddles up to Lathami Conservation Park. Take your pick from four luxury self-contained accommodation options, perched across an 80-hectare farm and you’ll be treated to a sauna, spa, fireplace and the most delicious local food hamper you’ve ever come across – think: sparkling wine, freshly-baked break, artisan cheese, crackers, olives, figs and of course, Kangaroo Island honey. Leaving will feel near impossible.

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UKIYO HOUSE

Port Willunga, SA

Straight out of the pages of an interior magazine, this thoughtfully-designed home in Adelaide’s semi-rural suburb of Port Willunga is a lesson in bringing warmth back into minimalist spaces. Everything within these rammed earth walls has a purpose and invites lucky guests to detach from the worries of everyday life, hence the name Ukiyo House. Read a book while lounging on the restored Hans Wegner sofa or birdwatch on the deck overlooking the native garden. If itchy feet ramp up, hit the road and explore the stunning beaches of Fleurieu Peninsula before settling in for a seafood feast at the oceanfront restaurant, Star of Greece.

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WANDER ON KANGAROO ISLAND

Middle River, SA

Wander on Kangaroo Island | Slow Stays by Life Unhurried
Wander on Kangaroo Island | South Australia

It won’t be long until the secret is well and truly out about Kangaroo Island. With accolades ranging from Australia’s Best Beach 2023 (Stokes Bay) to being named as a must-visit by The New York Times – as well as being home to some of the most untamed wilderness in the country – you can imagine that any stay here is going to be breathtaking. And that’s exactly what Wander on Kangaroo Island is all about: sitting back, taking a breath and relishing in the natural beauty at every turn. Standing on Karta Pintingga country overlooking Snelling Beach, the four WanderPods are built for nature worshiping. From the ocean-facing outdoor baths perched on each deck and the floor-to-ceiling windows in front of the lush queen bed and comfy lounge, every day ushers in front-row views of the sea bleeding into the sky. (Rainy days bring the goods too with indoor, fireside cosyness.) 

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ECOPIA RETREAT

Kangaroo Island, SA

Built from solid rammed-earth, Ecopia Retreat’s two villas take a deep dive into the off-grid concept, doubling down on the sustainable ethos that drove owners Rob and Yael to build them. Set amongst 60-hectares of registered wildlife sanctuary on Kangaroo Island, Ecopia takes the might of the environment and uses it to power the luxurious trappings inside the one-bedroom Slow Stays. Blending their love of First Nations art (pieces from the duo’s collection adorn the walls) and nature with clever sustainable design, a stay here is a much-needed reminder of our link with the world around us.

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EYRE WAY – YAMBARA

Eyre Peninsula, SA

Eyre Way | Slow Stays by Life Unhurried
Eyre Way | Slow Stays by Life Unhurried
Eyre Way SA | Retreat locations

It would be easy to mistake your surroundings for a moonscape as you wake gently in the linen-topped cloud that doubles as a bed at Eyre Way – Yambara. With only the sound of the Southern Ocean crashing onto the cliff below and the sparse landscape stretching as far as the eye can see, it offers the kind of beautiful solitude comparable to only a far away deserted planet. Unlike interstellar travel though, luxury is not left behind and every aspect of the tiny off-grid cabin on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula is designed for immersion in the rugged beauty – including a floor-to-ceiling glass wall. Setting itself even further apart from other Slow Stays, Eyre Way – Yambara is unique in that your littlest explorers can join on the adventure thanks to a cute loft built for tiny stargazers. Days spent splashing and beachcombing some of Australia’s most rugged coastlines are bookended by slow breakfast on the balcony and spying constellations around the glowing outdoor fire pit.

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LOST RETREATS – MT JAGGED RETREAT

Mount Jagged, SA

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Getting lost to find yourself may sound like esoteric nonsense to the monkey-minded, busy-at-all-costs version of you (there are bills to pay, emails to send!). But give yourself just a few nights at Lost Retreats Mt Jagged, and you’ll find the nugget of truth in it. Built by an architect and sustainable builder using repurposed and reclaimed materials, the solar-powered cabin is the best way to get lost (and then found). Tucked up into the olive groves and vines of an organic vineyard on the Fleurieu Peninsula, Mt Jagged is an escape from the world back to yourself. Savour both edible and visual treats from right out your door like organic wine and views out over the placid lake lose yourself in slow moments of repose.

Desta Cullen

Desta Cullen is a writer and editor who crafts stories of food, culture and travel with a particular love of sustainability, slow fashion, creativity and conscious lifestyles. When she's not working, she spends her time digging in op-shops for pre-loved treasures, attempting to garden and turn the family home into a bright, art-filled junglescape.

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