Explore South Australia with these school excursion ideas


South Australia is divided into 12 regions and home to Murray River, Flinders Ranges, Limestone Coast and peninsula upon peninsula, from Yorke to Fleurieu.

It’s a land packed with stunning coastlines and the iconic Australian wildlife that comes along with it. For students, it offers the opportunity to learn life and academic lessons in caves instead of covered outside learning areas (COLAs), and national parks instead of playgrounds.

Naracoorte Caves National Park

A group enters Naracoote Caves for a school excursion

89 Wonambi Road, Naracoorte, Limestone Coast, South Australia, 5271
08 8760 1210
from $9 per student

Naracoorte Caves National Park is run by National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia. It offers schools a choice of themed learning activities – both above and below-ground – as students are invited to try adventure caving at four cave sites and the fossil sites and bat habitats they’re famed for.

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Book the bat tour and explore Blanche Cave and the Bat Centre, or visit the fossil centre and take a self-guided tour of Stick-Tomato Cave.

The caves make for a clever winter excursion as the temperature is 17 degrees all year round. School lunches can be ordered in advance from Caves Café.

Cave tours start at $9 per student and many of the outdoor activities here are free of charge:

  • BYO binoculars and introduce students to birdwatching with a bird list and identification book from the games cupboard
  • play tennis or team games on the courts and grassy area
  • seek out the area’s wildlife with the games cupboard’s scats & tracks book

Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park
Winaityinaityi Pangkara

A rainbow lorikeet at Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park Winaityinaityi Pangkara

3 St Kilda Rd, St Kilda, Adelaide, South Australia, 5110
08 8841 3400

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30 km from Adelaide, Winaityinaityi Pangkara – meaning ​‘a coun­try for all birds and the coun­try that sur­rounds these birds’ is located at the south­ern end of the East Asian-Aus­tralasian Fly­way (EAAF). It’s one of a few key habitats, feed­ing areas and roost­ing sites for the birds that migra­te along this flyway who use the fly­way, some coming from as far away as Siberia and Alas­ka and pass­ing through 22 coun­tries to get here. It’s home to around 5,000,000 birds as they pass through each year – 27,000 of which are permanent residents of Ade­laide Inter­na­tion­al Bird Sanc­tu­ary.

As well as the phenomenal bird life in the area, students can expect to see more than 263 unique fau­na and flo­ra that help to protect threat­ened species like the Curlew Sand­piper, East­ern Curlew, Rud­dy Turn­stone, and the Red Knot.

Within the national park, there are opportunities to explore man­groves, riv­er sys­tems, and marine and coastal areas that are home to ter­res­tri­al species and other fascinating eco­log­i­cal communities.

Educators – and students – can take a virtual tour of one of Adelaide’s longest con­tin­u­ous con­ser­va­tion areas before visiting, thanks to the park’s teach and learn resources. This vir­tu­al tour includes learn­ing con­cepts directly connected to the cur­ricu­lum in three areas of the sanc­tu­ary: Thomp­son Beach, Port Gawler and St Kilda.

Day visits are free but park rangers appreciate a heads-up with trip details, including which areas you plan to visit, dates, and vehi­cle reg­is­tra­tion num­ber​s.

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Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary

A school excursion at Arkaroola,Wilderness,Sanctuary

2948 Arkaroola Rd, Arkaroola Village, Flinders Ranges and Outback, South Australia, 5732
08 8648 4848

Add a trip to Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary to the school calendar and make a classroom of the northern Flinders Ranges. 600 km north of Adelaide in South Australia you’ll find jaw-dropping outback scenery 130km down the unsealed road from Copley. Get detailed directions to Arkaroola’s magical mountains, geological marvels, granite peaks, gorges and waterholes and school the class on birds, reptiles and mammals, like the elusive and endangered Yellow-Footed Rock-Wallabies that can be spotted loving life in their natural habitat on the range.

The sanctuary is a living, breathing history lesson and its foundation supports education initiatives with schools and tertiary institutions – specifically in natural sciences, astronomy, geology and biology.

At Arkaroola Sanctuary (aka The Ark for what are about to be obvious reasons) you could get to see majestic Wedge-Tailed Eagles, Australian Ringneck Parrots, White-browed Babblers, Southern Boobook Owls, Red Capped Robins and so much more.

Rare sightings of the Short-Tailed Grass Wren (one of the rarest bird species in Australia) and the Red-barred Dragon are like finding gold. Early evening you may even catch a glimpse of the nocturnal Large-blotched or Stimpsons Python, hiding out close to Arkaroola village and posing no threat to humans.

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As if this party on the ground wasn’t enough, plan for the chance to take a look up at the night sky and embark on a tour of the universe at one of Arkaroola’s three astronomical observatories. Arkaroola’s arid environment and elevation combine to position it perfectly for a world-class atmospheric transparency index (delivering exceptional viewing quality).

In fact, the darkness that comes as a result of being so far from any towns, and the sanctuary’s evening low-light policy, have earned this location International Dark-Sky Sanctuary certification (acknowledgement of its exceptionally dark and starry night skies).

Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island

Students on the boardwalk for a Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island school excursion

3 Seal Bay Road, Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island, South Australia, 5223
08 8553 4463
$34 per student, max 25 per tour

The seals have made this Kangaroo Island bay their home for thousands of years, and the absence of cages and enclosures opens the door for students to experience these endangered animals up close.

Seal Bay is just 45 min­utes from Kan­ga­roo Island’s main town of Kingscote. Plan to arrive at the visitor centre before 11am or after 1pm to avoid crowds. And factor in 45 minutes for a tour with an experienced guide and another 30 minutes after that for a self-guided walk along the 900m (round-trip) fully accessible Seal Bay boardwalk.

Inspire students to become “cus­to­di­ans of our Aus­tralian sea lion pop­u­la­tion for gen­er­a­tions to come” at this Eco­tourism Aus­tralia-certified Advanced ECO destination – the high­est possible lev­el of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

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Umpherston Sinkhole

A school excursion to Balumbul Umpherston Sinkhole Mount Gambier

3 Jubilee Highway East, Berrin (Mount Gambier), Limestone Coast, South Australia, 5290
1800 087 187 / 08 8724 9750
free entry

Found at the heart of South Australia’s Limestone Coast, south east of South Australia, a five hour drive from Adelaide, and just 11 km from the Victorian border, cenotes (sinkholes) are just one of many, many Mount Gambier attractions. In close vicinity to four unique lava cave sites, magnificent lakes and volcanoes create a complex web of more than 50 water-filled subterranean sinkholes lay undiscovered for thousands of years.

That is, until cave roofs gradually collapsed, literally illuminating some of the region’s previously unknown history. There are five cenotes that can be explored and it’s Umpherston Sinkhole’s beauty, size and depth that make it so significant. Make sure students enjoy the birds eye view from the viewing platforms overhead, before entering the cenote and taking a surreal stroll along its terraces and behind the iconic hanging vines responsible for its nickname, the sunken garden. The result of topsoil on the ground from the cave roof’s collapse creating the perfect conditions for it to flourish.

Making the most of those conditions are the sinkhole’s signature possums, famous for emerging at dusk to feed on fresh fruit from visitors. Pro tip: remind students to pack blueberries to win them over.

Adelaide Botanic Garden

two kids complete an app challenge on an Adelaide Botanic Garden school excursion activity

North Terrace, AdelaideSouth Australia, 5000
08 8222 931
Free entry

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This oasis at the heart of Adelaide city welcomes school groups with a teacher guide, dedicated qualified educators, and inquiry-based learning programs. These are supported by the Department of Education and aligned with the Australian curriculum, for pre-school to senior high school students.

The teacher guide helps with visit planning, inspires ideas for classroom activities (before and after), and provides comprehensive resources and activities to be explored in the classroom (even if you’re not planning to visit). can’t make it to the museum in person.

Request a booking for the newly developed educator-led 60 minute Project Space Botany program, with an expert botanical educator at the helm and if students could survive a year living on Mars using nothing but quick thinking and plants.

As ‘Futurenauts’ they’ll be given an app and tasked with building a biodome capable of surviving for a year. Activities are based on students’ plant science knowledge and the Year 4 to Year 10 science curriculum.

  • $6.30 per student, $130.00 per session minimum charge
  • $4.20 per student, $100.00 per session minimum charge for Department for Education (DE) Category 1-4, regional and remote schools
  • 30 students max per session, with Department-recommended adult supervision ratios

Migration Museum

A school excursion to Adelaide Migration Museum

82 Kintore Avenue, Adelaide, 5000
08 8151 3240

You’ll find this hidden gem behind Adelaide’s State Library. School programs include:

Being a Child in the 19th Century: a 90-minute program revisiting that era through the eyes of kids in colonial Australia, before school became compulsory in the region.

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  • cost $12.50/equity $9.50 per student
  • ratio of one supervisor to six students, minimum
  • adults within the ratio enter free of charge

Changing Worlds: a 60-minute program looking at the life of Native School Establishment students on this historic Migration Museum site, before and after colonisation in South Australia.

  • cost $10/equity $7 per student.
  • ratio of one supervisor to six students minimum
  • adults within the ratio enter free of charge

Unpacking Histories: a 90-minute program where students get to don gloves, unpack, examine, research and record the lives and immigration stories of 20th and 21st South Australians, much like the historians and curators of today.

  • cost $12.50/equity $9.50 per student
  • ratio of one supervisor to six students minimum
  • adults within the ratio enter free of charge

Alternatively, self-guided visits are a great choice for educators who prefer to move through the museum at their own pace, focusing on the programs and activities that best suit your students. In the Teacher Guide you will find information about each exhibition that can be used to support a self-guided museum visit, including suggested questions for discussion.

There is an open courtyard and gazebo with some tables and chairs in the centre of our museum, which can be used for recess or lunch breaks. The Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden is also just a short walk down Kintore Avenue, which is a nice quiet area with grass and trees.

Piqued your interest?Request a booking and the education team will be in touch, or subscribe to the newsletter to keep up to date with History Trust Education news.

Old Adelaide Gaol

A school excursion to Old Adelaide Gaol

18 Gaol Rd, Adelaide SA 5000
08 8231 4062

You’ll find Adelaide Gaol just off Port Road next to the Police Barracks, providing interactive 60-minute guided education tours at 10.30 am, 11.30 am, or 1 pm. They’re designed to align with the Australian Curriculum and SACE (the South Australian Certificate of Education) in English, Legal Studies, Modern History, Nutrition, Philosophy, Psychology, Outdoor Education, and Society and Culture.

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Early Years Education Tours feature kinesthetic, play-based activities, including ‘Guard in the Yard’ (think ‘Elf on the Shelf’), following a magical puppet guard who hides in each yard and shares fun facts about the gaol.

Primary School Education Tours let years three-seven students experience life as a prisoner at Adelaide Gaol, one of South Australia’s oldest Colonial buildings.

Middle School Education Tours encourage students to team up and write Haikus for a poetry slam competition that’s held in the Visitor Centre at the end of your visit.

Secondary School Education Tours call on students to defend their position in a debate, also held in the Visitor Centre at the end of the tour.

Courts Administration Authority of South Australia

Courts Administration Authority of South Australia school excursion at Sir Samuel Way Building

Adelaide Magistrates Court, 260-280 Victoria Square Adelaide SA 5000
08 8204 0762
Max 30 visitors including supervision

There are two bookings per school day available at Courts Administration Authority of South Australia: 9.30 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 4 pm (book both if you plan to stay for the full day).

Educators are asked to book in advance for self-guided visits, and to notify the Sheriff’s Office at the entry of your arrival to secure priority access to courtrooms and view proceedings. If there is no Sheriff’s Officer in attendance school groups can view the foyer but cannot enter courtrooms. When you do enter, disruption should be minimised as much as possible.

It’s important to note that court evidence can be confronting and explicit, potentially exposing students to offensive language and discussions of violent or sexual crimes. So, when selecting courts to observe, educators “should review charges first and avoid cases involving matters of a sexual nature, particularly when viewing trials”.

Occasionally a Sheriff’s Officer might suggest that you do not bring your students in, allowing supervising adults to make informed decisions if a confronting matter is listed.

Court buildings in Adelaide CBD are open to the public on weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm (except Adelaide Youth Court). Courthouses suitable for school visits and offering the best options for students wishing to see court proceedings include:

Adelaide Magistrates Court

Located at 260 – 280 Victoria Square, Adelaide. It hosts a range of criminal, civil and specialist court proceedings (including criminal and civil trials), and courts hearing a large number of pre-trial proceedings sit daily.

The following hearing types are generally recommended for school visits:

First Appearance Court – Courtroom 2
Matters include those that may be committed for hearing by the District or Supreme Court, and overnight custody matters.

Committal Court – Courtroom 12
Preliminary stages of serious criminal matters that will be committed to
the District or Supreme Court for trial. Typically lots of seating is available but “there is often not much to observe than the setting of key dates”.

General Court – Courtroom 22
Matters generally taking 5-10 minutes each including bail applications, adjournment requests and guilty pleas.

These courts offer the best opportunities for school groups to view proceedings. Other courts have limited seating or may be closed to the public.

Criminal trials in various courtrooms may also be suitable, as well as civil trials and civil proceedings in courts 6-10.

Sir Samuel Way Building

Located at 241 – 259 Victoria Square, Adelaide. A range of Supreme and District Court proceedings are heard at this courthouse, including criminal trials, sentences and short matters, and a range of civil proceedings.

The following hearing types are generally recommended for school visits:
Supreme and District Court matters including Court of Criminal Appeal (Supreme Court jurisdiction) and Criminal and Civil Trials. Trials are generally set from 10 am to 4.30 pm and are listed on the Case List as a ‘Trial’ or ‘Part Heard’.

Sentences may also be suitable. Proceedings usually commence at 10 am,
2 pm or after 3 pm. Students need to be seated in the courtroom before sentencing starts and they must stay seated until the sentencing process is complete.

Supreme Court

Accessed via the heritage section of the building at 1 Gouger Street, Adelaide. This court generally hosts non-criminal matters in Courtrooms 1 and 2, providing an opportunity to see courts built in the 19th Century (note that these do not sit every day and access is not guaranteed).

The Supreme Court generally hosts non-criminal matters in Courtrooms 1 and 2.
Teachers should speak with the Sheriff’s Officer before entering these courtrooms.

School information packs can be downloaded before visiting. School visits to suburban and country Magistrates Courts may be accommodated, educators should enquire with the individual court registrars.

With so many places to visit and things to do, school excursions in South Australia can be informative, educational and meaningful for both students and teachers alike.

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By Charlie
Charlie Writes is a Sydney based, London born, Caribbean writer, interviewer and poet. A colourful 27 year career has taken Charlie from typing poems on the spot on her 1970’s typerwiter named June, to donning a hard hat as a roving reporter in the construction industry. All while living out her favourite quote that the greatest adventures begin with a simple conversation.