Italian hot chocolate, artisan gelato and beaches…what more could a girl want for Christmas?

Christmas in Australia is often BBQs, cold beer and running in sprinklers, swimming in pools or heading for the beach.

We were back in South Australia last Christmas doing the Family Thing; visiting parents, in-laws, siblings, friends. We celebrated Christmas Day five times. It was awesome.

Our fifth and final Christmas was spent a few days on the Copper Coast, on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula with some of our family.

There, I was introduced to a delicious, unique, delectable, luxuriate-in-the-sugar-high experience.

Smack bang in the middle of farmland (this is the view from the carpark):

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is The Coffee Barn Gelateria.

They make (among other things) artisan gelato, truffles and Scottish shortbread slices…It seems I mostly took photos of the cream on top of the gelato or at the bottom of the glass after the gelato was eaten…

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They also sell magnificent Italian hot chocolate. A smooth, thick elixir of happiness…

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The service was fantastic, even though they were bustling with customers the day we went. With the rustic, country appeal mixed with high quality food and service, it’s clearly a magnet for tourists and locals alike.

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…and it’s close to the beaches, which – if you go on a day when the wind is playing elsewhere – are spectacular.

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The Copper Coast has some unexpected delights, a laid-back vibe, a wide range of accommodation options, and welcoming people.

It’s high on Penny’s List.

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South Beach – one of the best in Australia

Disclaimer upfront: I’m biased.

Disclaimer to my disclaimer: I’ve lived and travelled extensively across Australia, so I’ve experienced other coastlines…but I’m still biased.

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In some parts of the West Australian coast, the Indian Ocean greets the land with a gentle kiss. In others it knocks it over with an enthusiastic thump on the back.

I’ve not seen the vigorous greeting in Fremantle, but I haven’t had a full winter here yet. That may still come.

So far, South Beach has been a place to regroup, to exercise, to drink coffee, to catch up with friends, and to simply enjoy the view.

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There are two cafés at South Beach.

One is a beach kiosk with staff who are friendly and calm regardless of how busy they are. It’s a comfortable place to grab an ice-cream, hot chips or a coffee before, during or after a South Beach experience. You’ll be right at home in sweaty exercise clothes, or a swimsuit and towel with sandy bare feet, or in your best Going Out Thongs (aka flip flops). Kids can run around on the grassy foreshore, dogs can be on a leash at your feet.

The other café has delicious but expensive food (upwards of $25 for a lunch main). My experience is it’s really only worth it if you’re there early in the morning for a light breakfast or coffee on a weekday; on weekends it is packed and usually has a line-up. It’s not terrible, and clearly many people love it (hence the lines to get in), but lacks the right vibe for it to be a Favourite Place on Penny’s List.

That being said, South Beach as a whole is still a Favourite Place because of the views and the vibe – and the fact that really good coffee is only a short drive away.