The winner is… Clare!
While not surprised, we’re jumping for joy that Clare was recently crowned in the 2021 South Australian Top Tourism Town Awards. This gorgeous gal and true all-rounder sits in the glorious Clare Valley and took out the voters’ choice, notching up over 10,000 nods from across the globe.
Less than a two-hour drive from Adelaide, the region stretches from Tarlee up to Burra and is home to a few of SA’s most iconic names in food and wine — some that are celebrated worldwide. Whether it’s a day trip, a weekend to recharge or a long, leisurely getaway, the Clare Valley will always delight with over forty cellar doors and boutique wineries, award-winning restaurants, artisan cafés and some of the most gifted producers going.
Photo credit :: SATC
Not only is it a treat for your belly, your heart and mind can also join the fun as you soak up charming villages, remarkable vistas, history, art, walking and biking adventures, all while meeting salt of the earth people who offer up genuine country hospitality.
There’s so much to explore, let’s start with a few pared-back highlights — nature, history and jaw-dropping scenery…
Photo credit :: SATC
Walk this way – Strap on your boots to get down and dirty with the Clare Valley Short Walks. There are options for all kinds of trekkers — from one hour family-friendly strolls right through to serious slogs of four hours. And to sprinkle in a little indulgence, some have stops for a bite and a drop — it’s all about balance! Lay your eyes on spectacular sights, including Neagles Rock, the seasonal waterfall at the Spring Gully Conservation Park and plenty of rolling vineyards. Check the online maps to get going.
I want to ride my bicycle – The famous Riesling Trail is 35km of the best riding (or walking) you can imagine. It’s ripe for recreational walkers, mountain and touring bikes, as well as wheelchairs and pushers; and there’s just the right amount of distraction along the way, including cellar doors and more. Hire bikes from Clare, Auburn or chat to your accommodation provider to get rolling.
Step back in time – For lovers of ye olden days, there’s history and architectural delights in heritage listed towns, like Mintaro and Burra. Head to Mintaro to take in the magnificence of Martindale Hall — a sandstone mansion, which was completed in 1880 and has 32 rooms AND our dream… a seven-room cellar. Chin-chin! Still a working farm today, Bungaree Station was established in 1841 and became its own little village — it even has the old District Council Chambers and a church.
Nice and natural – The Gleeson Wetlands and Melrose Park are the perfect stop-off for fam-friendly fun, including a lakeside model railway track, a cracking BMX bike park, plus picnic spots, bird watching and public art on offer.
When you want to dive into Clare’s specialties, head to these beauties for an unforgettable experience…
Lovers of fine wine, tourists and history buffs can’t go past the original — Sevenhill Cellars. One of the oldest wineries in Australia, and counted as a national treasure, this 170-year-old heritage site is storybook pretty, has a tree-lined village green and the landmark St Aloysius Church. There’s nothing like a premium wine tasting in their historic cellar door or kicking back with a vino and local produce while the kids play on the lush lawns. Their estate grown, premium parcels of fruit are selected and bottled early to produce fresh and vibrant, great tasting, food-friendly wines — and we’re yet to meet someone who doesn’t love a drop of Sevenhill goodness.
Photo Credit :: Adam Bruzzone
Rolling hills, vineyards on view, a few clubs and a whole lotta fun! One of the most spectacular courses, Clare Golf Club is sure to excite both avid golf-lovers and casual players alike. A social hub of the local community, the grounds are meticulously maintained and the Par 72 course is playable all year round. Visitors flock to take on the legendary 7th Par 3 and the club’s woodfire pizza events are the place to be in the warmer months. It’s also a gorgeous venue for weddings and events, and a buzz of activity on their come and try days for beginners.
Photo Credit :: Giedre Budrius
For Clare Valley on a plate, head to this exceptional restaurant nestled in Auburn. Drawing on the incredible produce in the area, owner and Chef Dan Moss showcases the freshest seasonal produce, using harvests from his on-site garden and local growers who are just as passionate as he is about sustainable methods. “Every Tuesday, I gather up produce, throw everything on the bench and write the menu, so there’s always something different to try,” Dan says. His Modern Australian cuisine is perfectly paired with any of the local vinos on a regularly rolling list and best of all, they now offer accommodation.
For a home away from home and a perfectly central base, look no further than Jack’s House B&B. Lovely local, Sue Power has taken care of everything to ensure this country abode is just as welcoming for a family with kids as it is for couples. There are three king-sized beds, plenty of space, personal touches and you’re just a 10-minute walk to supermarkets, restaurants, cafés, shops, playgrounds, the Riesling Trail and weekend markets, so there’s no need for taxis. Jack’s House 2 is her other gorgeously-renovated cottage — it’s stocked with fluffy robes and has the perfect deck to sit and enjoy a glass of wine.
Photo Credit :: Eric van Staden
Specialising in Central Australian Aboriginal Art and fun gifts for the wine lover, this gallery is owned by locals Colin Stevens and Christine Clissold. “We were drawn in by the colour, vibrancy and talent of the female artists in Utopia when we lived in Alice Springs. Now, we personally bring these authentic pieces to the Clare region and we work with the ladies in this community to help get their incredible work recognised across the globe,” says Colin.
Photo Credit :: Stu Nankivell
Off the beaten-track, Eldredge Wines is a hidden gem that many find on the way out to the region’s conservation parks. The cottage from 1910 perches on a stunning property, with vineyards and a dam on one side and towering gums on the other. It’s ideal for casual catch-ups over gorgeous wines, plus their events are always a blast. We can’t go past their Blue Chip Shiraz or the Farm Road Pinot Gris; and their Sangiovese vines are the oldest in the region, so you know you’re in for something super spesh.
If you want to be ridin’ along on a pushbike, honey, local couple Mick and his wife Chris have bikes aplenty! With over 75 mountain, vintage and electric bikes on offer, they get riders of all ages and skills excited to hit up the famous Riesling Trail from their direct private access. “Age is no barrier — we’ve got what you need to get the whole family out in this magnificent part of the world,” says Mick.
A country trip is never complete without a bakery stop and this award-winner will blow your socks off! Their must-trys include an eggs benny pie, a lamb shank pie, and a tasty spinach and fetta pie — but there are options for gluten-free, vegos and those who want non-baked goods, too. Everything’s made fresh on-site each day, so you can’t go wrong. And when you want to go slow, head to their licensed café and restaurant in Leasingham for a tonguetickling meal or takeaway — it’s kid-friendly, quality food that’s value for money.
On the edge of an olive grove surrounded by vineyards, this 1969 British Leyland bus has been transformed into a licensed café and cellar door for their award-winning Stone Ridge Olive Oil. It’s spot on for a tasty gin, a coffee, wine or a leisurely lunch when you want to slow the pace down. Their fresh and seasonal menu is packed with bruschetta, toasties, soup, muesli and yoghurt, cakes, plus baked potatoes on Saturdays and pizzas on Sundays. Supervised kids and doggos on a lead are welcome, too. They’re closed February and August, and bookings are recommended for this quirky little pit stop.