Sometimes, the best way to explore and be enthralled by a region is to head out of the city first. Don’t let yourself be drawn in by the enticements of urban life just yet. There will be time enough for that later on.
This should be your aim when you land in Adelaide, South Australia, after a comfortable flight. Rent a car at the airport and get ready to be thrilled by the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this great state.
Fleurieu with a flourish
Head south to the Fleurieu Peninsula via Highway A13, where you’ll see the sea on your right and the hills on your left. Drive along the well-signed 235km touring route of the Fleurieu Way to discover great sights and activities. The region encompasses spectacular beaches, rolling hinterland and famous wine regions (including McLaren Vale), local produce and wildlife.
One of the must do’s for this road trip is a stop at the wide open Aldinga Beach (just 45 minutes along on your drive). It is one of the few beaches in Australia where you can actually drive on parts of the sand. How cool is that?
Pretty soon, you will find yourself in McLaren Vale. If you stay overnight, a veritable food and wine adventure awaits you, and you will kick yourself if you miss out on this!
If it’s award-winning wines you want, there are some 50 cellar doors in this wine region, the Fleurieu Peninsula’s largest wine region and also the closest to Adelaide. What’s more, you can indulge in fresh local produce at the region’s restaurants and cafés.
Hands up, almond fans. Australia’s best almonds are grown in Willunga, and the olive oil produced here is compared favourably to Italy’s finest. Follow the Produce and Tourist Trail from Mount Compass to find fresh blueberries, organically grown pheasants and quail, venison, marron (a freshwater crayfish), strawberries and jams, rainbow trout and authentic French-style goat’s curd and feta cheeses, or thick, rich Jersey-milk cream and traditional farmhouse cheddars. And fresh fish from the gulf’s clear, unspoilt waters. Burp!
Accomplished chefs showcase fresh Fleurieu Peninsula produce in world-class restaurants, which include Fino at McLaren Vale, and d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant in McLaren Vale. The Star of Greece at Port Willunga provides unrivalled views of the sea from its cliff-top location. Enjoy your “catch of the day” while savouring the atmosphere.
Want to be a winemaker? At the Blending Bench at d’Arenberg you have a 90-minute session to do so. D’Arenberg winery does the work of picking, crushing, fermenting, foot-treading, basket-pressing and barrel-ageing, while you get to create a wine that is uniquely your own. You can then bottle a 750ml sample (you can even keep it for a year before drinking it) to take home and show off to everyone.
Discover the “fine mix of food, wine and art” at Red Poles in McLaren Vale! Red Poles has successfully combined a fully licensed café, art gallery and B&B under one roof. Red Poles hosts a range of artist’s workshops utilising the unique work area and equipment of the gallery. Join any of these regular workshops to tap into your artistic side.
In November 2011, they opened a cellar door, in a joint venture with Brick Kiln Wines. In April 2013, the McLaren Vale Beer Company was added to its cellar door. Vale Ale beer-tasting paddles are now available in the courtyard “beer garden”.
If you have added days or time, you can do a side-trip to Victor Harbor to hop on one of the unique horse-drawn trams to Granite Island. This tram is one of the icons of the state.
Hopping off to Kangaroo Island
Another scenic drive, of under an hour, awaits as you head off to Kangaroo Island. Board the morning SeaLink vehicle and passenger ferry for a 40-minute trip to Kangaroo Island. Seven times the size of Singapore, beautiful Kangaroo Island is a microcosm of different landscapes and environments with stunning beaches, amazing native wildlife in the wild, desert dunes and farmland.
It’s no wonder that it’s one of Australia’s National Landscapes. Highlights include the picturesque Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch, and walking among sea lions at Seal Bay.
Get the best produce from Mother Nature. Honey from pure strain Ligurian bees, regional cheeses and yoghurts, native jams, wine, fresh oysters, prawns, crayfish, whiting, snapper and marron, and much more.
Kangaroo Island is enjoying a food and wine renaissance with a growing number of producers, farm gates, cellar doors and restaurants offerings.
Indulge for a day or two and experience the milking of sheep, sample the famous honey ice cream, and pick out your own lobster direct from the fishing depot. Take in jaw-dropping ocean views that are matched with stunning local produce platters and wine pairings at cellar doors.
Come and visit Ferguson Australia’s live tanks and see live lobsters (of award-winning gourmet varieties) and king crabs, while learning about Kangaroo Island’s seafood industry. There are lobster oil and glaze tastings, or buy some of the fresh local produce.
Cooking demonstrations can be organised for group advanced bookings. The selection of seafood includes lobsters (live and cooked), Spencer Gulf prawns, scallops, King George whiting, lobster medallions, sashimi, seafood sauces, paté, cooked meat, lobster oil and glazes.
Andermel Marron, Two Wheeler Creek Wines and The Marron Café is a unique 3-in-1 gastronomical experience. Marron – the island’s prized freshwater crayfish – doesn’t come any fresher. Visitors can take a tour of the fish farm and select a marron to be cooked by the café’s talented gourmet chef. There are other dishes too, of course, and they all have a distinctive Aussie flavour. Yummy!
What’s a meal without fine wine, namely the cafe’s own Two Wheeler Creek. Diners can choose from a wide range – all made from grapes grown on the farm’s vineyard. You can also get some to go, at the cellar door.
Island Pure Sheep Dairy was South Australia’s first sheep dairy and cheese factory and is well-known for its range of high quality Mediterranean-style cheeses and yoghurt. Guided tours of the dairy are held every afternoon; visitors can observe the sheep being milked, and are shown the factory and how the cheese and yogurt are made. If you have no patience for a tour, cheese and yoghurt lovers can head straight to the tasting room and shop.
No visit to Kangaroo Island is complete without tasting Jenny Clifford’s celebrated honey ice cream. It’s only available from Clifford’s Honey Farm at MacGillivray where different types of honey are produced from Kangaroo Island’s famous pure-bred Ligurian bees. The island is the only place in the world where these bees still exist. Three varieties are always available for tasting and purchase, depending on the time of the year and which of the island’s shrubs and eucalypts are flowering.
Visitors to Clifford’s Honey Farm can learn all about the history and more of the busy buzzy bees, and view them at work through a glass-covered hive. Large groups and coach parties can also book a tour of the farm to witness the honey extraction and production process.
Honey products, arts and crafts and that very special ice cream are available for purchase.
Then it’s back to Adelaide via Highway B23 and M2 for a 90-minute drive. Explore the city and do your shopping at Central Market and Rundle Mall, or visit Haigh’s Chocolates, south of the city. Haigh’s still roasts their own beans, reputed to be Australia’s best. There’s a free tour – or opt for Melba’s Chocolate Factory if you want to mix it up.
You can dine at Rundle Street, Gouger Street, Hutt Street, O’Connell Street or Leigh Street. Alternatively, for dinner, head to seaside Glenelg by tram for some special seafood dining options. Go early and walk along the beautiful beach, then watch the sunset while you dine.