With some of Australia’s most renowned wine-producing regions and a seafood-rich coastline on the Southern Ocean, South Australia offers gourmet delights and friendly producers who love to welcome visitors.
By Sue Gough Henly
Discover some of Australia’s finest wine, cheese and seafood on a gourmet tour of four diverse wine regions and the spectacular seafood coast that supplies a quarter of the country’s fish and shellfish. Along the way, you’ll discover spectacular scenery and loads of wildlife, and meet easy-going locals who know a thing or two about the good life.
What to expect
Between rolling hills and white sand beaches, Adelaide is one of the world’s Great Wine Capitals. With more than 200 wineries within a one-hour drive, it is the perfect gateway to a gourmet region. The capital of South Australia, Adelaide also has the most vibrant food market precinct in Australia and a thriving small bar scene. Grab a coffee at the Crack Kitchen, then explore the nearby bustling Adelaide Central Market, established in 1869 and now the largest covered market in the Southern Hemisphere. Check out the Kangaroo Island Stall, Mushroom Man, The Smelly Cheese Shop and Lucia’s Fine Foods, as well as a kaleidoscope of tasty cafés. Enjoy a wine tasting at Penfolds Magill Estate cellar door and visit the underground tunnels where the world-famous Grange Hermitage Shiraz is stored. Have lunch at the exquisite Magill Estate Restaurant, located in a glass box overlooking the earliest vineyards and the original Penfolds cottage. Enjoy contemporary dishes made using the finest local products, such as Mayura Station Wagyu beef, paired with the perfect Grange vintage. Spend the afternoon exploring the National Wine Centre, with 120 Australian wines available for tasting, and explore nearby Adelaide Botanic Garden. Enjoy a pre-dinner drink at 2KW rooftop bar, with its views over the River Torrens and the historic Adelaide Oval. Then have dinner at Orana (which means "welcome" in some Aboriginal languages), one of Australia’s top restaurants. Enjoy its seasonal tasting menu featuring modern interpretations of local and native wild foods. Check out some of Adelaide’s character-filled bars, such as Clever Little Tailor, Maybe Mae, and Pink Moon Saloon, on a laneway bar crawl around Leigh and Peel streets. Then tuck in for the night at The Mayfair, located in the heart of Adelaide.
Drive 40 minutes south to the pretty vineyard region of McLaren Vale, renowned for its grenache, shiraz and Italian varietals. Taste wines at Wirra Wirra, Penny’s Hill and SC Pannell. Have a lunch of seasonal fare at d’Arenberg vineyard’s D’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant, overlooking undulating vineyards all the way to Gulf St Vincent. Check out d'Arenberg's quirky Cube tasting room in the middle of the vines. Visit nearby Coriole Vineyards’ ironstone cottage to taste Italian varietals and buy olive oils and Woodside Cheese Wrights' cheeses made by different family members. Or enjoy a cheese and wine trail with Blessed Cheese. Check in to Mulberry Lodge Country Retreat, set in pretty cottage gardens, and borrow bikes to ride a section of the Shiraz Trail between Willunga (which has a terrific Saturday morning market) and the town of McLaren Vale. Stop at the striking trailside Primo Estate for the Joseph VIP experience, which includes a flight of Italian-inspired Joseph wines with Joseph extra virgin olive oil, grana padano cheese and local bread. Enjoy a gin tasting at the historic Salopian Inn, which stocks more than 230 gins from around the world, including McLaren Vale’s own Settlers Gin, and snack on the steamed prawn and blue swimmer crab dumplings. Go for a walk along nearby Port Willunga Beach before a sunset dinner at The Star of Greece, a white-on-white seaside cafe set on the cliffs overlooking turquoise waters.
After a superb breakfast at Mulberry Lodge, join Off Piste 4WD Tours for a half-day adventure on 4WD tracks in the bush and along Silver Sands Beach. You’ll discover stunning scenery and local wildlife and taste wines straight from the barrel (or beers, depending on your preference). Head into the Adelaide Hills (about an hour drive), famous for sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, to enjoy a late lunch at The Lane Vineyard before continuing on to Shaw + Smith for a wine flight with a cheese sampler plate. Spend the afternoon exploring the quaint village of Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement, now offering gourmet produce at places such as Udder Delights Cheese Cellar, Evercream Ye Olde Ice Creamery, and Harris Smokehouse. Stay at the beautifully restored, historic Mount Lofty House and dine on contemporary dishes at its Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant while enjoying peaceful hinterland views.
Go for a walk next door at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden or visit nearby Cleland Conservation Park to see Australian animals in their natural setting and hold a koala. Enjoy a pinot noir tasting at Ashton Hills before a quick stop at the hipster Summertown Aristologist to taste some cutting-edge natural wines from Commune of Buttons and others. Have lunch at the rustic corrugated iron cellar door of Mount Lofty Ranges Vineyard, with some of the most beautiful vineyard views in the Adelaide Hills. Drive north for about 40 minutes through eucalyptus-dotted bushland (you may see a koala or two) for a tasting at Henschke, where six generations of the same family have been creating shiraz masterpieces such as Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone in their atmospheric Eden Valley winery. Head into the Barossa to stay in a spacious suite at The Louise, one of the Luxury Lodges of Australia, and dine at Appellation, which carefully crafts local specialties to match the superb wines of the Barossa and Eden Valley.
Time your visit to coincide with the Saturday Barossa Farmers Market in Angaston and sample delicious baked goods, dairy products, smallgoods, pickles and preserves that reflect the Barossa’s Germanic heritage. Or visit Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop to taste her preserves, verjuice and other goodies, then enjoy a coffee and a slice of homemade cake while overlooking the peaceful duck pond. Make your own blend of grenache, shiraz and mourvedre at Penfolds before tasting the wines of boutique producers and enjoying lunch at the Harvest Kitchen of Artisans of Barossa. Alternatively, do a cooking class in the outdoor kitchen at the historic Jacob's Estate Cottages before a leisurely lunch of your creation matched with Jacob’s Creek wines. Spend the afternoon enjoying more tastings at renowned cellar doors such as Elderton, Rockford, Langmeil and Charles Melton before indulging in a cutting-edge locavore set menu at historic Hentley Farm.
Have breakfast with the kangaroos at Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park on a special outing arranged by The Louise. Then drive an hour north to the Clare Valley, renowned for its riesling and shiraz. Enjoy tastings at Pikes Wines and Pikes Beer Company next door to each other in the pretty Polish River subregion before a bush tucker and wine tasting at the Paulett Wines Bush Devine Café, which sources much of its produce from its bush food garden. Have lunch on the veranda of pretty Skillogalee Wines, overlooking the cottage garden and vines, before renting bikes to spend the afternoon riding the Riesling Trail, a converted rail trail winding through the heart of the Clare Valley. Stop at atmospheric Sevenhill wines, established in 1851 by Jesuit monks to produce sacramental wine. Taste its premium wines, and visit the wine museum, underground cellar and historic St Aloysius Church. Enjoy dinner and stay the night at Thorn Park by the Vines luxury boutique accommodation.
Stop for a tasting at Annie’s Lane on the heritage-listed Quelltaler Estate before heading 45 minutes south to the Barossa for a delightful break in your journey back to Adelaide. Drive down a road lined with 2,000 Canary Island date palms to arrive at historic Seppeltsfield, which has been restored to its former glory. Do an estate tour, have lunch at Fino restaurant in the original barrel cellars, and explore the JamFactory Contemporary Art and Design Studios. Then taste a tawny port from your birth year at the atmospheric Centennial Cellar, featuring the world’s longest unbroken collection of single vintage tawny, going back to 1878. Drive an hour south and check in to the ibis Adelaide before enjoying dinner at Africola, which serves African-inspired vegetables and grilled and smoked meats, flatbreads, and natural wine. Afterwards, check out some cool East End bars such as Mr Goodbar, The Howling Owl and Mother Vine. If you are still hungry, enjoy drinks and late night supper at The Propaganda Club.
Spend the next three days exploring the Eyre Peninsula, Australia’s seafood frontier. It's a rugged coastal region with some of the world’s finest wild-caught and aquaculture seafood. The peninsula's Seafood Frontier Touring Route offers a host of opportunities to see, taste and buy oysters, tuna, mussels, abalone, western king prawns, and southern rock lobster as well as go fishing for yellowtail kingfish, mulloway, King George whiting, flathead, hapuka, red snapper, tuna and more. You can also swim with a wide variety of sea life from dolphins and sea lions to tuna and sharks.
Take a 40-minute flight from Adelaide to Port Lincoln and rent a 4WD. On Boston Bay, one of the world’s largest protected natural harbours, Port Lincoln is the seafood capital of Australia and home to the largest fishing fleet in the Southern Hemisphere. First stop should be The Fresh Fish Place for a behind-the-scenes oyster and seafood tasting tour. If you are here on a Saturday, take a demonstration seafood cooking class or just feast on fresh shellfish and fabulous fish and chips. Enjoy a wine tasting and late lunch at Boston Bay Wines before doing the Swim with the Tuna experience. Alternatively, go shark cage diving or swim with the sea lions with Calypso Star Charters. Take a late afternoon drive to Mikkira Station to see koalas in the wild or view one of Australia’s most spectacular coastal panoramas from Winter Hill Lookout. Stay in an ocean view balcony room at the Port Lincoln Hotel and feast on a local seafood tasting plate at Sarins Restaurant overlooking the water.
Visit the Axel Stenross Maritime Museum to learn about the aquaculture and fishing industry. Drive half an hour west to Coffin Bay, one of Australia’s prettiest estuaries, which many believe is the ideal place for cultivating oysters. Don waders to take an oyster farm tour on which you will harvest fresh oysters straight out of the sea. Enjoy an inspired lunch of local oysters and other seafood (as well as local beef) at 1802 Oyster Bar and Bistro or go with GT Fishing Charters to catch your very own big fish. Much of the rest of the day will be spent driving the coastline and admiring the views. In mural-dotted Elliston, head along the 14-kilometre (nine-mile) Great Ocean Tourist Drive along the spectacular coastal cliffs above Waterloo Bay, a popular surfing spot. Here you’ll see the inspired Sculpture on the Cliffs open-air art gallery. Head north to stay in a self-contained house at the Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experience.
Enjoy an ocean adventure with Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experience in which you will swim with playful sea lions and bottlenose dolphins, which are unfed, untrained and totally wild. They interact with swimmers on their own terms. Drive 30 minutes along the coast to Streaky Bay, where you can pick up some fresh abalone, mussels and other seafood at Streaky Bay Seafood. Enjoy an ocean-to-plate culinary experience with EP Cruises. Drive another hour to Ceduna to visit the Ceduna Aboriginal Arts and Culture Centre before boarding a plane back to Adelaide.
Get the lay of the land from locals with Australian Coastal Safaris, who offer guided tours of the Eyre Peninsula. Choose from tours focusing on wildlife, wine and seafood, and take advantage of the opportunity to hunt and gather your own seafood feast.