From wine tasting and wombats to beaches and river journeys, take some memorable day trips from Adelaide.
By Marc Llewellyn
Journey north, east or south from Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, and you will soon be tasting amazing wines, eating delicious local food, enjoying breathtaking nature and encountering native Australian wildlife.
Just a 30-minute drive east of Adelaide city centre is a beautiful area of cool climate countryside marked by gently rolling hills, historic villages, country roads and neat lines of grapevines. Start the day with breakfast at The Summit Café on top of Mount Lofty, which has astonishing views of Adelaide. From here, wind your way through the Adelaide Hills to Cleland Wildlife Park, where you can hold a koala and wander among kangaroos, wombats, and Tasmanian devils. Next, head to the heritage village of Hahndorf, established by German settlers in 1839, and explore galleries, gift shops, and a delicatessen selling German-style produce. About 50 wineries offer wine tasting in the area, including Penfolds Magill Estate, home of Australia’s most prized wine, the famous Penfolds Grange. At The Lane Vineyard you can linger over lunch with views of the vines. Visit the National Motor Museum at Birdwood, which has more than 400 classic and modern vehicles on display.
Fleurieu Peninsula and McLaren Vale
Named after a French explorer and ocean scientist who died in 1810, the Fleurieu Peninsula is known for its surf beaches, pleasant harbour towns, and a clutch of wineries in McLaren Vale. The region is 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Adelaide. Popular activities include fishing, snorkelling, scuba diving and beach walking. The historic river port town of Goolwa is where Australia's longest river, the Murray, meets the sea. Explore the sand dunes and lagoons that make up the Coorong wildlife sanctuary. Cruise the Coorong and Spirit of the Coorong offer tours. Victor Harbor, about a 20-minute drive from Goolwa, has a fabulous beach and nearby islands with seals and penguins. Picturesque McLaren Vale has more than 65 wineries, many offering wine tasting. Have a lazy lunch at d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant, at d’Arenberg winery. If you have time to spare, a ferry from Cape Jervis on the southern tip of the peninsula goes to the wildlife haven of Kangaroo Island.
One of Australia’s oldest wine regions, the Clare Valley is a cluster of villages and wineries nestled in a valley of farmland and vines. It’s about 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of Adelaide. Taste wines at more than 30 cellar doors, many of them still housed in old stone cottages and farm sheds. The oldest winery around here is Sevenhill Cellars, founded by Jesuit priests in 1851. After tasting wines at the cellar door you can explore the Winery Museum and the original underground wine storage cellar. A 32-kilometre (20-mile) walking and cycling track, the Riesling Trail, connects towns, restaurants and wineries via a converted railway line. Explore grand homesteads from the 1800s, including Martindale Hall and Bungaree Station. Have lunch in the beer garden at the Sevenhill Hotel, just south of the town of Clare. Later, take a self-guided tour of the historic former copper mining town of Burra, in the Bald Hills Range, east of the valley. With a key from the visitor centre you can delve into nine locked sites, including a gaol, an underground brewery and the main mining area, the Monster Mine.
Arguably Australia’s most famous wine region, the Barossa (or the Barossa Valley, as it’s also known) is a patchwork of vineyards and farmland interspersed with pretty historic villages and towns. Some places, such as Krondorf, have a Germanic feel to them thanks to early settlers from Silesia and Prussia. Look out for Lutheran church spires. Artisan food producers are common around here, and the food is almost as famous as the wine. There are more than 150 wineries in the Barossa and about 80 cellar doors. Don't miss Seppeltsfield Wines and the Jacob's Creek Visitor Centre. Seppeltsfield Wines offers plenty of wine experiences, including the chance to taste tawny fortified wine made the year you were born, straight from the barrel. At Jacob's Creek, try your hand at winemaking in a dynamic blend-your-own experience. Produce your perfect wine based on your preferences, then bring the bottle home to enjoy.
The Murray River
The longest river in Australia, the mighty Murray begins its journey in the Australian Alps and flows for 2,508 kilometres (1,558 miles) until it empties into the ocean at Lake Alexandrina in South Australia. A day trip south-east from Adelaide takes you to the Fleurieu Peninsula, home of the Murray Mouth, where the river empties into the sea through a coastal sand dune system that teems with waterbirds. Drive east from Adelaide for 98 kilometres (61 miles) and you come to the historic river port town of Mannum. Have a drink or lunch on the balcony of the Pretoria Hotel pub and enjoy uninterrupted river views. The PS Murray Princess, the largest inland paddle-steamer in the Southern Hemisphere, offers multi-day cruises from Mannum. For a historical slice of life on the river, drop into the Mannum Dock Museum and clamber around the PS Marion, a restored steamer built in 1897.