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Clare Valley Travel Guide
Clare Valley Travel Guide
Clare Valley Travel Guide

Clare Valley travel guide — best free things to do & see

Vineyards, heritage and rural landscapes, exploring South Australia. Perhaps a romantic getaway, complete with a historic stone cottage as your accommodation. How to get around and what to see.

Annies Lane Vineyard Trees @annieslane

What is the best time to visit?

Year round there is an event on the calendar. In fact, you could pick two or more festivals and make it a party event. Heritage and history fans, year round, in winter pack clothing layers and enjoy exploring with not a person in sight. Remember to check opening hours, you can always arrange for premises to be open if you call ahead.

Clare Valley weather

The area has a temperate winter climate. Australian summers, especially January and February can be dry and hot. Clare Valley is a year round destination.

Highlights: what to see and do

  • Wine festivals year-round are on the calendar. In fact, you could pick two or more festivals and make it a party event. Check out Clare Valley Wine Experience. Clare Valley has a Riesling winemaking tradition reaching back 160 years.
  • Craft Breweries, Burra Scrumpy Co or Pikes Beer Company offer alternative drinking options.
  • Heritage and history exploration of Burra, Mintaro and Martindale Hall
  • Cycle and walking trails dedicated for the cycling & walking enthusiast
  • Craft markets
Getting there

Rental car: rent a vehicle in Adelaide, as part of your South Australia road trip.

By bus (approximately four hours): Yorke Peninsula Coach Services offers regular Clare Valley Services. You can book a shuttle collect service with your bike hire, see below.

Clare Valley: what to see & do

Festivals

Clare Valley Tourism invites visitors to Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend. The event is described as “… one of the first food and wine events of its kind in Australia. Held in May every year, the festival is a celebration of the region’s award-winning wines, local food and country hospitality. More than 25 wineries participate in the event.”

Food & Feast, vineyards

Two historic must visit vineyards:

Sevenhill Cellars

111C College Rd, Sevenhill SA 5453, Australia

Annie’s Lane

Clare Valley, Australia

Food & Feast, Craft Breweries

If you really do not want to indulge in wine tasting… Clare Valley Breweries are a rising star in the Clare Valley. Local craft brewers such as Clare Valley Brewing Co, Paulett Wines and Pikes Beer Company or The Burra Scrumpy Company with their award winning apple ciders provide a counterpoint from the established riesling vineyards.

Indulgence & romance

There are a number of accommodation options involving a weekend in an historic cottage. Not surprisingly visitors discover the region brings out the romantic in them. The historic stone cottages and buildings, the vineyards with their heritage origins such as Sevenhill Cellars, fires roaring in chimneys with a candlelit dinner. The sense of timelessness and peace of rural Australia provides a welcome break from your busy week days in Adelaide or elsewhere in Australia.

  • TIP: Thoroughly vet the proposed accommodation provider, it is not romantic if it is nineteenth century drafty with a shabby bathroom.
  • TIP: Remember to check out the article on South Australia, forgotten settlements, abandoned towns.

Culture & Arts: Art Galleries

There are a number of accommodation options involving a weekend in an historic cottage. Not surprisingly visitors discover the region brings out the romantic in them. The historic stone cottages and buildings, the vineyards with their heritage origins such as Sevenhill Cellars, fires roaring in chimneys with a candlelit dinner. The sense of timelessness and peace of rural Australia provides a welcome break from your busy week days in Adelaide or elsewhere in Australia.

Clare Valley art scene covers aboriginal art to contemporary mixed media is not to be missed.  Local artisans are often exhibiting at pop up stalls on market days. Check out when the markets are if you want to include art browsing in your weekend. Explore HATs, Heritage / Arts / Traditions for events such as:

  • Concerts & Events at the Courthouse Cultural Centre in Auburn
  • Clare Valley Carnival of Music Festival (Annual Music Festival)
  • Bungaree Music Camp at Bungaree Historic Station, Clare Valley

Culture & Heritage: Burra & Mintaro heritage trail, Copper Mines & Victorian Mansions

Exploration of Burra

Rural South Australian historic towns include Burra and Mintaro. The Clare Valley is a special place, a long way away from the bustle of Adelaide and the large tour buses frequenting the Barossa Valley.

In fact heritage, South Australian style is just around the corner from that vineyard where you have abandoned your family. Fortunately Burra is just a half hour drive from Clare. You do not have to go very far at all to find out what made Australia.

Burra and large heavy iron door keys

You will start your Burra visit at the Burra Information Centre to acquire your large iron key to unlock entrance doors. You are definitely going to be able to find this key in your handbag. It is very solid and heavy, just the thing to open those 19th creaking doors. Burra Visitors Centre blurb “You will be joined by Johnny Green, the miner’s mascot, as you explore the townships key sites. Using your mobile phone or tablet, Johnny will guide you through each site”.

You pay a deposit for the key’s safekeeping which is refunded with the return of the key.

Burra’s visitor passport opens doors to a fascinating heritage trail covering historic buildings, 19th industrial activity, homes and public institutions such as the local jail/reform school.

Do not miss the Burra mine with its beautifully restored pump house and other preserved 1940’s copper mining relics. Redruth Jail / Reform School, with its list of crime and punishment such as stealing a loaf of bread or being drunk and disorderly, got you serious jail time in the 19th century. I found the names of the punished, their sentences and the gloomy surroundings thought provoking.

Make sure to collect a booklet “Discover Historic Burra” booklet detailing 46 historic sites over an 11 km driving trail when you collect your entrance ticket. Explore what is round the corner with the help of the Discover Historic Burra booklet.

TIP

  • For up to date entrance fees and opening hours remember to check out the website before departing and/or planning your day trip.

Burra Regional Art Gallery

Burra’s former post office, with its original jarrah floorboards is worth a visit just to gawp at the floor. Exhibits are changed regularly with a focus on local artists, artisans creating ceramics and jewellery as well as local photographers. Remember to check out the original telephone exchange machine in the back room.

TIP

  • The gallery is managed by volunteers, check the website for opening hours.

Exploration of Mintaro

The Mintaro heritage area is a rare South Australian example of early Victorian character buildings. Mintaro heritage area includes the core of the town, the Mintaro slate quarries, and sections of land surrounding the township area. The area is picture postcard attractive with restaurants and cafes that have established themselves in various historic buildings. Mintaro has a significant slate quarry established in the 1860s which continues to operate today. Health and safety regulations mean you cannot wander through the quarry site. Take a peek from the road instead.

TIP

  • Mintaro offers itself as an alternative base for your Clare – Wine, food and feast excursion. If members of your party are more interested in culture, history and rural explorations then I would recommend Mintaro as a base to explore the Clare Valley.

Martindale Hall, Mintaro

Nineteenth century high sheep prices and booming trade in copper contributed to local fortunes.  Edmund Bowman’s mansion is a stunning example of the wealth of this period. Built in 1879, in the Italianate style it has 32 grand rooms and an extensive cellar, over 7 storage areas.  Martindale also offers guests accommodation, a chance to immerse yourself in the grand rooms of a rural mansion. Check the website for opening hours.

Remember to check out the wineries in the vicinity of Mintaro. Perhaps finish off the day with a vineyard/restaurant unwind in Mintaro.

Roseworthy Agricultural Museum

Sheep farming and wheat growing are two planks at the heart of Roseworthy’s economy. There are two museums worth a visit for those fascinated with artefacts and memorabilia of the past. Roseworthy Agricultural Museum houses vintage farm implements, working tractors, and stationary engines with an emphasis on the evolution of farming methods, and Roseworthy College history.

Roseworthy Agricultural Museum University of Adelaide Roseworthy Campus Mudla Wirra Road, Roseworthy. Open March to November 10.00am–4.00pm each Wednesday 1.30pm–4.00pm third Sunday of each month. Free entry.

Child friendly

The variety of places and the interactive nature of the exhibits makes the journey child friendly for children over five years. Burra activities are child-friendly: a scavenger hunt sheet keeps children occupied and looking for the answers. And then there is the Mintaro Maze for all ages to explore, the Mintaro Maze: Home.

Getting around
  • Start Point: The restored Auburn railway station building, Mount Horrocks Wines, Auburn, SA
  • End Point: The Old Barinia Railway Siding, Barinia Road, Stanley Flat, SA
  • Distance: 33.0km
  • Time 7.5 Hours: – Walking
  • Time 4.5 Hours: – Cycling

 

Dedicated cyclists have the annual Clare Classic event. Riders have three route options through the wine region of the Clare Valley:

  • 80km Dirty Clare Gravel Course
  • 160km Maxi Classic
  • 110km Challenge Classic
  • 50km Social Classic

The Riesling Trail – Clare Valley – Trails SA connects towns, restaurants, and wineries via a converted railway line. The trail is 32km. It is flat easy walking or cycling gives you a chance to observe the towns and vineyards at a leisurely pace. It is not necessary to transport your bike as cycle hire is available from Riesling Trail Bike Hire.

Travel Pack

OFFICIAL TOURISM WEBSITES:

 

The romance is worth the journey.

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