If you are looking for a quintessentially Australian getaway with plenty of gourmet attractions | then the Clare Valley | just 45 minutes north of the Barossa | is well worth considering. Think gum trees | kangaroos | vineyards | quirky characters and country pubs in abundance. Known for its rolling hills | the Clare Valley consists of a string of villages along the Main North Road | and several off to the side. Locals joke that it is the perfect R&R destination: meaning rieslings and reds | which are the two signature wine styles | including at the Taylor Family Winery | one of the biggest family producers in South Australia and home to one of the most-visited cellar doors.
The region is known for its Riesling Trail | a former railway line that meanders through the vineyards and is hugely popular with walkers and cyclists. The 35-kilometre sealed track connects the townships of Auburn | Leasingham | Watervale | Penwortham | Sevenhill | Clare and White Hut. It is a segment of the 800-kilometre Mawson Trail for mountain bikers and is a fabulous way to experience the region’s sleepy but characterful townships and history. Right on the trail is Sevenhill Cellars | which can date its history back to 1848 | when a Jesuit priest fleeing persecution in Europe - Father Aloysius Kranewitter - landed in Adelaide and then headed north with a group of over one hundred German and Silesian migrants. His group decided to settle and | after purchasing one hundred acres of land in 1849 | the young priest named the property Sevenhill in honour of the seven hills of Rome. The creation of gardens and orchards were prioritised along with the building of basic accommodation and the first grapevines were planted in 1851. Just five years later and the first wines of Sevenhill were produced and the Clare Valley wine industry was off to a winning start.
Settlers from England and Ireland first moved into this region during the 1840s and several of their cottages remain intact. Vines were planted alongside those first villages and winemaking has continued since.
Picturesque villages such as Mintaro have interesting old stone and slate buildings and the region is dotted with atmospheric country pubs such as the Rising Sun at Auburn | the friendly Sevenhill Hotel | the beautifully renovated Watervale Hotel and the Magpie and Stump at Mintaro. The Clare is a working rural communitymany farms and vineyards have been in the same families for generations. You are in the country | so do not expect city-slicker attitudes.
There are small country markets most weekend with Auburn Market | on the third Sunday of each month | among the most popular. Also make time for a ride on the Clare Valley Model Engineers’ miniature trains. During the summer months | you can ride on the second and fourth Saturday of each month for gold coin fee. Also make time to visit Kapunda and Burra | which are heritage towns that began life as copper-mining outposts. Both have stone cottages and historic buildings. Kapunda | the former home of cattle baron Sir Sidney Kidman | is best known for its huge statue of miner Map Kernow (Son of Cornwall) | which greets visitors as they drive into town. Burra is a beautifully preserved place. Its attractions include the former Redruth Gaol and the Monster Mine. In the 1850s | Burra was second only to Adelaide in population in South Australia.
The Clare Country Club and The Mill Apartments are among the most popular accommodation providers | but for those seeking self-catering privacy I can recommend Serendipity@7Hill | a modern home with contemporary design and open-plan living. Think three bedrooms | two bathrooms and plenty of garden space on which to enjoy a picnic. The Sevenhill Hotel and the Little Red Grape bakery are both just seconds away. There are also dozens of bed and breakfasts and furnished cottages from which to choose | many with cosy wood fires in winter. Or opt for Bungaree Station staying in historic buildings dating back to 1841 and exploring the station complex or enjoy the luxury and quirkiness of Bukirk Glamping | while offers bell tents and tiny homes. There are also several caravan parks from which to choose.
#Clare was recently named as ’Voters Choice’ in South Australia’s Top Tourism Town Awards.For more details visit www.clarevalley.com.au
Taylors Wines ABN 43 007 733 897
Liquor Licence Number 57600445