This top destination in Southern Australia is perfect to visit over summer months. Long lazy vineyard lunches, pristine coastline, meandering bike paths and cliff top walks at twilight- there is no better place to be in Australia than on the Fleurieu Peninsula about a one hour drive from Adelaide and close to the ever popular Kangaroo Island.
How to get there : By car This is a place where you really need a car. Head south from Adelaide along the Southern Expressway and within an hour you will arrive at the start of a spectacular coast line or be in the heart of the McLaren Vale wine region. Head a further thirty minutes along the coast to Cape Jervis and here you can catch a ferry to Kangaroo Island. Or go further on from McLaren Vale to arrive at beach friendly spots like Victor Harbor, Pt Elliot and Goolwa. By bike If you are keen then you can ride around this area like the Tour Down Under cyclists and even take your bike across to Kangaroo Island on the ferry. Or you can take a day trip from Adelaide by putting your bike on the train to Seaford and then cycling on the Coast to Vines Trail including the picturesque Shiraz trail from Mclaren Vale to Willunga.
Where to Stay While day trips from Adelaide are manageable you may find that staying on the edge of the Fleurieu at a beach such as Pt Willunga allows easy access to the Fleurieu Coast, the McLaren Vale wine region and even to the city of Adelaide itself. Overseas visitors enjoy the novelty of a beach holiday combined. with a chance to catch a train into Adelaide (from Seaford) to enjoy the culture and events of late summer such as the Adelaide Fringe, Festival of Arts and WOMAD in February and March
Pick of the Beaches There are no shortage of beautiful beaches in this area. Try a car picnic at Aldinga Beach, eat at Star of Greece at Pt Willunga, go fishing at Carrickalinga, go snorkelling off the reef near Second Valley (recently voted one of Australia’s top beaches), go whale watching at Victor Harbor, take surfing lessons at Middleton, swim in aquamarine water at Pt Elliot and catch a glimpse of Kangaroo Island from Second Valley and Cape Jervis
Pick of Coastal Eating Spots where the freshest food sourced from the Willunga Market, local cheese producers and seafood producers is matched by breathtaking coastal settings.
Star of Greece Pt Willunga, perched on top of cliff with stunning beach views over turquoise water
Victory Hotel Sellicks Beach, pub with extensive wine cellar up high between the coast and rolling hills of McLaren Vale vines
Aquacaf Goolwa, perfect for brunch with a different outlook from the deck over the mouth of the River Murray.
Leonards Mill Second Valley, sophisticated tasting menus and offering platters on picnic rugs for summer.
Flying Fish Cafe Pt Elliot, long time favourite for stylish fish and chips and more right on the beach
Pick of the Wine Experiences The main wine area is the McLaren Vale with more than 70 cellar doors for wine tasting. A number of wineries like Wirra Wirra and Coriole offer casual lunch and food platters and 10 or so wineries like Maxwells or Ekhidna have first class restaurants. Late summer is close to harvest time so the vines will be green and bursting with fruit. Take your pick and visit small boutique wineries or large and famous ones. Fast becoming an icon is the d’Arenberg Cube offering a quirky and vibrant experience of wine, food and art. This could be South Australia’s answer to MONA. See here for more information on McLaren Vale wineries.
Don’t forget that there are other wineries on the Fleurieu including the Langhorne Creek wineries for lovers of red wine. You will also find some lesser known smaller wineries down near the Victour Harbor and Goolwa area.
Second Valley and nearby
Second Valley was recently voted one of Australia’s top beaches. It has a comfortable caravan park with kiosk located metres from the beach. Yes, the swimming in pristine water is good but the interesting landscape with rolling hills and the chance to snorkel over the reef or kayak around the coves make this a beach with a difference.
Carrickalinga is a great place to chill out on a quiet beach with no shops but plenty of options for holiday rental of well appointed beach homes. Within close proximity to Normanville and to a range of food and wine options towards both Goolwa and McLaren Vale it can be an ideal base for a family holiday. Swimming conditions on the long, sandy beach are ideal and walking tracks and horse riding trails provide alternative activities.
Deep Creek Conservation Park is a national park featuring bush camping, a series of 15 or so walking trails and an abundance of wildlife, especially kangaroos.The famous Heysen Trail can also be accessed in this park. Views across to Kangaroo Island can be stunning especially at sunset from Cobbler Hill picnic ground. While hot summer days are best avoided for serious walking, a drive through the park (some roads needing four wheel drive) is a pleasant way to appreciate the landscape and wildlife.
Arriving in Kangaroo Island – You can drive your car onto the SeaLink ferry from Cape Jervis (near Second Valley) and arrive in Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island in 45 minutes. Bookings are essential. Alternatively you can now catch a plane direct from Adelaide or Melbourne to Kingscote (see qantas)
Why Kangaroo Island is so popular with Overseas Visitors – The Island is not so big and you can drive around and see the main highlights in two or three days. Highlights include seeing the seals at Seal Bay, spectacular coastal landforms like Remarkable Rocks in Flinders Chase National Park and coming face to face with kangaroos in many parts of the island.
How to Spend a week on Kangaroo Island – Accommodation options vary from top dollar luxury at such places as Southern Ocean Lodge to bush camping at Flinders Chase where emus, kangaroos and koalas outnumber humans more than 20 to 1. There are many comfortable weekly holiday rentals situated on the coastline as well as hotel options. With more time to relax and enjoy the beaches such as Stokes beach and the unspoiled nature and wildlife you have a chance to enjoy activities such as fishing, cycling and bushwalking. The 5 day Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is a spectacular bushwalking track best avoided in mid summer but usually ideal for walking from March – November. It is rated as one of Australia’s best bushwalks with comfortable facilities in each camping area.
Food and Wine on Kangaroo Island– Seafood has always been an attraction for KI visitors, either catching it, eating it it or both. The Marron Cafe on the western side of the island features a unique freshwater lobster on delicious lunch and dinner menus. For cheese lovers Island Pure Sheep Dairy near Kingscote is a great place for a visit – try a cheese tasting, a tour of the farm, a wine and cheese lunch, a picnic hamper or perhaps some gelato inspired by Ligurian honey. Wineries with tasting platters and restaurants can be found in various parts of KI. Dudley Wines, a 15 minute drive from the ferry stop at Penneshaw provides a stunning location for a light lunch.
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