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Fine Folk And Fare In The Clare Valley

Settlers Cottage in the Clare Valley
Settlers Cottage in the Clare Valley
The Clare Valley is a quintessential example of country Australia at its best. Its photogenic landscapes are lush and green, and grape-laden vineyards spring out of its fertile soils. The beautiful sights and scenery make it the perfect place for you to tour in your campervan hire. The vineyards produce some of the finest wines in the country, and have earned the valley a worldwide reputation. The friendly members of this rural working community welcome visitors with open arms, exhibiting the kind of hospitality normally reserved for old friends or long lost relatives! Have a listen to their often told stories of life working the land, and enjoy the festive harvest-season atmosphere in Clare Valley that never fades. Its an inviting and special place to come for a holiday, and you will leave with new friends, new memories and a new outlook on life!

Of course one of the primary attractions to many visitors here is the wine making tradition that has become synonymous with the valley. The Australian Riesling that is produced here has become the benchmark by which others measure their excellence, yet which few can match up to. Many of the wineries are family owned, with recipes and blends being passed down and refined over the years, in keeping with the intimate nature of everything the Clare Valley stands for. Enjoy the knowledge about wine making and tasting that the vineyard owners are willing to impart at the cellar doors, and enjoy a meal in the restaurants which many wineries have on site.

One of the most popular wineries to visit is the Sevenhill Wineries, which was founded by Jesuit Priests in 1851 to produce sacramental wine. It is the oldest winery in the valley, and is still run by the religious order, whose wines have had numerous awards bestowed upon them. The high quality wines together with the historical and religious significance have turned Sevenhill into a thriving tourist attraction, on where visitors can explore the underground cellars, visit the crypt resting place of the Jesuit Priests and sample and buy the fine wines at the renovated cellar door. The stunning grounds have numerous historical walking trails through them, and there are plenty of shady spots to enjoy that perfect picnic.

Being one of the most scenic regions in South Australia, the series of small intimate valleys that make up the Clare are perfect for driving around and provide some magnificent views, and a campervan from Discovery is the perfect way to take advantage of this. But if you want to really appreciate the beauty of the valley and the lush farmlands then strap on you hiking boots or hop onto a bicycle and take off on some of the walking trails that criss-cross the Clare Valley. The most well known is the Riesling Trail, which runs for 25 kilometres between the towns of Clare and Auburn along an old railway line. It runs in a series of loops, so you do not have to do the whole trail at once, but can instead choose which section to do. Taking you through the vineyards and over the hills of the valley, the Riesling Trail is the perfect way to get some exercise and get out into the fresh air of the valley!

The history and heritage of the valley is not just about wine making, in the quaint towns here there is strong evidence of the copper mining past of this region. Burra was a centre of the mining industry, and is now a State Heritage Area because of its beautifully preserved buildings and its rich heritage. You can find the Mine Complex here, which is dedicated to preserving and exhibiting the history of the region. Often referred to as South Australia's 'best kept secret', the picturesque town of Kapunda marks the point where copper mining first flourished in this region. The grand stone buildings reflect the wealth of that time era, and the whole town is as beautifully preserved as Burra. Surrounded by rolling green pastures, it has gained fame more recently as being the set of the popular television series Mcleod's Daughters, and many visitors come here solely for that reason.

In keeping with getting insights into the wealthy past of the region, and to see how the extremely wealthy lived in colonial times, pay a visit to Martindale Hall. This authentic nineteenth century Georgian mansion is beautifully preserved with all its original furniture and fittings intact, and is open to overnight guests or day trippers. Set in a forty five acre conservation park, it will transport you to another time and place- one that you probably will not want to return from!

There really is so much to see and do in the Clare Valley, your holiday can be as relaxing or as busy as you please! Only a two hour drive from Adelaide, its the perfect retreat to escape the hustle and bustle of city life without having to drive halfway around the world. There are numerous caravan parks, so you are bound to find a base for your campervan from which you can explore the rest of the valley. So start planning that holiday now!

Gavin Wyatt

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