The Clare Valley is comprised of many small towns and villages, like Armagh and Watervale, that are relaxed, friendly and full of rustic charm. It lies in the Mid North of South Australia, approximately a two hour drive north of Adelaide.
The region was established in the 1840s for farming, winemaking and mining. Many of the original stone cottages and buildings still stand proudly and are bound by paddocks and vineyards. Clare Valley today is a celebrated wine region renowned for its Riesling and home to an emerging gourmet food scene.
With delicious food and wine in a beautiful location, Clare Valley is just the place to escape city life. Be it a romantic couples retreat or a fun family getaway, it makes a wonderful holiday destination with lots to see and do, as the following list demonstrates.
Morella House When it comes to accommodation, Morella House is one of the best bed and breakfasts in Clare. There are two spacious suites that are comfortably furnished, well-appointed and include a generous supply of breakfast provisions. It is perfect for couples, small groups and families. Prices range from $130 to $210 per night. Weekend Notes readers can receive a 10% discount to stay at Morella House, valid until December 31, 2013.
The Riesling Trail Cycling or walking sections of the 35 kilometre Riesling Trail are the perfect way to experience the picturesque scenery of the Clare Valley. The trail travels through historic towns from Auburn to Barinia and there are many wineries along the way, should you need a break.
Mintaro Maze A visit to Mintaro Maze is a fun day out for the whole family. The maze is a living hedge constructed from over 800 conifers. There are also giant-sized games to play and a gift shop to browse. It is open from 10 am until 4 pm Thursday to Monday and entry costs $12 for adults and $8 for children.
Sevenhill Cellars Sevenhill Cellars is the birthplace of winemaking in the Clare Valley. It was established by Jesuit priests who produced sacramental wine, but it wasn't long before they began creating award-winning table wines. It is open from 9 am until 5 pm Monday to Friday and from 10 am until 5 pm Saturday and Sunday. A guided tour of the property is conducted every Tuesday and Thursday at 2 pm. For $7.50, the tour provides valuable insight into the history of the region.
Martindale Hall See how the wealthy lived in colonial times at Martindale Hall, a 19th century Georgian mansion used in Peter Weir's film, Picnic at Hanging Rock. It is located near Mintaro and now serves as heritage-style accommodation and a museum. Special functions and theme nights are also held here. It is open for public viewing from 11 am until 4 pm Monday to Friday and from 12 noon until 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Entry costs $10 for adults and $2.50 for children.
Burra Heritage Passport The Burra Heritage Passport is the best way to explore this fascinating old mining town, which is considered one of Australia's best preserved Victorian-era towns. The passport costs $25 per adult, for which you receive a map of the 11 kilometre heritage trail with 50 historical sites, a key to nine locked sites and free entry to Burra's three museums.
Cardinham Estate As the winner of the "Best Riesling in the World" in 2003, Cardinham Estate just north of Clare is well worth a visit. It is a family owned and operated winery that offers samples, sales and seasonal produce. The cellar door is open seven days a week from 10 am until 5 pm.
Spring Gully Conservation Park Spring Gully Conservation Park in the scenic Skilly Hills is a stunning sanctuary of native bush that preserves the rare red stringybark gum tree, the vulnerable grassy woodland ecosystem and over 30 species of orchid. There is also a waterfall, spectacular views and several different walking trails that vary in duration and difficulty.
Clare Valley Cabins
For budget-friendly, kid-friendly and pet-friendly accommodation, check out the Clare Valley Cabins. The self-contained two bedroom cabins are set on a large property in Clare. There is a games shed with table tennis and a pool table and in-room massages are available at an additional cost. Rates begin at $99 per night and there are several packages available.
Inchiquin Lake Reserve
Take a stroll around Inchiquin Lake Reserve, a lovely park in Clare. The lake is surrounded by shady trees and park benches. Children will enjoy the play equipment and BMX track. There are train fixtures scattered around the park as it is home to Lakeside Railway, a miniature railway that operates on alternate weekends.
There are 10 great reasons to make the Clare Valley your next holiday destination, but there are plenty of other interesting things worth checking out like Main Street Bakehouse, Mr Mick's Cellar Door & Kitchen, Clare Country Club, Bungaree Station, Red Banks Conservation Park and more than 40 cellar doors to visit.
We accidently stumbled into the Clare Valley whist on a recent SA family holiday - and so glad we did! So charming and just postcard picturesque. Thanks for writing a great article Hayley! Plus now we have an excuse to return to see all the things that we missed.