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Published March 19th 2016
The cultural tour of the Eastern Fleurieu
Located on the eastern side of the Fleurieu Peninsula and stretching across the varied countryside and plains, the Alexandra Tourist Drive 55 is the second tourist drive within the Alexandra Council region after the South Coast Tourist Drive 50. With vines, lakes and farms, the Alexandra Tourist Drive is a cultural treat through this part of the Fleurieu.
Tourist Drive 55, as it is also known by, commences from the Visitor Information Centre at the Strathalbyn Railway Station. The gardens around the Centre are a great place to relax and plan your trip on all days, except for the third Sunday of the month when the gardens come alive with the Strathalbyn Country Market.
The Drive leaves Strathalbyn and heads east past Belvidere and in to the grape growing region of Langhorne Creek. The Langhorne Creek wineries have been growing strong reds for years, and with the advent of social media and some clever marketing are now starting to develop a following as an alternative to the busier regions of Clare, Barossa and McLaren Vale. A stop at one of the wineries, even if it is just for a coffee, is a must.
The Drive heads south and the landscape starts to change as we near the large inland lake of Lake Alexandrina. Suddenly the large gum trees and green vines are replaced by low level bushes and the occasional farm with a few rolls of hay. The impact that the winds have when coming off the lake is quite marked.
Lakeside towns include Milang and Clayton Bay, both of which have long histories but are now populated with shack owners and others looking for a retirement in this quiet part of the country. The views across the Lake from various points on the drive are worthy of a few moments to stop and ponder.
From lakeside to riverside, the drive now takes us creekside to the small northern part of the village of Currency Creek where we are greeted by some fine examples of canoe trees, a narrow road crossing the creek and the Currency Creek Winery perched on top of the hill that is home to a nature walk, accommodation, a gallery, function centre and a restaurant.
Leaving the restaurant the devastation of a bushfire a few years back is visible, and the re-growth is a positive sign of the recovery that is happening. Upon reaching the Goolwa road, the drive then heads north and takes us across the creek again before heading towards Ashbourne on the Meadows Road.
On the way the countryside again undergoes a change, this time to a combination of dairy farms and natural bushlands in the Cox Scrub Conservation Park. Gorgeous gum trees and open paddocks are replaced by highly vegetated lands where kangaroos run amok and birds greet visitors with a cacophony of tweets and shrills.
Ashbourne is a quiet village on the Bull Creek Road that is most famous for its cricket club and the weekend-popular Greenman Inn which often plays host to numerous recreational motorcycling groups as they head out on their weekend rides across the Fleurieu.
From Ashbourne, Tourist Drive 55 heads east and up the hill on to the ranges, before coming across a lookout before the descent in to Strathalbyn. The lookout provides great 180 degree views of the Angas Plains, Lake Alexandrina and the majority of this tourist drive through the countryside.
The Tourist Drive then heads back in to the historic town of Strathalbyn and finishes at the starting point at the Visitor Information Centre. The drive is just on 100km and will take 2-4 hours dependent upon how many winery and café stops are required. The route is marked throughout by the distinctive brown '55' sign, and maps are available from the Visitor Information Centre in Strathalbyn.
Top article.drive Steve.The red wine of Langhorne Creek is hard to beat.Good to see the Greenman Inn has been able to remain open.Just behind it is the wonderful 9 hole golf course with greens.Developed by farmer Harry Meyer on his farm property,some 80 years ago.It is open to the public most days for a small fee,A great place to have a BBQ by the clubhouse.Red Robins have there patch at the end of the first hole.
In the 1940's and 50's some of the finest apples were grown and packed in Ashbourne and exported overseas.They were a small dark red apple with light black stripes and the flesh was snow white and tasty.I have never seen them in shops and do not remember their name.As far as I know there is just one apple grower in Ashbourne.
As you imply,this trip covers some diverse territory with plenty of places to stop for a while and soak in the scenery etc.
I presume that house is abandoned,which appears it may have been build by the River Bremer..Aboriginal name Meechi..a name for a new craft beer brewed at L.Creek.