Escape Adelaide: a guide to the Fleurieu Peninsula

By Dacia Thai,

Adelaide is within reach of some of the country’s best vineyards and the city begs for food- and wine-lovers alike to pay it a visit. So if you do happen to be a foodie at heart, add Fleurieu Peninsula to your South Australian bucket-list right now. It’ s just 45 kilometres from the city, so in next to no time you could find yourself in a landscape of vineyards and orchards, surrounded by sandy white beaches, rugged coastlines and rolling green hills.

Here’s what we mean:

Vineyards - Angove Winery - McLaren Vale - Fleurieu Peninsula © SATC - Adam Bruzzone

Angove Winery | Photo by SATC/Adam Bruzzone

Willunga Beach - Fleurieu Peninsula ©Jacqui Way-SATC

Willunga Beach| Photo by SATC/Jacqui Way

Vineyards - Fleurieu Peninsula © SATC

Photo by SATC

Your first stop should be the McLaren Vale wine region – the gateway to a good drop and an epic foodie experience. Then go on to explore the beautiful towns of Victor Harbor and Goolwa, where the Murray River meets the Southern Ocean.

With enough options to fill a weekend itinerary, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t venture out from the city to try a bit of canoeing, take in the sights with a boat tour, or indulge in the delicious local fare.

EAT | DRINK | DO | SLEEP

EAT

First, let’s talk about food – the region’s pride is in locally-grown produce, with farming being a cultural backbone of the Fleurieu Peninsula. It’s an absolute foodie’s dream.

Coriole Winery - McLaren Vale - Fleurieu Peninsula © Tourism Australia

Coriole Winery | Photo by Tourism Australia

Victory Hotel

MAIN SOUTH RD, SELLICKS HILL, SA 5174

Victory Hotel

The Victory Hotel prides itself on using as much local produce as it can, with seasonal rotating menus to make the most of nature’s bounty. Headed up by brothers Glenn and Brett, the kitchen serves up fresh and creative cuisine to accompany serene oceanfront and country views. Guests can expect friendly service and simple food done well – here you’ll find succulent steaks and seafood cooked to perfection, as well as an extensive wine selection ranging from regional to vintage wines covering the last 20 years.

Afterwards, why not take a pick from of the restaurant’s impressive cheese or dessert menus – though we can’t promise it’ll be easy…

Top tip: book ahead as this restaurant is insanely popular!

Bombora @ Goolwa Beach Café

GOOLWA BEACH CARPARK, BEACH ROAD, GOOLWA, SA 5211

Bombora's Cafe - Fleurieu Peninsula © SATC - Mike Annese

Bombora @ Goolwa Beach Café | Photo by SATC/Mike Annese

On a see-food diet? (See what we did there?) Then rock up to Bombora on Goolwa Beach – really, it’s the perfect lunch spot to enjoy pristine ocean views with fresh local seafood. Among the delights snapped straight from the South Australian waters are mulloway, mullet and Goolwa cockles. These are then transformed into beautiful dishes such as head chef Joel’s Goolwa Superbowl, a seafood bouillabaisse-style soup.

Another must-try is the restaurant’s twist on the classic eggs benedict – we know it’s great with bacon but the Beached Benedict is a step-up from the original, with smoked salmon and wakame seaweed.

DRINK

Wirra Wirra

463 MCMURTRIE RD, MCLAREN VALE SA 5171

Wirra Wirra Cellar Door - McLaren Vale - Fleurieu Peninsula © SATC - Adam Bruzzone

Wirra Wirra Cellar Door | Photo by SATC/ Adam Bruzzone

Linger a little at Wirra Wirra, where it’s not just about the wines, but also the all-round experience. There, guests are free to do whatever it takes to enjoy wine – whether it be lazing in the sun with a delectable cheese platter, or tossing a couple of quality meats on the barbeque. There’s even a play area so kids (and pets) can have fun, too.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a full-on, seasoned connoisseur or a complete novice on the wine scene – the team are a friendly bunch and keen to share their knowledge with you!

Top tip: Have too many friends? Not to worry, as you can also make a private group booking.

Coriole

CORIOLE VINEYARDS, CHAFFEYS ROAD, MCLAREN VALE SA  5171

Coriole Vineyards McLaren Vale - Fleurieu Peninsula ©Peter Fisher-SATC

Coriole Vineyards McLaren Vale | Photo by SATC/Peter Fisher

With several events held at Coriole throughout the year, there are plenty of reasons to visit the winery. From music festivals to poetry sessions and live performances, guests can make the most of McLaren Vale’s warm climate to enjoy some outdoor entertainment with delicious food and wine.

Coriole’s Cellar Door is open daily and provides the perfect opportunity to try some of its well-known wines. The vineyard has produced Australia’s first Picpoul, a variety that is grown throughout the South of France. The fresh acidity and blend of fruit flavours such as green apple and lemon zest are a great complement to the region’s seafood.

Fleurieu Peninsula is also home to a number of microbreweries. If this is more your thing, don’t forget to stop by Goodieson Brewery to try its excellent range of craft ales.

DO

Canoe the Coorong

LOT 16 MUNDOO CHANNEL DR, HINDMARSH ISLAND SA

Canoeing - Fleurieu Peninsula ©Adam Bruzzone-SATC

Photo by SATC/Adam Bruzzone

Canoe the Coorong is a brilliant way to see one of South Australia’s best-kept secrets – the Coorong Wetlands. Kayaking is ecologically sustainable and will allow you to get up-close to the string of saltwater lagoons and the sweeping sand dunes of the Younghusband Peninsula. And if you’ve never kayaked before, don’t worry – there are tours for people of all ages and abilities. All you need is a love for adventure!

For an in-depth experience, join tour guide and Coorong expert Brenton on a one-day Coorong Tour, which includes three hours of kayaking broken up by a delicious bush tucker walk through the dunes, and a tour of the Murray Mouth.

The Big Duck Boat Tours

1 ESPLANADE, VICTOR HARBOR SA 5211

Jump onto the Big Duck to see some unreal wildlife off Victor Harbor. It’s not just about the cute penguins on Granite Island – in winter, Southern Right Whales arrive in the water for the mating season, whilst New Zealand Fur Seals, Australian Sea Lions and dolphins can be spotted at different points in the year. Not to mention you’ll get a stunning view of the landscape, such as the rugged and spectacular cliffs off Kings Beach and Waitpinga.

If you fancy the idea of exploring the Coorong, Cruise the Coorong also offers a range of cruises which include expert commentary with multimedia interpretation.

Chooks Little Winery Tours

Fermenting process - d’Arenberg Winery - Fleurieu Peninsula - © Tourism Australia

Fermenting process at d’Arenberg Winery | Photo by Tourism Australia

For those looking to escape Adelaide for a day, Chooks Little Winery Tours shows off the best that McLaren Vale has to offer and it’s perfect for those who really, really love wine. Not only does it entail vineyard-hopping, but you can also get up-close to all the stages of the winemaking process – from how the grapes are grown and to how they are crushed and fermented. The tour also includes delicious nibbles in the form of cheese platters and a light lunch of locally-sourced produce. You can even visit some of the region’s other influential businesses, from chocolate producers and cheese manufacturers to glass studios.

Willunga Farmers Market

WILLUNGA TOWN SQUARE, CORNER MAIN RD AND ST PETER’S TCE, WILLUNGA SA 5172

“Meet the grower and taste the region.”

Willunga Farmers Market stall - Fleurieu Peninsula © SATC Willunga Farmer Markets - Fleurieu Peninsula © Karen Walker Photography Willunga Farmer Markets vegetables - Fleurieu Peninsula © Karen Walker Photography
Willunga Farmers Market | Photo credits: SATC (left) and Karen Walker Photography (centre and right)

Willunga Farmers Market is where self-confessed foodies can get serious about produce. There, you can fulfill all your kitchen needs with fresh fruit and veggies, meat and dairy, and delicious baked goods. There are also a number of tea and coffee vendors to get excited about, as well as herb stalls and florists – ideal for adding that bit of green to your kitchen space.

The Willunga Farmers Market is held every Saturday at Willunga Town Square – rain, hail or shine!

SLEEP

McLaren Vale Motel and Apartments

MAIN RD & CAFFREY STREET, MCLAREN VALE SA 5171

“The wineries were great and the staff were very good, so it was easy to come home with a car full of beautiful reds. Will be back.” – Christine

McLaren Vale Motel and Apartments - pool

McLaren Vale accommodation is a winner, with the region ranking 1st in the state for having the best-rated hotels in South Australia. The best-ranked accommodation in the region was McLaren Vale Motel and Apartments with the motel’s breakfast menu, bar, and solar-heated saltwater pool proving a favourite among guests.

McLaren Vale Motel and Apartments - garden

A country home within close proximity of vineyards, McLaren Vale Motel and Apartments  has 25 modern and spacious rooms and 12 studio apartments. For those wanting a unique touch to their stay, book the New Studio Deluxe to enjoy the large oval spa and fibre optical mood lighting.

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The Bluff Resort Apartments

123 FRANKLIN PARADE, ENCOUNTER BAY SA 5211

“Such a relaxing, quiet spot. Just what you need to recharge your batteries in this busy world.” – Guest

The Bluff Resort Apartments - room

Overlooking Encounter Bay at Victor Harbor, The Bluff Resort Apartments offers stunning waterfront views and luxury accommodation, which are well-suited to couples and families alike. The spacious two-storey apartments come with free in-room WiFi and face either the pool or the ocean.

The Bluff Resort Apartments - kitchen

Want a tip? Book an Ocean View Studio to make the most of the luxury spa baths, leather lounge sofas and LCD televisions. The use of the swimming pool, barbeque and outdoor dining facilities are also free for all guests to use.

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Beach Huts Middleton

4 ENGLAND AVENUE, PORT ELLIOT SOUTH AUSTRALIA 5212

“Our hut was beautifully decorated and oh-so clean and tidy. Will we be back? You betcha!” – Ian and Val

Beach Huts Middleton - room

Though the Beach Huts Middleton may look cute on the outside, the colourful bungalows open up to airy and light-filled interiors in a palette of powder blues, greys, and white-washed walls. Pops of contemporary floral motifs, citrus yellow and nautical themes complement the décor to give the accommodation its effortlessly beachy vibe.

Beach Huts Middleton - bungalow

Free wireless internet, whirlpool bathtubs and private balconies and terraces can be found in selected guest rooms. Great for both recreation and relaxing, the accommodation features both an award-winning restaurant and tennis-court on-site. The huts are located within a short drive of Port Elliot and Goolwa, and are just a short stroll from Middleton Surf Beach.

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Search for more hotels on the Fleurieu Peninsula here.

What do you love about the Fleurieu Peninsula? Comment below!

Lead image by SATC/Jacqui Way