Why you should visit McLaren Vale in South Australia
McLaren Vale is a magical region just 30 minutes south of Adelaide known for its many wineries, stunning vistas and amazing fresh produce.
Always fancied going skinny dipping? Being a spectator at Australia’s nude games? Or a plane joyride in a Tiger Moth? There is certainly more to McLaren Vale than delicious wine and cuisine.
Planning a visit? Pick and mix your favourite experiences at McLaren Vale.
1. Get on your bike!
This delightful region is famed for its vineyards that run across rolling hills, friendly and passionate locals in quaint villages and spectacular ocean drives. All of these enticing images will be beamed around the world when McLaren Vale hosts its stage of the Tour Down Under bike race in January 2016. Not visiting during the big race? Why not hire a bike for a leisurely three hours for $15 from Oxygen Cycles.
More of a serious cyclist? Consider doing the Coast to Vines trail - a spectacular 37 kilometre journey through the area incorporating highlights such as Christies Creek Trail, and the Shiraz Trail, which runs from the town of McLaren Vale to Willunga. A community initiative, the Shiraz Trail offers a unique (and delicious) food and wine trail experience.
2. Discover wine and cheese to please
With over 70 cellar doors across the region it is easy to spend your whole day sampling the regions many wines. Producers such as D’arenburg, Coriole, Kay Brothers and Chapel Hill have amazing cellar doors with friendly staff to help you to experience the liquid gold from the surrounding vineyards. A great place to start the day is at Blessed Cheese on the main street in McLaren Vale. Here you can collect a cheese tasting hamper full of goodies and get a map which will guide you through a trail of four wineries where you can taste wines matched perfectly with cheeses.
3. A very unusual sporting event
Maslin Beach can lay claim to being one of the prettiest and most pristine beaches in South Australia yet has a further title of distinction as it is famed as Australia’s first official nude beach. It is proud home to Australia’s nude games. Just in case you are interested this next unique event is scheduled for January 2016. Always wondered what a naked three legged race looks like? See here!
4. Nude swimming for those who dare to bare
If you aren’t around for this spectacular sporting event but are feeling game, a section at the southern end of this three kilometre long beach permits nude sunbathing and swimming. The waters are cool and inviting and the cliff top provides a great picnic spot or sunset viewing. The locals are friendly and if going skinny dipping has always been on your bucket list here is your chance!
5. Fly high in a Tiger Moth
Imagine the joy and sheer romance of an open cockpit flight along McLaren Vale’s stunning coast line. Based at the charming Aldinga Airfield, Adelaide Biplanes offers scenic flights in a Tiger Moth. While sitting up front in this historic plane you will experience the wind in your hair and the romance of a bygone era. The flights take in the regions rich panorama of vineyards, rolling hills, unspoilt beaches and stunning cliff tops.
6. Produce the (fresh) goods
Open every Saturday morning come rain, hail or shine the Willunga Farmers Market in the Town Square was the first farmers’ market to be established in South Australia and is considered to be the best. ‘Meet the grower and taste the region’ is the theme for this market which consists of more than 60 stalls showcasing fresh and seasonal produce from the regions farms. These markets are family friendly and certainly are a foodies nirvana!
7. Take an idyllic beach drive
Aldinga Beach allows vehicles to drive straight onto the beach. For a small donation to the local scouts or surf club volunteers who man the entry ramps you can drive right to your desired spot and unpack for the day. What’s not to love about that?
In summer there are rows of families who set up mini compounds completed with cabanas for shade and plenty of cool refreshments to keep everyone happy. Games of beach cricket ensue along the beach and only stop when someone calls lunch or if a car is passing at low speed.
This magnificent strip of white sand and clear blue water is a favourite summer holiday spot for Adelaide families to unwind and enjoy and even the family pooch gets to come along as this beach is pet friendly. Aldinga Beach is perfect for everyone as you don’t need a 4WD to enjoy a drive along the beach from Aldinga down to Sellicks beach where on a good day you can spot a number of hang gliders launching from the cliff tops and soaring in the thermals. However, take note of the high tide mark is as this will save you from the embarrassment of being woken from your afternoon snooze by the incoming tide flooding your picnic spot.
8. Experience spectacular cliff top dining
Located just north of Aldinga beach, Port Willunga is home to the famous shipwreck Star of Greece and a restaurant of the same name. The restaurant was born from humble beginnings as a1950’s beach kiosk and is in tune with its cliff top surroundings by offering Mediterranean style of cuisine with plenty of local seafood options.
The beach kiosk aspect of the Star of Greece offers simple fish and chips accompanied by the coldest of beers and certainly can bring back memories of beachside holidays from a bygone era and also create wonderful new memories. After lunch enjoy a dip in the cool blue ocean or a walk along the beach to explore the many caves that were dug out of the cliffs by fishermen long ago. These caves and the jetty ruins invoke childhood fascinations and images of shipwrecks and pirates.
How to get there: stay and play
McLaren Vale has plenty of accommodation options for you to stay and play in the region. Ranging from well appointed tourist parks and cosy bed and breakfast cottages to motels and beach house rentals there really is something for every budget and taste. Enjoy a weekend or stay for a week or two.
Have you been to South Australia? What were the highlights? Join the conversation below…
Written by Lynton Jones. Republished with permission of Wyza.com.au.