Clare Valley SA
One of Australia’s oldest wine regions and famous for its Rieslings, Clare Valley’s rich heritage, villages and architecture remains intact today.
Trails of all lengths cross the Clare Valley and cater to families, cyclists and walkers of all ages. Explore ancient fossil beds of Australia’s megafauna as well as native orchids and wildflowers that bloom in spring.
With the Riesling, Rattler, Mawson and Heysen trails all found in the area, there’s no shortage of adventure on tap.
Cycle: A favourite is the Riesling Trail with endless views of vineyards, farmland and bush. One of South Australia’s first rail trails, its easygoing gradient and compacted surface is perfect for cyclists (and walkers) of all abilities.
The full 35km, running along the old Riverton to Spalding railway line, can be cycled in under three hours. Three loop trails run off the Riesling Trail, passing cellar doors and cafes, but are steeper than the main trail.
The 19km Rattler Trail, running south from Auburn to Riverton, is similar but if you want to get more adrenalin pumping, hit the Mawson Trail that bumps its way through the valley. Bikes can be hired from Clare Valley Cycle Hire (www.clarevalleycyclehire.com.au) or Sevenhill Cellars (08) 8843 4222.
Bushwalking: Get off the bike and into the bush by heading to Red Banks Conservation Park. Palaeontologists have declared this area one of the richest in megafauna fossil sites and it features a landscape of spring-fed waterholes, rugged gorges and remnant mallee trees.
Although you won’t spot Diprotodons, the huge marsupials likened to giant wombats that once roamed here 65,000 years ago, keep an eye out for echidnas, kangaroos and wombats while bushwalking.
Alternatively, go to Spring Gully Conservation Park. The undulating terrain includes rocky sandstone outcrops, grassy woodlands, an 18-metre seasonal waterfall and South Australia’s only red stringybarks. Brushtail possums, euros, and western grey kangaroos are a common site on any of the park’s three trails – Cascades Walk (1.3km return), Ridgetop Walk (1.2km one-way) and Wymans Hike (2.6km loop).
Taste: Jesuit Priests planted Clare Valley’s first vines in 1851, but now there’s more than 40 wineries to visit in the area. Take your pick of any in the towns of Watervale, Clare, Sevenhill, Auburn, Polish Hill River and Mintaro.
Location: 120km north of Adelaide.
Accommodation: From heritage mansion Martindale Hall (www.martindalehall.com) to Discovery Holiday Parks (www.discoveryholidayparks.com.au/sa/clare_valley/clare), there are plenty of options for every budget. Free camping is also allowed in Red Banks Conservation Park.
Points of interest: Explore the township of Burra, with the Burra Heritage Passport ($25). There are 49 historic sites along the 11km trail. Inchiquin Lake is an ideal spot for a family picnic with walking trails, BMX track and fishing.
Maps: Walking and cycling maps can be picked up from the Clare Valley and Burra Visitor information Centres. Park guides can be found at www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Clare_Valley