3 Days in the Clare Valley
Discover how to spend a 3 day long weekend in the Clare Valley and Burra.
You’ve cleared your diary, got the nod from your boss and you’re off on that well-earned holiday! Just one thing… How to actually spend it?
If you haven’t found time to pull your plan together before heading in our direction, we’re here to help fill that empty diary. Here’s a few things you can easily squeeze into three amazing days in our Clare Valley and Burra regions…
Hit the Market
Okay. What’s not to love about shopping, right? If you’re in town on the second Saturday of the month, you’ll find the township of Clare busting at the seams with Clare Show Market traders selling anything from art and craft to clothing and jewellery, wooden kids toys, home-made treats (think honey, jams, sauces, mustards), organic beauty products, aromatic candles and… well, just about anything that’s loved and local!
Other regular local markets to check out around the region include the Clare Valley Village Market (first Saturday of each month), Auburn RSL Market (third Sunday of each month), Manoora Hall Markets (held periodically, check their Facebook page) and Saddleworth Country Market (first Sunday of the month).
Clare Valley Village Market, Long Legs Art
Lunch Like a Local
Kicking back under the dappled light of the old olive tree, you’ll think you died and went to some sort of long lunch heaven at Skillogalee Winery & Restaurant. A bona fide culinary icon of Clare Valley, this place is known for top-notch local food with vineyard views to die for, and if their stunning menu isn’t enough to have you waxing on about how good it felt to ditch your diet plan, their wine certainly will.
With a dreamy deck that’s made for lazy luncheons, Paulett Wines & Bush DeVine Café will have you soaking in the flavours of the Australian bush with views across rolling hills and vines. With some of the most spectacular vino in the region to wash it all down with, you’ll find it almost impossible to leave after feasting your eyes on the natively inspired menu.
Of course, sometimes all you really need is a great pub meal, and settling into the classic country vibes of the Sevenhill Hotel is as comfortable as a chinwag with the locals. Known for its seasonal menu and unpretentious atmosphere, you’ll walk away with a full belly and a bunch of newfound friends.
Mintaro’s legendary Magpie and Stump Hotel is one of South Australia’s oldest pubs, and also a fantastic option for hearty food and live entertainment on weekends. With a cracking wine list and an emphasis on ‘local and handmade’ cuisine, its perfect for a short or long session, depending on your diary.
Other local favourites for a great bite with equally good wine include Reilly’s Wines in Mintaro, whose Long Lunch will keep you occupied for hours. Oh and if you still haven’t satisfied that sweet tooth, Pancho’s Pizza & Pasta in Clare are all too happy to finish the job, with a gelati bar and milkshakes to sort even the most serious sugar craving.
Magpie and Stump Hotel, Mintaro (Credit: heidi who photos)
Raid The Pantry
We get it. The sheer magnetism of that cosy B&B is calling your name, and while lunch or dinner out sure does sound amazing, so does curling up by the fire with your own little assortment of goodies.
Problem solved… Pop in to see the crew at Shut the Gate Wines & Cellar Door who’ll not only be happy to tuck a bottle or two of their incredible wines under your arm, but also fill your bag with tasty treats from their on-site Provedore. Once you’re done pondering the wine list, head next door to load up on anything from artisan cheese to fresh-baked bread, pasta, meats, olives, preserves and pastes, with a team of experts on hand to match something perfect to your palate!
Nearby Mitchell Wines is also a good option to pick up a few goodies on the go, with its low-key Provedore a handy option for picnic provisions (think: meats, cheeses, pastes), or something light to pull together back at your accommodation.
Shut the Gate Wines, Clare
Wine, Glorious Wine
Okay, you’re in Clare Valley… so you already know you won’t leaving here thirsty! The rich and varied terroir of our cool climate wine region is known for producing some seriously stunning drops. From the chalky soils of Watervale to the age-old slate in Polish Hill River, Riesling lovers are especially spoiled for choice with some highly distinctive flavours, depending on which sub-region you’re sipping in.
Beyond our flagship variety you’ll find there’s plenty more than meets the eye when it comes to vines and vino. With sandy loams in Armagh and Hutt River, shallow soils at Tower Hill and deep red terra rossa around Auburn producing anything from Chardonnay, Grenache, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon to Latin varieties like Pinot Grigio, Mourvedre and Tempranillo, your glass will always be half-full.
We’re home to a winemaking history of over 160 years and with more than 35 wineries and cellar doors dotted throughout the region, the choice of where to start is a deeply personal affair!
Mr Micks Cellar Door, Clare
Our rolling hills, rugged ranges and vine-filled valleys provide endless inspiration for artists, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find a rich vein of culture running through our towns.
Feast your eyes on anything from ceramics to pottery, sculpture, photography, paintings, prints, jewellery, glassware and textiles at both Arts Collective Clare Valley and Blyth’s Medika Gallery, while in nearby Riverton the studio of legendary artist Robert Hannaford in Riverton Light Gallery is seriously hallowed ground (by appointment).
In Goyder, you’ll find the Burra Regional Art Gallery houses a wide range of works, while towering ‘silo art’ pieces are also popping up just about everywhere, with stunning works gracing giant rural storyboards in Farrell Flat, Owen and Snowtown.
Clare Valley Art Gallery
Soak In Some History
With a curious history of pioneering pastoralists, wide-eyed copper miners and world-famous winemakers, following the dips, curves and dust of our winding country roads is literally a journey through time, with a new chapter to bookmark around every bend.
In Sevenhill, you’ll not only find Clare Valley’s very first winery, but also something just a little bit different. Founded by the Jesuits to produce sacramental wine back in 1851, Sevenhill Cellars now home to a stunning assortment of table wines that are laced with local history. Take a self-guided tour of the underground cellar and St Aloysius’ Church before venturing down into the crypt to the final resting place of 41 Jesuit (winemaker) brothers.
From Sevenhill follow the dirt to Mintaro, whose history dates back to 1849 when the town became the cross-roads of a burgeoning copper mining trade before finding fame for its high quality slate, which is still produced to this day. It’s here you’ll find the grand Georgian mansion, Martindale Hall still casting a shadow, having been purpose-built for pastoral royalty back in the late 1800’s.
Film buffs will remember this place as the setting for the legendary Australian film, Picnic At Hanging Rock in 1975, and if you bank away a little time to wander through its elegant interior you’ll learn plenty about the extravagant lifestyle of its former tenants.
While you’re in town, don’t miss venturing into the twists and turns of the incredible Mintaro Maze, a living hedge lined with over 800 conifers and loads of curious oddities strewn throughout. It’s also a great coffee-stop, with the added novelty of giant chess, outdoor games and loads more to keep you (and any other kids) entertained.
Sevenhill Cellars (Credit: SATC/Isaac Forman)
Ride The Riesling Trail
Okay porky. You ate all our food and drank all our wine, didn’t you? Happens to the best of us… but as luck would have it, there’s an easy way out.
With 35-kilometres of flat track between Clare and Auburn, The Riesling Trail is a great way to burn off all the calories while soaking in our glorious countryside (oh, and over 30 winery cellar doors)! Whether your inner fitness fanatic demands that you ride the whole thing (allow at least 2.5hrs) or you’re just keen to pinch-hit a few little stretches, there’s really something special about seeing our region from the saddle. Check out our article How to do the Riesling Trail for all the ins and outs and planning your ride.
Cycling the Riesling Trail
Take A Stroll
Nature. It’s everywhere around here, and if you’re keen to stretch your legs you’ll be rewarded with some of our finest scenery to slide into your family photo album. From the wilderness, wildlife and waterfalls of Spring Gully Conservation Park’s Cascades Walking Trail to the rugged red ramparts of Red Banks Conservation Park’s 'Landscapes of Change’, taking the path less travelled can be as invigorating as it is inspiring.
Check out our Clare Valley Short Walks page to see six of our very best.
Views from Spring Gully Conservation Park
Of course, sometimes we all just need to forget the bathroom scales and throw caution (and our diet plans) to the wind. If you’re after something seriously substantial (and ridiculously good) for dinner, you’ll find plenty of spots to fill that expanding waistline.
There’s no better place to start gorging on all our glorious local produce than the Watervale Hotel, where you’ll find everything has been plucked fresh from the owners’ garden before being crafted into some of the most to-die-for pub meals you’ve ever seen.
Slate Restaurant at Pikes Wines offers a chef-hatted feast of fine local fare, with French, British and Japanese influences in every decadent dish.
At Umbria it’s a family affair with locally sourced Italian goodness oozing from every plate and a sumptuous wine list to wash down all that porchetta, baby goat, venison, and kangaroo.
At Seed Clare Valley the European inspired menu celebrates local ingredients, with a custom wood-oven churning out Napoli style pizzas. Oh, and how about that rooftop bar for pre-dinner drinks?
Over at Terroir Auburn, you’ll find a strict locavore philosophy and ever-changing menu that fuses new culinary techniques with age-old traditions, while at Indii Of Clare, you’ll enjoy flavours from every corner of India and a comprehensive drinks list of wine, gin and single malt whiskeys.
Oh, and for in-hotel eats (whether you’re staying there or not), it’s also well worth hitting up Conners at Clare Country Club for a seasonally sensitive menu befitting of crisp summers and whole-hearted winters.
Check out the Best Foodie Experience in the Clare Valley for more dining inspo.
Seed Winehouse and Kitchen
Make A Beeline To Burra
No trip to the Clare Valley is complete without a visit to the historical town of Burra. This is where the soils turn red, stories spring to life and colours dance in the dust. As famous for its mining heritage as its uniquely Australian landscape, this place oozes old world charm, so its well worth spending a day.
Without doubt the greatest way to get under its skin is by putting a Burra Heritage Passport (and accompanying key) in your hand. This 11km self-guided tour is here to help you (literally) unlock the secrets to this town’s fascinating history, one 1840’s relic at a time. With eleven locked sites to explore enroute, including the Redruth Gaol, the underground Unicorn Brewery Cellars and historic Miner’s Dugouts, this is your inside track to seeing, hearing and touching the past, and picking one of these babies up at the Burra Visitor Centre is as easy as swinging into St Just Café for lunch.
Of course, no trip to Burra is complete without a visit to the legendary Monster Mine (also on your passport), where Cornish migrants flocked back in 1845 to seek their fortune in copper ore. This gave rise to the world’s largest mine, where today visitors can wander through the remnants of this once-thriving mining community and learn firsthand of the triumphs and tribulations of the era. The nearby Bon Accord Mine Museum also houses the original mine office and workshop, with a range of displays including a fully operational Blacksmith Shop, complete with original elephant hide bellows.
While you’re in town, don’t forget a to take a little stroll past the antique shops and heritage buildings which all tell tales of yesteryear, while a visit to the highly acclaimed Burra Regional Art Gallery is also a must. Those looking to dig deeper will relish the historical displays at Burra Town Hall (11am-3pm Tuesday to Sunday), while the Burra Dugouts are well worth a look before hitting the road back home.
Naturally, you’ll uncover loads more gems around these parts if you linger a little longer. Check out our What to do in Winter in Burra and the Goyder Region article for the lowdown on how to plan a longer stay in Burra.
Historic Row Cottages Burra