Top ten things to do in Autumn
Autumn in the Clare Valley is our favourite time.
Vintage is in full swing and the anticipation that brings is second to none. Events are being organised and the leaves on the trees are beginning to change providing the countryside with the stunning autumnal hues of reds and yellows. Mornings are a little crisper and the days are clear, warming us with the sun and just the hint of a gentle breeze.
And because of this, Autumn is a particularly popular season and we urge you to book your accommodation as soon as possible.
With three long weekends – March, Easter and April – plus the school holidays all falling in Autumn, take advantage of the extra days and stay for longer in a range of self-contained accommodation.
Our wonderful staff at either the Clare Valley Wine Food & Tourism Centre or the Burra & Goyder Visitor Information Centre, are specialists in the range of accommodation available throughout the region. Give them a call and they will happily find the right options for your stay.
Once you know where you will rest your head at night, it is time to put your attention towards how you will fill your days.
With the weather averaging a balmy 23 degrees, it’s the perfect time to get outside and experience our fabulous outdoors.
Ride the Riesling Trail
The Riesling Trail is a must-do attraction all-year round, with every season offering another reason to visit. Autumn brings pops of orange and gold, on the vines and in the trees. If you don’t have your own bikes, trust the guys at Clare Valley Cycle Hire, Riesling Trail Bike Hire or Scoot the Valley to kit you out with your dream wheels. If you’d like an extra push, opt for an electric bike. Just as much fun, if not moreso, and you’ll experience less soreness in the legs. Our kind of exercise!
If you’re taking the kids along, a stop at Richardsons Park Playspace and the Little Red Grape Bakery at Sevenhill are non-negotiable. Only 6kms south of the Clare Town Centre, or 3km from Discovery Parks (also in Clare), this short trip provides easy access to Tim Adams Wines, Mr Mick Wines, Shut the Gate Wines, everybody’s favourite Good Catholic Girl and our oldest winery, Sevenhill Cellars. It’s a small but mighty section.
The entire Riesling Trail is 33km long, with optional on-road loops for the more experienced cyclist, and an extension along the Rattler Trail to Riverton if you have unlimited supplies of energy. For more detailed information check out our handy guide ‘How to Do the Riesling Trail.’
Get your walking shoes on…
Autumn months are perfect for hiking and you’re spoilt for choice in the Clare Valley. No matter if you want a short (1km/40mintue) stroll or prefer a more serious hike (100km/multi-day), stunning views, delicious wines and plenty of space are guaranteed. Try out the first two stages of what will be a 6 stage/6 day Clare Valley Wine and Wilderness Trail, set to be completed by Easter 2022. The first stages are now open between the Clare Valley Wine, Food and Tourism Centre and Jim Barry Wines, continuing on to Jeanneret Wines.
A walk to the Spring Gully Cascades never disappoints, particularly at golden hour, and the views from Neagles Rock Lookout are equally as stunning. To help you decide, we recommend checking out our latest article ‘Walking in the Clare Valley.’
Further afield there are walks to be found around Burra, Port Wakefield, Blyth and more. Please note that some hikes (or sections of hikes) are closed during the fire ban season.
Enjoy a round of Golf
Tee-off and enjoy a round of golf at the Clare Golf Course, adjacent to the Clare Country Club and Gleeson Wetlands. A gorgeous day out in the sunshine, completion of this 18-hole course is often followed by wood-oven pizzas and a drink with the locals. If you’re a serious golfer, check out the Autumn Golf Classic which is held in March each year and runs for five days. The Club welcomes visitors and is open daily. They can assist you with equipment hire so if it’s a spontaneous decision or you forgot to pack your clubs (oops), you can still enjoy a beau-tee-ful day.
If you want to fit in as many rounds of golf as you possibly can on your travels, there are nine clubs within 50kms of Clare, including; Blyth, Balaklava, Burra, Farrell Flat, Owen, Riverton, Saddleworth, Snowtown and Yacka.
Take your tastebuds on an international trip without leaving Australia!
Tantalise your tastebuds and dine in at one of the leading restaurants in the region that draw their inspiration from cuisines across the globe. Indii of Clare features fabulous, award-winning Indian meals and is one of the best restaurants of this flavour in Australia. Serving traditional curries infused with homemade spices and using traditional techniques learned from generations past, it’s a flavour explosion in your mouth.
Keeping things traditional, Ragu & Co, is bringing the flavours of the nonnas to you on a plate. Think bowls of freshly made pasta and authentic Italian dishes.
Newcomers at the UPPside Restaurant & Wine Bar like to keep things simply good. They’ve taken inspiration for the menu from their heritage and their travels around Europe and meals are best enjoyed on the veranda with a glass of Clare Valley wine.
Get festive at one or more of our many events!
There are so many fabulous festivals in the Clare Valley in Autumn, including the SA Autumn Garden Festival, Clare Valley Running Festival, Clare Races on the March Long Weekend and Easter, all leading up to the renowned Clare Valley Gourmet Week.
Throughout our entire region, there are other smaller events that happen at this time of year, including markets, workshops, live music, tastings and more - something to suit every interest.
During March, check out at least one of the numerous Fringe shows in Auburn. Grab dinner at Terroir Auburn or the Rising Sun Hotel and indulge in a fortified tasting at Mr Nobody Cellardoorway before the show starts. The March Long Weekend features live music and food galore with a multitude of venues offering something out of the ordinary for their guests. A highlight is the March Family Fun Day at the Races.
Runners or gardeners, you’ll want to be here on the first weekend of April. The annual SA Autumn Garden Festival is once again being held over two days, featuring a workshop with Sophie Thompson on Saturday. The Clare Valley Running Festival Half Marathon, 10km or 5km takes place on the Sunday so you’ll need to start your training now. You can bring your little ones along for the kids run.
ANZAC Day follows Easter, so there are three public holidays in the space of the week (meaning you could score 11 days off whilst only using 4 days leave – bonus!). Look out for our published list of opening hours and upcoming events under our ‘What’s On’ page in the coming weeks. The Clare Easter Races promise to deliver a fantastic event as usual so pull out the frocks and hats and we’ll see you on the field. ,
Tasting Australia kicks off in May and the renowned Watervale Hotel and Kilikanoon Winery will be hosting events locally., View the online program for further information. Tasting Australia leads perfectly into the annual Clare Valley SCA Gourmet Week. Our biggest festival is even bigger and better continuing with the successful week-long format. There’s more opportunity to get involved in a masterclass, private tasting or even a walk between wineries as well as the traditional festival events. The program will be released soon, and in the meantime, we have put together a list of Gourmet Week Frequently Asked Questions.
Discover our region by car
Our advice when you are wanting a scenic drive is to pick a road and go! The scenery changes from the ocean to the outback in a matter of an hour’s drive, passing through the plains and the vines as you go. If choosing your own path is a little daunting for you there are also designated routes marked out for you. Check out the Best Scenic Drives in the Clare Valley.
The Clare Valley Scenic Drive starts and ends at the Clare Valley Wine, Food and Tourism Centre taking you up and around the Clare Valley Wine Region, passing by buildings of historical significance and points of interest as you go. Of course, there are many opportunities to stop and sample our region's food & wine, lace up your hiking boots and head out on a walk or simply stop and admire the views.
Go out bush and discover the outback without travelling for hours and explore Dare’s Hill Circuit Drive. This route from Burra to Terowie in the north passes by sheep stations that have become the heart of this rural district. You can see exactly where Goyder’s Line crosses just out from Mount Bryan. Stop and wander through the restored Sir Hubert Wilkins homestead (keys from the Hallett General store) and admire the breathtaking views from Dare’s Hill Summit. You’ll pass the famous ‘Midnight Oil House’ on your way north of Burra, worth stopping for a photo.
Some points of interest on these routes are on private property so please don’t enter unless you have permission.
Discover every (h)edge of Mintaro
Mintaro's history dates back to the 1840s, when it was an important stage post for transporting copper from the Burra Mines to Port Wakefield. Mintaro is a state heritage area, and a is rare South Australian example of a well-preserved, mid-19th century village. Mintaro’s slate quarry was first opened in 1854, and to this day is still one of the oldest continuously producing quarries in Australia. Mintaro developed as a rural service centre during the 1870s and early 1880s, when pastoral and agricultural activities including wool and wheat boomed in the state's Mid North. Mintaro Railway Station was built in 1870 (renamed Merilden 1918), then Martindale Hall by Edmund Bowman, in 1879-80. Both are not to be missed Instagram opportunities.
Martindale Hall is a Georgian-styled mansion that looks like it’s been plucked straight out of countryside England. It cost 30 000 pounds to build and boasts 32 rooms and a cellar. The outer surrounds included a polo ground, racecourse, boating lake and a cricket pitch used by the English 11. Today you can wander through the halls and rooms and imagine what life was like for the upper-class wealthy pastoralists who once called it home.
The best way to explore Mintaro is by foot, embarking on a self-guided historical tour of the town. While most of the surviving buildings are private residences or accommodations, you can admire the beauty of the stonework from the outside (or why not book to stay in one, like Reillys Wines Heritage Cottages). The town has created a very informative Mintaro Heritage Walk that you can pick up along your travels or download.
Discover your inner child and have a go at navigating Mintaro Maze. Right on the (h)edge of town, work your way through the maze, featuring hedges and metal screen art, to find the centre. As an added challenge, see if you can complete the sheet, working out “who is seated next to the Cheshire Cat?” before counting the green gnomes in the Fairy Garden (pre-warning, some of them are not PG-rated) and then challenging your partner to a game of chess or chequers. Enjoy refreshments from the café and gift shop before you leave and purchase one of the interesting games on sale there too.
And after all that exploring? The Magpie & Stump Hotel is a region favourite and offers scrumptious pub fare best enjoyed on the lawns on a warm day or by the fire when it’s a bit cooler. And for wine-tasting and a delightful restaurant, Reilly’s Wines is located just across the road and they are open daily.
Follow a trail and discover our history.
Following on the historical trail, head north from Mintaro towards Burra. After discovering the fabulous town square grab a Burra Heritage Passport and accompanying key from the Burra and Goyder Visitor Information Centre and make your way around the 11km self-guided driving tour of this amazing township. The key allows you entrance to eight locked buildings and 50 other sites of interest. You’ll visit the underground cellars of the Unicorn Brewery, and can experience the dugouts of the Burra Creek to get a feel of what it was like to be a poor miner during the copper boom of the 1800s. The view from Morphett’s Enginehouse of Australia’s only open cut mine are stunning and see if you can spot Peacock’s Chimney as you drive in. Make time for lunch at St Just Café – the coffee is fabulous – and make sure you check out the wares in the neighbouring homewares store. On occasional Saturdays the shops spill out into the street for the Burra Market, joined by makers from around the region and beyond.
Keep exploring our region's heritage, this time our agricultural history, at Bungaree Station. Their self-guided tour is kitted out with audio posts so you can hear the stories being told to you by a member of the Hawker family who chose that plot of land on Christmas Day, 1841. Stay the night at their accommodation and in the morning, help the team feed the animals, including kangaroos and deer, and collect the eggs. The best way to view this beautiful property is to join the owners for a private farm tour. Only way to get the full experience.
Head east from the coast!
Who knew the Clare Valley Tourism Region includes a coastline? This region extends out to the west and the area north of Dublin, past the famous protest sculptures, up to Port Wakefield before heading inland. So, on a perfect Autumn drive why not explore this area?
Head to Port Wakefield and rather than drive straight through, turn left off the main highway and explore the town. You will be delighted by the colonial heritage, the wharf and tidal lagoons. Grab some lunch from one of the cafés or bakeries and enjoy a picnic before exploring the mangroves and searching out the birdlife. Alternatively, head straight to the Rising Sun Hotel for some fabulous pub meals in a family-friendly environment.
Continue north to Lochiel (or further north to Snowtown, the giant blade and stunning water tower art), stop for a selfie with Lochie the resident eel at Lake Bumbunga, then turn right and take the road to Blyth. This small, but mighty town, features the Medika Art Gallery (with nursery), not one but two cinemas, the famous Blyth Breakout Rooms showcasing the Waffle Ward (try the Baconutella – mmmmmmmmmm) and a whole lot more.
If you’re heading back south we strongly recommend you detour into Balaklava to sample the offerings at Wendy’s Café N Cakes. There are many who make this a must-do destination whenever they are in the region.
Did somebody say wine?
And would it even be a trip to the Clare Valley Tourism Region if we didn’t encourage you to stop and taste the wine? Throughout the Valley, it’s a hive of activity with vintage well and truly underway and winemakers honing their skills to develop the next amazing offering that this region is so well known for.
It all leads up to the Clare Valley SCA Gourmet Week, this year being held from 13 – 22 May 2022. The first weekend delivers Classic Gourmet with music, food, wine tastings and more. Then, ‘Breathe it In’ from Monday – Friday with masterclasses, cooking schools, tours, exhibitions and more. Finally, join us in the ‘Land of the Long Lunch’ where we highlight food & wine through a series of (go figure) long lunches.
There’s so much to see and do and Autumn is the perfect time to discover the delights that await you in the Clare Valley.