Top ten things to do in Summer
We get it, Summer can be hot! But don’t let that stop you from exploring the Clare Valley! We’ve taken the guesswork out for you and asked the people who live through it every year (the locals, that is) how they keep their cool throughout the warmer months. So, grab your sunglasses, pack the sunscreen and hit the road!
1. Picnic in the shade
Picture yourself lying on the grass underneath a huge shady tree, the warm breeze rustling through the leaves, blue skies above and a delicious picnic lunch just waiting to be dug into. Fill your picnic basket up with fresh fruit and bread, assorted produce and cheeses from the local greengrocer in the main street of Clare, The Corner Patch, then head across the road to Mathies Meat Shoppe to finish off the supply run. Now the food’s sorted, where to eat?
The locals know the benefit of a shady tree and the parks and gardens around Clare offer you endless possibilities to take advantage of their forward-thinking. Catford Park, conveniently located next to Discovery Parks Clare, and Pioneer Park up near Inchiquin Lake, both have shade and the added bonus of playgrounds for the kids. Languish in the shade while they work off some steam! Auburn Centenary Park has a European feel – a large (fenced) grass area surrounded by leafy trees and it too has equipment to keep the kids entertained.
Nothing cools you down like picnicking near the water. Put your blanket down on the lawns of the Riverton Duckpond with its native trees and wonderful birdlife. A little further east you can find yourself on the banks of the Burra Creek. Interact with our local family of ducks with food purchased from the Burra and Goyder Visitor Information Centre.
The Eudunda Gardens are a beautiful spot to wander in. Spot Colin Thiele AC, with “Mr Percival” the pelican from his book, Storm Boy. There’s a shaded area, free electric bbq and a basketball hoop and ‘Kid’s Scrub’ to keep everyone happily occupied.
2. Chilled wine anyone?
We might be slightly biased, but we know the best way to cool down in summer is with a crisp, fresh bottle of Clare Valley wine; riesling, rose, pinot gris, or maybe even a chilled bottle of red! Yep, you read that right and you can learn more about the optimal drinking temperature for different wines on Taylors Wines website, or taste it for yourself at their Cellar Door in Auburn.
Discover the difference between the Watervale and Polish Hill Rieslings at O’Leary Walker Wines – same grape, different terroir!
Velvet and Willow Cellar Door + Pantry in Auburn offer really good coffee, toasties, muffins and more from Monday to Friday and then on weekends, they crack open the wine – all of which can be enjoyed in their absolutely stunning garden featuring water fountains, grassed areas and undercover seating.
To really keep your cool discover the underground cellars at the oldest winery in the Clare Valley, Sevenhill Cellars. Taste the wines and then head out to the huge grass area, complete with lawn games (think totem tennis, cricket, Jenga etc.), with your favourite bottle, a platter of your making from their provedore and ‘chill out’.
It takes a lot of beer to make a good wine (or so they say), and if beer is what you’re after check out what’s on offer at Jeanneret Wines & Clare Valley Brewing Company and Pikes Wines and Brewery. Warm day + cold beer – it doesn’t get any better than that.
Henry Wylie Heritage Garden at Velvet and Willow
3. Keep the kids busy
Stretch your legs on a stroll around the Gleeson Wetlands, Clare. Enter the bird hide and see how many species you can spot, there may even be a turtle or two splashing around. Park with caution, “only frogs allowed, all others will be toad!”
Time your visit to the wetlands with a ride on the Clare Valley Model Engineers miniature trains. During the summer months, volunteers will take you on a ride on the second and fourth Saturday of each month from 5pm to 7:30pm for a small fee of $2 (under 3’s free). If your visit doesn’t coincide with run days, each week there are working bees on Wednesday and Saturday mornings where rides are available (depending on driver and track availability). And if that’s not enough, there’s soon to be a new Bike Park at the same location!
Active kids will love taking on the newly refurbished Burra Skate Park just across the road from the Burra Town Hall. Plenty of undercover seating and refuel with lunch and coffee brought fresh from St Just Café.
One of the many sculptures at Gleeson Wetlands
4. Find yourself a waterhole!
Did you know that if your feet are cool your whole body feels cooler too? So, head out to World’s End Reserve (also known as Burra Creek Gorge) to find lots of shade and a spring-fed creek that trickles all year round. Feet in = instant relief!
Rocks Reserve along the River Wakefield just out of Balaklava is a surprising find. Paddle around in the water or sit under the gums and observe the bird life. It’s a gorgeous spot to enjoy a day out and the perfect way to keep cool.
One of our favourite waterholes can be deceptive but well worth a visit. Lake Bumbunga is a pink salt lake located on the Port Wakefield Highway at Lochiel. Wander out on the crystal-like surface saying hello to the Loch-eel monster on your way towards the water. Make sure to bring your camera for you Instagram moment!
5. Get ‘mist-ified’!
If your tummy is rumbling and calling for a bite to eat, dine somewhere that will satisfy your hunger whilst also having your comfort at heart.
Mr Mick Cellar Door and Kitchen has everything you need for a meal out in the summer, including misters, dining on the lawn and cold rieslings. Let the team take all the decisions out of the equation and opt for the Chef's Table,
Zest Café Clare is a groovy café in the heart of Clare and seeing as its set at the back of the open arcade, there is plenty of outdoor seating with the added bonus of misters. Order a fresh juice or smoothie to get with your breakfast, brunch or lunch. As locals, we’d recommend grabbing a spinach and feta muffin (they are seriously good). It’s dinner time, Zest are closed, but you still want to be under the misters, the Bentleys Hotel Beer Garden is the place to go. Enjoy a classic pub fare, stone grill or pizzas, keep an eye on their Facebook page for announcements of live music!
6. It’s always cooler underground
Feel the degrees drop as you head underground to explore Burra’s Unicorn Brewery Cellars built in 1873. A feature of the Burra Heritage Passport Trail, the cellars have 80 metres of underground passages to explore and sits around 10-12 degrees throughout the day, a guaranteed chilling experience (who knows what happened down there in years gone by!) Another feature of the trail are the Miner’s Dugouts built into the banks of Burra Creek. The rent-free location kept them cool in summer but during winter when the creek would rise and the temperature dropped, it wouldn’t have had as many perks. Up to 2000 miners and their families endured these conditions until the mining company constructed houses, the dugouts were deserted by 1860. A key to unlock these and the other heritage sites of the Burra Heritage Passport Trail can be picked up from the Burra & Goyder Visitor Information Centre.
7. Where the locals like to cool off!
We are spoilt for choice here in the Clare Valley. With over 40 boutique cellar doors to relax in and enjoy what we do best (!) plus a range of dining options to choose from, locals know how to stay cool on a hot day.
An iconic dining option that conveniently doubles as a cellar door is sitting under the Olive Tree at Skillogalee Winery and Restaurant. With views of vineyards as far as the eye can see and a fine-dining menu, Skillogalee offers the chance to taste their range of wines as they were intended, with good food and good company. Plus during summer, you can experience this magical venue for your evening meal, enjoying the warm breeze as the sun sets. Bookings are highly recommended.
Find the nearest watering hole, they all offer great food and of course, cold drinks. If you're in Mintaro - the Magpie and Stump Hotel is fantastic with a huge lawn area out the front and things to keep the kids entertained, plus the food is off the charts.
Book a guided wander through the gardens at Penobscot Farm, then let the culinary wizzes at Watervale Hotel get hot and bothered in the kitchen whilst you peruse the extensive wine list.
Or step out of your on-site accommodation refreshed and ready to enjoy the evening and step into the cool of Terroir Auburn. Menu offerings are seasonal and as regional as they can be, always changing and an absolute delight.
Skillogalee Winery and Restaurant - @adelaidefoodstory_
8. Culture is Cool
Beat the heat by visiting one of the many galleries and museums throughout our region. The Burra Regional Art Gallery hosts a range of exhibitions and has a small retail shop. Similarly the Arts Collective Clare Valley showcases 20 local artists through a range of mediums.
Located in Blyth, Medika Gallery is the artistic home of Ian Roberts. Ian is a painter of Australian birds and plants and he also grows and sells a range of Australian and indoor plants.
Admire the works of indigenous Australia with a visit to the Clare Valley Art Gallery featuring artists from Utopia.
Clare Valley Art Gallery
9. Keep cool with a dip in the pool or a tidal lagoon
During summer you will find the locals enjoying the relief of the town pool. More often than not these pools are cared for and ran by a devoted bunch of volunteers. Throughout the Clare Valley tourism region you will find pools in Hamley Bridge and Owen, Burra and Eudunda, Clare and Riverton.
Generally operating in the afternoons, check them out when you first reach the towns so that you can plan your day around their opening hours. Most have a small canteen with iceblocks and cool drinks on offer as well.
Clare is the exception. Their pool is located at The Valleys Lifestyle Centre with facilities including a full-sized pool, a children’s pool and there’s also a fully equipped gymnasium.
Did you know that at Port Wakefield there is a tidal swimming hole? There is also a boat ramp, plenty of fishing spots and cool coastal breezes!
Tidal Pool at Port Wakefield @aditya.pasrichan
10. Accommodation to beat the heat
If an intimate getaway with some surprising features is on the cards, Trestrail Cottage is your dream destination. With an outdoor shower and the option to sleep outside under the stars (protected from the insects), it’s a unique way to experience the Clare Valley.
If you’d like a pool on-site, there’s plenty of options. The Clare Central Motel, Clare Country Club, Discovery Parks Clare and the Riverton Caravan Park (next door to the public pool) all have direct access to take a dip.
Bungaree Station, established in 1841, have 7 self-contained units sleeping up to 39 people and a separate bunkhouse sleeping up to an additional 25 people. As well as access to the pool, overnight guests can experience life on the farm with a morning feed of the farm animals including deer, kangaroos, horses and chickens , plus complimentary access to wander the grounds at their leisure.
Bukirk Glamping has all the added luxuries. 5 bell tents with private ensuites and two tiny homes plus a pool to be opened soon just for guests (so you don’t have to share resident Kevin ‘Kevy’ Bacon’s mud bath). At the other end of the wine region sits One Tree B&B, within walking distance to the Auburn main street, hotel, restaurant, cellar doors, cafes and more with a pool and spa for your private use. Larger groups are sumptuously catered for at O’Brien’s of Clare, an 8-acre property surrounded by vineyards only 2 minutes from Clare featuring a pool and hot tub.
If you've got the little ones tagging along, check out our kid-friendly summer stays here.
Outdoor bed at Trestrail Cottage
11. Hang out with the Cool Kids!
Here’s a bonus tip – all the cool kids will be heading to Burra on Saturday, 4 February for the Copper & Stone Music Fest Burra, back by popular demand. Come and chill with us!!
Frolic in the sunflower fields at Shimmering Pines Farm from December 17, with markets, farm visits, pick your own and painting sessions.
Plus, Eldredge Wines are hosting Rootstock, a music festival celebrating all things locally Clare Valley.