What to do in the Clare Valley if you don't drink wine
Not into wine? No worries. There's still plenty to do! Here you'll find a wide range of experiences to suit every taste and interest, from cycling and art galleries to history and, of course, the food. So, grab your walking shoes, hop on your bike, and join us for a few days uncovering the secrets of the Clare Valley, minus the vino.
Bungaree Station - via Instagram
If you're visiting Riverton on the morning of the last Sunday of the month, you must check out Scholz Park Museum. Located in the middle of the town, this museum is one of the few complete examples of the old, more leisurely way of life around the district. It features the Scholz Family Cottage, a Blacksmith Shop and a Wheelwright Shop. After discovering this quaint village, head north towards Mintaro through Saddleworth. Make sure you stop to check out the town's historic walk.
Martindale Hall, an iconic Georgian mansion just 3kms out of Mintaro, invites visitors to step back in time and immerse themselves in the opulence of the late 1800s to early 1900s. This grand estate stands as a living history museum, offering a captivating glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of a bygone era. Explore the beautifully preserved rooms adorned with exquisite furnishings and decor, and stroll through the meticulously manicured gardens. The Mintaro Heritage Walk, in the town, is a must-see attraction, allowing visitors to wander the streets admiring the remarkable heritage buildings. As you follow the trail, you'll encounter charming stone cottages – check out the use of slate - historical sites, and captivating stories that bring the town's rich history to life.
Further north in the township of Burra, embark on a journey through time with the town's Heritage Passport. The passport gives you the key to explore the captivating heritage at sites like the Burra Monster Mine; an iconic landmark that played a significant role in South Australia's copper mining industry. Walk the town's charming streets lined with 19th-century buildings, including miners' cottages, the Burra Gaol, and Market Square. Plus, the Passport provides access to multiple museums and attractions, so you can really take a deep dive into the region's rich history.
Immerse yourself in the rich history of Bungaree Station, a historic pastoral property located just north of the Clare Valley. A working station, Bungaree offers a unique glimpse into rural life with its charming homestead, picturesque gardens, and traditional farming activities. Take a self-guided tour and learn about the station's heritage and explore the beautifully preserved buildings or go 'Behind the Farm Gate' on a guided farm tour.
Skillogalee Restaurant - via Instagram
Even though you're not into wine, our region's wineries house some of the best restaurants. Skillogalee Winery & Restaurant is a classic Clare Valley destination. Overlooking the gardens, surrounded by vines and perched under the olive tree, is the best way to enjoy a long lunch. Or if you're looking for a modern venue with the lot (we mean incredible views, a delectable menu and an onsite brewery if you're into craft beer), you must head to Slate Restaurant at Pikes Wines. We recommend booking in for both of these popular spots.
Maybe a hearty pub experience is more to your liking the you absolutely must try the Magpie & Stump Hotel, where you'll enjoy a classic country feed and some of the best schnitzels around. On the lawn is the place to be in summer, and in the winter you can curl up by the fire. The Sevenhill Hotel is also fantastic, with an extensive menu listing pub classics to the finer delights, best enjoyed in the cellar for an experience you won't forget (just remember to bring a jacket!).
Perhaps immersive experiences are more your style. If so, you'll love the Watervale Hotel. Join Warrick and Nicola on a six-senses farm tour of their bio-dynamic, organic Penobscot Farm. Here you'll pick some of the fruits, vegetables, nuts and leaves that will finish up on your plate when you dig in for a six-course degustation dinner, which can be paired with Mocktails! Ragu & Co is our go to for the best Italian food that feels like it came straight from nonna’s kitchen. The specialty is obviously ragu, but their range of other pasta and pizzas is worth a look in. Keep an eye on their socials for special events like Pasta Masterclasses or even a long lunch.
If you're around the southern end of the region, grab some lunch from the Emporium Bakehouse, Riverton, to enjoy in the café or take it to go and enjoy the Duck Ponds - a lovely little park on the edge of town.
Wine and Wilderness Trail - via Instagram
Walking & Cycling:
For outdoor enthusiasts, the Clare Valley Wine and Wilderness Trail is a must-visit. This newly completed trail spans 110 kilometres across six stages, taking you through breathtaking landscapes, past tantalising dining establishments, and, as the name suggests, a few cellar doors. Whether you prefer a leisurely walk or a challenging hike, you can choose from various stages, each averaging 18 kilometres. Immerse yourself in the stunning views, and indulge in delicious food along the way.
For a shorter stroll, why not head to Spring Gully Conservation Park (passing by Sawmill Gin if you're a stickler for a G&T). The Cascades Walk here takes in the views from Blue Gum Lookout and is an easy 1.5 km path through the conservation area. The trail leads to beautiful cascades, which are best viewed at sunset after rain, when an incredible red glow from the cliffside appears.
Not a walker, how about cycling? Hire bikes from Scoot the Valley or Riesling Trail Bike Hire and hit the Riesling Trial (read our guide on how to do the Riesling Trail here). Though named after the region's most famous wine and passing multiple cellar doors, the trail in itself is stunning and highlights the fabulous countryside, plus some great spots to eat. Choose to ride the whole 33km (one way), or if you’ve got the kids in tow, ride from a shorter section, like Clare to Sevenhill (12km return) and enjoy Richardson’s Park Playspace along with the coffee and cake from the local bakery, the Little Red Grape.
A Joyfull Bunch - via Instagram
The first Sunday of the month, Saddleworth bursts alive, hosting one of the biggest country markets in the state. The Saddleworth Country Market boasts over 180 stalls most months – there is quite literally something for everyone. Just down the road, stop in at Sassy Lass for a spot of shopping at one of the best boutiques out. Browse the latest fashions and accessories with the help of owner Bron, the lass at Sassy herself. Somedays, you can even get custom mineral foundation made-up just for you onsite with Quercus Skin Therapy – treat yourself.
Discover the charm of Clare Main Street, where a collection of stunning boutiques awaits, offering the latest in ladies' fashion, homewares, and irresistible pieces for the little ones. Indulge your senses at Anneva Boutique, Grace & Maple or Logo Co, where impeccable taste permeates every corner, tempting you with new additions for your home or wardrobe.
In the historic town of Burra, prepare to be captivated by the much-lauded Iris and Wool boutique, renowned for its unique offerings. Don't miss the beloved Bullrush Clothing, a country favourite that captures the essence of rural fashion. And last but certainly not least, make a point to visit That Country Store, a seemingly ordinary newsagent that surprises and delights with its diverse range of offerings carefully curated by Jodie.
Mount Horrocks - via Instagram
As you drive through Auburn, it's hard to miss the big 'A' on the southern end of town. Pull over, enjoy a coffee at Velvet & Willow Garden, and admire the mosaics dotted along the sidewalk. Mount Horrocks Wines is located at the old railway station, where of course you must check out the Riesling Trail Arch. Alongside the sculptures, you will find the new Biodynamic Herb Garden.
Admire the works of Alison Mitchell and Robert Hannaford AM at the Riverton Light Gallery. Robert has been commissioned to create some incredible pieces, including sculptures of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Government House and Sir Donald Bradman at Adelaide Oval. His statue of a Ngadjuri woman and her child stands proudly outside the Gallery.
Let your inner child out:
Get lost in the Mintaro Maze! Let out your inner child, and find your way to the centre, answering the quiz as you go. Play chess, checkers and other games on the grounds whilst indulging in a treat from the café. Head to the Clare Valley Model Engineers, where you can ride a model train along a 3km track, including over bridges and through tunnels at Melrose Reserve.
Where to Stay:
There are so many B&Bs around the area; how do you choose? Casa Barbera, Mintaro is a new B&B with the perfect blend of contemporary elegance and rural charm, designed with simplicity, space, and luxury in mind. It includes a gorgeous outdoor area and along with the spacious rooms thoughtfully decorated with stylish furnishings and private outdoor spaces that overlook the vineyard. Pure bliss.
Situated just south of Clare with exclusive access to the scenic Riesling Trail, Brice Hill Country Lodge offers a luxurious countryside retreat in the heart of the Clare Valley. Set amidst lush vineyards, this boutique property provides an oasis for relaxation. The well-appointed rooms and suites boast elegant furnishings, modern amenities, and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. After a day of adventure, unwind with a glass of local wine on the veranda or soak up in the spa.
Experience the tranquillity of the countryside with a stay at Battunga Cottages in Watervale. Nestled amidst picturesque farmland and rolling hills, these charming self-contained cottages provide a perfect retreat for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful getaway. Each is beautifully appointed with rustic décor and modern amenities, offering a cosy and comfortable retreat.