If you’re short on time, here’s a travel itinerary for a long weekend getaway on South Australia’s picturesque Fleurieu Peninsula. Gourmet food, wine, beaches and the perfect sunset spot. We’ve got you covered!
I’m Melissa (Liss) Connell and this is my personal travel blog. The Slow Lane chronicles my Aussie adventures in my 1974 Kombi, with my furry sidekick Sandy. As the co-founder of Exploring Eden Media, I write articles (and post books) as I travel. Check the postage stamp on your book order and you’ll see where I am right now!
The peninsula was named in honour of the French navigator and minister of marine, Charles, Count of Fleurieu. At the end of my stay, I still had no idea how to pronounce the name, but I heard other Aussies saying ‘floo-ree-oh’. Comment below this article if you know how to pronounce it!
3 Days on the Fleurieu Peninsula
I was recently driving through South Oz in my trusty Kombi with my collie, Sandy, when some family friends invited me to stay at their place in McLaren Vale.
Our friends’ property is incredible. It’s their home, but very soon it will be McLaren Vale’s newest cellar door. Dom and Elise are opening Down The Rabbit Hole to the public next month (August). Yahoo! Their property is amazing and it would be easy to hang out there all day, but I discovered that there’s a lot to see on the Fleurieu Peninsula and exploring the region is a must!
Of course, you could spend weeks here. But if you’re after a weekend getaway, here’s a little three day itinerary to give you a ‘taster’.
Day 1, Saturday: Adelaide – McLaren Vale
Willunga Farmers Market
Head 45 minutes south of Adelaide’s airport and you’ll find yourself in McLaren Vale. Best known for its Shiraz, this wine-growing region is the birthplace of South Oz’s wine industry. There are gourmet foods galore, including at the Willunga Farmers Market where you can buy fresh produce directly from the growers. The markets are in Willunga Town Square each Saturday from 8am-12.30pm.
McLaren Vale cellar doors
Next, head to Down The Rabbit Hole to begin your wine tasting tour of the region. You’ll find many gorgeous cellar doors nearby, too. Meet the owners Dom and Elise – Elise is the cover girl of the book that we published a few months ago, ‘100 Things To See In The Kimberley’. Ask her the story behind the photo on the book’s cover 🙂
For lunch, head to Star of Greece at Port Willunga beach. The name is deceiving – it’s not a Greek restaurant. Named after a ship that sunk in the ocean here in 1888, the views are world class and the beach below is worth exploring. There are 100-year-old fishermen’s caves that have been carved into the sandstone cliffs. The beach was empty when I visited (mid-winter) but I hear that on hot summer days these caves are often full of people.
This afternoon, pack some wine and nibbles into the car and head down to Sellicks Beach. Drive straight onto the beach via the Sellicks Beach ramp. This is a gorgeous spot to watch sunset. Head to the nearby Victory Hotel for din dins. Their menu incorporates a lot of local and seasonal produce. I recommend the local Coffin Bay oysters. Yum!
Day 2, Sunday: McLaren Vale – Cape Jervis
Brunch in a train carriage
For something a little different, start the day with brunch in a train carriage that was built in 1908. Open from 10am-4.30pm, The Almond Carriage Cafe serves an all day breakfast inside the carriage at 198 Main Road McLaren Vale (closes Mon and Tues).
Head out into the country and to the lovely Ingalalla Falls. This quaint little waterfall is an easy walk (just a few hundred metres) from the carpark along a flat trail. I was happy to find that dogs are welcome here. I visited just after some rainfall – I hear that it’s usually more of a trickle.
Lunch at Leonards Mill
Leonards Mill restaurant is located within a historic mill circa 1858. With an old fireplace at the entrance, the interior is cosy and warm. Local food doesn’t get much more ‘local’ than Leonards, who only source and support local Fleurieu Peninsula growers and farmers. Book ahead – this place is popular!
Second Valley jetty
The view from the jetty at Second Valley is gorgeous, with rolling hills kissing the impossibly blue sea. Cast a line from the end of the jetty or jump off (in the summer – it was way too cold to swim when I was there!) To the left of the jetty is a bouldery headland worth exploring. To the right there’s a gorgeous sandy beach, perfect for a swim.
Rapid Bay cove
From the carpark at Rapid Bay, you’ll notice a big cave further down the beach. Walk down and take a walk around inside. You can kayak around the corner and into coastal caves, which would be great during the summer. Rapid Bay has an amazing beachfront campground, too.
Cape Jervis lighthouse
Continue south to the bottom of the peninsula and you’ll end up at Cape Jervis lighthouse, which is also the ferry crossing point to Kangaroo Island. It was so windy here that my hair got blown into a big tangle of knots! I didn’t get any decent pics of the lighthouse, but it was the strangest lighthouse that I’ve seen. Really modern looking.
Day 3, Monday: Cape Jervis – Victor Harbour
Breakfast in Port Elliot
Head East across the peninsula to historic Port Elliot, situated in the scenic Horseshoe Bay. Rumoured to have the best pies in the Southern hemisphere, Port Elliot Bakery has been baking for over 100 years, built by the Bebee family in the 1860s and still using the original wood fired oven today.
Walk across to Granite Bay
Head South to Victor Harbour, where you’ll find horse-drawn trams and a walkway across to Granite Bay where you might see some penguins. There are some great walking and bike trails around Victor Harbour including the Encounter Bikeway, a 31km trail from Rosetta Head in Victor Harbor to The Wharf in Goolwa.
Whale watch in Encounter Bay
Between May and October whales migrate past South Australia and Encounter Bay is a great place to spot them! 30 whale species have been recorded in South Australian waters, but the Southern Right Whale is the most common of the larger whales to be seen. For current whale sightings check out the South Australian Whale Centre’s website.
Dinner at Ninos Cafe
For this evening’s dinner, head to Ninos Cafe in Victor Harbour, famed for their pizza and pasta. Open until 9pm, this award winning family restaurant has been tantalising tastebuds for over 35 years in a lovely seaside location.
Catch a flick at Victa Cinema
Head to the gorgeous and historic Victa Cinema to watch a movie. ***Note, it’s closed on Mondays and Thursdays, but open each day during school holidays***. Suss out the movie meal deal with Ninos Cafe before buying your tickets.
Thanks for reading! Drop back from time-to-time as Sandy and I continue our journey to the Kimberley, Western Australia (I will upload more blogs – read them all here). And please – if any of the information has changed or if you know of more great spots, please leave them in the comments below 🙂