TOP TIPS FOR A ROMANTIC GETAWAY in the ONKAPARINGA REGION OF THE FLEURIEU PENINSULA
Posted: June 2019
YOU'D BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND ANOTHER PLACE IN AUSTRALIA WHERE YOU CAN HAVE AN OCEAN AND VINES EXPERIENCE SO CLOSE TO A CITY CBD.
The Onkaparinga area of the Fleurieu combines the best of both worlds. Think rugged coastal cliffs and pristine, sandy beaches with all the convenience of creature comforts like cafés, fine dining, farmers' markets, bed and breakfast accommodation, galleries, shopping, and charming villages to explore.
Would you believe, there are about 74 cellar doors and 160 vineyards just in the McLaren Vale region alone? ...and unlike other wine regions, they are so close to each other you can cycle or take a short drive between them!
This combination of scenery and fun things to do makes it the perfect destination for a romantic getaway. With the rolling Mount Lofty Ranges as your backdrop, you’re sure to fall in love with the landscape, and each other.
1. THE SHIRAZ TRAIL
The Shiraz Trail follows an old railway line between McLaren Vale and Willunga and takes in some of the best wineries in South Australia.
Make your way along this 8km section of the trail admiring the views and tasting the region’s signature Shiraz. You can even try your hand at making your own blend of wine at Wirra Wirra winery!
If you have a designated driver, you can explore at your own pace by car, however, if you both want to try the delicious wines on offer, you can take a tour with Wine Coaster Tours or hire an ebike from one of many outlets. It’s so much fun cycling between wineries and a great chance to chat and reconnect as you weave between the vines.
If you're keen for more, the trail continues for another 30km as the Coast to Vines Rail Trail. This is where you’ll find one of our standout experiences, the d’Arenberg winery. It’s home to The Cube, an avant-garde, five-storey structure fashioned after an unfinished Rubik’s, complete with a ‘Museum of Alternate Realities’, a virtual fermenter and a tasting room. A perfect experience to bring you together and add a touch of quirky modernism to your country weekend.
Read more about McLaren Vale.
2. FRESH SEASONAL PRODUCE
Eat like a local! For a romantic start to your weekend, head to the Willunga Farmers Market on Saturday morning to meet the makers who grow or create the fresh, seasonal produce our region is famous for. Each week, more than eighty farmers and artisan food producers gather together to sell everything from cheeses and chutneys to chocolates, honey, organic fruit and vegetables and flowers. It really is a foodie paradise – and a weekend ritual for many locals!
While you are in Willunga, take a stroll along the high street and enjoy brunch or lunch at one of the charming cafés of the historic town.
Read more about Willunga.
Delicious local fare
3. ARTS AND CULTURE
Port Noarlunga is undoubtably an arts and cultural hub of the City of Onkaparinga. Whether wandering galleries, browsing art shops or meeting local artists, the region is an abundant arts hub just waiting to be explored. Catch a show at the Arts Centre, or the nearby Sauerbier House Cultural Exchange, nestled by the river – just a stone's throw away. From here it's a lovely stroll to the beach or indulge in the local café culture.
Then jump in the car and head to the McLaren Vale region to create your own food, wine and art trail incorporating Fleurieu Arthouse and Red Poles. If this sounds like your idea of bliss, make a night of it and stay at a cosy bed and breakfast. Once the day trippers leave, you can relax with a glass of wine by the open fire pit under the stars! Magic.
Read more about the local arts scene.
Fleurieu Art House
4. NATURAL WONDERS
Sandwiched between the Onkaparinga River and the ocean, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to natural attractions here. Hire a canoe at Port Noarlunga and meander along the river to the magnificent Onkaparinga River National Park. The vast park has diverse hiking trails that will take you to cliff tops with magnificent views, or down to permanent rock pools teeming with life.
Read more about the Onkaparinga River National Park.
Onkaparinga River National Park
5. LOCAL BREWS
While McLaren Vale has long been a wine lover’s paradise, the region is increasingly gaining a reputation as a go-to destination for craft beer enthusiasts. It has become something of a craft beer hub, with several breweries and taphouses all located within the few short kilometres between Old Noarlunga, Willunga, McLaren Flat and McLaren Vale. Their close proximity creates an easy brewery trail as a way for locals and visitors to enjoy the region’s malty delights.
Find out more about our local breweries.
Visit a local brewery or tap house
6. HISTORIC VILLAGES
The thriving village heart of the McLaren Vale, Aldinga and Willunga townships are lined with trees and rustic stone homesteads that have stood proudly for over 100 years. These historic buildings are now home to a gorgeous mix of eclectic and contemporary offerings including bakeries, cafés, restaurants and gift shops. Best of all they are all within a short drive of each other – so why not explore them all?!
7. STUNNING COASTLINE
Take a drive down the coast where you’ll find amazing, long stretches of sandy beaches at Christies Beach, Port Noarlunga, Southport, Seaford Beach, Moana Beach, Maslins Beach, Port Willunga, Aldinga Beach, Silver Sands, and Sellicks Beach. If it’s a bit too brisk for a dip, head to one of the many clifftop lookouts and vantage points to take in the view and grab a few pics of the rugged coastline to make your friends jealous!
8. COSY ACCOMMODATION
Could you think of anything better than cosying up after a day of exploration in a cabin in the woods? The Onkaparinga region has so many accommodation options to choose from with coastal, forest, vines, or rolling valley views. You can enjoy complete solitude or stay in the heart of the city close to all the activities.
Kuitpo Forest. Image credit: @cabn.life (IG)
START PLANNING YOUR TRIP
WIN A WINTER ESCAPE
Treat yourself and your loved one to some couple time together!
Contacts for information & bookings
Five Visitor Information Centres are spread across the Fleurieu Peninsula. Each has a dedicated team of locals and resources to support you during your stay.
They can provide you with assistance in booking your trip, planning details for your visit, or give advice on what is happening in the region during your stay.