Vast vineyards and rolling farmland fringed by chilled-out, coastal towns and beautiful, often-empty beaches. Despite being just a cruisey 45-minute drive south of Adelaide, Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia feels worlds away from city life. Visit its many cellar doors, food markets and nature sights, including waterfalls, a gorge and a 250-hectare reservoir, on a half-day or full-day trip from Adelaide. Or, if you’ve got the time, spend a full week here, indulging in good food and wine, exploring or simply whiling away your afternoons in a freestanding tub at one of the region’s many retreats nestled among its vineyards. Welcome to the Fleurieu Peninsula.
The Fleurieu Peninsula is a 45-minute drive from Adelaide via McLaren Vale. Or, if you’re coming from Adelaide Hills, use the South Eastern Freeway via Echunga to Meadows, or via Mt Barker to Strathalbyn. Adelaide Metro operates a service from Adelaide to McLaren Vale and Strathalbyn. The peninsula is an 8.5-hour drive from Melbourne and a nearly 15-hour drive from Sydney.
Being almost entirely surrounded by water, the Fleurieu Peninsula has a Mediterranean climate with summer temperatures reaching 35 degrees and then falling to 10 degrees in winter. Come in summer for prime beach weather and full grapevine greenery. And in winter for chillier temperatures than in other parts of South Australia – ideal for spending cosy nights by the fire. Pack warmer clothes if you plan on heading to the mountaintops.
You won’t go thirsty in the Fleurieu Peninsula. Home to two of Australia’s premier wine regions, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek, the peninsula has countless cellar doors and wineries to choose from.
Top picks in McLaren Vale are Kay Brothers, Wira Wira and Fox Creek Wines. For Instagram fodder, head to d’Arenberg Cube, a building that appears to be floating above a vineyard. Inside, you’ll find a tasting room, several bars and a restaurant, all with spectacular views of Willunga. The cellar door at Maxwell Wines is housed in a beautiful limestone building, while the one at Down The Rabbit Hole is in a vintage double-decker Leyland bus. In Langhorne Creek, consider the cellar doors at Bremerton Wines, Kimbolton Wines and Angas Plains Wines.
Prefer not to self-drive? Join a half-day, full-day or hop-on-hop-off winery tour. Bike tours, winemaking tours and private tours are also offered across the two wine regions.
You won’t go hungry here either – in addition to its many restaurants, the peninsula is filled with regular food markets. Willunga Farmers Market, the first-ever farmers market in South Australia, is on every Saturday morning. Victor Harbor Farmers Market, located in Grosvenor Gardens, is also on Saturday mornings. Victor Harbor Beachside Market on The Esplanade is on every other Sunday. Goolwa Wharf Rotary Markets, Port Elliot Rotary Market and Strathalbyn Treasure Market are also in the area.
When you’ve finished sipping and swirling at the cellar doors and stocking up on local treats at the markets, it’s time to discover the Fleurieu Peninsula’s great outdoors. Chase waterfalls at Ingalalla Falls, Deep Creek Waterfall and Hindmarsh Falls, or a gorge at Onkaparinga Gorge, which can be reached by a 4.2-kilometre-return river hike. Kayak, cycle or walk at 250-hectare Myponga Reservoir. Or hike to Glacier Rock outside Victor Harbour in Inman Valley. Also known as Selwyn’s Rock, the 500 million-year-old boulder was the first European recorded discovery of glaciations in Australia.
Beach-wise, check out Southport Beach (be sure to snap a photo yourself descending its picturesque stairs), Blowhole Beach and Second Valley. Horseshoe Bay in Port Elliot is great for families. And Waitpinga Beach and Parsons Beach in Newland Head Conservation Park will appeal to surfers. Catch a sunset at Port Willunga Beach.
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Perched on a hilltop, Naiko Retreat features three bedrooms, a sprawling lounge with a fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows that take in the ocean and Deep Creek Conservation Park. The Vineyard McLaren Vale is boutique accommodation with four guest houses and two cadoles, Cadole Sierra and Cadole Avalon – all with their own private deck, fireplace and access to the property’s Jacuzzi platform. Hotel California Road at Inkwell Wines also takes advantage of McLaren Vale’s stunning scenery with each of its three suites boasting a large deck with a soaking tub overlooking the vineyards.
In Victor Harbour, check-in to Anchorage Seafront Hotel, Grosvenor Hotel or Hotel Victor. St Francis Winery Resort in Reynella has 41 suites, an indoor pool and a bar and restaurant. Serafino Wines in McLaren Vale has 30 rooms, including 14 deluxe spa rooms that overlook the pool, gardens and 200-year-old gum trees. For a coastal stay, book into charming, village-style accommodation Beach Huts Middleton or 15-apartment Coast Motel and Apartments in Port Noarlunga South. And bed and breakfast-wise, stay at Amongst the Vines Deluxe Retreat, Amanda’s Cottage 1899 and Almond Grove B&B.
The Fleurieu Peninsula has more than a handful of caravan and holiday parks dotted along its coastline and scattered inland. Among them are three BIG4 holiday parks: BIG4 Port Willunga Tourist Park, BIG4 Breeze Holiday Parks Port Elliot and BIG4 Cape Jervis Accommodation & Caravan Park. Victor Harbor Holiday & Cabin Park has an outdoor pool, go-karts and two waterslides. And Clayton Bay Riverside Holiday Park is located on the shady banks of the peaceful River Murray.
Though all of the above parks offer camping, you can also pitch your tent at Waitpinga Campground, a short walk from a surf and fishing beach; and beachfront Rapid Bay Campground; or at one of the five campgrounds within Deep Creek Conservation Park.
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Some of the best places to eat and drink on the Fleurieu Peninsula are its cellar doors. Highlights include Beach Road Winery and Restaurant, Angas Plains Wines Cellar Door and Anvers Wine Cellar Door. The Woodstock Coterie was the first winery restaurant built in the region. Artisans at Heart in Milang serves seasonal, local fare. And Bracegirdle’s McLaren Vale is known for its delicious coffee, Belgian chocolates and decadent desserts.
Also worth visiting are The Currant Shed, with its alfresco dining and vineyard views; Victor’s Place, built around a stone barn from the 1870s; and d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant, a hilltop restaurant with a menu that changes seasonally.
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One of the best ways to experience the wineries in McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek is on a tour. In McLaren Vale, join Bus and Barrel Wine Tour, Hop On Hop Off Tour with Trailhopper or a Mountain Biking and Wine Day tour with Roar Adventures. In Langhorne Creek, look up Beyond The Vine Wine Tour, Saviconnect Langhorne Creek Wine Tours and Big Bend By Night Langhorne Creek Vineyard Tours.
And when you’ve rinsed out your glass and are looking for some adventure, sign up for a tour of a historical farm with Waitpinga Farm Quad Bike Adventures; a tailor-made, up-to-six-person general tour of the Fleurieu Peninsula with Ambler Touring; or a chopper flight with Helivista helicopter tours.
There are also several half-day and full-day tours of the Fleurieu Peninsula leaving from Adelaide, as well as online guides to Fleurieu Food & Drink Trail and Fleurieu Arts & Culture Guide, if you’re keen to explore on your own.
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