Fleurieu Peninsula Overview
- Surf and shiraz
- Coast life
- Beach-hopping and wine-shopping
The Fleurieu vibe is unhurried, unharried and oddly nostalgic (an antipodean Tuscany?): a unique collusion of vine-clad, red-brown soils, aquamarine ocean and a climate more Aegean than Australian.
Grape vines striate the hillsides and run down to the sea, where white-sand beaches are filled with... no-one. Southern Ocean surf surges in, and forests and farms dapple the inland landscape. It’s hard to believe this place is only an hour from Australia’s fifth-biggest city. South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula (pronounced ‘Floo-ree-oh’) is a broad wedge of fertile land running south from Adelaide, fringed by beaches to the west and south, with McLaren Vale – one of Australia’s foremost terra rossa wine regions – sitting roughly in the middle. Cropping up between the coast and vines are engaging stone villages such as Port Elliot, Willunga and Goolwa. Throw in farmers' markets championing strong local produce and you'll want to escape here regularly.
Fabulously Fleurieu Peninsula
No visit to the Fleurieu Peninsula can be contemplated without adding a little cellar-door wine tasting to the agenda. There are dozens of wineries here offering tastings, lunches and sales. Top of your list should be the cottage gardens and zingy chenin blanc at Coriole (www.coriole.com); the hilltop views and spicy shiraz at d’Arenberg (www.darenberg.com.au); and iconic Wirra Wirra (www.wirrawirra.com), which bottles the smooth-sipping Church Block blend (cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and merlot).
- Most Adelaide taxi companies will take you south into the Fleurieu Peninsula region, but it’ll be a pricey ride. Try Adelaide Independent Taxis (13 22 11), Yellow Cabs (13 22 27) or Suburban Taxis (13 10 08). On the peninsula itself, Peninsular Taxi Service (13 10 08) and Victor Harbor Taxi Service (+61 (0)8 8552 2622) both operate out of Victor Harbor.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Local shops and banks open 9am–5pm, Monday–Friday; many shops also open 10am–4pm on Saturdays. Cafés usually serve breakfast from around 8am and close around 4pm. Restaurants generally dish up lunch from 12pm–2.30pm; dinner from 6pm–9pm. Most wineries open their doors around 10am and close around 5pm.
- Packing tips
- Bring a hat for sunny afternoon cellar-door tasting sessions and preserve an empty corner in your luggage for a prize bottle of McLaren Vale red. Pack your swimmers if you want to hit the beach (but we can’t say the Southern Ocean is exactly warm...).
- Recommended reads
- A Land Abounding by Rob Linn digs up the history of Port Elliot, Goolwa and the local Ngerrindjeri Aboriginal people, set against the context of the broader Fleurieu area. McLaren Vale: Trott's View by Gregg Trott points a camera lens on the
- The Fleurieu Peninsula isn’t all vines – there are huge swathes of farmland here too. Peninsula beef, lamb, venison, poultry and rabbit all finds its way onto local tables, and organic eggs, almonds, berries and dairy products travel further afield to supermarket shelves across Australia. Offshore, the ocean delivers super-fresh squid, crayfish and whiting. Saturday morning’s Willunga Farmers Market (www.willungafarmersmarket.com) is a great place to hunt down local produce. See www.fleurieufood.com.au
- Australian dollar (AU$).
- Time zone
- GMT + 9.5.
- Dialling codes
- Country code: +61; South Australia: 08 (drop the 0 if dialling from outside Australia).
- Do go/don't go
- South Australian summers (December–February) are always sunny, but desert-hot northerlies can bump the temperature over 40°C for days on end. Washed over by sea breezes, the Fleurieu Peninsula tends to dodge the worst of the heat, but time your visit with spring (September–November) or autumn (March–May) when the McLaren Vale vines are either burgeoning with buds or turning russet-red. Winters here are uncrowded but uneventful; summers draw devotees from Adelaide, so things get busy.
Don't go home without...
...lingering too long over a bottle of McLaren Vale Shiraz (www.mclarenvale.info). There are over 50 wineries to choose from.