Fleurieu Peninsula, Australia

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.

When to 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.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Adelaide’s stylish international airport (www.adelaideairport.com.au) plays host to Qantas, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific flights (among others), arriving from overseas. Domestic flights (Qantas, Virgin Blue, Tiger and Jetstar) wing in from around Australia. The airport is about five kilometres west of the city centre; the Fleurieu Peninsula is an hour’s drive south of here.
  • Automobiles

    Driving to the Fleurieu from Adelaide is a piece of cake - the big-name rental companies all have desks at Adelaide Airport. McLaren Vale is about an hour's drive south of the city; reaching the Port Elliot/Victor Harbor area takes an hour-and-a-half. Try to synchronise your run south with the Southern Expressway’s bizarre one-way system: it runs north-to-south on weekday mornings and weekend afternoons/evenings, then south-to-north on weekday afternoons/evenings and weekend mornings. If you misstime it, add 30 minutes of travel time for the slow crawl through the southern suburbs.
  • Taxis

    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.