The Clare Valley is about a 2 hour drive from Adelaide, not too far for a day trip, but there are plenty of accommodation options if you wanted to stretch your visit over a weekend. From a shady, family-friendly caravan park with cabins, camping and caravan sites to cosy B&Bs and motels and the Lakeside Country Club there is something for everyone.
Pop and I stayed at the Clare Valley Motel. It’s just on the edge of town, has a gorgeous pool and a view of trees from our window. We visited 2 wineries; Sevenhill and the Mad B*stard.
Sevenhill was originally a monastery and the links between the winery and the monastery are still strong, wine for Holy Communion is still made by the winery and in turn they support the Order’s charity work. The winery has a cellar you can visit (cool, aromatic and echo-y, kids would love it) and a huge, shady lawned area with picnic tables, equipment for lawn games and beautiful old plantings of exotic trees. Less than a kilometre down the road is the Richardsons Park Playspace, recently developed and with equipment to satisfy kids from toddlers to teens.
The Mad B*stard
The Mad B*stard winery has witty signage along the entrance road which leads through a leafy green tunnel and over a bridge to the back of the owner’s home. Watch for kangaroos grazing on the approach. This one is less child-friendly, but the wines are exquisite. Mark Barry likes to present himself as a grumpy old man, but we he was more than happy to chat with Pop about wine and to share local knowledge.
The main street boasts 3 hotels, all doing meals and a Subway, several cafes and Pancho’s Pizza and Pasta. Our top tips are cooked breakfast at Zest and dinner at Clare Asian Cuisine. Both made on-the-spot vegan specials that were truly memorable.
Horndale Wind Farm and Tesla Li-ion Battery
Pop and I took a side trip to Jamestown, only one hour away, to see the Horndale wind farm and the Tesla lithium ion battery. It is not signposted from the main road and I couldn’t find directions on Google either.
After asking around we found a poster in the window of the Tucker Café and it was easy to find once on the right road. The wind turbines are spectacular, and almost certainly even more so on a sunny day. They are majestic and virtually silent and you get quite close. The battery looks like a low white building in the distance. There are no signs to tell you what you are looking at which could be improved for tourists- two other cars arrived while we were there, so it is attracting attention.
Lakeside Miniature Railway
As we were scouting for a reason to return with our granddaughter, we followed the signs to the Lakeside Miniature Railway and we were not disappointed. The railway is built, maintained and run by volunteers. The track is 1.3km long and being extended; it travels through a tunnel and over 2 railway bridges and the volunteers are real Railway Men –the authenticity is simply amazing and gave Pop and I a chuckle.
There are 2 steam locomotives and 8 petrol or diesel-electric dressed in authentic South Australian historical paint schemes. Rides cost $2 and children under 3 ride free. They run services every 2nd and 4th Sunday with extra services on some public holidays. If you are planning to visit it would be worth checking their facebook page.