Looking for an unforgettable travel experience? Look no further than the charming and picturesque Clare Valley! With its rolling hills, scenic vineyards, and charming small towns, there’s no shortage of amazing things to do in Clare Valley.
Whether you’re a wine enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking for a relaxing escape from the city, this beautiful region has something for everyone.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the top things to do in Clare Valley, from wine tasting at world-renowned vineyards to hiking through breathtaking natural landscapes.
So, enjoy, as we uncover all the amazing experiences it has to offer!
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TL;DR? Here's the outline
- Where is Clare Valley
- Things to do in Clare Valley
- Taste the Clare Valley Wine
- Cycle the Riesling Trail
- Hike One of the Many Trails
- Check out an Art Gallery
- Visit during the Clare Valley Gourmet Week
- Explore Martindale Hall
- Learn about Organic Farming at Penobscot Farm
- Get Lost in the Mintaro Maze
- Explore Sevenhill Cellars
- Spend a Day Exploring Historical Burra
- Enjoy a Scenic Drive
- Enjoy Farm Life at Bungaree Station
- Check out the pink Lake Bumbunga
- Learn About the Clare Valley at a Museum
- Play with a Model Railway
- Pay Homage to Early Explorers at Pioneer Park
- Take a break at the Gleeson Wetlands
- Relax with a Beer at a Local Craft Brewery
- Visit a Lookout for Views of the Valley
- Look out for Local Markets and Special Events
- See the Silo Art at Farrell Flat, Owen and Eudunda
- Clare Valley Accommodation
- Places to Eat in Clare Valley
Where is Clare Valley
Clare Valley is located north of Adelaide, starting at the town of Tarlee in the south and extending to the north of Clare.
It takes between 90 minutes and 2 hours to drive from Adelaide to Clare Valley, depending on which part of the valley you are headed to.
The towns encompassed in the Clare Valley Region are: Auburn, Blyth, Burra, Clare, Farrel Flat, Leasingham, Mintaro, Penwortham, Sevenhill, Stockport, Tarlee and Watervale.
Driving is the most common way to get to the Clare Valley from Adelaide. There is little public transport in the region so having your own car to get around is a definite advantage. Of course, this may not be practical if your visit is going to include a lot of wine tasting.
If you do not want to drive, another good option is to arrange a tour or private transfer from Adelaide. There are many different options, but a good choice is this Clare Valley Tour from Adelaide (including pickup from the airport or cruise terminal)
A third option is to get a public bus. The service through the Clare Valley is limited, running only three times a week and you would need to be staying there for a couple of days, it won’t work for a day trip.
For more information, including timetables and fares, look at the Mid North service on YP Coaches website here.
The Clare Valley does have its own taxi service, conveniently called Clare Valley Taxis, Give them a call on 131008 to arrange transport around the area.
Things to do in Clare Valley
With so many things to see in Clare Valley, you will need at least a weekend to cover a good portion of it.
In between tasting wine at the best wineries, Clare Valley has to offer, you can see some great natural attractions, visit galleries and museums, eat and drink to your heart’s content, and then wear all those calories off with some exercise.
Here are all the best Clare Valley tourist attractions.
Taste the Clare Valley Wine
While in the Clare Valley, you need to visit at least one of the fantastic Clare Valley wineries. The Clare Valley wine region is well known for its Rieslings and is the premier region in Australia for these classic wines.
It’s closely followed by some really good full-bodied reds such as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a wide range of other varieties available in smaller amounts too. This is easily the most popular of the Clare Valley things to do.
There are over forty cellar doors dotted around the valley that provide wine-tasting opportunities. Some are big brands, such as Taylors and Jim Barry, or small boutique wineries such as Shut the Gate Wines.
Some wineries have on-site restaurants so make the perfect stop for lunch, like Pindarie for example. Try Pikes for a classic Riesling, and also a fabulous version that gets better with age.
Are you looking for things to do in the Clare Valley with dogs? You don’t have to miss out on wine tasting, many of the cellar dogs are pet friendly or have outdoor areas where your furry friend is more than welcome.
You can also book a dog-friendly wine tour if you don’t want to drive.
Cycle the Riesling Trail
If you are looking for a slower way to get around, how about hiring a bicycle for a day and cycling the Clare Valley Riesling Trail? The trail runs from Auburn in the south, finishing at Barinia Road north of Clare.
The basic route is 35km long, but there are a few additional loops that can also be incorporated to allow visits to many of the wineries along the way.
The trail uses what was once an old rail corridor, but it has now been turned into a dedicated bike and hiking trail.
Bicycles can be hired at each end of the trail, at Clare Valley Cycle Hire in Clare and Cogwebs Hub Cafe in Auburn or you can reserve your Clare Valley bike in advance here from Scoot the Valley in Clare.
I recommend choosing an e-bike to make riding through the Clare Valley vineyards a little easier.
Another option is to take it slowly with this three-day self-guided tour package, which includes your accommodation and meals and transports your luggage for you each day.
You can read about my experience riding the Riesling Trail and get more information here.
Hike One of the Many Trails
There are dozens of hiking trails around the Clare Valley. The Riesling Trail mentioned above works just as well for hiking as it does for cycling.
The Rattler Trail is another popular walk that goes from the town of Riverton and meets up with the beginning of the Riesling Trail in Auburn.
There is also over 100km of trails that comprise the Clare Valley Wine and Wilderness Trail, broken up into smaller sections that are much more manageable in a day.
Combine them all the see all the highlights. This is one of the best free things to do in Clare Valley.
While of course, you can tackle just a section of these longer walks, there are some shorter walks around too.
Try the Lomandra Walking Trail at Blyth, the Neagle’s Rock loop, or the Cascades Walk in the Spring Gully Conservation Park. For more details on walks in the area take a look at the Walking SA website here.
Check out an Art Gallery
There are all sorts of Art Galleries located throughout the Clare Valley showcasing a diverse range of artwork. Here are some of the ones you may like to visit:
- Arts Collective Clare Valley, Auburn
- Burra Regional Gallery, Burra
- Jenii Mac, Mintaro
- Clare Valley Art Gallery, Clare
Art lovers may also consider staying at the Irongate Studio B&B which features local artists that change from time to time throughout the year.
Visit during the Clare Valley Gourmet Week
The Clare Valley Gourmet Week occurs in May each year and it is the perfect opportunity to see all the local produce from the area. It is timed to celebrate the end of the grape harvest each year and the release of new vintage wines.
All of the wineries will get involved, organising special events such as masterclasses or huge degustation menus. There is a large farmers market, a gourmet hub and a local art exhibition.
Spend some time learning and tasting, then relax to some great live music with even more delicious food and wine.
In 2023, the Clare Valley Gourmet Week will run from the 19th to the 28th of May.
Explore Martindale Hall
If you are a lover of movie sets then Martindale Hall at Mintaro should be on your to-do list as it was featured in the iconic Australian film, “Picnic at Hanging Rock”. It’s a Georgian-style mansion completed in 1880 as the residence of a wealthy local pastoralist.
Martindale Hall is now set up as a living museum to show how this style of house would have been in the past. It has 32 rooms and it is rumoured to have had a staff of 14.
The grounds held all the objects of leisure for the wealthy of the time, including a polo ground, cricket pitch and boating lake.
Martindale Hall hours are Wednesday to Monday from 10 am to 4 pm (open every day in the school holidays)
Martindale Hall Entrance Fee is $18 per adult and $10 for children.
Learn about Organic Farming at Penobscot Farm
The folks at the beautiful Watervale Hotel are dedicated to organic, bio-dynamic farming on their property, Penobscot Farm.
They offer tours for gardening enthusiasts and guests at the Watervale Hotel to learn about what they are doing. The tour runs in conjunction with their 6-course degustation menu.
First, you see the gardens and then you get to taste the fruits of that labour, and I can tell you it is absolutely superb.
Information about the farm, the tours and the degustation menu can be found on the Watervale Hotel website here.
Get Lost in the Mintaro Maze
Another of the Mintaro attractions is the Mintaro Maze. This maze is made up of over 800 hedge plants to produce this European-style maze. It included all the usual twists and turns with surprises such as fountains in hidden corners throughout.
Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the maze and surrounds, or grab a meal in the on-site cafe. Pick up some local souvenirs and gifts in the gift shop. This is one of the best Clare Valley attractions for kids.
Mintaro Maze hours – 10 am to 4 pm Saturday, Sunday, public holidays and every day in the school holidays
Mintaro Maze Entrance Fee – Adults $18, Children (4-15) $10
Explore Sevenhill Cellars
To learn about some of the first European settlers in the area, stop into Sevenhill Cellars and take a look around. Yes, it’s a winery, but it was the first winery in the Clare Valley and there is actually a really interesting history that comes along with it.
Back in the 1840s, a group of Jesuits fled from religious persecution in Germany and Poland to Australia.
They first considered settling in the Barossa, but since it was already home to other Germans who didn’t like them back in Europe, they thought they would keep looking.
Eventually, they purchased 100 acres of land in 1849 and called the area Sevenhill after the seven hills of Rome.
Over 100 people initially settled here, and the first grapevines were planted in 1851 so that they could make their sacramental wine here instead of having to order it from Europe.
Wine-making was so important that the first thing they did was to dig out the wine cellar – using the stone they removed to start building some of the other buildings.
Today visitors can explore some of the old buildings, which include lots of information about those early settlers, including an early cottage, shrines, the College, church, and yes, the wine cellars, that are still in use today.
Sevenhill Cellars is still the largest producer of Sacramental Wine in Australia today, but they do also make delicious table wine – I especially recommend their fortified wines – so stop by for a taste after you have explored.
Spend a Day Exploring Historical Burra
Burra is a destination in itself, but it is also a part of the Clare Valley, Burra is historically a copper mining town, and back when it was in full production it was supplying 5% of the total copper in the world.
Now it is much smaller and serves as a hub for the local farmers, but it is considered one of the best-preserved Victorian towns in Australia.
While in town pick up the Burra Heritage Passport from the Burra and Goyder Visitor Information Centre and it will give you entry to eleven of the town’s attractions, such as the Monster Mine area, Redruth Gaol and the Unicorn Brewery cellars.
Enjoy a Scenic Drive
There are a number of scenic drives through the Clare Valley. Some you will find clearly signed as you drive around (such as the Spring Gully Loop and the Mintaro Loop), but there are some themed drives too.
Learn about Colin Thiele, the well-known South Australian author who is best known for Storm Boy. He was born in Eudunda, and there is a 25km drive around the town to see places significate to his younger years.
The Dare’s Hill driving trail is much more adventurous. Starting from either Burra or Hallett, it’s 165km of driving through the area, mostly on unsealed roads, so you will be really getting off the beaten path (the roads are okay for 2WD though).
Another option is the World’s End Driving Trail, again leaving Burra and travelling to Eudunda. You will see World’s End Gorge, and Porter’s Lagoon amongst other things.
Enjoy Farm Life at Bungaree Station
Bungaree Station was settled in 1841, just five years after the first settlers arrived in South Australia. Bungaree soon became the headquarters for a farming operation running over 100 000 merino sheep.
The homestead was its own small village with over fifty families living there. Today the working station is still owned by the same family and is now heritage listed. It offers visitors accommodation, day tours and a venue for functions.
Self-guided day tours are available anytime between 10 am and 4 pm every day and cost $15 per adult (kids under 12 free). Larger groups can contact the station in advance for guided tours.
People staying at Bungaree Station get the self-guided tour, as well as animal feeding, included for free.
To learn even more about Bungaree Station and the farming methods used today, 4WD guided “Behind the Farm Gate” tours are available. They need to be booked in advance, which can be done on the website here.
Check out the pink Lake Bumbunga
Pink lakes have been popping up all over social media lately, and just 30 minutes drive from the town of Clare is the Clare Valley pink lake – Lake Bumbunga.
This salt lake takes on a definite pink hue for much of the year (it may also be white or blue depending on the salinity of the water).
You can walk out into the lake to get that perfect Instagram photo as it’s very shallow, but ensure you are wearing decent shoes. While you are there, look out for the Loch Eel Monster, most easily seen from Highway One.
Learn About the Clare Valley at a Museum
Spend some time in one of the many Clare Valley museums to learn about the history and agriculture of the region. Here are a few suggestions
- Polish Hill River Church Museum, Sevenhill
- Bon Accord Mine Complex, Burra
- Morphett’s Enginehouse Museum, Burra
- Old Police Station and Courthouse Museum, Clare
Of course, you can also find lots of historical information at both Martindale Hall and Bungaree Station as listed above.
Play with a Model Railway
This is one of the most unique Clare activities. The Clare Valley Model Engineers have used their enthusiasm for all things train-related to set up a huge model railway.
The track is over 1km long and included bridges and tunnels. The sit-on trains are available for rides a few times a month for kids both big and small. For more information as to the hours, see their website here.
Pay Homage to Early Explorers at Pioneer Park
South Australia seems to like trees as a location for significant events (think the Old Gum Tree in Glenelg) and there is another one of them here in Pioneer Park in Clare.
The early explorers Bourke & Wills opened up the interior with their trip from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Unfortunately, they did not make it back to Melbourne and died near Coopers Creek in 1861.
The next year, the remains of the explorers were found and transported back to Melbourne in a solemn cavalcade for a state funeral.
On the journey, the party rested under the big Red Gum here in Pioneer Park, with mourners paying homage to the two men.
Today you can learn about their journey, and about other Europeans who were to settle and open up this land.
Take a break at the Gleeson Wetlands
Just near the centre of Clare are the Gleeson Wetlands, one of the most peaceful places to visit in Clare. This is the perfect spot to catch your breath and enjoy a relaxing walk.
There are three ponds connected by walkways and there is abundant birdlife in the area, so perfect for keen birdwatchers.
There has been a concerted effort in the last few years to bring the area back to its best with only native flora and fauna.
There are picnic areas available to use, so this is a good place to stop for a break as you are travelling through town.
Relax with a Beer at a Local Craft Brewery
While the Clare Valley might be all about wine, it’s not the only drink in town! There are two craft breweries that are brewing up a storm.
Clare Valley Brewing Company, located in Sevenhill, claims their beers have a unique taste from the water that is drawn from aquifers directly below the brewery.
CVBC produce a diverse core range and it can be found at locations all over Australia. I suggest to call into their local, the Sevenhill Hotel, and testing it out there.
Pikes might be well known for their wine, but they also brew beer on-site too. Pikes Beer Company features the familiar fish on its label and it’s kept all in the family with Alister Pike running the operation.
Their beer garden is open on site every day from 10 am to 4 pm, not only for beer tasting, but they provide meals and platters too.
Visit a Lookout for Views of the Valley
Throughout the Clare Valley, there are dozens of lookouts to get a great view of the surrounding countryside. Neagles Rock Lookout is one option, with a short walk of 300m through the scrub from the carpark to see the views across the valley.
You could also try Brooks Lookout on Blyth Road, Quarry Hill Lookout, or the Blue Gum Lookout in the Spring Gully Conservation Park.
Look out for Local Markets and Special Events
Throughout the year there will be markets and other special events all over the Clare Valley. The best way to keep up with the information is to check out the What’s On page of the Clare Valley website here.
If you are already in the Clare Valley, you can call into the Clare Valley Wine, Food, and Tourism Centre on Spring Gully Road in Clare for all your information and events and Clare tourist attractions.
See the Silo Art at Farrell Flat, Owen and Eudunda
Silo art is becoming a very popular attraction all over Australia, and there is one to see here in the Clare Valley. The tiny town of Farrell Flat is on the way to Burra, and it’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town.
Call in and have a look at the silos, grab a drink at the pub (they do coffee too!) and support this tiny community.
More silo art has been created in the nearby towns of Owen and Eudunda too.
Clare Valley Accommodation
There is almost every type of accommodation available in the Clare Valley, from camping to B&Bs, hotels to farm stays. Here are just a few selections to get you started on your search.
- Clare Valley Motel – located in Clare, a good budget option with motel-style accommodation. There is a pool and restaurant on site.
- Discovery Parks Clare – Great self-contained cabins sleeping up to four. Has a pool and playground on site, so perfect for families. Read my full review.
- Adagio in Auburn – cozy, romantic B&B in the town of Auburn. Breakfast is included, and rooms also have a kitchenette for convenience
- Bed in a Shed Vineyard Stay – located in Watervale, this B&B style accommodation has a fantastic rustic feel to it.
- Bukirk Glamping – stay near Clare in one of these unique glamping tents. It’s camping, just with all the luxuries of home.
- Paxton Square Cottages – stay in historic refurbished miner’s cottages in Burra, great for families
- Burra Motor Inn – standard motel accommodation in Burra
Places to Eat in Clare Valley
There is no shortage of delicious places to eat throughout the whole of the Clare Valley. There are many places that showcase local produce as well as perennial favourites such as great pub meals.
Many of the wineries offer amazing menus to complement their wines too. Some of my favourite Clare Valley restaurants are:
- Terroir Auburn for locally produced foods
- Rising Sun Hotel, Sevenhill Hotel, Watervale Hotel, Magpie & Stump Hotel for pub meals
- Umbria Rustic in Clare for Italian
- Little Red Grape Bakery in Sevenhill or Clare Rise Bakery for lunch on the go
- Indii of Clare for Indian
- Skillogalee for great meals at a winery
- Wild Saffron in Clare for a cafe-style meal
I hope you enjoy your time in the Clare Valley
Visiting more great South Australian locations? These posts might help
Adelaide 3-Day Itinerary
Glamping South Australia – The Ultimate Guide to Camping in Style
The Ultimate List of What to Do on Kangaroo Island
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