The Fleurieu (pronounced floo-ree-oh) Peninsula is just a short drive from the South Australian capital Adelaide, but you can spend a long time exploring all this region has to offer. Sip McLaren Vale wines, trawl through antique stores and tackle plenty of ocean adventures, from sea kayaking to coastal walks.
Start early with coffee and breakfast at Kangarilla, 32km due south of Adelaide. Dawn Patrol Coffee offers a “cellar door” for single origin, hand-roasted coffee set among vineyards.
After a lazy breakfast, sample the award-winning wines of the McLaren Vale region. With more than 100 cellar doors in the area, start at d’Arenberg, a prolific red wine producer, and sign up for the blending bench where you create your own exclusive bottle of wine. If you’re in Willunga on a Saturday, pick up some beautiful produce at the farmer’s market. Enjoy lunch at The Elbow Room or The Barn Bistro in McLaren Vale town for local specialities.
Walk off your lunch shopping for antiques at Strathalbyn, where more than 60 heritage-listed buildings line the banks of the Angas River and are home to specialty antique, vintage, and art and craft shops. Time for another tasting and then dine on fresh local produce and stay at Red Poles, a place that brings together Fleurieu’s eclectic charms in the one spot. It’s a natural bush-set winery with a gallery showing the best of local art, a restaurant celebrating the region, and charmingly original accommodation.
On Sunday savour the views of Victor Harbor from The Bluff at the eastern end of the main beachfront. After walking around the area’s native scrubland, continue east to the next township and follow your nose to Port Elliot Bakery for breakfast. You’ll find a queue out the door for a very good reason: their savoury pastries are unbeatable, with lots of regional flavours. But if you want a place to sit down and eat, stop for breakfast at Flying Fish Café, then head across the road to overlook Horseshoe Bay.
At Rapid Bay, join Fleurieu Adventures for sea kayaking among the rugged, towering cliffs and cobalt water, or try your own snorkelling escapade among the leafy sea dragons that congregate near the bay’s parallel jetties. With all that activity, salt and fresh air, you’ll be ready for a good lunch and the Courthouse at Normanville is just a short drive north for Mediterranean-style share plates and tapas.
Relax into the afternoon at Links Lady Bay golf course on the outskirts of Normanville for superb sea views and the company of friendly kangaroos and native birds. Or if you find yourself here in winter, make the most of the season and take a Big Duck boat tour to see whales in and around Port Elliot and Encounter Bay.
For the final stop of the day, complete the eastern Fleurieu trifecta at Goolwa. Unlike Victor Harbor and Port Elliot, Goolwa is a river port set on the banks of the Murray River, very near the mouth where it joins the ocean. Hectors on the Wharf is a great spot for pelican watching and an afternoon coffee alongside the bridge to neighbouring Hindmarsh Island.
The best part of the day is yet to come, and when you pull up at Port Willunga’s Star of Greece restaurant you’ll see why. The site is reminiscent of cliff-top dining on the Greek Islands and it has long been heralded as South Australia’s leading five-star regional restaurant. Finish the day with a stay at Port Willunga Cottages.