McLaren Vale

Population 2907

McLaren Vale is recognised as a world-class region of vineyards, orchards and gourmet-produce farms. The first grape vines were planted here in 1838, just two years after Adelaide was settled, and McLaren Vale has remained a prominent wine region ever since. Shiraz is the most transcendent drop and is known for its overtones of dark chocolate. Cabernet sauvignon, grenache, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are also very respectable. Coriole makes wonderful shiraz as well as olive oil, while d'Arenberg has many interesting varieties and a good restaurant, d'Arry's Verandah. Other wineries to visit include Geoff Merrill Wines and two of the oldest and biggest names in the district: Hardys Tintara and Rosemont Estate. The best time to visit the region is late winter, when almond blossoms provide a gentle pink blush. The town is also known for its coastal vistas to the west, which provide subject matter for the artists who exhibit in the galleries.

Visitor Information

McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Visitor Centre, Main Rd; (08) 8323 9944 or 1800 628 410

Nearby national parks

Nearby towns

  • Willunga

    The historic town of Willunga grew rapidly around the slate quarries, which drove the town's economy until the late 1800s. Fortunately,...more

  • Aldinga Beach

    The rolling hills of the southern Mount Lofty Ranges form the backdrop to Aldinga Beach, a long curve of white sand facing Gulf St Vincent....more

  • Yankalilla

    Since the first land grant in 1842, Yankalilla has been the centre of a thriving farming industry. It is a growing settlement just inland...more

In Town

McLaren Vale visitor centre: picturesque, landscaped grounds with a vineyard.The center also features changing art exhibitions, sales of local craft and produce, and a cafe; Main Rd; (08) 8323 9944.

The Artel: community cooperative of local crafts including pottery, jewellery and metalwork; Main Rd.

Almond and Olive Train: sales of local produce, including almonds, in a restored railway carriage; Main Rd.

McLaren Valley Bakery: produces unique 'wine pies'; Central Shopping Centre, Main Rd.

Lloyd Bros Olive Grove: grows over 26 varieties of olives and sells olive products, arts and crafts, and local gourmet produce; Warners Rd.

Roburn Menz FruChocs Showcase: tastings and sales of gourmet chocolate and other confectionery. Also has an interactive confectionery machine for kids; Main Rd.

McLaren Vale Heritage Trail: self-guided trail of historic sites, including wineries, with audio CD available; starts at visitor centre.


Onkaparinga River National Park The Onkaparinga River, SA’s second longest river, travels through valleys and gorges to Gulf St Vincent. The walks in Onkaparinga Gorge are impressive, but very steep. More regulated walking trails are on the northern side of the gorge. The estuary section of the park is an altogether different environment and is best explored on the 5 km interpretive trail. Look out for the 27 species of native orchids. Access is via Main South Rd, Old Noarlunga; (08) 8278 5477; 7 km NW.

Old Noarlunga: self-guide tour of historic colonial buildings (brochure available). Walks into Onkaparinga National Park start from here; 7 km NW.

Port Noarlunga: popular holiday destination with historic streetscapes. A marked underwater trail along the reef is provided for divers and snorkellers; 11 km NW.

Coastal beaches: safe family beaches to the north-west include O'Sullivan, Christies and Moana.

Eco-friendly activities around town

Swimming with dolphins off Glenelg 27 km

Since 2002, the eco-accredited Temptation Sailing has offered a ‘swim with the dolphins sail’ on a 17-metre catamaran out of Glenelg, in which the bottlenose and common dolphins reputedly come to the vessel... Find out more

Mountain-biking near Adelaide 33 km

Eagle Mountain, 12 kilometres south-east of the CBD, is well set up for mountain-bikers, with around 21 kilometres of cross-country tracks, a skills development park and a jumps area. You can hire mountain bikes for the... Find out more

Aboriginal gallery, Adelaide 34 km

The Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery at the South Australian Museum holds the largest collection of Aboriginal artefacts in the world. Some 3000 are on display at any one time.... Find out more

Adelaide Zoo 34 km

With its catchphrase ‘We exist to save animals from extinction’, this is another of Australia’s excellent zoos. Visit the Giant Panda enclosure to see the Wang Wang and Funi. The sea-lion display... Find out more

Whale-watching on the Fleurieu Peninsula 37 km

Between May and October, southern right whales often cruise right next to the shore of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Popular viewing spots include Port Elliot, Goolwa, Middleton and Victor Harbor, but your best starting point... Find out more

Swimming along the Fleurieu Peninsula 37 km

There are plenty of great swimming beaches along the peninsula. Victor Harbor has a plethora to choose from – including Kent Reserve and Dump Beach – but there is also Horseshoe Bay at Port Elliot, and the... Find out more

Birdwatching around the Fleurieu Peninsula 38 km

Abutting the Coorong, and with wetlands, beaches and a wide variety of terrain, the Fleurieu Peninsula is a top spot for birdwatching. There is a hide off Barrage Road at Goolwa, and the Goolwa Effluent Ponds can have... Find out more

Diving and snorkelling off the Fleurieu Peninsula 44 km

Some of the state’s best diving – particularly in-shore and around jetties – is on the Fleurieu Peninsula, with leafy sea dragons, shipwrecks, dolphins and myriad fish species. Second Valley is great... Find out more

Golf courses around town

Glenelg Golf Club 29 km

Glenelg is to Adelaide what Bondi is to Sydney – the city’s most popular beach suburb. The terminus for the City to Bay tram, a Glenelg icon, can be found where Jetty Rd meets the beach, where you will... Find out more

Kooyonga Golf Club 32 km

Kooyonga is a thinking player’s golf course. One of the game’s greatest strategists, Peter Thomson, gave an insight into what is required to play well at Kooyonga after winning the 1972 Australian Open here.... Find out more

Links Lady Bay Resort 34 km

‘A pleasurable golf course,’ Dr Alister MacKenzie once wrote, ‘is not necessarily one that appeals at first sight, but rather one that grows on a player like good music, good painting, or good... Find out more

Royal Adelaide Golf Club 36 km

In the city of churches, Royal Adelaide is the golfing equivalent of the Vatican. Every visiting golfer should make a pilgrimage to this Dr Alister MacKenzie-designed layout, one of Australia’s top 10 courses,... Find out more

The Grange Golf Club (West Course) 37 km

Melbourne’s sandbelt wasn’t the only region in which golf course construction was booming during the 1920s. Various sites in Adelaide’s western suburbs – Kooyonga in 1922, Glenelg in 1926... Find out more

The Grange Golf Club (East Course) 37 km

Vern Morcom was working on the final changes to The Grange’s West course redesign when the club announced plans for a second course. Morcom was asked to design it, on 150 acres of adjoining land, and the East... Find out more

Cafes & restaurants around town

d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant

This favourite haunt is nestled under the same cottage roof as d’Arenberg’s cellar door, and the views of vineyards rolling to the coast are as delectable as the food. In fact, given the kitchen’s... Find out more

Red Poles

There’s a lot happening here: art on the walls, a B&B out the back, live music on Sundays and an affable cafe. Embraced by vines and bushland, this rammed-earth and iron-clad building has great verandahs for... Find out more

Vale Inn Taphouse & Kitchen

Dating from 1851, this quaint cottage is a seasoned veteran in the Fleurieu dining scene. As well as its own three-roomed wine cellar downstairs, the inn now also hosts the tasting rooms for Dowie Doole and Gemtree... Find out more

The Kitchen Door

Despite being ensconced in a corrugated-iron shed at Penny’s Hill cellar door, this is a surprisingly serious lunchtime venue. And it’s no ordinary shed. Indoors you’re met by smartly dressed tables,... Find out more

Nearby eco-friendly places to eat

Goodlife 27 km

This innovative restaurant and takeaway not only makes carbon-neutral pizzas, but also places an emphasis on sourcing produce that is organic and local. Takeaway pizzas here even come tied up with string.... Find out more

The Organic Market and Cafe 28 km

This bustling cafe and organic produce outlet in Stirling was the national winner of the best organic retailer award. Something of an institution in the area, it has delicious antipasto platters and great coffee. About... Find out more

The Locavore 28 km

The Locavore (‘local eater’) at Stirling in the Adelaide Hills sticks to the ‘100-mile’ philosophy of sourcing food, which in its case includes the Barossa, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and the... Find out more

Nearby breweries

South Australian Brewing Company 34 km

Established in 1888, the South Australian Brewing Company became the state’s dominant beer-maker by steadily acquiring competitors like the Kent Town Brewery, West End Brewery and the Walkerville Co-operative... Find out more

Brewboys 38 km

One of the country’s newest craft beermaking enterprises, Brewboys is a partnership between Stephen Nelsen and Simon Sellick, who also operate the contract brewing company Fresh Cellars. At present they utilise a... Find out more

Coopers Brewery 38 km

More than any other Australian brewery, Coopers has grown significant market share over the past two decades on the back of increased demand for alternative beer styles. It was established in 1862 by Yorkshireman Thomas... Find out more

The Steam Exchange Company 39 km

South Australia seems to have more than its fair share of craft breweries in significant historical locations, and The Steam Exchange Brewery is no exception. It’s housed in a heritage-listed former railway goods... Find out more

Adelaide Hills Craft Brewing 46 km

Located in the former Onkaparinga woollen mill complex at Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills, this brewery/bar is run by Alistair Turnbull and Phil Jones. The pair turned their backs on careers in banking to study brewing in... Find out more

Campsites around town

Jacks Paddock camping area 13 km

Opposite Kuitpo Hall, with access from Christmas Hill Rd, this paddock campground is 11 km south of Meadows. With a restored barn and horseyards, it’s recommended for group camping. Arrange your booking and permit... Find out more

Woodcutters Cottage 14 km

This former youth hostel is a 4-room stone cottage with a lounge, kitchen and sleeping room for 12, plus room nearby for tents. It is just 2 km from the information centre on Brookman Rd. Booking is necessary and a... Find out more

Chookarloo camping area 16 km

Creekside camping is permitted just 1.5 km from Kuitpo’s main information centre, 8 km south-west of Meadows on Brookman Rd.... Find out more

Rocky Creek Hut camping area 20 km

On the Heysen Trail, this camping area next to a cottage is on Razor Back Rd, 7 km north-west of Meadows. The stone cottage has a wood heater, sink, rainwater tank and sleeping platforms for 8. There is a short walk from... Find out more

Cole Crossing camping area 21 km

Around 17 km north-east of Mt Compass, this peaceful camping area is reached from Cole Crossing Rd, 6 km south of Mt Magnificent Rd. No fires: only gas/fuel stoves are permitted.... Find out more

Belair Park Caravan Park 26 km

Just off Upper Sturt Rd, close to the national park’s main entrance, this well-equipped caravan park has a playground and pool. Book ahead during peak holiday times, and bring a gas/fuel stove.... Find out more

Brownhill Creek Recreation Caravan Park 27 km

At this surprising natural nook just a few minutes south from Adelaide, mighty river red gums flank the creek, part of a major valley catchment. There are picnic areas and trails exploring the valley and beyond. To get... Find out more

Waitpinga camping area 46 km

Sheltered sites are set amongst coastal scrub a short stroll from Waitpinga Beach, 16 km south-west of Victor Harbor. Access is from Range and Dennis rds. A permit is required and cooking is by gas/fuel stove only.... Find out more

Barker Knoll camping area (boat-based camping) 50 km

This is a great beach location for self-sufficient campers, right at the Murray Mouth and reached only by boat via Goolwa or Mundoo Channel, or from Hindmarsh Island. Pick up a permit from the self-registration station.... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

McLaren Vale Lakeside Caravan Park 1 km

This is a spacious, quality park amid the vineyards of the McLaren Vale region. If you want to experience the great wines from the multitude of cellar-door outlets, you will find the park the best base on this part of... Find out more

Moana Beach Tourist Park 7 km

Only a short distance from the Moana town centre and close to the beach, this park is also not far from Adelaide’s southern suburbs. Bookings are required at Christmas, January, Easter and long weekends. There is a... Find out more

Big 4 Port Willunga Tourist Park 7 km

In a quiet rural location about 4 km from Aldinga, this is a spacious park with well-established shady trees. Bookings are necessary at Christmas, January, Easter and long weekends and a minimum-stay period applies.... Find out more

Mount Compass Caravan Park 17 km

As neat as a pin, this newer caravan park in a rural setting has reached a high standard in its early years. It is a great inland base for exploring the Fleurieu Peninsula. Bookings are required in peak periods.... Find out more

Brighton Caravan Park and Holiday Village 20 km

Just 17 km from Adelaide city, this tourist park enjoys absolute beach frontage and has a nice, relaxed feel. It is a popular family park and bookings are essential during busy holiday periods. A 2-night minimum-length... Find out more

Marion Holiday Park 22 km

This tourist park in the southern suburbs is close to the enormous Marion shopping centre. It has very good amenities, shaded areas and good facilities including a recreation room and a tennis court. It makes a good base... Find out more

Brown Hill Creek Tourist Park 27 km

This picturesque owner-operated park is set in the Adelaide foothills, 7 km south-east of the city. Its 120-acre bushland setting offers lots of shade and facilities include a tennis court. A minimum-stay period applies... Find out more

Jetty Caravan Park - Normanville 33 km

This is a neat tourist park alongside the beach. Bookings are required during Christmas and Easter holidays and a minimum-stay period applies at Christmas, January, Easter and long weekends.... Find out more

Port Elliot Holiday Park 37 km

Located just 2 km from Port Elliot, between Victor Harbor and Goolwa in a fabulous beachfront position, this is an excellent place to stay year round. We feel this is one of the great seaside caravan parks on the... Find out more

Levi Park Caravan Park 37 km

Levi Park is just 5 km from the city and a very good base for exploring central Adelaide. It has shady caravan sites and pleasant grassy tent sites, all located in a magnificent historic garden. The River Torrens flows... Find out more

Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Bellevue B&B

Exceptional service and creative menu ideas have garnered this hosted B&B many awards and a legion of fans. Centrally located, it’s within close range of town and a constellation of big name wineries. The... Find out more

McLaren Ridge Log Cabins

Take your pick from a trio of outstanding log cabin retreats in the thick of McLaren Ridge’s vineyards. All three enjoy views of the surrounding vales and enfolding hills that make this region so spectacular.... Find out more

Aunt Amanda’s Cottage

Many venues promise country charm – but few are so gloriously realised or in such a setting as this quintessential farm cottage. Delightfully hidden on a 22-hectare property in the Kangarilla hills, it’s just... Find out more

Eco-friendly places to stay around town

Clarion Hotel Soho 33 km

Completed at the end of 2008, this five-star boutique hotel was designed with many hidden environmental features, such as water-recycling systems, sustainable building materials and airflow and passive cooling to reduce... Find out more

Ridgetop Retreats 51 km

Three funky, architecturally designed cabins sit in quiet seclusion in Deep Creek Conservation Park at the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula. They have solar hot water, composting toilets, two bedrooms, floor-to-ceiling... Find out more

What's on around town

Harvest Festival: month-long food and wine festival; Jan. Sea and Vines Festival

music, food and wine; June.

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