The McLaren Winegrowing Region
Nestled in the gentle foothills of the South Mount Lofty Ranges, the McLaren wine growing region is yet another world-class collection of vineyards found within Adelaide's exciting backyard. Less than fifty kilometres directly south of the city centre, more than fifty rustic wineries grace the rolling countryside, concentrating on successful and popular grape varieties like shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. Most are still family owned and run, and besides a few of the larger operations,chances are your cellar door sales presentation will be made by the wine makers themselves (see Wineries under Things To Do). The quaint andcraft crazy historical towns hidden away amongst the rows of vinesonly add to the McLaren's appeal, as do the small holiday hamlets just a few kilometres away on the coast.
In the heart of the wine growing country, attractive McLaren Valeis the main township serving the district as well as the main touristcentre. The town is within easy striking distance of most of the region's wineries with tastings and sales, and hosts all of the renowned wine related celebrations held throughout the year. Thetownship itself is equally appealing, with the majority of its lovelyold buildings now restaurants, tearooms, galleries, and cosy B&B's. Lessthan five kilometres south of McLaren Vale, the charming historicalvillage of Willunga (Aboriginal for place of green trees) offers some other fine places to stay and eat, and is particularly wellknown for it's antique and craft shopping. Willunga is also one of the states largest almond producers, and if you're in the area during July,the colourful Almond Blossom Festival is the town's biggest event.
Closer to the coast six kilometres north-west of McLaren Vale, OldNoarlunga is another small historic town of the McLaren region,though these days it's practically an outer suburb of Adelaide. Despitethe inevitable urban expansion, the preservation of township's lovely 19th century buildings, churches, and hotels has secured its old-time charm. Nearby, the Gulf St Vincent coastline between the other outer suburb of Chisties Beach and the small holiday town of Aldinga Beach consists of a superb string of sandy beaches, ideal for fishing, swimming, skin diving, and sunbathing (nude if you like).
Southern Adelaide Hills
Less than half an hour from the city centre following the South EasternFreeway, Mount Barker is the largest town in the Adelaide Hills,serving the rich pastoral lands of the area. First settled over 160 years ago, there are numerous sites of interest around town, best discovered via one of several tourist trails outlined in the touristcentre's (23 Mann St) information leaflet. Mount Barker is also a favoured weekend destination, especially for those alighting the enchanting tourist train which travels south to Victor Harbor by wayof the picturesque and historic town of Strathalbyn.
23 kilometres south of Mount Barker, the National Trust classified townof Strathalbyn is one of the highlights on any visit to the Adelaide Hills. Set by the aptly named Angas River, the town's distinctScottish heritage has been well preserved through its many beautiful old buildings of unmistakable Celtic origin, and with community's enthusiastic participation in traditional events like the fantastic Glenbarr Scottish Festival, held every year in October. Besides the historic buildings and relaxing rural atmosphere, Strathalbyn's main tourist attraction is its amazing array of antique stores, galleries, and art and craft outlets, most of which are conveniently nestled together along King Street. The town is also often utilised by urbanites as a quiet country retreat, and there are many pleasant places to stay including a good variety of homely B&B's and guesthouses.
Back on the South Eastern Freeway and fifty kilometres east of Mount Barker, Murray Bridge is in flatter country overlooking a broadbend of the famed Murray River. First established in the early 1850's,the town quickly grew to South Australia's largest river port, servingthe then important river traders and transporters. Today the town supports the district's thriving agricultural industry, as well as itsever increasing influx of tourists, looking to enjoy the watersports,river cruises, and the variety of land-based activities on offer. Complimenting its diversity of attractions and entertainment, Murray Bridge boasts an excellent range of accommodation and places to eat which will help ensure an enjoyable stay.