'I grew up on Adelaide's Fleurieu Coast. Here are my top recommendations.'

McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast
Thanks to our brand partner, McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast

Welcome to South Australia, I’ll be your guide today because I, Claire Murphy, am a Southie. A what? I hear you ask! I am someone who grew up south of the city of Adelaide and in particular, on the Fleurieu Peninsula. 

When I’m back home visiting, my favourite thing to do is rent a beach house in McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast. Many are built to take advantage of water views and have little private tracks down to the beach. There's nothing like falling asleep to the sound of the waves or heading out for an evening dip to cool off. McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast have some of the finest South Australian restaurants, cafes, pubs, wineries, breweries, distilleries and outdoor activities. There is nothing quite like it.

Before we continue, let me advise that we pronounce this word with seemingly way too many vowels, Floo-re-oh. It's a fancy French name, one that belonged to Charles Pierre Claret de Fleurieu, he was an explorer admired by Nicolas Baudin who explored the south coast of South Australia back in 1802.

So, as a local, here's some insider info on the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast: where to go, what to eat, where to get the best wine, and how to pronounce all the things in your best posh South Australian accent. 

If you want any more tips and tricks, head to the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast website to plan your trip.

Where to eat

This is tough because there are literally thousands of great places to get amazing local food into your belly. So let me tell you where to get the best pizza.

Pizzateca in McLaren Vale and it’s so freaking cool, they also seasonally open a beachside eatery at Aldinga over the Christmas and New Year school holidays (which is reason enough to visit twice). They label themselves Oztalian cuisine: Southern Italian traditions, South Australian conditions. 


If you happen to be in the neighbourhood when they put on a long lunch, buy a ticket immediately! 

Now, if pizza isn't your craving, The Salopian Inn in McLaren Vale is known for its seasonal menu and kitchen garden. The service is fantastic, and you may even get to pick your own wine from the cellar – always a win. 


For my sweet-toothed friends, Becks Bakehouse in Port Noarlunga is a must-visit. Hear me when I tell you to run, don’t walk, to get in that line and get one of these life changing treats.

Beaches to visit

My local beach is lovingly referred to as Porties (it’s actually called Port Noarlunga). It's where the jetty stretches out to a reef that runs parallel to the coastline giving it a natural buffer to the ocean and making it the perfect spot to take tiny humans for a dip.


It’s a top place to snorkel with plenty of fish species darting in and around the reef. There’s also a really big anchor down on the seabed which no one seems to know the origin of. As a kid it was a rite of passage to hold your breath and dive down through the anchor and back up again.

The Mid Coast Surf Reserve in Port Noarlunga South is where you’ll find wild surf breaks and a dolphin or two. The beach is stunning and secluded, and features an esplanade, making it a favourite among locals.

If you like to take the car on the beach and set up for the full day then head a little further south.

Aldinga, Moana, Sellicks and Silversands are all incredibly long pristine stretches of sand that you can drive on, get out a paddle board, and walk just a few metres to the water's edge. The water is pristine turquoise and the long stretch of sand is great for a spot of beach cricket or a picnic.


Must-visit wineries

I think I may have found the perfect South Aussie winery. 

Berg Herring Wines at Sellicks is set up in a little converted sandstone chapel that was built in the 1860s. (The owners told me they called it this because he loves Burger Rings but I’m not sure if I’ve been hoodwinked into a tall tale.)

After you grab a bottle of crisp rosé from the cellar door, wander outside and set up on the grass among the beanbags and blankets set out for you and cast your eyes across the paddocks that have a view all the way down to the ocean.


They don't have a restaurant but encourage you to pack a picnic basket to enjoy out on the grass. And if you get hungry for something more, the iconic Victory Hotel is literally just up the road.

Of course you must then head into McLaren Vale for a wine tour. There are over 80 amazing little cellar doors dotting the landscape, from Molly Dooker whose red wine bottle you have to shake to get the best taste; Hugh Hamilton Wines which has a 270 degree view across incredible rolling hills of vines; and Samuel’s Gorge which looks like it just stepped out of Tuscany while also at the same time being a throwback to old colonial Australia.

If you want something truly unique, get yourself booked into The d'Arenberg Cube. It’s a glass structure that looks a bit like a Rubik’s cube that a giant kid has left half done in the middle of a vineyard.

It’s 5 levels of sensory fun created by eccentric McLaren Vale character Chester Osborne, a fourth generation winemaker whose great grandfather founded the winery that’s now famous for its red slash bottle label and now, the cube. It has two restaurants (d'Arry's Verandah and the more recent Singapore Circus restaurant), a virtual fermenter, a 360 degree video room, and an alternate reality museum. It costs $20 to get in but you get $5 back if you purchase a couple of bottles.  


Things to do

If you’re a foodie, you can't miss the award-winning Willunga Farmers Market, which is on every Saturday no matter the weather. I will personally vouch for the local produce, it’s the freshest that South Australia has to offer. 


And if you’re like me, you will always come home with something new. 

Adrenaline junkies, there’s something for you too. From Aldinga Beach you can skydive and take in the stunning coastline while also being able to see the spectacular wine country at the same time. 

If hiking or long walks are your jam, there are a ton of trails to choose from in the area, and of course there's the iconic Onkaparinga National Park and Flat to Vale trail. The trail is a cheeky 3.6km walk that connects McLaren Vale to McLaren Flat, with bird life and vineyards. If you're lucky, you might even spot some sheep amongst the vines. 

If you'd rather a road trip, the Route 31 Coastal Drive has spectacular views and features the best of our seaside villages.


And if cycling is your passion, pull up a camp chair along the roads of the Fleurieu as the Tour Down Under races through the region in January.

I could honestly go on for days about this amazing slice of South Australia. It’s not just home to me but an incredible mix of sea and vines, of activity and rest, of food and wine! 

To get around, you’re best hiring a car, but if you're doing wineries, reach out to one of the many tour operators (there's even the option for an e-bike tour) who can take you around for the day or the weekend. 

It’s only 40 minutes south of Adelaide and there are tons of places to stay from winery accommodation to little Bed and Breakfasts, beach holiday homes and hotels (I’d offer you my brother’s Sellicks beach house but I don’t think he’d appreciate it!).

So come on down to McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast – once you get there, the place will win you over I promise, one glass at a time.

For more details on all the things McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast head to the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast website or check out their socials.

Feature Image: Supplied/Mamamia/@mclarenvaleandfleurieucoast. 

McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast
Discover McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast - the only place in Australia where you can experience stunning beaches and a world renowned wine region in under 40 minutes from a capital city, and it's all on Adelaide's doorstep! Take a deep breath and relax with long walks on spectacular white sandy beaches with pristine waters, or take a dip, surf, or explore the reefs. Pair this with some of Australia’s best wines, seasonal menus featuring local produce or check out award winning microbreweries, distilleries and coffee roasters too. This is where you will find South Australia's good life!