Thursday 6 to 8 October 2016  - Black Point to Clare Valley

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October 7th 2016
Published: October 7th 2016
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Thursday 6 October 2016 - Black Point to Clare Valley

Black Point, primarily a beach holiday town on the east coast of Yorke Peninsula, offered us beautiful weather although the morning was a little breezier than the night before. During the evening the sea was like glass, however there were a few white caps further out to sea. This sun was still shining.

We headed for Ardrossan and was looking forward to eating mini-Kitchener buns we had with Sheryl & Brian when we were last there. We arrived at the brilliant red cliff face which backed the beach area, and parked our vans to walk to the bakery. Sadly, they only had large Kitchener buns and they put too much jam in them so they were a bit too sweet. We had become connoisseurs of the Kitchener buns and so they had to be right. This batch got about a 5 out of 10. We were still looking forward to them being made in the German regions of SA!!!!

After coffee, we headed for Port Wakefield for fuel before heading through Lochiel and Blyth to Claire where we were going to stay for several days. As we drove through Blyth we saw several building that had lost their rooves during the storm of several days previously. We also saw many large trees up-rooted and continued to many throughout the Clare Valley.

We checked into the Clare Caravan Park which was the 1st day they had returned to operating since the storm. Parts of the Park had been flooded and power was down. They also lost many large trees so many areas were impassable. By the time we got there, they had done an amazing job. If it wasn’t for the massive pile of recently sawn up logs, we wouldn’t have known they had gone through such bad times. All the vans that were in the Caravan Park during the storm had to be relocated to the Show ground across the road.

The first thing we did was to go into the town and find a great coffee place – which is not difficult in Clare. We then headed for Knappstien Winery & Brewery because on “our list” was to visit the 3 Breweries in the Clare Valley as well as some wineries. Knappstien made some great wines which we knew well but were not familiar with their pale ale.

We did a tasting of their brew and decided to buy a pack of 4. It wasn’t ‘hoppy’ and had a mild passionfruit flavour. We had to be conscious that it was 5.6% alcohol so it was to be respected!

We then decided to visit Skillogalee Wines and Brewery and headed the long way around near the Spring Gully Conservation Park and to Sevenhills. This is where we found a lot of big trees over the road which had been cut through, to clear the road. By the time we found the right place, we were too late so decided to come back the next day. At least we knew where to go.

Back at the caravan, we cooked a steak and the 4 of us enjoyed sitting outside in the warm evening chatting over a red /white wine and planning for the coming days. The van park was certainly well appointed with fantastic camp-kitchen (even 3 pizza ovens) and bathroom facilities. We were looking forward to seeing more of the Clare Valley, Riesling Trail and the Mintaro region.

Friday 7 October 2016

A full day in the Clare Valley was an adventure we were looking forward to. Sheryl, my sister drove up from Freeling to join us. It was great to have someone with local knowledge with us.

We headed east of the Horrocks Highway and spotted the Quarry Hill Lookout. This gave us a fantastic view over the Clare Valley and an overview of where we were going to travel.

It was a beautiful day with the breeze sometimes causing us to rug up a little and it showered with rain for a very short time. However, going in and out of wineries and other special sites of the Valley gave us the protection we needed.

The first stop was the Pikes Wines Brewery where they made 4 different beers and a stout as well as wines. They specialised in Rieslings which we bought after the tasting. Doug got a rack of all 5 beers/stout with 150ml in each glass which we all shared.

The Pikes Winery also had an art gallery which was interesting. The Polish Church had a museum in it which was full of history of the region but we didn’t go in.

We popped into the Paulett Winery and ended up having coffee and scones there as the view was terrific, looking over yet another valley. This was in the Sevenhill area. Some of the vineyards had a mat of yellow dandelions growing between the row of vines which looked spectacular. The wild flowers were certainly giving us an amazing sceptical of white, yellow and orange flowers backed by the beautiful old gnarly-barked trees. It was incredible to take it all in.

We were going to the Skillogalee Winery and restaurant for lunch but they didn’t have enough seets for us. The last time we were at Skillogalee was with Brian & Sheryl where we sat under the massive olive tree. It however was just starting to sprinkle with rain so that wasn’t an option.

We drove over to Mintaro and ended up having lunch at Reilly’s Winery Restaurant. The meal was magnificent. They make a beautiful shiraz which we tasted, bought a bottle of it to drink over lunch, and several extra to take back to the van. It was a lovely ‘drop’. As Sheryl said, life is too short not to have good wine.

Our meal was fantastic – curries, haloumi and lentil duck were the orders. There wasn’t too much left on our 5 plates so everyone must had enjoyed their food!!!!

Next was a hidden treasure of the Clare Valley. Martindale Hall is a Georgian styled with Italianate influenced sandstone mansion which has significant heritage value in South Australia. Built in 1879 – 1880 for Edmund Bowman Jr. at a cost of £30,000 it has some 32 rooms and boasts a large cellar of some 7 rooms.

Edmund surrounded the home with a polo ground, a racecourse, a boating lake and a cricket pitch where the English 11 played at least once. William Tennant Mortlock acquired the property in 1891 due to Edmund’s finances suffering severely first during the 1885 onwards drought followed by a depression in Australia which led to a dramatic fall in wool prices.

To visit Martindale Hall today we found it a unique experience of a living museum, a step back in time to the days of gracious living on a large pastoral estate late in the 1800’s to early 1900’s. Where a rumoured 14 servants 4 of which lived in the hall and on call 24 hrs a day looked after the needs of two people, such was the extravagant upper class lifestyle of the wealthy pastoralist. It is now part of the National Trust and is beautifully presented. The double staircase was a spectacular entrance to the building. The only downside was due to the very high ceilings; it was very cold inside. However, we endured this to see 22 of the rooms.

On the way back to our caravan park, we stopped in at the Mintaro Maze but it had just closed. Non the less, it was an interesting spectacle, including the very neatly trimmed cone-shaped tree which Tom walked under – see the photo.!!!!

Back at the caravan park we had a cup of coffee before saying goodbye to Sheryl. Leura, Doug, Tom and I then went over to the Food & Wine Visitor’s Information Centre which adjoined the caravan park. Each Friday night they organize a different winery to display their wines for tasting and provide a bit of food. It was a great chance to meet new people and find out more about the Clare Valley.

It seemed as though we had been eating and drinking all day ….well perhaps we did!!!! Neither Tom nor I felt like dinner so we just had a light snack and settled down for the evening. It had been another great day!!

Additional photos below
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