South Australia – Road Tripping from Penola to McLaren Vale



It’s that time of year again. It’s time for us to make our annual expedition to South Australia to watch a little of the Tour Down Under, stock up on wine and pig out on scallop and prawn pies.

This year we decide to make Penola our midpoint stop. We left home a day later than intended because of the crazy heatwave that hit Eastern Australia and by all accounts that was a good idea. The Coonawarra is known for its Cabernet Sauvignons, not a wine that takes well to being chilled.

We had intended to eat lunch at a casual café we had eaten at a few years ago but when we arrived they were booked out for lunch.  Instead we ate at Hollicks, a rather posh winery, dressed in our traveling clothes. They didn’t seem to mind.  I figure that you can get away with this if you order ludicrously expensive sparkling water to go with your meal.




We were told an amusing story when tasting their wines about the CSIRO in Spain posting out the wrong cuttings.  The story is amusing because 3 years later they realised that they had Savagnin, a varietal that still worked in the unique soil and climate combination of the Coonawarra and made a very nice wine. The tale would not have been so amusing if the grape had not worked.

Next stop was Di Giorgio to pick up one of Ben’s old favourites, fortified Shiraz. We can’t call it port anymore but we still drink it with gusto. I also purchased an awesome cheese board made out the lid of a wine barrel.

Ben had tried a local cider with his meal at Hollicks, so local that the waiter pointed out the window and across the vines to show us where it was made.

Applation is the only cider made in the Coonawarra and is available from Patrick’s. After tasting their wines we left with a 4 pack of cider and a box of rose.




Our stop over in Penola was getting expensive.  Time to do some free stuff.




Finally, after 4 visits to the area I made a trip down Pennycoat Lane, a street of heritage listed homes in Penola. Unfortunately we went there after dinner and everything was closed.  We had to contend with looking through windows.




But we did stumble upon a little gem, a national trust, heritage garden, where produce could be had for a donation.  I’ve got some garlic and dill seeds to plant when I get home.




The next morning we packed up bright and early and made our way to McLaren Vale.  We could have driven straight to the main highway between Melbourne and Adelaide but instead decided to take the more scenic route along the Coorong.

We stopped at Kingston for a decadent breakfast of crayfish sandwiches. Ok so I bought them at the servo and ate it on my lap in the car but it was still crayfish and that makes it fancy.




Part of the detour involved getting on the ferry at Wellington, free boat ride!




Now we have settled in at McLaren Vale, hopefully we’ll find a few more wine bargains.

But this morning we did learn something new and very useful. We learnt how to break into our caravan after Ben locked himself out.



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