Jutting into the ocean south of Adelaide towards pristine Kangaroo Island, the Fleurieu Peninsula offers some of South Australia’s finest produce, including the McLaren Vale wine-growing region. In season, Encounter Bay is one of South Australia’s favorite whale-watching destinations.
With structures like the striking D’Arenberg Cube—a tasting room and gallery designed like a giant Rubik’s cube—and big brand names such as Penfolds, it can be easy for McLaren Vale to pull focus from the rest of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Yet food tours reveal a wealth of gourmet produce, from locally made cheeses to cured meats, olive oil, chocolates, craft beer, and even artisan gin. Tours generally leave from nearby Adelaide and may take in city venues such as the Adelaide Central Market.
Things to know before you go
- The drink-driving limit in South Australia is 0.05 percent blood alcohol content, a little over half the USA’s 0.08 percent limit. Tours are recommended for anyone who will be tasting wine, beer, or other liquor.
- The Fleurieu Peninsula is generally stroller-friendly. A minimum age of 18 applies for wine tasting.
- At least one operator runs wheelchair-friendly whale-watching cruises; most big McLaren Vale wineries are wheelchair-accessible, and there are wheelchair-friendly routes on Kangaroo Island, as well as accessible accommodation.
How to get there
Compact, by Australian standards, the Fleurieu Peninsula begins about 40 minutes’ drive south of Adelaide and protrudes about 40 miles (65 kilometers) into the Great Australian Bight. Cape Jervis—on the western tip—has ferries to Kangaroo Island; while there are buses to individual towns, most travelers will want to experience the peninsula with their own vehicle or on a tour.
When to get there
The whale-watching season runs from May through September. The grape harvest happens during Australia’s fall season—generally April. South Australia’s scorching summer and climate change mean bushfires are an increasing risk between November and February.
Victor Harbor Whale Watching
Victor Harbor on the Fleurieu Peninsula’s Encounter Bay is known for its whale-spotting opportunities. Southern right whales can be seen between May and September, with the highest frequencies in Australia’s winter—June through August. The area also hosts visiting dolphins, orcas, humpbacks, baleen whales, and even the rare blue whale.
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