TRAVEL

Men’s Style VIS­ITS ADE­LAIDE AND MCLAREN VALE IN SOUTH AUS­TRALIA TO WORK OUT WHETHER THE STATE RE­ALLY IS ON THE RISE AS THE HOME OF THE BE­SPOKE, BOU­TIQUE GET­AWAY.

Men's Style (Australia) - - Contents -

Bou­tique South Aus­tralia and the In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Dou­ble Bay

About 10 years ago Men’s Style was in­vited on a trip by South Aus­tralian Tourism which fo­cused heav­ily on the state’s in­dus­trial ca­pac­ity – in be­tween some great meals and lo­cal wines, the me­dia con­tin­gent spent a lot of time in hard-hats and white-tis­sue over­alls vis­it­ing the Holden fac­tory, RM Wil­liams, and the sub­ma­rine-build­ing fa­cil­ity at Os­borne.

How fast times change. A decade on, SA Tourism in­vited us back, and this time there wasn’t a pro­duc­tion line or a ma­chin­ing tool in sight. This trip was all about “bou­tique SA”, an in­tro­duc­tion to the ever ex­pand­ing range of din­ing, win­ing, cul­tural and day trip ex­pe­ri­ences avail­able to a vis­i­tor ar­riv­ing in Ade­laide.

As SA Tourism’s Brent Hill tells Men’s Style over lunch at Etica Pizza al Taglio in Ade­laide’s Hal­i­fax St (now na­tion­ally fa­mous due to the so­cial me­dia con­tro­versy around the whole cow which hangs from the in­ter­nal roof of the eatery), South Aus­tralia un­der­stands it can’t com­pete with Sydney and Mel­bourne on cer­tain big-city at­trac­tions. In­stead, says Hill, it of­fers some un­beat­able be­spoke itin­er­ar­ies start­ing in ever-quaint Ade­laide and in­volv­ing three world-class wine re­gions less than an hour away in the Barossa, Mclaren Vale, and the Ade­laide Hills.

There’s a size­able makeover cur­rently on the go in Ade­laide it­self, which quickly be­comes clear dur­ing a rick­shaw ride with Eco­caddy around the city that takes in re­de­vel­oped eat­ing precincts such as Var­don Av­enue and Peel St – the epi­cen­tre of the small bar phe­nom­e­non that has been em­braced by Ade­laide as well as the rest of the na­tion – the ex­panded Ade­laide Oval, the new Royal Ade­laide Hos­pi­tal, the Cen­tral Mar­ket and Grote Street.

After a cleans­ing Coop­ers Pale Ale in mu­seum-piece city wa­ter­ing hole the Ex­eter Ho­tel, we watch the sun set over Ade­laide Oval while en­joy­ing a Ne­groni from the rooftop 2KW Bar and Restau­rant and then head off to din­ner at Os­te­ria Oggi in Pirie Street, one of Ade­laide’s crop of ex­cel­lent mod­ern Ital­ian din­ers. The wis­est choice from the menu? Leave your­self in their ca­pa­ble hands on both the food and drink front.

We bed down at Ade­laide’s newish five-star bou­tique May­fair Ho­tel in the heart of the CBD – a com­fort­ably con­tem­po­rary es­tab­lish­ment with a retro air due to its lo­ca­tion in­side the 1930s-era Colo­nial Mu­tual Life build­ing on the corner of King Wil­liam and Hind­ley streets – ahead of our trip to South Aus­tralia’s Mclaren Vale on the Fleurieu Penin­sula the fol­low­ing day.

After break­fast we’re met by the tall and en­gag­ing fig­ure of Ben Neville from Off Piste Tours, a Fleurieu lo­cal who’ll be our guide for the day. Via Whis­tle & Flute Café in Un­ley for heart-start­ing cof­fees and then spe­cialty cheese shop Bot­tega Ro­tolo in nearby Good­wood, we’re soon on the South­ern Ex­press­way headed for Mclaren Vale. Ben is ex­cel­lent com­pany as he talks about his ex­pe­ri­ences guid­ing over­seas be­fore his re­turn to South Aus­tralia

to start his own tour com­pany, fo­cus­ing on the re­gion he calls home.

Be­fore long we de­tour into the Onka­paringa River Na­tional Park, a place Ben is the only tour op­er­a­tor with ac­cess to (he lit­er­ally has the keys to the gate). After a steep de­scent through thick bush we ar­rive at a quiet spot at the bot­tom of the gorge, with gnarled, ghostly old gums lin­ing the creek and bird life dash­ing through the branches. Ben sets up a small ta­ble and cloth from the back of the 4WD for an im­promptu tast­ing – the soft cheeses from Bot­tega Ro­tolo are brought to the ta­ble along with a small round loaf of whole­meal bread, some ap­ple, nuts, a bot­tle of Primo Es­tate Primo Secco and two glasses. Hey presto, a mo­ment of re­pose mixed with foodie bliss in the South Aus­tralian bush.

Out of the gorge we press on and are soon in the heart of Mclaren Vale, spot­ting the much-dis­cussed Cube on the hill at d’aren­berg Wines (see our fea­ture story on the re­gion’s lat­est tourist at­trac­tion on our re­cent Clas­sic Edi­tion No.2) as we head for Bekkers Wines. Once there we’re greeted by Smudge the dog and Toby Bekkers, who with his French-born wife, Em­manuelle, the wine­maker, pro­duce deft, beau­ti­fully tex­tured wines which they aim to be “em­blems of the re­gion”. Gre­nache is the star, which we en­joy in the sit-down, sun­lit tast­ing room of this be­spoke­feel­ing win­ery as the per­son­able Toby talks about his history man­ag­ing winer­ies in the area and how that ex­pe­ri­ence cou­pled with Em­manuelle’s wine­mak­ing ex­per­tise led them to be­gin their own la­bel, which en­joys a cult-like fol­low­ing, mainly via over­seas mail or­der.

With one eye on his watch, Ben an­nounces we need to leave as lunch awaits. We take the scenic road down through Maslin Beach to Aldinga and then into Port Wil­lunga, ar­riv­ing at the land­mark clifftop restau­rant Star Of Greece. Owned by Doug and Nikki Go­van, and run day-to-day by Nikki, this un­pre­ten­tious but ever-pop­u­lar diner is named after a lo­cal ship­wreck in which 17 per­ished, but there’s nev­er­the­less plenty of Gre­cian and Mediter­ranean in­flu­ence on the menu, with lo­cal seafood op­tions the stand-outs along­side meatier of­fer­ings such as Wagyu beef fil­let and char­grilled spatch­cock. Doug over­sees the wine list, fo­cused on an eclec­tic and di­verse bunch of South Aussie wines (not all of them from Mclaren Vale) with some internationals thrown in for good mea­sure. In­side what feels like an up­mar­ket old sailor’s hut, lunch at the Star while over­look­ing the Gulf St Vin­cent – watch­ing a blue sky turn to storm and back again, the day we were there – is a quin­tes­sen­tial ex­pe­ri­ence of the re­gion.

After lunch we head to Doug Go­van’s other baby, the Vic­tory Ho­tel, up the hill from Sel­lick’s Beach, where the ir­re­press­ible Doug shows us around his ex­pan­sive pub which caters for all­com­ers, from fam­i­lies look­ing for Sun­day lunch or din­ner, to groups of blokes want­ing to watch the big game. Doug takes us down­stairs to a pur­pose-built cel­lar area, where a long ta­ble sur­rounded by bot­tles of wine can be used for pri­vate din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, and locked, hidey­hole rooms store Doug’s ex­ten­sive wine col­lec­tion, in­clud­ing a sim­ply phe­nom­e­nal back cat­a­logue of semi-myth­i­cal Clare Val­ley wine, Wen­douree.

It’s late af­ter­noon as we leave and head for d’aren­berg Win­ery to talk to chief wine­maker Ch­ester Os­born about his am­bi­tious, some say crazy Cube project, where he is aim­ing to create a fine din­ing and im­mer­sive, in­ter­ac­tive wine ex­pe­ri­ence in the one, genre-bend­ing struc­ture. The pres­ence of se­nior South Aus­tralian Tourism of­fi­cials at the site when we ar­rive is tes­ta­ment to the im­por­tance of the project not only to the lon­grun­ning d’aren­berg busi­ness, but to the re­gion and the state.

From there we farewell Ben and his super com­fort­able 4WD and head to our ac­com­mo­da­tion for the evening at The Vine­yard Re­treat, a self-con­tained lux­ury guest house lo­cated within a work­ing vine­yard that ap­pears ripped from the pages of Coun­try Liv­ing. From here we head to the nearby Salop­ian Inn for din­ner, where in cosy sur­rounds, chef Karena Arm­strong pro­duces con­tem­po­rary Aus­tralian cui­sine via a re­gional, sea­sonal menu which nev­er­the­less feels heartily home­cooked.

It’s our fi­nal stop in Mclaren Vale be­fore we head back to Ade­laide the next morn­ing for the flight back east. More than we did be­fore, we un­der­stand why we didn’t step foot in a fac­tory this time – South Aus­tralia has come of age as a des­ti­na­tion for the short and stylish get­away.

Lunch at the Star while over­look­ing the Gulf St Vin­cent is a quin­tes­sen­tial ex­pe­ri­ence of the re­gion.

Run­dle Mall in the Ade­laide CBD (top); lunch at the Star Of Greece in Port Wil­lunga (above, left); the pri­vate din­ing space in the cel­lar at The Vic­tory Ho­tel (above, right).

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