Break AWAY Birds!

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Bike Adventures along the Shiraz Trail - McLaren Vale

Author - Janita 

July 2022

We recently found ourselves in McLaren Vale, and although I had initially planned to just relax and tour some of the local wineries and enjoy the occasional wine tasting or restaurant stop along the way, I was reluctantly talked into hiring a bike for the day. However, after seeing how much we all enjoyed it, I can't help but wonder why I wasn't more excited about this adventure from the start.

The day turned out quite cold (it was July after all) - compared to back home in Brisbane, where it never gets below 14 degrees - so we bundled up well before heading out on this now-much-anticipated outing. We discovered that you can easily rent bikes at the information centre near Shingleback Winery (which is conveniently located just off Main Street when entering town from the north) with just a swipe of a credit card. The bikes were easy to rent and came with helmets (hint: I would suggest if you were renting a bike, take hair coverings as I was conscious of the stale smell of heads that had been there before me) and a baby seat and small helmet for my 2-year-old granddaughter, and we were quickly on our way. 

There is an almost perfect cycle route just for cyclists and pedestrians, separate from roads, (except for one stretch close to the Information centre) that leads through McLaren Vale and southwards to Willunga Village. This cycle route has no steep hills and is rated as easy to moderate (unless you take the detour to Chalk Hill Winery - about which more later). It's an extremely pleasant and enjoyable ride.

The trail starting from the information centre, heads due north to a ‘Y’ intersection that goes vaguely east west, and there we turned to our right, towards McLaren Vale town - the opposite direction quickly takes you to Shingleback winery where we had enjoyed a great wine tasting the day before. The trail to the right looped back southwest and led us straight onto Main Road at which point it promptly disappeared. Rather than cross busy Main Road, we turned left and rode along the footpath a short distance before turning left into a side street hoping to cross the bikeway. This proved difficult as we couldn't find any detailed information to tell us where the path had disappeared. After a few false starts and an extra kilometre or so of searching, we finally met up with the trail once more and were then definitely on our way.

We were relieved to be off the roads and onto the quiet path that meandered beside a small creek, behind various shops, the local pub, Coles, and Hardy’s Winery (a winery we had also sampled the previous day and is well worth a visit). We continued following the creek with pleasant vistas of green fields, a playground, grape vines, a small labyrinth, and a dam every now and then. Once at Field Street (which leads to Chalk Hill Winery), we crossed over it then rode on past our accommodation - Oxenberry Farm where we had been pampered by their gorgeous two bedroom/two-bathroom house, complete with all the essentials for cooking up a storm.

The owners were so kind as to make sure that when we got there, they had turned on the central heating - making us feel right at home the minute we made it inside! The place was lovely, offering two ensuite bedrooms, a kitchen/dining and separate lounge room, and a pretty garden outside. 

To top it off, there was a real fire with plenty of wood to keep it going for the 2 nights we were there. Further, the venue provides a full breakfast at the very leisurely hour of 10am and so we managed to incorporate this into our ride, by which time we were quite ready to eat!

From Oxenberry, we turned slightly south and came to Kangarilla Road - a point where caution is essential, because this is also an area where cars tend to go at slightly higher speeds. After crossing the road and travelling just a little further down the way on your left, you'll find Serafino Winery - which features not only wines but also an award-winning restaurant. Sadly, for us (but luckily for others), they were fully booked when we arrived and so it would be wise to reserve a table if you’d like to give it a whirl; however, there are other dining options available in and around the town such as the local pub which has a good menu.

After cycling through vineyards and bushlands for another 15 minutes or so, we headed back towards Oxenberry, stopping off briefly for an indulgent latte for the non-drinkers and a very good wine tasting for the rest of us, at Oxenberry Winery and restaurant, before continuing our return journey.

Thus fortified, we took the steep, yet rewarding hike up to Chalk Hill Winery. Oddly enough, google maps has no mention of the Winery, however, Never-Never Distillery, which also occupies the premises, does. The roads were not paved and rather steep for us novice bikers, so we had to push our bikes most of the way up, but it was worth it when we got there.

A tall gum tree gives shade to those sitting outside during the summer months, but as it was July when we visited, sitting outside in the winter sun proved a delightfully satisfying experience. We spent some time exploring this great winery where many people were enjoying themselves on such a beautiful day. As we had recently eaten, we weren’t quite ready to try the food, but it looked and smelled delicious!! 

We had an enjoyable wine tasting experience in the elegant and warm tasting room. Nowadays, most tastings throughout the wine regions of South Australia aren't free anymore, but we feel that the ambiance and service make Chalk Hill and many others, worthwhile. We purchased 6 bottles from what we sampled, and the shipment was FREE to QLD too! A good deal we thought. With breath-taking views, a huge lawn ideal for children to run off their high spirits, and lovely architecture, my team said they would conquer the hill again, just to come back tomorrow!

The way back was a little less difficult, starting with a steep downhill slope (watch the turns on the dirt road) before finding ourselves back on the elusive bike path from Chalk Hill Road to the Visitors' Centre. 

All in all, this was a great day out with the family. It's perfect for those people who may not be at peak fitness and/or seniors over 60! We all loved biking around the area and enjoyed tasting wines (and other fare including coffee, chocolates, and dried fruit) in various vineyards, coffee shops and restaurants throughout our visit. We'll return so that we can experience other accommodations, food, and wines available around McLaren Vale.

3 Key Takeaways

  • This ride is great for novice riders or those who simply want a relaxing (not taxing) ride.
  • This ride is good for couples or families wanting a fun (or filling) day out.  
  • Stay over for 2 or more nights at one of the lovely local properties for rent from where you can enjoy a relaxing break and visit the local wineries and scenery at your leisure.

Shiraz Trail McLaren Vale

How long is the Shiraz Trail?

Stretching 8kms from McLaren Vale to Willunga, this former rail-trail is a favourite among cyclists and bushwalkers for its compact, mostly flat terrain, incredible vineyard views and cellar doors. "The Shiraz Trail is a smaller extension of the longer 35km Coast to Vines Rail Trail" (“Cycling the Shiraz Trail | South Australia”)

Things to do along the Shiraz Trail

Start your morning with a cafe-style coffee in the McLaren Vale region at Mullygrub. What's next? Put those pedals to work and hit the nearby trails!

Starting later in the day? Head over to Chalk Hill for a pie and a pint before diving into an array of other food options during dinner hours. 

Chalk Hill Winery 

Visit the cellar door at Proudly family owned & estate grown Chalk Hill Winery. Located in the McLaren Vale region, this award-winning producer crafts small batches of handcrafted wines with distinction. You'll find a variety of flavours waiting for you—from sparkling and sweet whites to dark, earthy reds—all sure to please even the most sophisticated palate!

Take part in an ultimate sensory experience that starts out with aromas, progresses through tasting sessions outside (or inside) where you can sample all your favourites while getting educated about how they differ from each other thanks to their different textures and viscosities, finishes off with something sweet or a chat over coffee - it's up to you! Whether it's for yourself or as a gift we guarantee it will be one of the best things you've ever tasted!

Never Never Distillery

Fancy a sip of Gin? Try out the Never Never Distillery! This distillery was founded by three friends who share a passion for taste and artistry. So, they pooled their money together to purchase some necessary equipment - namely, a 300-litre pot still with both column and alembic features. It's tucked away in the backroom of an old brewery just outside of Adelaide, but there are no worries because it only takes one look inside to see why this place is so special.

Oxenberry Farm

Oxenberry Farm, with its beginnings dating back to 1840s, is well worth a visit for its café that specializes in wines, there are also other complementary services including cellar door sessions and holiday accommodations available at Pedler Cottage B&B.

Serafino Wines

Want one last stop? Serafino Wines has got you covered with picturesque views alongside its killer wine list; not to mention it's also home to some awesome architecture. D'Arenberg Cube offers visitors another opportunity for rooftop dining - this time overlooking vineyards - as well as expansive tasting facilities, so take plenty of time here no matter when you visit!

Doing this ride on a Saturday means wading through everything from fresh produce to artisanal creations while wandering around Willunga farmers market - perfect if you're looking for somewhere new or just want to pick up locally grown items.

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Calling all Break AWAY Birds !

I'm sure you all have an epic story to tell. 

Whether it's a grand adventure abroad or simply riding your bike around town, there's never enough time for adventure. So, whether you're in cycling gear - tights and short-sleeved shirt or walking around at home - tshirt and sweater still smelling like a spice latte... we want to hear about them! And if this was just the day job, what else do you dream of doing? Send us your stories, with any happy snaps attached. And let's show the world what happens when they meet Bobby on their way bicycle ride. Ride with us and share your story.