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Ageing Traveller Series

The Ageing Traveller series is written by Rose Howell, who has been traveling the world for over 40 years, beginning with New Zealand and then the ‘Hippy trail’ in the 70’s. Her travels have taken her to; Asia, Middle East, UK, Europe, Africa, South America, USA, Canada, China and the Pacific Islands. In total she has visited 67 countries plus all the states of Australia except Western Australia, and her goal is to make the century club. Her passion for travel is documented on her website

Click here to find out more about Rose.

Exploring the Clare Valley (South Australia) with friends

It began with a phone call from a holiday Promotions Company. A weekend stay at the Clare Country Club in the Clare Valley for two nights at a special discounted rate.

We decided we would go in November (not too hot or cold) and take our best friends.

Clare Country Club

On arrival, the staff were very pleasant and friendly, good start.

Our room, on the ground floor, overlooked the pool area, Lake Inchiquin and bordered the Clare Golf Course.

But beware - My friend, on checking the mini bar (which she always does when staying in hotels), there were two bottles of beer with tops pushed back on and empty of any liquid. (We would have gotten charged for that).

Overlooking Lake Inchiquin

We spent a lot of the time sitting outside taking in the view and atmosphere and of course to eat our nibbles and drink some of the wine we bought.

So now to the exploring of the Clare area.

Why Clare?

Mainly because it is one of Australia’s best known wine production regions and my husband and I had our first date at the Easter Gourmet weekend 30 years ago.

“Settlers from England, Ireland and Poland first moved into the region during the 1840’s establishing a rich and varied heritage of community, culture and architecture which remains largely intact to this day.” (Clare Valley Visitor Information Centre brochure)

It is historic and you can see remnants of days gone by everywhere. Lots of stone cottages, ruins, old gum trees, timber fence posts, original pubs, Martindale Hall and of course the Seven Hills Winery.

Dining at Skillogalee winery/restaurant in an old cottage was to be a treat. It is set in amongst the vines with wild bushland surrounding the property. The restaurant is an old cottage with seating inside and outside under old olive trees. They have a beautiful flower garden where you can stroll and enjoy the aromas of the roses. Food is of a high standard and you need to book because it is very popular

The drive to Clare

We timed our trip from Adelaide to the region (1.5 hours) to ensure we arrived in the area in time to have lunch at the Rising Sun Hotel in Auburn. We had heard the meals are good there and we weren’t disappointed.

The Rising Sun Hotel dates back to the 1800’s and seems to be a popular stop for travellers to the region.

“Auburn was one of the many towns that sprang up to service the Gulf Road Copper Trail – the route to Burra and the ships waiting at the head of Spencer Gulf. Men who drove the Bullock teams, their drays loaded with copper ore or mining supplies, could be assured of a fine feed, a few cleansing ales and a quiet place to rest for the night. Little has changed other than the absence of the Bullocks.”

Following on from Auburn, arriving at the Clare Country Club we dropped off our bags and went to explore Clare town centre.

I must say we were quite disappointed with the lack of tourist type shops. We wanted to browse through shops that showed what the area had to offer. Things like wines, chocolates, gourmet foods, crafty things, antiques, collectables etc. Nothing much there other than shops that sold necessities for the town.

I did appreciate the historical plaques on buildings though and I enjoyed reading about the history. I was sorry to see the original town hall that looks impressive, with a large for-lease sign on it. That would be a great place to have the type of touristy shop I mentioned above.

We finished off the afternoon sitting out the front of our room overlooking the lake and watching the world go by. We had nibbles we had brought with us, such as cheese, peperoni, crackers and dip washed down with champagne. Nice!!!

For dinner we decided the boys could go in town and grab a pizza which turned out to be a great choice. Washed down with wine, what more could you want.

Sat and watched TV which is what you do when you are older. Some of us fall asleep whilst watching. Snoring can sometimes be annoying but we can always turn up the volume on the TV.


Burra Cottages

We had decided that we would travel to Burra and then work our way back to Clare via the wineries.

Burra grew into a bustling city due to the 19th Century copper boom. Copper was discovered in 1845. Miners flocked from all corners of the globe to work the ore, most of them hailing from the UK. It was originally called ‘Burra Burra’ by the Afghan cameleers, which was Hindustani for ‘great great’.

It wasn’t such a good idea getting here early, because nothing in Burra was open til about lunch time. In fact some places didn’t open at all.

There were a few nice shops with different touristy things for sale and plenty of places to eat and drink.
It was nice walking around these streets looking at the old stone cottages built in the 1800’s.

If you are travelling to Burra it is a good idea to pick up a Burra Heritage Passport.

You are given a key and information so that you can go around and look at the 8 locked buildings and see 50 sites of interest. I have done this on a previous trip and highly recommend it.

We finished up at an antique/café for coffee and scones which was very nice. Another stroll around the town, checking out the art gallery and antique shops it was soon time for lunch. We all decided on Cornish pasties from the bakery

Burra bakery

Then we finished off our trip to Burra with a drive around looking at some of the sites such as Redruth Gaol. This was made famous when the movie, Breaker Morant was filmed here.

Redruth Gaol

Our trip back to Clare was via some wineries. The ones we visited were:

A drive to Mintaro one of the most amazing places we have visited and it finished off the day on a high note.

Our last day, we were up, breakfasted and packed and out of the door by 9.30am ready to leisurely tour the area again. We stopped at a café ‘The little red grape’ for coffee and just to take it all in. Also checked out the ‘Little red grape homewares shop’.

Then we took a drive to Spring Gully Conservation Park, where the view was magnificent.

Beautiful gum trees

On our way back we stopped for lunch at the Skillogalee Wines. For me it had the ‘wow’ factor. It is very popular with diners and you had to book well in advance.

Located in a stone cottage which overlooks beautiful gardens and the vineyard. I have been told in the winter you can sit inside near the open fire and they give shawls/blankets to keep you warm. I really must go back in winter to experience this. It was a beautiful way to finish off our trip to Clare and its region.


Reisling trail – former railway branch line, now a scenic walking & cycling trail. It has recently been extended North of Clare to Barinia. A total of 35km of trail. You can hire bikes from many places to do this trail. Stop in at the different wineries for tasting. This is a must trip.

Sevenhill producers market – Wood fired Artisan breads, local olive oil, cheese, smallgoods, specialty meats, jams, chutneys, fresh veggies and fruit, plants and more. Last Sunday of each month.

Bungaree Station – Historic sheep station. Tours by arrangement

Clare Golf Club – 18 holes, open all year and fully greened with watered fairways.

Martindale Hall - Magnificent 19th Century Georgian Mansion/museum. They hold murder mystery evenings for 10 – 12 guests.

Mintaro maze – Living hedge maze.

Where to stay

Skillogalee House/cottages – luxury self-contained accommodation. Beautiful stone cottage which overlooks a large dam. Sleeps up to 6 people. Two cottages that are set among native bush and overlooking some of the most picturesque vineyards in the valley. One has three bedrooms and the other two.

B&B’s – these are scattered all around the area. Look up the Clare tourist site for locations. Choice of traditionally hosted or self-contained.

Hotel/motel – Several to choose from. Check out the tourist site.

Budget – Several caravan parks in the area.


Too many to mention (at least 45) Check the Clare tourist info online. See the ones we visited. Sevenhill Winery is a must mainly for the history.

When to go

Spring: 21C max- 8C min
Summer: 29C max – 14C min
Autumn: 21C max – 9c min
Winter: 13C max – 4C min

How to get there

90 minute drive from Adelaide. Bring your own car or hire one. Head North from the centre of the city.

Tour bus. Check out the site for details.
Getting around the area can be either by car, bike or foot.

Rose Howell Biography

Rose has been traveling the world for over 40 years, beginning with New Zealand and then the ‘Hippy trail’ in the 70’s. Her travels have taken her to; Asia, Middle East, UK, Europe, Africa, South America, USA, Canada, China and the Pacific Islands. In total she has visited 67 countries plus all the states of Australia except Western Australia, and her goal is to make the century club.
She has taken all kinds of transport and accommodation from budget to luxury. She has travelled through war zones, survived a bus accident in the Andes and visited areas that are no longer available to tourists, such as the Khyber Pass and Bamiyan Statues in Afghanistan.

Rose wants to inspire others to travel and offers free advice to all travellers in particular those who are embarking on their first travel experience. She has a passion for travel and since retiring from an Adult teaching position with TafeSA, has recently resumed clocking up kilometres interstate and overseas.
Her daughters have inherited the travel bug from their parents. The eldest daughter is a travel journalist/documentary maker based in a beautiful area called ‘Byron Bay’ in New South Wales and with her husband, has two globetrotting toddlers who at the age of 5 and 2 also love to travel. Her youngest daughter and fiancé have recently returned from 2 years working and traveling in the UK and Europe. They have only been home a couple of months and are already getting restless. Oh the travel bug!!!!

Rose has developed a website for the over 50 traveller where you can access for free all her advice and past and present stories. You can add stories of your own too.

She also has a blog on:


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