Dave Willson knows the Clare Valley. Having lived in the region all his life, five years ago he turned his knowledge of Clare into a business.
Clare Valley Tours was born from his passion for his home’s natural beauty, history and hospitality.
Mr Willson has been working with Kiikstart over the last few months to grow his tour business, and says that director Ali Uren’s “progressive and creative” approach has been very beneficial.
“Ali will drag you by the jock straps when you’re slacking off,” he says with a laugh. “She’ll initiate change in your thought process and your business culture.”
Sharing Clare’s gastronomic, historical and natural wonders comes naturally to Dave, who says it’s a discovery experience for him too.
“I’m sharing the love and creating feel-good experiences for people,” he says. “The more I do it, the more I love it!”
We asked the Clare local to share seven of his favourite spots in the region to explore this winter – and it’s not all fires and romance, although there’s plenty of that to be had!
1. Sevenhill Cellars
Find them at: 111C College Rd, Sevenhill SA
What makes them special: Their story and the history of building St Aloysius Church. The winery was established by two Jesuit priests in 1851 to produce sacramental wine, while the church is home to the only crypt below a parish church in Australia. Many of the early pioneering Jesuits still lay in the crypt.
Winter drawcard: Enjoy a glass of red by the fire, and pat the local winery cat.
Fun fact: Sevenhill Cellars still supplies 95 per cent of Australian altar wine.
2. Spring Gully Conservation Park
Find it at: Sawmill Rd, Sevenhill SA
What makes it special: The picturesque conservation park offers great walking trails and lookout spots that overlook the Adelaide Plains. The view is fantastic! On a good day, you can see the head of St Vincent’s Gulf and beyond.
Winter drawcard: While the park is particularly renowned for its beautiful patchwork quilt of colours in spring, winter has its own charms, including a stunning seasonal waterfall.
Insider tip: Listen for frogs near the creeks, especially after local rains.
What makes it special: Located on the edge of the Outback, the historic mining town is a unique township that was once home to the largest metals mine in Australia.
Winter drawcard: Discover the town’s quaint hospitality, including the local pubs and fantastic antique shops.
Fun fact: The town was once home to Diprotodon – Australia’s largest marsupial and a species of megafauna.
4. Hill River Estate
Find them at: Quarry Rd, Polish Hill River SA
What makes it special: A cellar door with a difference, this is a story of farmers-turned-winemakers who run their farm alongside the winery.
Winter drawcard: Buy a bottle of wine, sit by the fire and sip away on a winter’s day.
5. Skillogalee Winery, Restaurant & Accommodation
Find them at: 23 Trevarrick Rd, Sevenhill SA
What makes it special: Set on 60 hectares, “Skilly” – as Dave calls it – is home to an iconic cottage restaurant nestled into the side of the hill with beautiful vineyard views.
Winter drawcard: This is a long lunch destination. Sit by the fire, sip on a muscat, and enjoy their fantastic hand crafted wines before, during or after lunch.
Insider tip: Skillogalee also offers B&B cottage-style accommodation.
6. Bungaree Station
Find it at: 431 Bungaree Rd, Bungaree SA
What makes it special: Settled in 1841, the site has been home to six generations of the Hawker family. The magnificent 1860s heritage buildings have been transformed into local accommodation. Stay overnight, or visit for a walk through farming history.
Winter drawcard: Unique country accommodation for a cosy winter break.
7. Destination Clare
What makes it special: The region of Clare is packed with natural beauty, history and hospitality, so much so that Dave says it’s impossible not to mention the region as a whole. It’s also quaint and relatively uncommercialised.
Winter drawcard: It’s the perfect time of year for a little indulgence. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to cosy accommodation, and fine food and wine experiences – well-suited to those relaxed winter hemlines and layers!
Fun fact: Clare Valley makes up just 1.5 per cent of the national crush, but wins more than 20 per cent of national wine awards.
Visit www.clarevalleytours.com or contact Dave on 0418 832 812 to book a tour. Group and bespoke tour options are available.
To find out more about working with Kiikstart to benefit your business, visit www.kiikstart.com.