Port Willunga Beach....the jewel of the Fleurieu Peninsula 

 Join us as we reminisce on the summer that was.

The classic Australian upbringing always included summer days at the beach. "Toddlers in zinc, teenagers in bikinis"... that's how we grew up. This past summer, co-founder of The Swim Set, Cathy Mackay headed across the country to one of Australia's most scenic and pristine regions, The Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. Join us as Cathy shares her favourite destinations, restaurants and swimming spots on the peninsula 45 minutes south of Adelaide.

Cathy's suggestions....

If you had told me 15 years ago that I would be looking forward to spending weeks or even months at a time in South Australia I would have thought you were crazy.  But with the years ticking by and the town of Adelaide and its surrounding wine areas blossoming, its now a fact that I have fallen for an area of South Australia called the Fleurieu Peninsula.  Wine country and beautiful beaches - how can I not love it!!


We are lucky to have a house in the vineyards at McLaren Vale so our accommodation is sorted but there is a growing number of options for people visiting the area.  Houses to rent, B&B's and if you fancy camping there are a number of campsites both in the vineyards and close to the beaches.

The Jetty

Retaining the original bones and heritage of time. This stunning apartment block features 4 suites. Voted best accomodation in the region. Each apartment is tastefully curated with everything you need for a beach holiday.  Directly across the road from Port Willunga beach. 

Vale 194

A private oasis in the heart of McLaren Vale. These luxury self catered holiday homes are perfect for a long weekend. Located right next to the entrance of the famous Shiraz Trail, which runs from McLaren Vale to Willunga. Take in the stunning natural beauty of the area while enjoying a leisurely stroll or invigorating bike ride through the vineyards.

Beresford Estate 

There are 15 suites at Beresford Estate- nine Reserve Suites and six Grand Reserve Suites.

The Reserve Suites are luxury studio apartments boasting kitchenette, indoor & outdoor living spaces and an ensuite.

The Grand Reserve Suites feature a private bedroom, indoor & outdoor living spaces, galley kitchenette, private bathhouse and plunge pool.

The suites are located on Beresford Estate, a working vineyard which also has a cellar door, restaurant and function centre on the property.


It's a well recognised truth that good wine encourages people to produce good food.  Wine and food go hand in hand.  The Fleurieu, with McLaren Vale wine region at its heart is a stark example of this.  So many places to eat and drink.....

Star of Greece

My favourite restaurant on the Peninsula at my favourite beach.  

Located on the cliff top of the picturesque coastline of Port Willunga beach. Named after a ship that was wrecked just off the beach, the Star of Greece serves modern cuisine and fresh seafood, surrounded by the most breathtaking views. The menu changes with the seasons and the wine list, selected by wine connoisseur Doug Govan, is exceptional.

With decades of experience drinking wine, making wine and connecting with winemakers and critics, Doug Govan is passionate about everything wine. He knows a delicious drop.

It's truely unmissable...whether you do a late lunch to take in the breathtaking sea views or dinner, timed to get the most spectacular sunset.  Also there are not too many places you can get a glass of Pol Roger for $17 with a sparkling view to match the bubbles.



Russell's Pizza

My family and I have been going to Russells for as long as we have vacationed on the Fleurieu.  It's a firm favourite both summer and winter, with its open fire burning in the courtyard in winter and fresh produce to consume until you can't contemplate one more mouthful.  

Incorporating an 1800's miners cottage, barn/shed (we call it the XXXX) and a gorgeous courtyard, Russell's is a beautiful spot to relax, enjoy simple, honest food and spend time with loved ones. The pizzas are to die for but the home made cakes create memories.  

Started in 1992 by Willunga local Russell Jeavons, Russell's has grown to be a South Australian institution. 

D'Arry's Verandah

The Cube next door might get all the attention but there are still plenty of arguments for spending an afternoon relaxing with the comparatively old-school pleasures offered by d’Arry’s Verandah.  Fabulous food paired with exceptional wine from D'Arenberg, including back vintages.  It's a great way to spend a day in McLaren Vale.

Vigna Bottin

A family run osteria connected to the winery's cellar door.  Simple pasta dishes, delicious meatballs and fresh produce galore

Together with Chef Angelo, the Osteria menu is designed purely from the heart, what you’d expect to share at Nonna’s table.

The Salopian Inn

A local institution, with a focus on sustainability and showcasing fresh, regional produce, the Salopian is a jewel in the Fleurieu Peninsula’s culinary crown, featuring an eclectic array of interesting dishes created by its passionate chef - and arguably the best steak in town.

Other options include Mitolo, The Vale Taphouse, The Victory Hotel or Swell Brewery and Pizzateca that has a gelateria next door that is my new favourite place to get my gelato fix.  Fig gelato made from local figs along with all the traditional flavours like nocciola and chocolate.


Spoiled for choice. If you are staying beachside a quick 15 minute drive brings you to the heart of McLaren Vale, home to world-class wines.  It boasts more than 80 cellar doors and vineyards, from small boutique winemakers to large wineries. 

There are too many to list them all but some of my favourite wineries include:

Chalk Hill - fabulous wine and pizza with a lawn sporting a view over the Vale that is worldclass.

Primo Estate - Sensational Italian reds. Superb cellar door.

Samuels Gorge - an eclectic wine tasting experience everyone should do once. 

Lino Ramble and Bondar - two wine makers sharing a cute cottage making some great individual wines.

Bekkers - Owned and run by Toby and Emmanuelle Bekker.  Stunning Australian reds and delicious french chablis.

The d'Arenberg Cube

Often described as the "wonderland in a winery", this winery offers some to see.

The vision of Chester Osborn, it was inspired by a Rubik's Cube and appears to float above the vines.. Each of the five levels have been carefully designed to entice and excite the senses, including features such as a wine sensory room, a virtual fermenter, a 360degree video room, and many other tactile experiences. Visitors are encouraged to explore the Alternate Realities Museum, located on the ground floor, and view the many art installations on display."


Down the Rabbit Hole

The aim of the delightful Down the Rabbit Hole winery is to inspire imagination with an attitude of adventure.

As you walk down the stone driveway, you can see a cute little wooden coffee hut (yes, they sell coffee too!), past this an open lawn area complete with a fire-pit and a cane bucket chair swinging blissfully in the breeze. And, of course, your eyes can’t help but wander to the powder blue double-decker bus situated at the rear of the yard.

Grab a blanket and a platter and spend an afternoon lazy in the sun.


All down the south coast of the peninsula you can find amazingly beautiful beaches, all with their own individual characteristics.  Some have towering white cliffs, others have jetties and breakwaters and others allow cars to drive on the beach so families can set up on the beach for a day of summer fun.

My favourite is Port Willunga.

Port Willunga

Known to be one of the most stunning and photographed beaches on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Snorkel the Star of Greece ship wreck or the Aldinga reef, swim in the tranquil blue waters of the bay,


Port Noarlunga

The red sandstone beach cliffs, long jetty and reef, make it one of the iconic diving destinations in the state


Sellicks Beach

These terracotta-coloured cliffs, towering and pre-historic, give way to the azure blue of Sellicks Beach water.

There's also Maslins (the first unclad beach in SA), Moana and Aldinga which are car friendly and Southport which is good for surfing when the swell is on.




The area is blessed with many coffee places but like anywhere everyone has their local favourite blend and barista.  My current favourite coffee stop is Dawn Patrol which is situated in a shed surrounded by vineyards on the road between McLaren Vale and Willunga.  Choose from 2 different blends and let the barista make you a coffee with love whilst you sit outside surrounded by the smell of coffee being roasted.  My other suggestions are Goodness which is closer to Port Willunga beach and it is set a small converted garage surrounded by beautiful gum trees.

You can also try Manna in McLaren Vale, The Willunga General Store and The Green Room in Willunga which makes the most amazing sour dough crumpets in winter.


Willunga Farmer's market

Home to one of the oldest Farmer's Markets in Australia, Willunga has become synonymous with fresh fruits and vegetables, delicious gourmet delicacies and unique handmade crafts! Held weekly every Saturday from 8am-12pm at Willunga High school.  🍓🥬🍊🥒

Haigh's Chocolate Factory

A must do for the chocoholics amongst us.  A visit to the Haighs factory to stock up on the most delicious chocolate in the world.  It's worth the 40 minute drive back into Adelaide so that you have something to munch on after a day at the beach or lunch at a winery.

The oldest family-owned chocolate maker in Australia run by the fourth generation of the Haigh's family


our favourites;  Milk Choc frogs, Milk choc bullets and The speckles.


 You can see why a week or 2 is not enough time on the Fleurieu Peninsula.  I can be there a month and still not have visited all my favourite places.  I must admit the one thing that would never be missed is my daily swim at Port seriously is the most beautiful beach and as we always say here at The Swim Set

You never regret a Swim


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