Back home to Clare

No trip back to Australia is complete for me without a visit home to the Clare Valley, this time with two dear friends from Tasmania, Jane and her daughter Lizzie. We only had time for a day trip, but still got to see and do so much:

– a visit to the Georgian-style mansion Martindale Hall in Mintaro (my inspiration for Templeton Hall in At Home with the Templetons).

– wine tasting and wine buying at three of the great cellar doors: Sevenhill, Good Catholic Girl and Skillogalee. (Skillogalee always makes me think of my fictional Lorikeet Hill winery restaurant, which appears in A Taste for It, Upside Down Inside Out and The Trip of a Lifetime. In The Alphabet Sisters, Bett and Daniel visit the Sevenhill winery. I also got married (in real life) in the nearby St Aloysius’ church 26 years ago.)

– a delicious lunch of pasties from The Little Red Grape Bakery in Sevenhill.

– a quick walk along the wintry tree-lined Riesling Trail and a visit to the newly unveiled steam train silhouette, marking the July 4th centenary of the Riverton to Clare railway.

– a visit to Billygoat Hill, the Clare lookout point, which also appears in a scene with Lola and Bett in The Trip of a Lifetime.

– a visit to the Clare Valley Wine, Food & Tourism Centre to get great coffee, local honey and jam, and a bottle or two of a great shiraz – made by family friend Greg Cooley – called the Monica, Macca and Moo (I’m very happy to say the Monica part of it refers to me 🙂 ).

Along the way we also got warm welcomes from old family friends (thank you Sue, Julie, Molly and Grady), drove past other locations from my books, met the Sevenhill winery cat Maysie and saw beautiful Clare Valley landscapes of curving vineyards, rolling hills and blue then stormy skies.

If you haven’t visited the Clare Valley yet, you have a treat in store. If you have, please do share your holiday highlights with me in the comments section below. For more info, here’s the Valley’s website.