Clare Valley and maybe the destination of my new heroine?

IMG_4285 I returned recently to South Australia to celebrate both my sister’s birthday and a belated mothers day with my mum. A trip to the Clare Valley would be my treat and a far better gift than chocolates or lavender-scented perfume.

The new book I’ve been going on about begins on a small island in the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, on the East Coast of America. Eventually my heroine ends up in Australia and possibly stumbling across the mansion made famous in the iconic film ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’. The stately pile, above, can be found just outside the historic town of Mintaro in the wine growing district of the Clare Valley in South Australia.

South Australia, with its Mediterranean climate, is the premium wine growing region of Australia (some may disagree…but I am biased!) It would take weeks to taste your way through the nine major wine regions and thousands of words but today I’ll attempt to make a start…and give you a glimpse of the Clare Valley.

IMG_5595The Clare Valley is an easy 2 hour drive from Adelaide, but on this little adventure we take a detour through the Barossa Valley. I mention the Barossa because it was this very sexy advertising campaign that got me thinking about a destination for my next novel. The new book is set in a place that is the combination of the Clare and Barossa Valley wine growing regions. Watch the ad and you’ll get to see a snap shot of where I’m going with the next series…

IMG_5360The Barossa was settled by Prussian immigrants (now Silesia) in the mid 1800s. Our detour took us to the  town of Nuriootpa so I could pick up a few treats from Linke’s traditional German butcher shop.

IMG_5355 My dad was born in this town (and possibly even went to school with members of the Linke family). Linke’s butcher’s make the famous Metwurst… along with lots of other delicious cured and smoked meats.

IMG_5358We buy far too much but justify our overspend by agreeing a simple meal of smoked meat, bread and cheese would be an easy dinner at our motel tonight.

IMG_5604Loaded up we hit the road and continue North, for another hour, to the Clare Valley.

You know you’ve arrived when you reach the gorgeous old town of Auburn where the Rising Sun Hotel does a great lunch. But we have other plans and are only passing through today.

IMG_7087[1]Our first stop is one of my favourite wineries, ‘Shut the Gate’, in the tiny hamlet of Watervale.

IMG_7086[1]The tasting room is open, logs are burning in the fireplace, and we are very much welcome inside.

IMG_7075[1]The four of us are taken to the third room in this tiny cottage, seated and treated to a little taste of all the wine on offer. The generous host, Rhasa, puts together a cheese platter and we are inspired to buy some yummy food from the range of gourmet products she sells.

IMG_7079[1]My thing is Riesling. Not the sickly sweet rubbish we got drunk on as idiot teenagers… but a gorgeous dry minerally wine that just gets better with age. In fact Riesling is THE specialty of the Clare Valley and restocking my cellar the true reason for the trip! I can’t believe their 2012 Rosie’s Patch is on sale at $10 a bottle. 2012 was a truly great year and this is a very good wine. I purchase 4 cases… two to take back to Melbourne and two to be shipped to North Queensland… ready and waiting for us when we head up there in July.

IMG_7090[1]Next stop is lunch at Mr Mick‘s, Tim Adams stunning wine and Tapas bar in the central town of Clare.

IMG_5504 Their ever-changing, seasonal menu is great and I always look forward to trying something new.

IMG_7093[1]A favorite, and always on the menu in some form, is the soft shell crab and salt and pepper squid.

IMG_5510 The lamb and lentil dish was a standout…

IMG_5513 Or perhaps it was the Arancini?

IMG_5515 Or the cheeky little vegetable cups?

IMG_5516 Or the crispy pork belly with pineapple salsa?

The lovely thing about this restaurant is that we all get to choose whatever takes our fancy from the huge selection of small plates. A visit to Clare would not be complete without lunch at Mr Mick’s.

IMG_5501Before leaving we go to the tasting room and I can’t resist grabbing a case of their sparkling Riesling! (It was a result of drinking far too much of this, a few months back, that I booked the cruise and ended up going on that solo adventure!)

I’d booked a two bedroom apartment at the Clare Country Club and after a long and very boozy lunch my sister (thanks for being our sober driver!) took us straight to our hotel…

IMG_7102[1]Mum and Dad got the double bed,

IMG_7103[1]My sister and I the two singles… and instantly I’m taken back to family holidays and almost feel the need to bounce on the bed…or maybe that was just the wine talking? The hotel is quite luxurious and nothing like the ‘Flag Inns’ we stayed in as kids.

IMG_7104[1]Mum saw the big bath and decided a spa was in order, then Dad saw how much fun she was having and joined her!  My parents live with the constant threat of drought and were quite pleased to be able to indulge in such an extravagant watery treat. My sister thought it was so hilarious that she posted a pic of the splash-fest on her instagram page!

IMG_7101[1]In the meantime I unloaded the hamper, opened more wine and, when the bathers were done, found room for just a little bit more food!

IMG_7105[1]And after way too much indulgence, wrapped up in our fluffy gowns, we watched a bit of TV and eventually retreated to our beds where we slept very soundly that night!

IMG_5567The next morning we continued our little adventure with a quick return trip to Watervale…

IMG_5565To the gorgeous clos Clare, a winery project set up by the Barry family of Jim Barry wines. I could be in Provence…

IMG_5563But a kangaroo hopping between the vines reminds me I’m most definitely in Australia.

IMG_5578Lunch is Mums choice and we settle on the restaurant at Skillogallee.

IMG_5577A veranda table is found and we sit looking out over the gorgeous gardens, eating more delicious food.

IMG_5544After lunch we drive to the historic town of Mintaro.

IMG_5555We stop at Mintaro Wines where I notice these very erotic looking labels on the Shiraz. A sign confirming that this town would be a good setting for the next book?

IMG_7116[1]Sign or no sign, my sister, who has been doing most of the driving, is sick of watching us taste wines and needs a coffee.

IMG_7114[1]We sit outside at Reilly’s, order afternoon tea and look down the pretty main street.

IMG_5546There are so many beautiful renovated buildings.

IMG_5547And again I see scenes like this and have to ask myself ‘are we still in Australia?’

IMG_7108[1]While the family have afternoon tea I walk along the road, taking pics and discover this cottage. It’s just been sold and I wonder if this could be the run down house my new heroine buys?

IMG_5533 Would it be possible for her to renovate it? Surely she would need one or two handsome tradesmen to help her fix it up? Even a muscle-bound stone mason perhaps?

IMG_5540Or it could be this little house further along the way?

IMG_5521Maybe she could work in the kitchens of the old pub to earn a bit of extra cash? The story is starting to build and I’m keen to get back to my computer.

IMG_4286We make one last stop at the gorgeous sandstone mansion, Martindale Hall, just outside town. It’s closed for the day and we are only able to see the exterior. It would be such a perfect place in which to find a sexy new hero…a Mr. Rochester perhaps?

Now I really must go and put these thoughts into words…

Thanks for joining me on this little adventure, happy reading and much love, Anna x

P.S.There are many places I love to visit in this gorgeous region but as this was just a quick over-nighter we couldn’t do every thing so apologies to those of you who I haven’t mentioned…will write a more extended post when I return later in the year.

Anna Buckley Books

Love you to read my books

The Lost Woman series follows the sexy adventures of Christina as she makes her way through a world of new media, design, fashion,  travel, and … men.
The complete series is available now at Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, Barnes & Noble and iBooks, both as eBooks and print books. They can also be ordered from any book store, or by mail order on the BOOKS page.


14 responses to “Clare Valley and maybe the destination of my new heroine?”

  1. Such a beautiful post! Very interesting to read about the Clare Valley, I felt like I was there 🙂 thank you for sharing.



    1. Thanks Hiba. Of all the wine districts this is the one I keep returning to.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Anna! I was just going to volunteer to help you out (if you need it) with any info about the Eastern Shore (as we call it), but I see Nancy already pointed you in my direction. 🙂 I am not far from Tangier Island, and spend quite a few evenings watching the sunset on Tangier Sound.


    1. Would absolutely love your input! Got interested in the idea of the remoteness of Tangier after seeing a documentary about their strange accent. I became curious about what exposure to electronic media would do to this unique patois…how such a sudden jolt would affect the traditions on the Island. In the next series I have created a fictitious island that explores this idea.
      My sister lives in Norfolk and I will be doing a road trip along the East Coast with her in mid September.
      Thanks so much for getting in touch, Anna x


  3. This looks so beautiful! Literally it makes me want plan a trip for a South Australia get-away. Definitely some wonderful travel inspiration! Can’t wait to read the book 🙂


    1. Thanks Reeanna x Did you see the Nick Cave clip? Such earthy sexuality and a perfect place to set the story!
      My first book is about a woman who finds her power through a blog, creates a media empire and even designs the perfect ‘little black dress’. No submissive heroines in my books… but I have included a real life Mr Darcy!


  4. I think your heroine would have a great time in Clare Valley – great idea! Do you follow Robin Simmons? I can’t remember if that’s where I met you. She blogs at and lives by the Chesapeake Bay on the Maryland side, not Virginia. She might be able to help you with some of the finer details if you need. And her photos are exquisite.

    I loved seeing your trip and the photos were great! Thanks so much for writing up and sharing.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Nancy, I think I can find quite a bit for her to do! My last heroine became a blogging superstar and designed the perfect little black dress…this one needs to hide (hence the trip to Australia) but I still have to turn her into a rich and powerful woman…the gals in my books don’t need billionaires…though sometimes they do seem to bump into them!
      Love the tip for Robin Simmons, will look her up. I am intending to be in the States from mid September. Will try to get to Tangier Island when I’m in Virginia…maybe we could do coffee…or something a little stronger?
      Cheers Anna x


      1. I’d love to meet you. I have not been to Tangier Island – it looks to be a several hour drive from the house. So it would be a good excuse to see a different part of the state!

        There are several bloggers who live down by the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia – Patti Jarrett (A New Day Dawns) is in Virginia Beach. Diana (I can’t think of the name of her blog) lives near Smithfield and goes to the Outer Banks a lot, which is south of the Chesapeake.

        Not too many ways to turn a heroine into a rich and powerful woman overnight unless she marries or inherits money. Could she have developed some app that Facebook just had to have? It might not be overly popular, but if they see potential, they pay top dollars. Or she’s a software developer who revolutionized ad tracking and sold it to Google?

        My son-in-law is a PhD in analytical chemistry and he could probably come up with something obscure that she can sell. He’s not too talkative, but if you like that idea, I’m happy to network him and see what he can come up with that isn’t proprietary. There’s probably a number of fellow PhD’s whose research didn’t pan out and it’s public knowledge so no secrets to give away.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The app is a great idea!
        She’s a celebrity chef who’s fallen from grace…food and art is a big theme in this new series.
        I was in Virginia in 2010 for my sisters wedding. She lives in Norfolk. We did a great drive to Smithfield (Virginia ham!) and I loved the area so much I kept it tucked away and now it’s coming back to to life in the book.
        Will be needing regional recipes and intend to put out a post asking for family favourites in the not too distant future.
        Anna, x


  5. Looks like a beautiful place and a lovely setting for a book. Good eating and drinking too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Time to visit? First the tennis in Melbourne then the Clare Valley…what do you think Amanda?


      1. Yes it does Thelma x


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