The Clare Valley is more than a wine region. It’s sublime countryside, it’s a compelling slice of pioneer history, and – if you’re prepared to go a little off the beaten track – it’s a taste of Outback, too…

1. Spend 24 Hours in Mintaro

This small, historic town of stone and slate is comparable to England’s model villages – though it’s rather less confected and certainly less crowded. The pub is still serving, the cafés and cellar doors are laid back, and magnificent Martindale Hall – a late 19th-century Georgian-style mansion – is as enchanting as it is incongruous. Overnight in the village and go for a walk at dawn; it’s like going back in time.

2Drive Dare’s Hill Circuit

Fancy getting a taste of the Outback without having to go five hours north? Dare’s Hill Circuit is a self-drive tour into wild, dramatic country east of Hallett and Burra. Cursed by fickle rainfall, many settlers had to abandon their dreams, leaving only stone ruins behind. Don’t miss visiting the forlorn, wind-swept cottage where explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins was born.

3. Wake Up To Riesling

Visit the cellar doors in five champion sub-regions – Watervale, Clare, Auburn, Polish Hill River and Sevenhill – and discover why Riesling is sometimes called ‘the winemaker’s wine’. As well as savouring the fruit and brightness of the variety, you’ll very likely get to appreciate a long lunch where it all comes together (we especially rate Slate, the Watervale Hotel and Paulett’s Bush DeVine Restaurant). For a different perspective, you can walk or cycle the 33-kilometre -ong Riesling Trail which cuts through the famous valley from Auburn to Clare.

4. Have an Encounter with a Monster

The Loch-Eel sits in the middle of a salt lake near the tiny outpost of (wait for it) Lochiel. Newly incarnated in fibreglass, it cuts a dramatic figure – especially after rains when Lake Bumbunga turns pink. The drive back to Clare takes in some beautiful, open country.

5. Get a Passport to Burra

So much of Burra’s original 1845 heritage is intact – including the town square, the mine and its infrastructure, the five pubs that served the communities and the miners’ cottages – that the entire town has been designated as the Burra State Heritage area. The $30 Burra Passport quite literally gives you the keys to the town. Unlock the secrets of 11 sites including the Monster Mine, the Dugouts (holes in the banks of the creek where miners once lived), the Brewery cellars and old Redruth Gaol.

Read dueSouth Magazine here.