Wine and wilderness provides a perfect pairing in the Clare Valley

The final stage of a 100-kilometre walking trail linking the wilderness, food and wine of the Clare Valley has recently opened.

Jun 25, 2024, updated Jun 25, 2024
Clare Valley Wine and Wilderness Trail committee member Tim Grigg (in blue cap) out walking the trail with friends.

Clare Valley Wine and Wilderness Trail committee member Tim Grigg (in blue cap) out walking the trail with friends.

Aptly named the Clare Valley Wine and Wilderness Trail (CVWWT), it features six stages traversing stunning countryside, including many private properties that would otherwise have been closed off to the public.

The project has been a huge undertaking but a band of volunteers, with the backing of local landholders, wineries and supporters, have worked tirelessly to create a new attraction for the region.

CVWWT committee member Tim Grigg said the trail was broken into six stages, ranging in distance from 14km to 23km, along with the recently opened five-kilometre spur trail to Mount Oakden, taking the total trail network to 105km.

“Each stage starts and finishes at a winery, with the exception of stage one which starts at the Clare Valley Wine, Food and Tourism Centre, and stage six which completes the loop at the centre,” Tim said.

“It’s a public trail, essentially open all year round apart from some small sections closed over the fire danger season.

“People can do all of, or just part of, any stage.”

Setting the trail apart from others is the opportunity to walk across private property while visiting some of the Clare Valley’s world-class wine and food offerings.

Clare Valley Wine and Wilderness Trail volunteers John and Annie Pitt working on the trail with Dr Michael Nugent whose vision helped inspire the development of the new trail.

The trail committee negotiated with 55 different landowners to enable the trail to cross through their properties, while also taking in sections of road reserves, and a small section of Clare’s famous Riesling Trail.

“Part of the attraction is the fact that the Clare Valley Wine and Wilderness Trail accesses private properties,” Tim said.

“The landscape is really beautiful and there’s a lot of variety – from some really exposed ridgetops like Dunn’s Range, one of the highest points in the valley, where you can see all the way to Mount Bryan.

“Through to the Spring Gully walk, where you’re right in the bush and walking along creek lines, past big river gums.

“All with the option to stop off for some wine tasting and high-quality food.

“Most of the time bushwalking is not associated with fine wine and food, so combining a nice, challenging walk and finishing it off with a really beautiful lunch I think is really appealing.”

The CVWWT had help from the Adelaide-based Lang Foundation to get off the ground, as well as the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council, Clare Lions Club, Clare Men’s Shed, South Australian Recreation Trails Inc and countless volunteer hours.

Local businesses have also backed the trail, with The Dozen (“which of course is 13 sponsors”), who have committed support over the next three years.

The sponsorships ensure insurance for property owners, and maintenance of trail signage and stiles for crossing fence lines is all covered.

“We’ve been really pleasantly surprised at the support we’ve received from the landholders and beyond,” Tim said.

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“I don’t know if the same would happen in other communities, but Clare has really shown amazing community spirit for this concept.

“It will bring tourism to the Clare Valley which is such a beautiful region, you only have to come here once to realise how great it is.

“With the six stages of walking available, it entices people to come here and stay a little longer.

“Recently, Clare Valley inducted some of our great wine legends into the wine Hall of Fame and one of those inductees, Peter Barry said that when he started in the industry the Clare Valley wasn’t really a destination location.

“They’ve worked really hard over the years to really make it a destination, and now it really is, I think this trail is helping with that goal and uncovering some of the hidden gems of the Clare Valley.”

Like many great ideas, the CVWWT was born around a campfire while out hiking the Heysen Trail by local doctor, Michael Nugent.

A keen bushwalker himself, Michael shared the idea with fellow hiker and great mate, Tim, and the idea bubbled around for about a decade before the idleness of Covid times kick-started them into enacting the plan.

The reward for all the hard work and planning is in the enjoyment of walkers using the trail, which is now attracting plenty of interest.

On July 27, the CVWWT will host the inaugural Adelaide Trail Runners Clare Valley Trail Run 2024, and the trail itself will be in the national spotlight when it features on the SBS television program Great Australian Walks with Julia Zemiro later this year.

The committee continues to work on improving the trail, and has plans to install some “funky” new shelters at each stage.

“It is nice to think that this community-inspired project will give countless hours of joy long into the future to locals and people from all over Australia and other parts of the world,” Michael said.

“Our hard-working committee are pretty bullish about the future – we believe the trail has the potential to become a world-class destination into the future.

“The trail adds another dimension to what this wonderful Valley offers.”

Full details, maps and trail notes are available at

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