We are always looking for something different in our travels and Off Piste 4WD Tours delivered. This tour took us directly from our cruise ship to the beautiful and under rated Fleurieu Peninsula. This is a 45-60 minute drive departing from Outer Harbor – Adelaide where our cruise ship was docked.
From the time we booked online we were in touch with our guide, Ben. He is well travelled and has worked in some of the finest and most exclusive resorts. He has returned to the Mclaren Valley to share his childhood home with all of us.
Ben picked us up from the cruise ship in a new Toyota Land Cruiser Series 70, which is four wheel driving in style. Leather seats, sat nav, space and just so smooth even on the bumpy terrain we travelled. With Ben’s local knowledge and contacts we were offered access that many would never have the opportunity to experience. We went off the beaten track, into areas rarely visited and had an adventure that was truly unique to the southern region of South Australia.
Our first stop was a picnic in a spectacular gorge along the Onkaparinga River that is carved into the surrounding hills. The land remains relatively unchanged (apart from the trail trails were travelling). The river flows and the echoes whisper stories of the original inhabitants —the Kaurna Aboriginal people. The name ‘Onkaparinga’ comes from ‘Ngangkiparinga’, an indigenous word meaning ‘The Women’s River’. Ben advised that aboriginal men do not come to this area as it is a spiritual place for aboriginal women.
Ben dropped us off up the river and drove a few hundred meters down the trail allowing us to walk through the pristine landscape and take it all in. The kids ran and raced along the river, whilst my wife and eye strolled hand in hand appreciating the silence.
When we caught up with Ben, he had prepared a beautiful picnic with local fruits, nuts, cheeses and a number of wines. I am sure this was meant to be a quick stop but we strolled around, laughed, joked and enjoyed great food and wine.
This was just the start and Ben had many more things in store for us and we were back off through the rugged Aussie bushland. We ran into some friends and stopped to say hello to some koalas, in the background the kookaburras laughed and then we were of again before getting into a race with some kangaroos. Im sorry to say the big diesel land cruiser is no match for the native wild life, and the kangaroos left us for dead.
Ben then took us through the middle of the vineyards winding our way through lines of vines before coming into the back entrance of a local winery. We stopped to enjoy the views, experience the south Australian wines and just kick back. Again, we stayed much longer then planned but at this stage time did not matter.
Ben had a surprise for us that I will not talk to much of as I would not like to spoil it for others that get this unique opportunity. Soon we were back off again and found ourselves looking toward the sprawling sandy silvery beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see. We drove onto a three kilometre stretch of pristine coastline showcasing spectacular cliffs at the very end before stopping at Mastin Beach.
By this stage we were well behind time and it was a race back to the cruise ship before it left us stranded. Ben had it covered but you would not know with my son singing “we’re going to miss the ship…la di di da.” for the full 60 minutes back. Ben remained calm, cool and in control utilising his sat-nav to get us back through the back streets of Adelaide. It was never in doubt and we were back on the ship with a few minutes to spare.
In summary our adventure was unique and were lucky to have Ben as our guide and a newly found friend. He made the experience personal and shared the beautiful homelands that he grew up in. Our itinerary was flexible but generally included:
- Outer Harbor pick up
- Onkaparinga Gorge off-road adventure, wildlife and picnic
- Wine tasting at a choice of cellardoor
- ‘Surprise exclusive McLaren Vale experience’
- Ocean beach drive along beautiful Silversands
- Stop off at Maslin Beach before heading back
I highly recommend a minimum of 5 and half hours for the trip. I feel 6 hours would remove the stress of getting back to the ship. However, this is a tour so worth taking and a highlight for any travel itinerary that includes Adelaide for just one day.