The quaint village in the McLaren Vale region is a thriving, eclectic mix of history, food, wine and art.
Pastries, wine, art, jewellery, markets, regional fare…whatever you fancy, you’ll find it in leafy Willunga. Just five minutes from McLaren Vale, and 15 minutes from the coast, the town is nestled in the foothills, with views of the range on one side and a glimpse of the sea to the other.
“It’s such a beautiful town to call home,” says Wendy Ashwin, resident and owner of Four Winds Chocolate. The chocolate shop and patisserie has been in Willunga for three years now, “We’ve got such a great community here – it’s perfect for foodies and art lovers. Come for the day and you’ll leave nourished and relaxed, with a few extra shopping bags too.”
High Street is the thriving heart of the village, lined with trees and rustic stone homesteads that have stood proudly for over 100 years. Historic buildings are now home to a gorgeous mix of eclectic and contemporary offerings.
Recently, the town has incorporated new sculptural art pieces, historical fixtures and shared spaces to sit and relax. Look out for the informative brass pavement panels and let the kids find the koala, cockatoo, whale and kangaroo placed throughout the street.
On Saturdays, the town is home to the iconic Willunga Farmers Market, voted one of the top markets in the country. Pick up some produce, grab a coffee and then make your way along the bustling High Street for brekkie (or lunch), a cuppa and a browse through the shops.
CAFES & EATERIES
There are cafes offering something for everyone, The Golden Fleece, Terre and The 1839 serving classic favourites and Three Monkeys with a European-style brunch and providore delights. For vegetarians and vegans, the Green Room is the place to be.
BEER & WINE
If you love craft brews, Shifty Lizard is a recent addition to the street, pouring local tap beers into the evening. South Coast Brewing is another great option just out of town. Hither & Yon has you covered for wine tastings in their rustic cellar door, while the Willunga Hotel and Old Bush Inn are pub favourites serving beer, wine and classic hotel fare.
Explore your creative side in the street’s galleries and working studios. Willunga Gallery hosts a collection of local works and giftware, while Off the Slate displays and sells local paintings, sculpture and glassworks.
The glassworks are iconic to the town, with the Willunga Glass Studio still a working artists’ residence. Glass blower Glenn Howlett has called the studio home for over 20 years.
Reach for the eco-bags, you’re in for a treat. For vintage finds, you can’t go past Whatever at Willunga and their treasures or a visit to Spock Sisters who stock ethical fashion, jewellery, beauty and hair products. Tall Poppy has a range of gifts, homewares, clothing and a specialist kids and baby section, while The Jewellery Room focuses on unique handmade pieces.
There’s more than meets the eye here. So go on, wander the streets and discover a hidden treasure or three.
While visiting, why not soak up the history of the town with a visit to the Courthouse and Slate Museum at the top of High Street. Built between 1855 and 1872, the stone structures offer a beautiful glimpse into the heritage architecture that remains in the village, as well as the farming and industrial history of its original residents. Ask the shop and cafe owners about their buildings when you pop in, you might be surprised by a tale back in time.