Banrock Station Wine & Wetland Centre

Special promotion

ART galleries, restaurants, theme parks and chic accommodation destinations - during the past couple of decades vineyards have added to their cellar doors in a bid to win new customers.

Banrock Station, near Kingston-On-Murray, has gone a step further and, because it is located on the edge of the Murray River floodplain and wetlands, turned itself into a cellar door attached to an environmental project. When visitors arrive at the 1375-hectare property, the sign at the gate proudly declares "Good Earth . . . Fine Wine . . . Banrock Station - Wines, Walks, Wildlife, Wetlands".

The station is divided into six landscape zones. The Wine and Wetland Centre and car park (zone six) is where wines produced from the station's shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, semillon, chardonnay, doradillo, riesling, viognier, grenache, malbec and montepulciano grapes can be tasted and where chef Peter Kent serves dishes such as quandong-glazed kangaroo fillet, aged Waikerie porterhouse and cumquat-glazed pork fillet.

The produce comes from local providores, including Santalum Grove Quandongs, the Barossa Valley Cheese Company, Australian Native Bushfoods, Waikerie Growers and Riverland Farmers' Market.

Then you can finish off with an almond frangipane quandong crumble tart or a wattleseed scone with quandong jam and cream.

Zone five is the 236-hectare vineyard and zone four is the Murray River. After lunch, when a walk is needed, the smart visitors pass through zone one - the surrounding mallee - and head for the wetlands (zone two) and the floodplain (zone three).

Banrock's two lagoons cover 250 hectares and have eight kilometres of trails, including a well-maintained boardwalk across the lagoons.

There are four bird hides from which visitors can spot pelicans, purple swamphens, black swans, little pied cormorants, yellow-billed spoonbills and Pacific black ducks.

Like so much of rural Australia, the Banrock Station area has been abused by farmers and feral animals. It is a huge compliment to Banrock's owners that they not only employ full-time rangers and spend millions maintaining their wetlands but they have, since 1994, been restoring "the mallee, woodland, wetland and floodplain environments" so wine lovers can enjoy a superb meal, lubricate their palates and spend hours wandering through lands committed to protecting wildlife habitats. The result is a memorable and worthwhile experience.

The writer travelled courtesy of the South Australian Tourism Commission.

Banrock Wine and Wetland Centre, Holmes Road, Kingston-On-Murray, (08) 8583 0299, www.banrockstation.com.

Comments