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A Weekender's Guide to the Adelaide Hills

This acclaimed wine region is home to a pizzeria in a 130-year-old church, a gin distillery, a historic German settlement and even a giant rocking horse — all just half an hour from Adelaide.
By Samantha Teague
January 24, 2020

A Weekender's Guide to the Adelaide Hills

This acclaimed wine region is home to a pizzeria in a 130-year-old church, a gin distillery, a historic German settlement and even a giant rocking horse — all just half an hour from Adelaide.
By Samantha Teague
January 24, 2020

Some say Adelaide is the city of churches, but others know the truth: it's the city of great wine. As well as McLaren Vale, the Barossa and Clare Valley, that wine is grown in abundance across the Adelaide Hills. Located just a 30-minute drive from the CBD, the region is an easy — and rewarding — day trip. As you wind your way around the area, you'll encounter a pizzeria in a 130-year-old church, a gin distillery, a historic German settlement and even a giant rocking horse. And lots and lots of cellar doors to visit.

The region has always been worthy of a visit, but right now it's more important than ever. The area was recently devastated by bushfires, which saw 86 homes destroyed, more than 60 grape growers impacted and an estimated one third of the region's vineyard production wiped out.

As well as donating directly to the Country Fire Service and Adelaide Hills Wine Region's Go Fund Me, you can also go and visit and support the local businesses and wineries directly. With tourism rates down significantly during one of the busiest times of year — the summer holidays — many businesses have taken a big hit financially. So, grab some mates and head on a road trip with hungry stomachs, an empty boot and money to spend. Here's our guide to what to eat and do and where to stay while you're there.

Before you head off on an adventure, download the Alert SA app and check the CFS and National Parks SA websites — and heed any warnings or alerts.



Barristers Block by Iain Bond for SATC

Wine tasting. Wine tasting. Wine tasting. How much can you do in one day? That's the question in the Adelaide Hills. Start by visiting some of the 60 vineyards affected by the bushfires that are still open (some have been destroyed entirely) — we suggest you start in Woodside, where you'll find stunning cellar doors from Bird in Hand, Petaluma, Barristers Block and Golding Wines.

When you need a break from wines, make a beeline to Hahndorf. A 19th century German settlement, the town is still filled with German pubs, German food and German architecture. And it has a cheese cellar: Udder Delights. Here, you'll find a cornucopia of handmade cow and goat's cheese — and, if you ask nicely, the staff will let you try (a lot) before you buy. Also in the area worth visiting and eating are the metre-long hot dogs at the Hahndorf Inn, fudge at Humbugs of Hahndorf and Fruchocs at The Fruchoc Shop (trust us, they're great). If you're there on the first weekend of the month, head for a wine tasting and grazing platter at La Prova, too.

Cleland Wildlife Park by Ian Routledge for SATC

Another Hills town filled with tasty things is Gumeracha. It's also home to one of Australia's Big Things: The Big Rocking Horse. Once you've snapped a pic, head to Applewood Distillery's cellar door, where you can try gins, amaros and liqueurs made with native Australian ingredients and Unico Zelo's wines.

For an activity that's slightly less eating and more doing, head to the Beerenberg Family Farm to pick your own strawberries (between October and April — make sure you check the website first). Then, head on down to Cleland Wildlife Park. Sure, it sounds like something you'd generally do as a kid during school holidays, but at what age is cuddling koalas (yes, you can actually hold them), feeding kangaroos and talking to rescued cockatoos not fun?



Lost in a Forest by Frances Smith for SATC

You could spend days eating in the Adelaide Hills, but we'll narrow it down to some of our favourites. In Uraidla, Lost in a Forest is serving up woodfired pizzas and natural wine from local label Ochota Barrels in a 130-year-old church. It has a stunning outdoor area perfect for al fresco drinks in the summer months and during cooler months it has a roaring fire sure to stave off the iciest winter chills.

Another must-visit restaurant heroing natural wines is The Summertown Aristologist. Run by Lucy Margaux's Anton von Klopper, Commune of Buttons' Jasper Button and Aaron Fetwick from Adelaide restaurant Orana, the restaurant-cum-cellar door is serving up a grazing menu of local veggies, meats and cheeses. You'll need to book this one — it's tiny and fills up quick.

Lot 100 by Daniel Trimboli for SATC

For breakfast and coffee, head to Sazon Espresso in Mount Barker. It's pairing Mexican-inspired brunch fare — think huevos rancheros and house-made flatbread topped with slow-cooked brisket — with Veneziano coffee. Then, pop over to Lot 100. A brewery and cellar door for Hills Cider Co, Mismatch Brewing, Vinteloper, Adelaide Hills Distilery and Ashton Valley Fresh, it's also home to a restaurant with pasta, pizza, pork belly and pipis.

If you've worn your Sunday best and are keen for a flashier dining experience, make tracks to The Lane Vineyard — where your food comes with a side of stunning views across Mount Lofty Ranges — and the much-awarded Hardy's Verandah Restaurant located inside the 1800s-built Mount Lofty House.



CABN Jude by Dylan Michenberg for SATC

Speaking of Mount Lofty House, you can also stay there. It's certainly not your cheapest option, but it is suitably fancy — think plush white towels, four-poster beds, deep baths and even personal conservatories. On the other end of the spectrum is Jude. An off-the-grid cabin in the wilderness, owned by Cabn. It has big windows for animal watching, a comfy king bed and an indoor shower.

Bandicoot Springs is another tiny house, located on the edge of a natural spring, is another quaint spot to rest your head — and it'll only set you back $115 a night. Equally off-grid is Bridgewater's Tiny House. This one's located on an organic farm and has an outdoor bath with incredible views. And Bushland Bell Tent offers fancy camping just outside of Hahndorf.

For something a bit different, book a night at Stirling's Sticky Rice Cooking School — where you can learn to cook Thai, Indian, Japanese, Spanish or South African feasts during the day, then spend the night in one of the villas.


Top images: Bird in Hand Winery by Mike Anesse, Hahndorf Inn by Jonathan Kissock.

To find out more about South Australia's bushfire-affected areas and where else to visit, check out SATC's #BookThemOut campaign.

Published on January 24, 2020 by Samantha Teague

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