A holiday or weekend in Adelaide wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Adelaide Hills and the celebrated wineries of the Barossa Valley. Some of Australia’s finest drops come from this region and thanks to its close proximity to Adelaide, you can see (and taste) plenty in just one day.
The Adelaide Hills are just twenty minutes from Adelaide and are a terrific destination for all travellers. Regardless of if you’re after a lazy and romantic day sampling wines and taking in views, or a busy day sightseeing, boutique and antique shopping, and getting some outdoor exercise, the Adelaide Hills is a crowd-pleaser for all.
Mt Lofty is the highest peak in the Adelaide Hills and offers spectacular views of the ocean, Adelaide, and the surrounds. It’s reputed to be a tough climb but worth it for the views. While there, nature lovers can visit the Mt Lofty Botanical Gardens and the nearby Cleland Wildlife Park. They’re great destinations for hiking, sightseeing and a coffee in the picturesque Waterfall Gully.
Cleland Wildlife Park
Cleland Wildlife Park is one of Adelaide’s favourite tourist destinations and an excellent place for children to engage with Australia’s favourite native species. It is one of the few interactive wildlife sanctuaries and offers 35 hectares of bushland where big and little kids can interact with Australian wildlife. Just off the South Eastern Freeway, it is a short and easy drive from Adelaide.
From Mt Lofty, take the Mount Lofty Summit Road heading to Morialta Conservation Park and Castambul. Here join the Gorge Road for a spectacular drive through the foothills, featuring interesting towns, wineries and spectacular natural scenery.
Be sure to make a stop at Cudlee Creek to sample a drop or two at the historical homestead of Mt Bera Vineyards. As an alternative, treat the kids to a wildlife experience at the Gorge Wildlife Park — or, if time allows, do both!
For car-lovers, head north to Chain of Ponds and right onto the Adelaide Mannum Road, which leads to the historical town of Birdwood. This is home to the historical “Old Mill” and National Motor Museum — Australia’s largest collection of vintage, veteran and classic cars and bikes.
If you can’t wait a moment longer to quaff that famous Barossa Valley wine, take Little Para Road at Chain of Ponds.
Along the way, Kersbrook is a pleasant historical farming town with ample wildlife and plenty of fresh produce. It is also home to Kersbrook Hill Winery, producer of the critically acclaimed Dons Acre Shiraz.
Families and fishing enthusiasts might like to stop at South Australia’s watering hole, the South Para Reservoir. The picturesque waterside views of the surrounding hills make it a lovely place for a picnic lunch. This is also home to the curious Whispering Wall where unusual acoustics allow a whisper at one end to clearly be heard by a listener at the far end, over 100 metres away.
From Williamstown, take the Lyndoch Valley Road to Cockatoo Valley where the Barossa Valley wine industry begins in earnest.
Cockatoo Valley is a particularly scenic area, with no shortage of rolling hills and tempting cellar doors. The area includes historical gold mining sites, a lavender farm, and row after row of fat grapes all destined for the famous Barossa Shiraz.
Although several grape varieties are grown in the Barossa, it’s the Shiraz that takes home all the prizes. Shiraz (or Syrah) grapes are renowned for liking it tough and proving themselves against all odds. The region’s poor soil, a mix of clay and loamy, sandy, brown and dark-grey soils may, at first glance be better suited to making bricks than world class wines but the area’s long history (since 1842) of award winning wines tells a different story.
The vineyards of the Barossa have also developed the Barossa Old Vine Charter — a pedigree of vines to ensure the very best producers live on.
So, surrounded by so many premium drops, how does a wine lover choose which cellar door to knock upon? Pick your grape as it’s not all about Shiraz. Plenty of exciting new Barossa wines are making a splash on the international tasting scene, and most of their makers welcome drop-in tasters.
With all the wonderful wine and so much beautiful scenery, a day trip or weekend away in the Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley is an absolute must-do for travellers, and the souvenirs are almost as good as the trip!