Adelaide Hills – Hahndorf and Stirling
Go to the Hills…
When visiting Adelaide and you’re done with your must-see city list leave some time to enjoy a few days in the Adelaide Hills. It is a surprisingly beautiful part of South Australia that continues to please and delight, even on return visits.
By car it’s about 40 minutes from the CBD to the Adelaide Hills. Getting there used to be a rather hairy ascent via a precarious, winding road but now it’s an easy drive accessed by a six-lane South Eastern Freeway.
If time is limited research places of interest before visiting to ensure you don’t waste precious daylight hours deciding on what to do and where to go.
There are many key attractions to suit all travellers including wildlife reserves, historic sites and museums, and Mount Lofty Summit at Crafers for pinch-me-now spellbinding panoramic views. For the gourmet gourmand, the Adelaide Hills offers up a bounty of fare guaranteed to please and satiate both appetite and palate.
Kick start your Hills adventure at Hahndorf. Pretty-as-a-picture with all its colonial charm, the main street is punctuated by cafes, pubs and bakeries, and great little shops selling all manner of wares. Boutique vineyards have set up cellar doors in the main street and often hold wine tastings giving both locals and visitors the opportunity to try some very good blends.
It stands to reason, given Hahndorf’s Lutheran-Austrian history, lunch should be taken at the German Arms Hotel. Ordinary fare just wouldn’t do. Having dined there on more than one occasion with friends, you can expect to be served up a meal that is truly bigger than your stomach. Be prepared to clink a few steins while dining on German sausage and strudel! Note: Lederhosen not required.
Sidebar: If time permits, just minutes from Hahndorf’s main street is revered artist Hans Heysen’s home The Cedars. Surrounded by gum trees and picturesque vitas, Heysen’s home is definitely worth investigating.
Before leaving for your next destination embrace a cool travel memory opportunity and have your photo taken in front of the angel wings at 55 Mount Barker Road (that’s me at the top of this blog right in front of the angel wings!) then grab some supplies such as German sausage, chocolate, and cheese. Add a stylish treat-for-self from Agave and you’ve got your essential purchases covered.
There’s an abundance of art galleries dotted around the Adelaide Hills but one that comes highly recommended is Aptos Cruz Galleries in Stirling, about 12 minutes by car from Hahndorf. Contemporary art, oriental antiques, seriously cool lighting and furniture with a pared-back Euro vibe, fine art, and homewares, are seamlessly displayed over three glorious levels. A word of caution: don’t drive too quickly or you may miss this gallery located in an old church on Mt Barker Road. There’s no signage to grab your attention which is part of the appeal of this place; you feel as though you’ve made a new discovery that only locals would know about.
If you’re in the garden village of Stirling on the fourth Sunday of the month take a detour and visit the local market in Druid Avenue. Touted as ‘South Australia’s premier arts and craft market’, it’s a worthy destination for seekers of eclectic wares, plants, fashion, jewellery, arts and crafts.
A designer that warrants your discerning fashion eye is Kalila (at the time of writing the designer was transitioning from her former label name Namoi). The clothing range is versatile with lots of pieces that layer well making them excellent additions for a frequent traveller’s wardrobe.
The Adelaide Hills offers a restful bucolic experience. If you have the chance to stay longer than a day, search out local stays and soak up the country air. We were fortunate to spend a week with long-time friends in their home not far from Stirling’s main shopping precinct. Every morning we were greeted by a brood of hens, clucking and flicking their feathers left, right and centre. The ducks decided it was in their best interest to keep away but happily supplied us with a daily handful of freshly laid blue eggs!
For a rather posh dinner with non-stuffy vibe try The Crafers Hotel in Stirling. The food is sublime. Highly recommend the South Australian free-range Berkshire crispy skin pork loin with pommes mousseline, choucroute garnie, macerated prunes and rosemary jus dished up local lad chef Ben Carli and his team. It was to die for. Equally delightful was the Confit de Canard: duck leg and thigh, Potato Dauphinoise Gratin, Honey Sesame Vegetables, Rhubarb Compote. No room for desert! Next time – definitely.
Driving around the Adelaide Hills is a leisurely past time guaranteed to provide you with plenty of fodder for story telling when back home. There are three major shopping precincts, Hahndorf, Stirling and Mount Barker as well as roadside stalls and farm gates selling fresh local produce.
Quality time in the Adelaide Hills is a worthwhile pursuit for any traveller.
The pace is slow and the people are friendly, with or without the throng of tourists. Settled in 1839 by about 50 immigrant Prussian Lutheran families, it is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. Named after the immigrant ship’s captain, Hahn (dorf is the German word for village), the settlement was a vital stopover for stage coaches during the 19th century. Expect to see many original stone cottages with distinctly high gables lining the main street and dotted throughout surrounding streets.
Want to know more about Hahndorf’s history https://localwiki.org/adelaide-hills/Hahndorf_-_Main_Street
What to buy in Hahndorf’s main street:
Cheese: Udder Delights Their instagram #fortheloveofcheese says it all!
Sausage: Taste in Hahndorf
Pastries: for the best, freshest apple strudel try Otto’s bakery
Chocolate: as the name says, Just Chocolate sells nothing but chocolate
Wine: let your nose and taste buds lead the way; too many great wines to choose from to recommend just one and plenty of places to try them. Keep on the lookout for Bendbrook Wines and Somerled Cellar Doors. For a full list of Adelaide Hills Cellar Doors check out www.adelaidehillswine.com.au
Craft beer lovers: check out www.adelaidehills.org.au/beer-cider-spirits for the complete lowdown