The plane circles over Adelaide and comes in over the ocean to land. The sun is setting on the nearby Adelaide Hills as we disembark. We are supposed to be on a 10 week camping trip but we had a shocker of a trip at Christmas time. We had all gotten really sick. Fevers, coughing and hallucinating kind of sick. Harry had clearly been preparing himself for turning three by making the most of the terrible twos. I had never seen him behave so badly. We were camping. It rained a lot. And to top it off our family car died. So for the sake of my sanity I decided to cancel the big trip and instead try something less ambitious.
I settled on 2 weeks in South Australia visiting Adelaide, the Flinders Ranges, Barossa Valley and the Fleurieu Peninsular. Walking. Wine. And hopefully no sickness. We collect our hire car and drive to the house I have booked for our stay in Adelaide. Enroute to our accommodation we stop off for a woodfired pizza and a glass of a very good locally produced tempranillo. We arrive at our restored 1930’s cottage and it is lovely. A real little home away from home. Breakfast provisions for the first day, some snacks and a bottle of wine are waiting for us. The holiday is off to a good start.
Overnight the temperature has plummeted down to 12 degrees. Less than a month ago Adelaide was baking in 45 plus degree temperatures and was the hottest place in the world on one particular day. As we stand admiring the view of Adelaide from Mount Lofty I am thankful I packed a jumper. Chris forgot and he is freezing. Will be stopping to buy one soon I suppose. We jump back in the car and drive to the very pretty little town of Stirling where we are to meet some friends.
The café at which we meet provides a welcome respite from the cold outside. It is warm, makes great coffee and I have the best muffin I have ever had in my life. Dark chocolate, fig and ginger warmed up so the chocolate is just slightly melted. We decide to walk off our indulgences in the nearby Mount Lofty botanic gardens.
The gardens are lovely. Tracks winding up hills, over little bridges and around lakes. Harry and his little friend have a great time running about and exploring. It’s time for lunch and our friends have decided to take us to the picturesque German town of Hahndorf. Hahndorf was settled by German Lutherans in the 1830’s. We have a delicious vegetarian lunch at The Seasonal Garden Cafe and then set about exploring this very pretty little town. All this walking has worked up a thirst so we head on over the German Arms hotel for a beer. Thirst quenched we farewell our friends and begin the 30 minute drive back to our “house”. But I think we have missed something. This is the Adelaide Hills and I haven’t been to a winery. We decide to rectify that and stop at Petalumas Bridgewater Mill Winery.
Petaluma’s Bridgewater Mill
It has begun to rain as we pull into the cellar door, but it adds to the atmosphere. This beautiful heritage listed building used to be a flour mill back in the 1860’s. Inside is just as impressive as outside. The man delivering the tasting is very friendly and knowledgeable. I work my way through the list with my standout in the whites being the juicy citrus flavours of 2013 Hanlin Hill Clare Valley Riesling. I enjoy all the reds but I can’t go past the 2013 Adelaide Hills pinot noir with its lingering flavours of cherry, berry, spice and clove. Mmm lovely.
To get a proper feeling for an environment I really need to explore it on foot, and cities are no exception. We spend our second day walking around Adelaide admiring the old stone buildings and visiting the museum, art gallery and state library. I am very impressed with the museum here, they have packed in a lot in a small space. Everything from the Ediacaran fossil finds of Reg Sprigg, the Mawson gallery, to the world mammals gallery and the giant squid means there is something to captivate the whole family. There is an energetic vibe to Adelaide while we are here with the Fringe Festival, Womad and Clipsal 500 all happening within weeks of each other. Mad March indeed!
We stop off for a late lunch at Maid and Magpie and are pleasantly surprised. Chris pairs a riesling with some local whiting and I enjoy a delicious morrocan lamb tagine with a fabulous Penna Lane cabernet sauvignon from the Clare Valley. For a bistro meal the quality and price is fantastic and it is Harry friendly. We finish up with some decadent waffles and decide to head back to the cottage for a nanna nap before heading out to explore Morialta Conservation Park.
Morialta Conservation Park
It is a short 10 minute drive to Morialta conservation Park. We park and get out. Harry looks up into the tree branch above the car and points. It’s a koala sleeping soundly. The afternoon sun is glinting off the quartzite in the rugged gorge walls as we start out on the First Falls valley walk. There are many walks in this park but we settle on an easy one as we have been walking most of today already. We take a detour up to the Giants Cave and then continue on to the falls.
Adelaide has been very dry lately and the falls in this park are seasonal ones. So while there is not much water in the falls, we have enjoyed the peaceful walk along the valley floor with the gorge walls towering above and the birds serenading us. The people of Adelaide are lucky to have such a beautiful natural environment right on their door step.
Belair National Park
For our final day in Adelaide we decide to head back to the Adelaide Hills. We take a different route today and plan to spend the morning at Belair National Park. Belair NP is only 15 minutes from Adelaide and was the first declared national park in South Australia. We do the Lorikeet Walk a 3 km walk that Harry can easily do, wandering through big old red and blue gums, past a fortress adventure playground and old Government House. There is an abundance of birds here but we don’t spot any koalas today. The adventure play ground is a hit and we spend most of the morning running around here playing monster and hiding games.
We have worked up an appetite so we decide to head up to Hahndorf for lunch via Deviation Road Winery. This is a pretty boutique winery. The wines are all of high quality, but I am really taken with the delicious but unusual NV Riesling which has flavours of tangerine on the palate. The 2012 Ironbank Shiraz cabernet is my favourite of the reds with its earthy palate and ripe berry and spice on the nose.
With lunch finished Harry has spotted a playground in Handorf he wants to try out. And I have spotted the Sommerled cellar door. So we tire Harry out some more and then take a wine flight at Sommerled where Harry tries to eat them out of crackers. The wines here are very good with the wine maker Rob Moody having spent many years honing his craft at Penfolds and Wynns.
My brain and taste buds do a double take when I try the 2012 Adelaide Hills Fume blanc. Fume what? I ask. I am told the wine is made from sauvignon blanc grapes that are fermented in Hungarian oak and then go through full malolactic fermentation after being inoculated with bacteria in the barrel. It then becomes known as a fume blanc. My tastebuds struggle to recognise what I am tasting as they do not associate the flavours of hazelnut and vanilla intertwined with the grassy notes. This wine is fantastic. Also of note is the 2010 Mclaren Vale Shiraz, this wine is divine with its rich fruit, chocolate and spice lingering nicely on the palate. A heavy drizzle has now settled in so we decide to go for a scenic drive on our way back to Adelaide.
We see a sign for Shaw and Smith Wines and having drunk and enjoyed their sauvingon blanc in the past decide to check them out. The wines here are nice but beyond my budget. The wine tasting is $15 pp for a wine flight of 4 wines matched with cheese. We get one to share as Chris is driving. They have a nice view down to the lake and Harry has a play on the back deck but this is not what I would call a Harry friendly winery. We don’t buy anything here and continue on.
I have seen an advertisement for a German beer house in Lobethal so we make our way there. I am very glad we do this. As we walk into the Lobethal Bierhaus we are enveloped in the warmth radiating from the fireplace (yes it is February and they have a fire going – the temperature has dropped to 11 degrees!). I order the Chocolate oatmeal stout, Chris has a small tasting paddle and Harry a water with lemon. We settle on the lounge beside the fireplace and soak up the warmth. The stout is fantastic. Our time in Adelaide is at an end and we have only scratched the surface of things to do here. Tomorrow we head north to the Flinders Ranges. Adelaide we will be back.
At a Glance
Cotton Palm Cottage
Museum of South Australia
North Terrace, Adelaide
Art Gallery of South Australia
North Terrace, Adelaide
Morialta Conservation Park
Morialta Falls Rd, Woodforde
Belair National Park:
Access is via Upper Sturt Road, Belair
Petaluma Bridgewater Mill
Mt Barker Road, Bridgewater Mill
Lobethal Brew House
3A Main Street Lobethal
Deviation Road Winery
207 Scott Creek Road, Longwood Adelaide Hills
89 Main Street, Hahndorf, Adelaide Hills