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September 16, 2013 / oneworld82

From Barossa Valley to Adelaide Hills – Endless rolling hills, flocks of sheep everywhere, great wines, and koalas (with a taste of Germany)

South Australia is home to the Barossa Valley, the region that produces the biggest amount (and some of the best in terms of quality) wines – especially shiraz – in the country. But South Australia is also home to three other wine regions: McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, and Coonawarra. So it’s just natural for an Italian like myself to be interested in visiting this part of the World.

Towards Barossa

Towards Barossa

Wintertime isn’t perhaps the best season to visit a valley like Barossa that resembles Napa so much – the resting, leafless vines are just a pale reminder of how nice the region must look in summertime! Still, it was a great way to visit some renowned wineries without too many tourists on the way. After all, the wine tasted great all the same and the winter magic, the open fires, the comfort food all added their own special touch to this two-days visit to Barossa and Adelaide Hills.

Stunning scenery

Stunning scenery near Gowler

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Getting to Barossa is really easy – Tanunda (the biggest settlement in the valley) is less than a hour away from Adelaide. Once you are there, a myriad wineries awaits you to be discovered.

Wintertime landscape: still magic

Wintertime landscape: still magic

This sign says it all

This sign says it all

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Peter Lehman next!

Peter Lehman next!

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During my visit I had the chance to taste wines from three wineries, and to bring home some bottles. The shiraz and cabernet sauvignon of this region are no doubt excellent. The tastings I had were free, and it’s really hard to leave a winery without buying a bottle; in fact, I bought a bottle from each winery. The scenery is beautiful, enchanted. Rolling hills with endless vineyards, a bucolic scenery all around perfectly complement the feeling of being in a magic land. Tanunda is a relatively small town, with some culinary gems. One of them is a small bakery – Wurst Haus – that pays homage to the German roots of the valley with amazing bratwurst rolls! Don’t miss this spot for lunch, seriously.

South Australia

Great wurst down here in German country

Great wurst down here in German country

South Australia

Moving on are Nuriootpa and Angaston, smaller cities that can become very lively with tourists in peak season. In Angaston I had a great breakfast at Blond Coffee. Nuriootpa was a kind of ghost town after dark. Blame it on low season and the fact that I visited on a tuesday night…

Blond Coffee

Blond Coffee

Flat white

Flat white

The lack of Starbucks makes sure that even smaller towns have cool, stylish cafes where to have a tasty (and expensive, mind you) breakfast, enjoying Vegemite and the great Australian creation, Flat White.

Driving on secondary roads is highly recommended here. The way between Barossa and Adelaide Hills is dotted by little towns and spectacular landscape, made even more romantic by the winter rain that conferred a distinct greenery to the landscape (a kind of green I thought existed only in Wales or Ireland).

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Here I spotted my first wild kangaroos, a sight to behold for non-Australians like us. In the Adelaide Hills region, the small town of Cuddle Creek is home to the the Gorge Wildlife Park where an array of local fauna is housed, including dingoes, wallabies, emus, kangaroos, dromedaries, and koalas: holding a koala and taking a picture with it certainly enhanced the cool factor of the trip!

Celebrity shot with koala

Celebrity shot with koala

Wallaby

Wallaby

Wallaby

Wallaby

Kangaroo with joey

Kangaroo with joey

After Cuddle Creek you keep on driving and then… you are in Germany!

Lonely railroad track

Lonely railroad track

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Yes, because the Hills house Hahndorf, a German settlement with German bakeries and restaurants. Here I had the opportunity to try some great lamb and some outstanding kangaroo at the Hahndorf Inn, all washed down with local pinot noir. Again, Australia has a lot of culinary gems scattered everywhere, and the quality of food rarely disappoints!

Welcome to Hahndorf Inn!

Welcome to Hahndorf Inn!

Some pinot noir by the fire

Some pinot noir by the fire

Excellent kangaroo fillet

Excellent kangaroo fillet

Hahndorf – like mentioned – is really a German town. It’s quite touristy, but quite crafty as well. It’s proximity to Adelaide – barely a 20/30 minutes drive – makes it quite accessible and crowded, but as we visited on a Wednesday we didn’t encounter too many people. The town is certainly worth a visit and it’s certainly a good base to explore the wineries of the Adelaide Hills.

Arts and Crafts everywhere

Arts and Crafts everywhere

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While I didn’t visit any winery in the Hills we certainly had the chance to see a good chunk of it; green hills, gorges, sheep, cows, and horses made this land most beautiful. I only got a glimpse overall of South Australia, but what I saw was wonderful. I left Hahndorf and I started driving East towards Victoria and through the Coorong region – home to some excellent beef. The roads are endlessly straight, human settlements scarce at best. If you ever visit this interior part of Australia, do yourself a favor and read Nancy Cato’s trilogy “All the Rivers Run”, an incredible story set between the XIX and XX centuries that speaks about the river society and the steamboat trade of the time along the treacherous Murray and Darling rivers. All those images I read about came magically to life in front of me while I was driving here. Perhaps it’s not the mallee landscape of the Australian outback – where droughts often means death and despair, but it certainly doesn’t look like an easy place to live one hundred years ago.

Towards Victoria

Towards Victoria

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P.S.
– Of the three wineries I visited, Peter Lehman had the most stunning grounds; come here over lunch time, get some food, buy a bottle of wine, and enjoy the weather outside!

2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. JK / Jul 16 2015 6:51 pm

    I thought you might like to see that I made a digital matte painting for school based on one of your photos above? I hope you don’t mind, and I hope you enjoy… https://vimeo.com/122501529

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