Head to the Adelaide Hills, and the heritage town of Hahndorf, for local produce, cool climate wines and a unique combination of German and Australian history.
By Marc Llewellyn
In the Adelaide Hills, Hahndorf is a place of rustic tranquillity, complete with artisan produce, local wines, and a vivid history. It's one of the prettiest towns in Australia, and the oldest German settlement, thanks to Prussian pioneers who arrived here from 1839. Many buildings are half-timbered German-style stone or brick constructions with steeply pitched roofs, and Australian bullnose verandahs and iron lace.
- Browse heritage shops and taste local produce
- Sip wines at the vineyard cellar doors
- Visit historic homesteads and museums
How to get there
Hahndorf is 26 kilometres (16 miles) south-east of central Adelaide. It takes about 30 minutes to drive from Adelaide to Hahndorf along the National Highway.
Top things to do in Hahndorf
Explore Hahndorf's historic main street
Wandering up and down elm tree-lined Main Street with the calls of native Australian birds ringing out and a macadamia ice cream from Ye Olde Ice Creamery in your hand is just bliss. You can taste local cheese in the Udder Delights Cheese Cellar, indulge your sweet tooth with local sweets and chocolates at The Menz FruChoc Shop, and test 50 varieties of handmade fudge at The Fudge Shop Hahndorf. Tip: you can buy low sugar fudge suitable for diabetics. Pick up smoked European-style mackerel and kippers, as well as South Australian yellowtail kingfish at Harris Smokehouse. Many of the other buildings on Main Street house craft shops, galleries and gift shops. Some sell Aboriginal art, or South Australian opals.
Savour the area's wonderful German influence
Hahndorf has a proud German heritage and it’s on display in Main Street. The Hahndorf Inn, built in 1853, has a huge German food and wine menu thanks to the Holmes family, whose descendants travelled to South Australia from Hamburg in 1847. Even older is the German Arms Hotel, established in 1838, where you can tuck into sausages, schnitzels and sauerkraut like a Bavarian. Then there’s the gorgeous stone Hahndorf Old Mill Hotel, which turns into a German beer house complete with music, dancing and a pig on a spit on the last Sunday of each month. Buy your Oktoberfest supplies, or a cuckoo clock made on site, from the German Village Shop.
Taste local beers and wines
Hahndorf's Main Street has a few artisan winery outlets, as well as a craft beer cellar door, Gulf Brewery. Try the tasting paddle of six beers, with local cheese, meats and olives. Taste more craft beers at the Prancing Pony Brewery, on Mount Barker Road, which has an eatery serving burgers (AUD$16.50) and regional smoked meats and cheese platters (AUD$20). Its India Red beer was the 2016 supreme champion in the International Beer Challenge, London. The Adelaide Hills is one of Australia's premier cool climate wine growing regions. Taste test at the Hahndorf Hill Winery, which specialises in Austrian grape varieties such as Gruner Veltliner. You can combine gourmet chocolate and fine wine in the winery’s ChocoVino experience (AUD$22-$27).
Admire German-Australian art
In the centre of Hahndorf is an impressive 19th century stone building that was formerly a boarding school and maternity hospital. Today it's the site of the Hahndorf Academy, which showcases the work of local, national and international artists. It's also home to the German Migration Museum, which tells the story of the first German settlers. This displays drawings by the renowned landscape artist Hans Heysen, who lived in Hahndorf from 1906 to 1920. You can buy handcrafted art, including jewellery and homewares made by local and South Australian artists in the Academy's shop. Visit Heysen's former house, The Cedars, and explore his studio and rambling cottage garden, set in 60 acres (24 hectares) on the edge of Hahndorf.
Explore the surrounding area
South Australia is well known for its gourmet products, and the area around Hahndorf is no exception. Just outside town is the Beerenberg Family Farm, which makes jams, sauces, chutneys, relishes, and mustards, and has local honey, too. You can buy all this from the farm shop, and pick your own strawberries from November to April. Also visit Melba's Chocolate Factory, just 15 minutes from Hahndorf, in Woodside. Melba's uses 1940s chocolate and confectionery-making equipment and you can see everything being made. Also in Woodside is Woodside Cheese Wrights, where you can taste 20 different styles of local cheese, some with bush tucker ingredients, such as goat milk cheese flavoured with saltbush or lemon myrtle.
Sip handcrafted cocktails at a local distillery
Spend an afternoon at Ambleside Distillers where visitors can sip handcrafted cocktails while enjoying the views from the scenic acreage property located just off Hahndorf’s main road. Tour the distillery garden to spot some of the botanicals used in the production of their signature gins before settling into the tasting bar or on the wrap around deck with a tasting flight, a signature drink and food share plates made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. From the tasting bar you’ll also be able to see the still in operation and visitors are encouraged to chat to the distillers as they work on creating the next great batch.
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