Welcome to Don’t Delay Your Stay, news.com.au’s campaign to support communities hard hit by this summer’s devastating bushfires. Many of these regions rely on tourism so one of the best ways to help is to visit and spend time in some of the most beautiful parts of our great country.
The Adelaide Hills are quick and easy. Quick to get to and easy to enjoy.
Within 30 minutes of leaving Adelaide Airport, or just 20 minutes from the CBD, you can be in the heart of the hills and ready to start exploring.
You don’t need to over think where to start your trip because there are plenty of scenic roads that crisscross the region letting you set your own pace, stop where you want and just enjoy the drive.
Wineries are a major part of the Adelaide Hills experience and many producers were hard hit by the fires that swept through parts of the region a few days before Christmas.
But thankfully many have been able to reopen their cellar doors, restaurants and gardens and are asking visitors to come and support the region. Many businesses are running fundraising so a visit to one can help many more.
You can see a lot in one day in the hills but there are plenty of things to keep you busy for more and an overnight stay is the best excuse to sit back with a glass of local wine (or cider, beer or gin because they make them all) and decide where to go for lunch next.
There are several roads that will take you into the hills and its many towns and villages. To get straight into the action there is the South Eastern Freeway with exits to all the major spots, or take the scenic route that winds through the hills to towns like Summertown, Uraidla and Lenswood.
Heading up the freeway from Adelaide, you’ll soon see signs for the town of Crafers and the Mt Lofty Botanical Gardens and Mount Lofty Summit. The gardens are 97 hectares of native bush and gardens with lots of walking paths, trails and sculptures.
The Mt Lofty Summit has great views across Adelaide where you can grab a coffee and enjoy it.
Cleland Wildlife Park is also in this part of the hills. It’s a great place to see native animals, especially koalas.
If you are looking for somewhere a bit special to stay, Mount Lofty House is nearby.
Stirling is one of the busiest towns in the region and is classic Adelaide Hills – Instagram-worthy winding tree-lined streets with lots of cafes, restaurants and shops along footpaths made for meandering.
Stop in at places like Red Cacoa, an artisan chocolate shop where you can have a coffee or hot chocolate (of course) or if you time your visit for a Friday night there is a desert bar.
Just down the road is the town of Aldgate with its Pump House Hotel and this is also the time to check out the historic Bridgewater Mill. In the 1860s it was a flour mill but now it offers lots of different eating and drinking options in a beautiful location.
An easy 20-minute drive across the hills and you can be in the town of Hahndorf. The main street is packed with shops, restaurants and cafes so you’ll need some time here.
There is literally a butcher, a baker and candle maker in this town.
It’s where you will find Udder Delights, selling locally made cows and goats cheese, Brayfield Park Lavender shop and Buzz Honey.
Micro brewery Gulf Brewery is a local beer and cider maker and Ambleside Distillers offers gin tastings and blending masterclasses.
The town is also home to Beerenberg Farm. You will know the Beerenberg label from supermarket shelves but this is where it all starts, at the producer’s farm. You can pick your own strawberries and stock up on the products in the farm shop.
Also worth a visit is The Cedars, the home and studios of famous Australian painters, Hans Heysen and his daughter Nora Heysen. This is not a traditional gallery – it’s the home where they lived and the studios where they worked – and you don’t need to be an art expert to enjoy wandering through the rooms and peaceful old gardens.
One of the great things about visiting the Adelaide Hills is the towns are all just a short drive apart.
About 15 minutes drive from Hahndorf you’ll be in the town of Woodside, home to award-winning producers of two key food groups – cheese and chocolate.
This is the place you really will want to bring your empty Esky.
At Melba’s Chocolates, housed in an old dairy factory, you can watch how the chocolate and confectionary are made before getting down to the serious business of stocking up.
The cafe has chocolate on tap – literally there are taps with different chocolate flavours that when combined with various milk options can make up to 25 different variations of hot chocolate.
Next door is Woodside Cheese Wrights where you can try cheese, buy cheese and learn how to make cheese.
In the main street Woodside Providore showcases Adelaide Hills produce and wine and The Warehouse @ Woodside is crammed with great antiques, industrial vintage and plain quirky stuff.
Barristers Block Wines was hit hard by the fires, sadly losing its vineyard. But its cellar door and gardens were undamaged and are now operating as usual.
Stop in for a wine tasting and have lunch at the restaurant with pizza and tapas on the menu or you can go with one of the grazing platters.
Bird in Hand winery’s cellar door is also at Woodside as is Simon Tolley Lodge, which doubles as a vineyard and luxury accommodation. Its vineyards were damaged but the accommodation was untouched so all the more reason to stay here while visiting.
Artwine is also open for business.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE
If you turn off between Hahndorf and Woodside you’ll get to Hay Valley, just near the township of Nairne, and that’s where you’ll find Lot 100. It’s a cellar door, brewery and restaurant but that barely starts to describe this place.
It’s home to five local brands — Mismatch Brewery (craft beer), Hills Cider, Adelaide Hills Distillery (gin), Vinteloper (wine), and Ashton Valley Fresh (fruit juice).
Sadly, Vinteloper lost most of their vineyard and farmhouse in the fires so a visit to Lot 100 is a great way to support them.
The area around the town was hard hit by the fires but the main street was saved and the community is now welcoming back visitors.
The historic Onkaparinga Woollen Mill, which once produced those famous coloured check blankets that were on every Aussie bed, is being transformed into an arts and heritage hub called Fabrik. It’s not always open so check out their Facebook page for upcoming events.
The old mill is also home to the Lobethal Bierhaus, a popular micro brewery with cellar door tastings (anyone for lentil beer?) and a restaurant that features lots of local produce and wine.
There’re plenty of other food spots to try including the Amberlight Motorcycle Café or Lobethal Bakery for breakfast, lunch or coffee or head over to Emma & Ivy, which as well as great food and coffee, sells beautiful gifts and plants.
You can search for the perfect vintage find at Hunted Home and Vintage or check out “slow fashion” store Tracy Prior Creations, dedicated to Australian designers and unique pieces.
One of the newest additions to the town Hugel Wine Bar & Kitchen has just opened in an old bank building in the main street and features lots of local wines and produce on the menu.
Lobethal Road Wines managed to save their vineyards and cellar doors and is encouraging people to visit.
There are plenty of accommodation options in the area including 1965 Lobethal Bed and Breakfast.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE
Just a few minutes from Woodside and Lobethal is the even smaller village of Charleston and this is where you will find homewares and fashion store Pony, which stocks the kind of gear that deserves a spot on your Insta feed.
Unfortunately nearby Almondcart Wines lost almost all of its vineyard in the fire but the owners are still welcoming visitors for tastings on the property or you can head online to support them.
The town is famous for its fruit produce – apple, pears and cherries and its wines.
Cellar doors are dotted throughout the rolling hills and when they invented the word picturesque this is what they had in mind.
The area is just 15 kilometres by road and a few hills away from where the devastating Cudlee Creek fires started on December 20. Many vineyards, orchards, homes and equipment were lost and it’s been a tough time for the community.
Most businesses have reopened and the community are pulling together to support each other and the firefighters who battled the blazes.
Cherry picking season is mostly over for this season but add it to your to-do-list if you plan to travel later in the year.
At Pike & Joyce Winery you can enjoy lunch in the restaurant or grab a platter and sit on the lawn.
The fire got very close to Anderson Hill winery and they lost some vines but its cellar door and restaurant were all saved and they are open for tastings and lunch.
Golding Wines had significant vineyard losses but fortunately its cellar door, terrace areas and gardens were not damaged and are operating as usual.
Sadly, some wineries in the area were lost in the fires, such as Tilbrook Estate, which has set up a GoFundMe page.
AND JUST AROUND THE CORNER
Here are a few more places you could add to your list.
The Gorge Wildlife Park at Cudlee Creek
Applewood gin distillery – Gumeracha. Located in an old apple cold store shed, this local gin maker offers gin tastings. You can set yourself at the long bar or settle into one of the comfy chairs.