The Adelaide Hills are part of the Mount Lofty Ranges, unofficially centred on Mount Barker, the area's largest town. The Hills were among the first areas of the state to be settled by Europeans and a number were established as German settlements Hahndorf and Lobethal, the most well-known. Descendents of the settlers still live there and there is a strong German cultural connection seen in Lutheran churches and schools, architecture and many older residents who still speak German.
The hills have been blessed with the perfect climate for producing world-class wines and a cornucopia of produce. There are countless wineries to visit, five of them producing world-class vintages, and a wide choice of specialty food stores for matching.
Hahndorf is where to buy traditionally made wurst and German smallgoods between visiting interesting shops. Stop for afternoon tea at the German Cake Shop or have something more substantial at the German Arms or Hahndorf Inn.
Udder Cheese Delights is well worth exploring. They have cheese-making classes and tastings. A shop and cafe are also part of the cheese and wine trail. They can send you off with four cheeses which have been pre-matched with specific wines. They also have a Tuscan-style villa available.
Milk is supplied by MacFarlane Hill dairy's beautiful Saanen goats. The calm and good-tempered goats can supply up to 5.5 litres of milk every day.
If you fancy something very special and sweet, Chocolate @ No 5 is the place to indulge. Inside the charming 1850s cottage you will be delighted by their selection of fine chocolates and truffles, exotically decorated cakes, desserts, Belgian sugar waffles and other delights too hard to resist. They also serve premium coffee, hot and iced chocolate and a real treat is their chocolate milkshake laced with melted Belgian chocolate.
The best available products are used and are sourced from New York, Belgium, Switzerland and locally from Melbourne and Adelaide.
Lobenthal is where you will find Heart of the Hills Markets. The indoor market opens at 10am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and features fruit, vegetables, gourmet foods, arts, crafts, good coffee and a supply of entertaining characters. Housed in the Old Woollen Mills and surrounded by orchards and wineries, this market is undercover and captures the essence of the Adelaide Hills.
Gumeracha is home to the world's largest rocking horse. The structure stands 18.3m high and weighs 25 tonnes, and children are allowed to climb on it! The fun happens in the Toy Factory, which has a wonderful range of wooden toys at factory prices. It's a place to delight children, parents and grandparents, alike. Everything they create is made from Australian timber, grown to Australian standards. All toys are child-safe and paints are eco-friendly. Modern technology is blended with craftsmanship to create the strong, safe and practical products.
As if that's not enough, there is a 2.8 hectare nature park to enjoy. It's home to birds, kangaroos and wallabies, ducks and lambs, all living happily among ponds and thousands of native trees and shrubs.
As you would expect, there are delightful accommodation choices in the Hills. Adelaide Hills Country Cottages offers several to choose from.
Apple Tree Cottage has been restored and decorated to preserve its charm and heritage, but with today's comforts. It is surrounded by an English garden, has an open log fire, air-conditioning and spa bath. One bedroom has a queen bed, the other a double and single. It has a fully-equipped kitchen and barbecue, and breakfast provisions are supplied. Feel welcome to take the rowing boat out on the lake which is stocked with redfin.
Gum Tree Cottage is an old-world, early Australian stone cottage on more than 80 hectares of grazing property amid rolling hills, overlooking water and a windmill. Murray Grey cattle graze in the paddocks as you relax in a hand-crafted rocking chair on the veranda. It has an open fire, two-person spa, queen and twin bedrooms and breakfast supplies.
Lavender Fields is a French country-style stone cottage in a 1.2-hectare garden with pond and quaint stone bridge. The cottage has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, log fire, underfloor heating, spa bath, and for warmer times, an alfresco setting with barbecue in a delightful courtyard.
The Villa has a modern Mediterranean theme with warm terracotta shades. Floor to ceiling windows give garden views and the terrace overlooks a lemon grove and vineyard. There is a two-person spa, queen and double bedrooms, open fireplace, air-conditioning and barbecue.
The Nest is a cosy place for two, surrounded by nature and birdlife. It has a deluxe double spa, log fire, a majestic floodlit gum tree, queen bed, breakfast provisions and a patio with barbecue. The Nest is the perfect romantic getaway.
The Adelaide Hills, about 30 minutes east of Adelaide.
Udder Cheese Delights Tuscan Villa is $200 a night. Adelaide Hills Cheese and Wine Trail costs $55 a couple for Standard Trail and $85 for Silver Trail. Standard includes a bottle of wine, four cheeses, crackers, fruit paste and olives. Silver Trails has all standard features plus 12 additional regional foods to make a long lunch. They run between 10am and 4pm each day.
The Toy Factory is open every day between 9am and 5pm.
Adelaide Hills Country Cottages accommodation starts at $205 a couple, a night on week nights, and $265 on weekends.
Virgin Blue has flights to Adelaide.
One-way fares from:
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one-way on the Internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person, per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at October 2, 2008 and are subject to change.
Prices correct at October 2, 2008.
For further information
Adelaide Hills Country Cottages
Ph: (08) 8388 4193
Heart of the Hills Markets
1 Lobethal Road
Ph: (08) 8389 5615
The Toy Factory
1 Birdwood Road
Ph: (08) 8389 1085
Udder Delights Cheese Cellar
91a Main Street
Ph: (08) 8388 1588
Chocolate @ No 5
5 Main Street
Ph: (08) 8388 1835
Ph: 136 789
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