Adelaide’s Best Beauties!
Like most travellers, I can see the best beauties in the destinations I visit. There is always something to remember about a place whether it’s the people, architecture, scenery, food or art and culture. I am known to say regularly that ‘I love Adelaide’ without really thinking why! On this short three-night stay, I made a conscious effort to make note of why I love Adelaide so much and here’s my findings.
To me Adelaide is a destination place yet so is Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane! So, what makes Adelaide a different destination than other wonderful Australian cities!
Adelaide Comes Up Trumps
Firstly, Adelaide is less busy and chaotic, something you’ll notice immediately on your arrival at Adelaide airport. There is a sense of calmness and people are in less of a hurry. Taxis and car rentals queues are shorter and faster moving. The CBD is only a short 15-minute drive from the modern airport offering an abundance of accommodation to suit every traveller’s needs. Adelaide is known as the ‘City of the Churches’ however over the last decade or two, I’m not convinced this tagline is the most fitting. Adelaide has everything at its fingertips – the buzzing CBD is bursting with all the cuisines of the world.
It’s a city built around fresh produce, good food and world class wines. The coffee scene is as good as other metropolitan cities I’ve visited. Colourful festivals, live music, museums, food markets, sporting and cultural events run all year long, making Adelaide a happening place. The Adelaide Fringe Festival which is currently running (February and March) is the largest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere. This annual international festival is a celebration of cabaret, dance, theatre, opera, arts, classical and contemporary music with spin-offs including Fringe and film events.
Garden of Unearthly Delights
Garden of Unearthly Delights is a unique festival playground located in Rundle Park in the city centre. The park is decked out with numerous performance venues, carnival activities, funky bars, multicultural food and market stalls.
Inner city parks and nearby beaches are both enticing and inviting; facilities are well utilised and offer visitors a sense of well-being, community mindedness and cultural togetherness. Shoppers are lured off the city streets to browse freely in unique boutiques, relax in trendy bookstores and linger in quirky laneway cafes with friends.
Glenelg is Adelaide’s favourite beach destination offering stunning sunsets, charming sidewalk cafés, loads of shopping and is rich in heritage.
Head to the Hills!
When you tire a little of city life, it’s time to head to the hills – ‘The Adelaide Hills’.
Charming hillside villages like ‘Hahndorf’ are very beautiful with tree-lined streets and cafes, bakeries, pubs, galleries, boutiques and handmade Australian preserves, fudge and ice cream shops. Hahndorf is also proud of it German heritage, from the restaurants along Main Street promoting bratwurst and strudel to the shops with Germanic names.
The Cedars in Hahndorf was the home, art studio and prize garden of Sir Hans Heysen, wife Sallie and their 8 children. Heysen is one of Australia’s most prominent and respected landscape artists of the early 20th century. The 60-hectare property hasn’t changed since the artist’s death in 1968. The guided tour includes interesting facts about the Edwardian house, studio and the family. The informative tour included educational descriptions regarding the large selection of Heysen artworks on display.
Even if you are not particularly interested in art, visiting Heysen’s house, hearing the family’s story, and standing on the many tapestry rugs he once stood on is an experience in itself.
The Sewing (The Artist’s Wife) painting was inspired by Hans when he saw the back of his wife Sallie sewing in dappled light.
Adelaide Hills Wineries
Adelaide Hills is one of the 5 Top wine growing regions in South Australia and home to some of the world’s best winemakers. Some 50 cellar doors are spread across the hills as well as Adelaide Hills cheese, chocolate, craft beer, cider and gin producers. The abundance of fresh local produce is the foundation of the menus across the region.
Local micro-distillers are popping up over Adelaide and regions. Applewood Distillery, the home of the ‘Seven Deadly Gins’ and other spirits, has a small tasting room within the old Gumeracha Cold Stores. It is also the cellar door for Unico Zelo wines. During our visit, we tasted Applewood Classic Gin and Gin of Gluttony both with Victorian Capi Tonic. The Gin of Gluttony is a bacon fat-washed spirit and too difficult for me to explain. Click on the link to learn more about science behind this method. The Science of Fat-Washing Cocktails
McLaren Vale Wine Region
In November 2017, D’Arenberg Wines chief wine maker and grape grower, Chester Osborn opened the new $15M modernistic Rubik’s style cube at D’Arenberg estate. The 5 story multi-purpose structure, complete with restaurant, bars, private dining, tasting rooms, office space and a large collection of eclectic art. Visitors can download an app to learn about the 60 artworks on display in the museum located on the ground level.
On level 1 are the funkiest bathrooms I’ve seen in a while – hidden behind a wall of artificial plants lies a number of corrugated iron cubicles, artistic designed urinals and quirky wall art with stunning views over McLaren Vale from the glass windows.
The men’s toliets are more colourful and arty than the womens toilets with their large pods as urinals.
The extraordinary ‘Cube’ masterpiece gives visitors the illusion of floating in the centre of a vineyard from the many vantage points, views that have never been seen before. The top floor cellar door overlooks the expansive vineyard with glorious views of the rolling hills of Willunga and the sea. The landmark building has already become a tourist attraction and put McLaren Vale on the map internationally, generating more sales not just for D’Arenberg winery, but also the McLaren Vale region as a whole.
No McLaren Vale winery experience is complete for me without a visit to the glorious Coriole Vineyards. The first vines were planted on this site in 1873. The cellar door opened in 1972 in the original old ironstone barn built in 1860. This beautiful spot has wonderful views across the McLaren Vale vineyards, Willunga Range and Fleurieu Bight. The advantage of visiting a cellar door is there is often the opportunity to taste exclusive cellar door wines.
My Coriole favourite wine is: Dancing Fig” (a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Shiraz). My new Coriole discovery is ‘Nero’ (Nero d’Avola) a vine variety that originated in southern Sicily.
The Coriole food products such as the locally made Extra Virgin Oil and Kalamata table olives are exceptional too.
‘Littlewood’ Agapanthus Farm
Adelaide is a bloom with Agapanthuses! I have never seen so many agapanthuses in my life. The Adelaide suburbs, public gardens and vineyards look beautiful with large heads of purple and white flowers towering over low growing plants and scrubs.
After trawling the internet about the history of agapanthuses in Australia, I stumbled across “Littlewood’ Agapanthus Farm and Nursery located adjacent to Littlehampton in the picturesque Adelaide Hills, a short 30 minutes’ drive from Adelaide city.
From the moment you drive through the gates there is a sense of peace and quiet. It’s a place where visitors can experience the beauty of the mass-planted flower gardens.
On our visit, the owners John and Tracey were busy preparing for their son’s wedding the following day. Sam, the groom who was looking very relaxed greeted us and spoke a little about the history and the upcoming plans for the farm.
The farm is already an ideal venue for weddings and special events with a Pavilion that overlooks the farm, a small romantic lake and rolling hills. The photography opportunities alone are endless!
The large property has glorious views with acres of gardens of numerous species of agapanthus plants. The gardens were first established by the Gray Family back in 1997 who obviously put a lot of time, energy and money into how the farm looks today.
I’m looking forward to a return visit to ‘Littlewood’ to see the improvements that are in the pipeline.
Bridgewater Mill Accommodation and Restaurant
We stayed two nights in Adelaide Hills in one of the two worker’s cottages on the Bridgewater Mill National Trust Site. The cosy cottages have been beautifully restored and furnished. Within walking distance is the Bridgewater Mill restaurant which is considered one of South Australia’s finest. The large watermill also known as the ‘old rumbler’ was manufactured in Scotland and assembled in Australia. The historic flour mill was built in 1860 by a mill engineer John Dunn from Devonshire.
Today, the mill is an important Adelaide Hills attraction and most photographed landmark in the hills.
The Bridgewater Mill is an iconic and unique Adelaide Hills Restaurant and Wine Lounge which is housed in a historic 1860s flour mill.
Also, worth visiting is the small village of Uraidla, the newest hotspot in the hills. Home to ‘Lost in the Forest’ Wine Bar and restaurant; recently renovated historic ‘Uraidla Hotel’ and neighbouring ‘Republic Café Bakery’ featuring quirky upcycled materials, retro and antique furniture.
Entrance to the ‘Lost in the Forest’ Wine Bar and restaurant
Finishing on a High Note
The truth is there is no where in the world I have yet to find like ‘Adelaide’. Although, there are many places offering similar things as ‘Adelaide’, they still aren’t ‘Adelaide’!