Roughly a 20-minute drive east of Adelaide (or up to 40 minutes, depending on where you’re heading), Adelaide Hills is best known for its cool-climate wines, particularly its Pinot Noir. It centres on the town of Mount Barker, with rolling green vineyards and architectural touches from its German settlement past weaved throughout.
I recently visited, flying into Adelaide from Sydney on one of Virgin Australia’s 11 daily domestic flights, which you can book yourself here (full disclosure: I was a guest of Virgin Australia and South Australia). The brief for the day’s itinerary? Exploring the area – while not drinking. It’s been six months since I’ve had a drink, and I wasn’t going to start now.
So, if you too are looking to visit Adelaide Hills and not drink, and are wondering what else there is to do aside from winery tours and pub lunches (both of which you’re spoilt for choice for here), I’m sharing what I did there.
Get a Massage at Longview Day Spa
Yes, Longview Day Spa is somewhat wine-related – it’s on a family-owned, award-winning vineyard, which you can visit for tastings and even an overnight stay. But the vineyard setting only adds to its peacefulness. I visited for a ‘Balanced Massage’ ($165 for one hour), which started and finished with locally-made tea served in a sunroom overlooking the neat rows.
Take a Tour of Jurlique Mylor Farm
While you’re probably familiar with Jurlique body lotions and face creams, you might not have known you can book a tour of its biodynamic Mylor Farm where many of the herbs, flowers, and plants used in its natural skincare products are grown.
A 90-minute Farm Tour ($30) sees you learning the history of Jurlique and the farm, as well as more detail on bio-dynamic processes, planting, and herb drying. Meanwhile a VIP Tour that’s $285 lasts you eight hours and includes a Jurlique spa treatment.
Lunch at Sidewood Restaurant
Family-owned Sidewood Estate is home to vineyards, a cellar door, and a sprawling restaurant with interiors that flow into a courtyard. There, you can dine in a wooden cabana, warming up by an outdoor stone fireplace, overlooking the property’s pétanque and lawn bowls courts.
If you come for lunch on a Saturday or Sunday, it’s a set menu only, with your choice of two or three courses ($70 for two courses, $85 for three). In line with the restaurant’s eclectic collection of Australian art, meals here are beautifully presented.
The village of Hahndorf in Adelaide Hills was built in 1839 and is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. Today, it’s home to artisan food producers like Udder Delights and Buzzy Honey, German beer gardens, and souvenir shops that play classical German music. Bar the Australian accents, it really does feel like you’re in actual Germany.
Stroll Through Mount Lofty Botanic Garden
Set on a crescent-shaped 100 hectares, Mount Lofty Botanic Garden houses viewing platforms, sculptures, and several trails that wind past its plants and flowers. The garden is not only free to enter but also offers complimentary tours every day except Thursday, leaving from the Lower Car Park at 10:30am. The cooler, wetter weather in the area suits plants from temperate climates that don’t grow elsewhere in Adelaide.
Pick Strawberries at Beerenberg Farm
Since Beerenberg Farm opened in 1839, six generations have lived here. The farm, located in Hahndorf, lets visitors pick their own strawberries from its fields, from November to April, paying $5 for entry and then a cost based on the weight of what’s picked. You can also book a tasting of fresh produce or shop the farm’s locally-made products, including a balsamic beetroot relish, Australian blueberry jam, and creamy Caesar dressing.