One of the coolest areas in mainland Australia, the Adelaide hills reach up to just over 700m above sea level, rising dramatically up from Adelaide city at sea level.
The Adelaide Hills have provided shelter from the summer heat and refuge since the area has been inhabited, first by the Peramangk people, and then by European settlers in the 1840s. Prussians and Silesians Lutherans, escaping religious persecution, came to the area in droves, bringing with them a lasting Germanic flavour that can still be seen (and tasted!) today in the architecture and local food.
Your money or your life!
Today, the Adelaide Hills are a popular destination for weekend breaks, with a wealth of boutique wineries producing some of Australia’s finest Chardonnay, picture-postcard Old-World towns and buildings, and generally delightful, civilised pastimes. This wasn’t always, the case, however. While Adelaide was one of the few cities founded by free men, the Hills, known back then as The Tiers, was home to cattle rustlers (duffers) and highway men. The dense woodland and mountainous terrain offered them a wealth of hiding spots to avoid being picked up, and allowing them ample opportunity to dream up their next nefarious activity.
Today, duffers are a thing of the past and the only daylight robbery is the inflated prices of some of the more touristy areas, and the only hold ups on the road are marauding wombats.
Speaking of wombats, you can get up close and personal with some Australian fauna in Cleland and Gorge wildlife parks. Buy a bag of animal feed on your way in and keep the ‘roos happy with lots of nibbles. You can also hug a koala, because life is just not complete without.
The high life
For those seriously inclined towards serious inclines, the roads up to the viewpoints are gnarly, described by one cycling enthusiast website as “lung-busting, leg-burning, stem-chewing”. But worth it for the views and overarching sense of achievement and smugness, apparently. For the less masochistic, you can always drive. The views still look as great, with one of the most spectacular sunset vantage points in the region from the top of Mount Lofty.
Cool climate champions
These vertiginous peaks mean the average temperature in the region is a lot lower than the rest of South Australia, which provides wines from the region with a distinctive elegance to its wines. These unique growing conditions favour brilliant and refined traditional method sparkling wines made using Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The region, renowned for its verve and creative spirit, also produces some outstanding still wines, notably its Chardonnays (including Wirra Wirra’s 12th Man which you can currently get on special offer! Oddbins team – please confirm if this is included in the offer), but also spicy cool climate Shiraz, and outstanding Sauvignon Blanc as well as less common varieties like Grüner Veltliner and Barbera.
Get a taste of the region with some of the best pick wines below:
Photo Asset Credits:
Cleland Park - South Australian Tourism Commission/Adam Bruzzone
Cycling – South Australian Tourism Commission
Mount Lofty – Callum Jackson