South Australia's Adelaide Hills offer a wealth of attractions for foodies, wine connoisseurs, art lovers and historians. Chris Smyth from A Taste of South Australia was our well-informed guide.
Golden trees and ruby red vineyards welcomed us as we cruised to Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, 30 minutes from the Adelaide city centre. Hahndorf shares similarities with New Zealand's Arrowtown — it's cute, colourful and rich in history. Established by Prussian settlers in the early 1800s, Hahndorf still reflects its Germanic origins. The neighbouring area is home to numerous wineries, thriving berry and cherry businesses — foodie favourites — and a multimillion-dollar apple industry.
Hahndorf village showcases cheesemakers, chocolatiers, ice cream specialists, German smallgoods and the impressive Harris Smokehouse. This fourth generation, family owned operation cures and smokes local and imported seafood — including New Zealand eel — in the traditional way. Hahndorf is also famous for its arts and crafts.
We stopped at the Udder Delights Cheese Cellar where the enticing aroma of Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Heysen Blue Cheese was enough to bring on hunger pangs even though we’d just breakfasted. I also discovered tayberry jam. This little-known fruit was created by the Scots in the 1960s by crossing American blackberries with red raspberries so they could be grown commercially – blackberries were a noxious weed and therefore illegal. Tayberries thrive in the Adelaide Hills.
Before lunch we visited an innovative new cooking school, Sticky Rice. Surrounded by lush bush, with a welcoming Budda at the door, the school was a national finalist in the Best Food Experience 2009 in The Australian Travel & Tourism Awards. Owner Claire Fuller is a dedicated foodie and offers numerous classes focussing mainly on Thai/Asian inspired dishes. She also lures famous chefs such as David Thompson, author of the award-winning Thai Food cookbook, to provide master classes. Sticky Rice is a hands-on cooking experience not to be missed.
Lunch was enjoyed at the scenic Lane Vineyard where the Edwards family make and retail exceptional wines. In the bistro, Chef James Brinklow and his team have mastered the art of providing simple but innovative dishes matched with The Lane Vineyard’s best. The Gougeres with Blue Swimmer Crab were served with an open can of Italian anchovies on the same platter. The pork belly — slow-roasted and pressed — was served with crisp salt and pepper squid. Dessert offerings included French Toast with poached plums and lemon sorbet.
A 'must see' is the Hans Heysen Gallery. The Cedars is a gracious old home still owned by the Heysen family. It houses a fine collection of paintings and drawings by Sir Hans Heysen — one of Australia’s foremost landscape artists.
You can visit Heysen's working studio, built in 1912 and used by this iconic painter until his death in 1968. Check out his painting materials, tools, sketches, paintings and notes.
Wilhelm Ernst Hans Franz Heysen, born 8 October 1877 in Hamburg, Germany, moved to South Australia with his family in 1884. Even at 22 years of age, he was considered the upcoming landscape artist of Australia. His handling of light, his power of composition and his intense awareness of natural form and texture, gave generations of Australians a new appreciation of the rugged beauty of the gum-treed vastness beyond the cities.