Written by Max Anderson
In May, Qatar Airways begins flying into the capital of South Australia: Adelaide. Max Anderson recommends escaping to the beautiful Adelaide Hills for a weekend of high-country living.
Stand in the centre of Adelaide and you have two very happy choices: drive 20 minutes west for the beach or 20 minutes east for the Adelaide Hills.
The Adelaide Hills is a celebrated food-producing region which is several degrees cooler, 700m higher, and a world away from city living. Get the big picture from Mount Lofty Summit, which looks down onto the entire capital and the wide blue sea beyond, before going wild at nearby Cleland Wildlife Park. Ensconced in eucalypt forest, Cleland is where native Australian animals enjoy open enclosures, so kangaroos, wallabies, potoroos, and bettongs are quite literally at your feet (usually asking to be fed). Koalas are also on hand for cuddling, and dingo pups will soon be introduced to an adoring public.
The grand English-style mansion Mount Lofty House is a stunning hotel, complete with Stables Day Spa, a fine-dining restaurant, and imperious views over Piccadilly Valley. Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is right next door; your chance to explore magical gullies of camellias and rhododendrons.
Another 10 minutes east and you’re in Australia’s oldest German village, Hahndorf, established in 1839. Colourful Main Street has dozens of heritage fachwerk cottages, home to artisans selling gourmet produce (chocolates, preserves, meats, honey) and goods such as leatherwork, knives, candles, and organic handmade lipstick. Don’t miss Udder Delights, producer of the US$220/kg ‘King Saul’ – Australia’s most expensive cheese! Restaurants like The Haus take pride in serving dishes made only with Hills produce.
The colony of South Australia had nothing to do with convicts. It was a business proposition: in 1836, British ideologues and entrepreneurs offered free passage and cheap land to skilled settlers, hoping speculation would drive profits. The earliest migrants were English, but Prussians and Silesians were also welcomed for their building and farming abilities. Visit the Hahndorf Academy for the story; and don’t miss The Cedars, the bucolic property of German-born artist Sir Hans Heysen, whose work from the early 20th century revealed new beauty in alien, sometimes brutal, Australian landscapes.
Distance: 11,276 km
Flight Time: 12 hours, 55 minutes