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The Adelaide Hills

The Adelaide Hills, only half an hour’s drive from the city, are a scenic blend of gently rolling hills, market

gardens, vineyards and orchards with historic towns and farm buildings nestled in valleys. Cleland

Wildlife Park in the Cleland Conservation Park on the slopes of Mount Lofty displays native birds and

animals in a bush setting. The Gorge Wildlife Park at Cudlee Creek houses a large, privately-owned

wildlife collection.

Just off the main highway are the townships of Stirling, with its beautiful trees and historic homes;

Aldgate, nestled in a picturesque valley; and Bridgewater with its historic water wheel (1860), now part

of the restored mill that houses the winemaking and maturation plant for Petaluma’s premium sparkling

wines. The lookout at the summit of Mount Lofty (726 m) offers spectacular views of Adelaide. Festivals

in this section of the hills include the Autumn Leaves Festival held in May at Aldgate and at Stirling, the

Food and Wine Affair held in September.

Hahndorf is probably the best-known town in the area. Settled by Silesian and Prussian refugees in 1839,

its main street is lined with old elms and chestnut trees. Some of the buildings have been restored and

the town has an old-world feel about it. The Hahndorf Academy and Art Gallery has a good general

collection of paintings. A local German heritage museum is part of the gallery. The bakeries here sell

delicious apfelstrudel, cheesecake and Black Forest cake, and small shops offer interesting local

handicrafts and home-made preserves. Other attractions include a model train village, a clock museum

and a strawberry farm. The heritage of the town is celebrated with several festivals: Founders Day, in

January, and Blumenfest, the festival of flowers held in November.

On the outskirts of Hahndorf on the road to Oakbank is The Cedars, the home and studio of Sir Hans

Heysen whose paintings depicted the area’s beauty so well. Guided tours are available Sunday to Friday.

Two of South Australia’s oldest townships, Naime and Mount Barker, lie to the east and south-east of

Hahndorf. Mount Barker showgrounds is the venue each March for Power of the Past (vintage cars,

engines and motorcycles).

In the town of Oakbank the Easter Racing Carnival, Australia’s biggest picnic race meeting, is held with

great fanfare every Easter. North of Oakbank, the townships of Forest Range, Lenswood and Basket

Range are surrounded by apple orchards. There is an interesting archive and historical museum at

nearby Lobethal. At Woodside, Melba’s Chocolate Factory and Heritage Park is a popular attraction.

From Hahndorf, the back road passes through winding hills and farm¬land to the old goldmining town of

Echunga. The Warrawong Sanctuary at Mylor is a leader in the preservation of rare and endangered

animals and is open to the public. At Belair National Park there are walks, a wildlife park, Old

Government House and a native plant nursery.

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