South Australia – Barossa Valley – a global winner

By Mark Smith
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Vines in the Barossa Valley in South Australia

Vines in the Barossa Valley in South Australia [©South Australian Tourism Commission]

Grape picking in the Barossa Valley in South Australia
Vines in the Barossa Valley in South Australia
Ballooning in the Barossa Valley in South Australia

 

There are two ways of getting to the heart of the Barossa. One is by road, via Adelaide’s Main North Road or a leisurely climb through the Adelaide Hills. The other begins among bluestone cottages and stringybarks, with a plateful of hearty smallgoods and an old vine shiraz.

The first takes roughly an hour and a quarter. The second is a journey of a lifetime.

Visitors have been heading to the Barossa Valley since the middle of the 19th century. Back then, its small, tightly knit community boasted families with names like Kaesler, Langmeil and Schubert. Good, honest folk who turned rich brown earth into farmland and vineyards.

Six generations on, this country’s most famous wine region still retains many of those same hard-working families. Their treasured inheritance is the valley’s unique blend of Barossa Deutsch culture and quintessentially Australian lifestyle.

Barossa bound? The valley is barely 75 km from Adelaide. A daily bus service makes regular stops at townships along its journey from the city to the bush.

There are almost as many things to do and see in these parts as there are inhabitants. Simply follow your nose, or try the region’s numerous tourist trails. Each is accessible by coach or by car. There’s no shortage of sustenance along the way. The Barossa is home to world class Rieslings, rich ripe Shiraz, and hundred-year-old fortified wines. There are more than 120 wine companies represented, including 60 with cellar doors. Many carry Australia’s best known wine names.

Explore the valley’s cultural landscapes on The Barossa Heritage Trail. Its dusty back roads will lead you by century-old vineyards to white-painted churches and the by-gone days of slab-sided dwellings and grand country mansions. The Gawler Pub Trail visits some of the oldest and most-loved watering holes in all of Australia. Take the Barossa Scenic Heritage Drive and marvel at the natural splendour that inspired Heysen to take up his artist’s brush and recreate the same tree-lined views for gallery lovers everywhere.

Broadband or broderie anglaise? The Barossa has more than 100 heritage and contemporary forms of accommodation. Whether it’s a restored cottage in a vineyard or a tent just pitched under the stars, you’re never far from a welcoming handshake and a good story or two. Homestead accommodation at Seppeltsfield and Angaston combine the earthly pleasures of linen and lace with the heavenly delights of an Eden Valley Riesling shared out of doors.

Barossa townsfolk have always taken pride in growing, making and preserving their distinctive regional foods. Today’s family-owned butcheries and bakeries continue the custom with handmade wurst, dense ryes and sourdoughs, German cakes and streusel buns. The Butcher, Baker, Winemaker Trail leads to Barossa wineries and local eateries that offer intimate food and wine experiences incorporating products made with traditional methods and ingredients.

The Barossa Farmers Market operates every Saturday. Sample genuine Barossa food from the homes and the farms of the families living nearby. Look for the Food Barossa ‘cork on the fork’ logo. Produce bearing the brand has met stringent criteria governing health requirements, regionality and traditional production methods. Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop is Food Barossa’s best known supporter. The talented cook and national food writer offers daily in-store cooking demonstrations using premium local ingredients.

Be sure to pack the kids along with your tasting glasses. You won’t have to travel far to see them fall under the spell of child-friendly attractions like these:

  • The Herbig Family Tree at Springton,the 19th century home of Johann Herbig and his wife. This giant, hollowed-out red gum provided lodgings to the couple and two of their children during the family’s first years in the Barossa.
  • The extraordinary magic of the elliptical Whispering Wall at the Barossa Reservoir. Built in 1902, it allows messages whispered at one end to be heard up to 140m away at the other end.
  • Tanunda’s Story Book Cottage with its 55 displays of children’s fairy stories and nursery rhymes, and its Whacky Wood live animal enclosure.

Barossa. Not so much wine country but a way of life.

Regions

  • Barossa (including Eden Valley) (SA)
  • Barossa Valley (SA)

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