Looking for an outing for the afternoon? Head to the Hills!
Cleland Conservation Park is home to Cleland Wildlife Park, where more than 130 species of Australian wildlife reside. Many of them roam free and interact with visitors on the gentle walking tracks that cross the park. If you’re after a challenging hike, the steep Norton Summit climb has a gradient of almost eight per cent but offers magnificent views over the Hills’ lower slopes, the suburbs of Adelaide and sparkling Gulf St Vincent beyond.
The tiny towns of Summertown and Uraidla are hubs of contemporary dining and the restaurants are full of locals and visitors alike on weekends. As the nearest settlements to the Basket Range, they celebrate the cutting edge of small batch Australian wines.
Following winding roads north through the slopes ringing the Adelaide Plains, perhaps peeling off to visit Inglewood and Houghton, takes you to Gumeracha. Boasting the world’s biggest rocking horse as well as wineries and a distillery, it offers plenty for both young and old.
The drive to Birdwood is memorable any time, but during the Bay To Birdwood event it’s crowded with vintage cars. They’re all heading to the National Motor Museum, a must visit for any car lovers. Looping back to the south through mixed farmland, Lobethal, famous for its fabulous Christmas lights displays, is also home to a hub creating a range of products from handicrafts to beer.
It’s worth working up an appetite before you hit Woodside, because nobody leaves hungry. The small town is home to a profusion of artisan food and wine producers and artists, and is one of the stops on the Hills Sculpture Trail. Past the Oakbank Racing Club, the scenic area around Balhannah is home to some of the more spectacular cellar doors.
Fields of farms give way to housing in the boomtown of Mount Barker, which has all the services of the city and a weekly farmers’ market that showcases the region’s produce. Heritage listed Hahndorf is just a short drive away but you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in a German village. It gets busy on weekends, when hordes of tourists visit to fill up on German smallgoods, beer and pastries.
Venture further south to experience the history of the gold rush era and agricultural pursuits on some of the state’s most productive land around Echunga, Meadows and Macclesfield. Kuitpo Forest offers walking trails, picnic spots and camping.
Heading back towards Adelaide, Stirling is an urbane foodie hub that still retains its small town charm. It has an abundance of cute brunch spots and boutiques to explore, and no shortage of roaring fireplaces in winter.
Near the summit of Mount Lofty, Crafers is close to some of the best views in the state. Luxurious accommodation options abound but anyone can visit the cool climate Mount Lofty Botanic Garden, which is worth visiting year round and has a diverse network of trails from easy strolls to more challenging hikes.
Loop back through Belair National Park, the second oldest national park in Australia, to enjoy a drive through thick bushland and views out over Adelaide as you return.