Although the South Eastern Freeway is a quick and convenient way to head to the hills from Adelaide, take a different route along Greenhill Road to Balhannah to discover picturesque vistas, winery cellar doors and varied landscapes at a slower pace.
Beginning right in the heart of the city, Greenhill Road literally leads to the ‘green hills’ of the Adelaide Hills region, past Cleland Conservation Park and through Summertown, Uraidla and Carey Gully to the township of Balhannah. It gives up some of the region’s best kept secrets at almost every turn, with walks, wineries, wildlife, pubs and shops along the way.
As you start climbing to the top of the suburb of Burnside, you soon see the turn-off to the right to Waterfall Gully, which is a leafy city fringe gateway into the Adelaide Hills. It’s always worth a stop to admire the beautiful waterfall and have a coffee at Utopia Waterfall Gully on their verandah overlooking the lush green surrounds. It is so relaxing listening to the waterfall flowing and you feel a world away from the city, surrounded by nature. If hiking is your thing join the many walkers and runners making their way to the top of Mount Lofty Summit for the best views over Adelaide. The Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Summit walk is 7.8 kilometres return with a cafe and bathroom facilities at each end.
Head back to Greenhill Road which becomes windy and narrow in parts, but rewards passengers with superb views back across to the city and all the way to the sea.
As you come to the crest of the hill you will see a right hand turn on to Mount Lofty Summit Road into Cleland Conservation Park. It is only three minutes from this junction to the road entrance to Cleland Wildlife Park, and a couple more minutes to the park itself. Cleland is a wonderful place to get up close and personal with Australian wildlife.
Heading back to the Greenhill Road junction, you’re soon arriving into the stunning Adelaide Hills Wine Region and specifically the Piccadilly Valley sub-region. South Australia’s first vineyard for commercial purposes was planted in 1839 further south, but the Piccadilly Valley is considered the cradle of the modern Adelaide Hills wine region, with the first vineyards planted in the 1970s. The first winery cellar doors you’ll come to on this journey along Greenhill Road are Greenhill Wines and Ashton Hills.
Penny and Paul Henschke run Greenhill Wines Cellar Door & Cafe and if you are venturing up on a Friday or weekend, you can indulge in Penny’s fabulous seasonal fare and talk to Paul about the stunning wines he handcrafts while overlooking their picturesque vineyards. This cellar door blends old and new in a converted stone building with an architecturally designed space to make the most of the views over the Piccadilly Valley.
At rustic Ashton Hills you’ll enjoy cool climate wines and a regional platter on the deck overlooking vineyards – try a glass of their Pinot, recognised as one of the best in Australia.
Other Cellar Doors in the area between here and Balhannah include Barratt Wines, Blefari Wines, CRFT Wines, Lucy Margaux/Commune of Buttons (at Summertown Aristologist restaurant), Small Valley Vineyards, Tapanappa Wines, Terre a Terre/Daosa and Whisson Lake. Full details in the Adelaide Hills Wine Region cellar door guide.
From Ashton Hills, head back to Greenhill Road and arrive in the village of Summertown with roadside stalls along the way selling fabulous locally grown and made goodies. The Summertown Astrologist located in the main street is a hip wine bar offering local wines and food pairings.
After Summertown, you can turn right and head to Crafers via the township of Piccadilly and the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden, which will ultimately lead you onto the South Eastern Freeway. Otherwise continue further along Greenhill Road to Uraidla.
Uraidla is a beautiful little village that has changed a lot over the past few years. There is something for everyone in the main street. The one and only pub, The Uraidla Hotel is a fully redeveloped historic building with a quirky upcycled interior. It’s a top spot to enjoy lunch with a great menu and extensive wine list including some local Basket Range wines. Right next door you'll find The Uraidla Brewery handcrafting beer within the hip Uraidla Republic café and bakery. Across the road, you can’t beat Lost in a Forest for pizza. It certainly is easy to get lost in your own thoughts sitting in their courtyard in front of the converted church, enjoying a beautiful meal and local beverages! Call into cafe Stall 1195 (also art gallery and bicycle mechanic!) in a former service station and general store for coffee and a meal. If you are a lover of vintage treasures, make sure you check out Adelaide Recycled Timbers – they have an eclectic trove of much more than timber!
Back on the road, head through Carey Gully which is extremely photogenic and a great place to stop roadside and take in the beautiful vineyards and orchards. The landscape is what captures you too on this drive as it constantly changes. Surprises around every corner!
By the time you get to the end of Greenhill Road, you are in the village of Balhannah, home to Balhannah Hotel, Left Barrel Brewing, Kidman Flower Co. native flower farm and Field Trip – a shop selling small-batch artisan wares and the working studio of Mim Clarkson and Linda Marek (Delilah Devine) producing clothing, jewellery and homewares. Living By Design is recommended for furnishings, homewares, gifts and clothing, while just out of town are the Nepenthe and Shaw + Smith winery cellar doors.
That’s the end of your Greenhill Road scenic drive but be sure to stop and enjoy the tittle village of Verdun if you’re heading back to the freeway. At the popular Stanley Bridge Tavern established in 1853, Benny the Jack Russell is a ‘regular’ and somewhat of a minor celebrity while Walk the Talk Kitchen is perfect for lunch or a snack. Maximilian’s is an iconic restaurant nestled among the vines that is home to Saint & Scholar cellar door and its floating golf green where a hole-in-one earns the happy golfer a generous prize package.
And if you don’t want to drive back to Adelaide on Greenhill Road or via the South Eastern Freeway – then we highly recommend you stay in one of the many accommodation options.
Greenhill Road is popular with cyclists so be aware of them and leave a minimum of one metre when passing in a 60 km/h or less zone, or 1.5 metres where the speed limit is over 60 km/h.