Head to the Hills and support communities and businesses impacted by the Cudlee Creek bushfire of December 2019. Visit old favourites, discover new gems and perhaps enjoy an event or two. The welcome you receive will be more heartfelt than ever.
There has been heartache in the Adelaide Hills as we come to terms with the loss recent bushfires have caused in our community, and in many communities around Australia last summer.
Fortunately, most of our beautiful region was physically untouched by the Cudlee Creek fire on 20 December 2019, and the experiences and places visitors love about our region are ready for you to enjoy.
All the directly impacted areas including Lobethal, Woodside, Lenswood, Charleston, Cudlee Creek, Gumeracha, Harrogate, Kenton Valley and Mount Torrens are safe and open for visitors.
Planning a trip to the Adelaide Hills is one of the best (and most delicious) ways to help in our region’s recovery. Not only do visitors support jobs and livelihoods, they also boost our spirits and strengthen our resolve to rebound and be even better and stronger than ever.
Businesses that weren't directly impacted will appreciate your custom too as businesses across the region were affected in a variety of ways (loss of trade and stock for example) and they all support the local economy - employing locals and purchasing produce and goods in the community.
Planning a trip to support those businesses in and directly around the fire zone? Here are some suggestions:
The town of Lobethal was at the centre of the fires but thanks to the incredible efforts of the Country Fire Service and all those who fought the fires alongside them, the main street and town centre were saved. Businesses and residents were so disappointed that the Lights of Lobethal festival, one of our State's most loved Christmas traditions, just couldn't go ahead under the circumstances. There are so many things to do in and around Lobethal and the locals sure could use some moral support as they get back on their feet.
Emma & Ivy is a beautiful spot for breakfast or coffee (home decor and giftware too), while Hunted Home & Vintage is a real treasure trove and Tracy Prior Creations is the place for hand crafted 'slow fashion'. Head to The Lobethal Hotel or Rising Sun Hotel for a pub meal or have a bite to eat at Lobethal Bakery or the quirky Amberlight Café. Fabrik Arts and Heritage Hub is in the Old Woollen Mill - follow their social media for exhibitions and events. Golding Wines is a Lobethal highlight just out of town where, despite some vineyard losses, their cellar door, terraced area and garden are as beautiful as ever. Many people know Udder Delights cheeses and love visiting their cafe and cheese cellar in Hahndorf. Their production facility is in Lobethal and they lost a great deal of stock due to loss of refrigeration - pick some up next time you're at the shops or in Hahndorf to support this great business that employs many locals. Lobethal Bushland Park sustained significant damage from the fire but has reopened and is showing fascinating signs of recovery.
The township of Woodside is on the edge of the fire area and is the first place you'll start to see the fire scar if you are coming off the South Eastern Freeway via Verdun, Balhannah and Oakbank. Again, the main street and most areas immediately around were thankfully saved so this area remains a highlight for visitors.
Head to Woodside for some of the region’s most iconic food and wine experiences. Fill an esky with treats at Melba’s Chocolates & Confectionery and Woodside Cheese Wrights before enjoying wine and food and stocking your cellar at Artwine, Petaluma and Barristers Block who suffered significant vineyard damage but saved their fabulous cellar door, lawns, lush garden and accommodation (Vigneron Villa). Please note that popular Woodside winery Bird in Hand is currently closed for an exciting redevelopment project. Simon Tolley lost the majority of his vineyard but the luxurious accommodation Simon Tolley Lodge was saved and would make a superb base for exploring. Adelaide Hills Escape is another great accommodation option close to the wineries while Shetland Cottage & Studio is close to the attractions in the main street. Satisfy your appetite at one of Woodside’s pubs (The Bedford Hotel and Woodside Hotel) or bakeries (Lobethal Bakery and Lovells Bakery). There are plenty of cafes to choose from - try Woodside Providore, Avalon of Woodside or Chase Chocolate Notes. Allow time to browse the shops including some brilliant vintage, retro and antique shops. Please call in to Adaminca Alpacas 'Farm to Fashion' shop as all sales of their yarn and handmade garments will go towards building their Alpaca farm that was razed in the fires. The Woodside Market is held on the third Saturday morning of the month featuring a wide variety of goods, including fresh, locally grown produce, home baked cakes, bread and pastries, arts and crafts, plants, second hand items, books and more.
In Lenswood, Anderson Hill was hard hit but their cellar door and restaurant (famed for wood oven pizza) is as enticing as ever despite their expansive views being a bit ‘charred around the edges’. Don’t forget Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard and Pike & Joyce for some of the most spectacular settings in the Hills and excellent food and wine. Vinteloper’s vineyard in this area was lost but the good news is you can support their re-establishment by purchasing their wine online or stocking up at drinks collective and restaurant Lot 100 in Hay Valley (between Woodside and Nairne). Tilbrook Estate winery, vineyard and cellar door between Lobethal and Lenswood lost their winery, almost all their stock and much of their vineyard but their quirky 'cellar door in a shipping container' and framework for a new eco cellar door survived the fire. Their inspiring net zero carbon cellar door project is making great progress - stay tuned to their Facebook page for details and weekend opening times. If you'd like to stay in this area try rustic 1890's cottage Ode to the Orchard with its gorgeous outdoor bath with a view or modern home for up to 12 Fox Holes.
Sadly parts of Mount Crawford Forest sustained damage from the fires so please note that the Cudlee Creek / Fox Creek mountain bike trails are closed until further notice.
Historic Mount Torrens is home to the beautifully rustic and intimate Lobethal Road Wines which had a very close call. Relax in the courtyard setting overlooking the vineyard and enjoy their excellent regional platters and elegant cool-climate wines. The town is home to one of the stone sculptures that forms the Hills Sculpture Trail and is situated at one end of the17-kilometre Amy Gillett Bikeway which is a bitumen track running to Oakbank popular with leisure cyclists, walkers and horse riders. If you fancy an overnight stay, try gorgeous Sinkinson House right in the township (currently accommodating a family that lost their home but one to consider for the future!), Rabbiter's Hut for a restored rural cottage escape or Bella Vista Farm House for views as good as the name suggests!
All the winery cellar doors and attractions in the Northern Adelaide Hills are open and welcoming visitors. In fact, the fire thankfully did not reach the townships of Cudlee Creek, Paracombe, Houghton, Inglewood, Kersbrook, Gumeracha, Birdwood or Mount Pleasant. This means most of the much-loved attractions in this area were not directly impacted, including Gorge Wildlife Park at Cudlee Creek, The Big Rocking Horse and The Toy Factory at Gumeracha, and National Motor Museum at Birdwood. If you were to drive from the north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide up to the Hills via North East Road, Lower North East Road or Gorge Road then along Torrens Valley Road you may not even see evidence of the fire. But make no mistake, the businesses and good folk right on the northern flank of the fire have been suffering and would appreciate more visitors.
In the main street of Gumeracha you'll find excellent food and coffee at The Good Pantry or enjoy a pub meal at the Gumeracha Hotel. If pizzas or burgers are your weakness head to Papa Sam's. Drop in at The Coach House Studio for quality arts, crafts, gifts and homewares and check out the brand new Peregrine Store that is full of beautiful things and is set to become a favourite for homewares and decor, gifts, books and quality traditional games and toys. Stock up on beautiful fresh and organic local produce at The Green Shed (also home of Protero Wines) just out of town and perhaps enjoy a picnic in Federation Park by the banks of the river. Nearby winery cellar doors include Mt Bera Vineyards including restaurant and accommodation (Vineyard Cottage B&B) and Talunga Estate which also has dining. At the Old Gumeracha Cold Store you'll find hip Applewood Distillery where you can enjoy their gin and other small-batch spirits as well as Unico Zelo wines, while just down the road historic Randells Mill has a self-contained loft apartment which might just be the perfect place to rest your head. The Big Rocking Horse and The Toy Factory is a perennial favourite with families, with cafe, wooden toys and puzzles and wildlife park.
In Birdwood the National Motor Museum tells the story of Australia's love affair with motoring and be sure to head just up the road to check out Top of the Torrens Gallery for a fabulous array of unique and quality pieces, and Treasures on Torrens for vintage wares and collectables. There is the Birdwood Motel right next door to the museum, and plenty of dining options including the pub, bakery and cafe.
Houghton is home to historic Glen Ewin Estate which has a bistro, regional cellar door and fig picking in February and March (season officially starting mid February - keep an eye on their Facebook page).
Other favourites in the Northern Adelaide Hills include:
Inglewood Inn, Inglewood - fantastic pub for meals, 1857 Distillery Bar and even a gin and chocolate paddle, pairing three local gins and their garnish with matched luxury chocolate.
Paracombe Premium Perry, Paracombe - enjoy apple and pear cider (that's perry!) along with wood oven pizzas right alongside the orchards
Kersbrook Hill Wine & Cider, Kersbrook - drop by for small batch wines and premium basket pressed apple cider, stay on for coffee and food too!
Mount Pleasant for the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market every Saturday morning (8am-noon), and Elysian Springs for a family friendly winery cellar door with design your own picnic hampers to tempt your tastebuds
If you'd like to help people directly impacted by the fire, consider a donation to the State Emergency Relief Fund or St Vincent de Paul's SA Bushfire Appeal. To help care for the wildlife injured by the fire options include donating to Adelaide and Hills Koala Rescue or Adelaide Koala and Wildlife Hospital. To help re-establish habitat, particularly for threatened or vulnerable species, you can donate to the Wildlife Recovery Fund - a partnership between National Parks & Wildlife Service SA and Nature Foundation SA. Other great ways to help the Hills community include visiting the region or purchasing Adelaide Hills produce including wine from many of the impacted growers and producers. If you love a drop of Adelaide Hills wine you might like to contribute to the local wine industry's appeal that will help with recovery efforts.