Head east from Adelaide and you'll find yourself in the heart of the region travelling through cherry and apple orchards, vineyards and farmland. Discover gems in Lobethal, Lenswood, Norton Summit, Woodside, Oakbank, Balhannah, Verdun, Charleston, Basket Range, Uraidla and Summertown. Highlights include waterfalls and walks at Morialta Conservation Park, winery cellar doors, artisan food producers, cycling and mountain biking.
The Central Adelaide Hills is quickly accessed from Adelaide via the South Eastern Freeway, but more scenically via Greenhill Road, Norton Summit Road or Old Norton Summit Road.
Balhannah is home to Balhannah Hotel, The Olive Branch Cafe for family-friendly dining, Kidman Flower Co. native flower farm and Field Trip – an artisan shop and working studio for jewellery, clothing and homewares. Living By Design is great for furnishings, homewares, gifts and clothing. Just out of town are the Nepenthe and Shaw + Smith cellar doors.
Lenswood is a gorgeous patchwork of vineyards and apple, pear and cherry orchards boasting wineries with excellent views, wine and food offerings including Mt Lofty Ranges Vineyard, Pike & Joyce and Anderson Hill. In autumn each year a handful of apple orchards in Lenswood host the ‘Pick a Pink Lady Weekend’ when visitors can pick their own apples and celebrate the harvest.
The iconic saw tooth roof of the State heritage listed Onkaparinga Woollen Mill greets visitors to the town of Lobethal. The red brick buildings of the old blanket factory are now home to the popular Lobethal Bierhaus brewery and restaurant and the exciting new Fabrik Arts and Heritage Hub. Nearby wineries include Golding Wines and Tilbrook Estate. Amberlight Café is popular with motorcycle enthusiasts for burgers and coffee, while Emma & Ivy café also sells gifts and homewares. Hügel Wine Bar & Kitchen is the perfpect place to settle in and enjoy local wines and spirits. Lobethal's annual Christmas light display as part of the Lights of Lobethal Festival has been attracting visitors to the town for over 60 years.
Surrounded by apple and cherry orchards, Norton Summit is one of the oldest towns in South Australia and was settled in 1837. It’s right on the doorstep of beautiful natural spaces such as Horsnell Gully Conservation Park and Morialta Conservation Park, which is popular with families (thanks to its incredible nature playground), bushwalkers – and those just wanting to admire its waterfalls (best in winter and spring). Norton Summit boasts a handful of wineries including Ten Miles East and Sinclair’s Gully eco- certified winery and bush reserve with abundant wildlife, picnic tables, towering candlebark forest and wildflower walks. The Scenic Hotel is an iconic Adelaide Hills pub with views over Adelaide while nearby Marble Hill is a significant historical property hosting open days and boutique events.
Summertown in the beautiful Piccadilly Valley is home to a handful of wineries including Ashton Hills, Barratt Wines, and Greenhill Wines Cellar Door & Cafe with dining overlooking the vineyards. The Summertown Aristologist offers a dining and cellar door experience featuring natural wines and local seasonal produce.
Half an hour east of Adelaide, Uraidla is home to the historic Uraidla Hotel and The Uraidla Brewery handcrafting beer within the hip Uraidla Republic café and bakery. Across the road Lost in a Forest is a restaurant and wine bar with legendary wood-oven pizzas and Basket Range wines in a converted church. Stall 1195 café and gallery is a weekend brunch favourite. Other highlights are the Uraidla and Summertown Show, and the Uraidla Market on the first and third Sunday of every month.
At the popular Stanley Bridge Tavern established in 1853, Benny the Jack Russell is a ‘regular’ and somewhat of a minor celebrity. Kitchen @ Verdun is perfect for lunch or a snack, while Maximilian’s is an iconic restaurant nestled among the vines. Maximilian’s 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.
Just out of Woodside’s main street is Heritage Park, a former dairy factory, which now houses Woodside Cheese Wrights and Melba’s Chocolates and Confectionery. There are several pubs, galleries, antique and second-hand shops and cafés, as well as nearby cellar doors including Artwine, Barristers Block Wines, Bird in Hand (restaurant and cellar door currently closed for redevelopment) and Petaluma Wines. A country market is held on the third Saturday of each month.
Onkaparinga Valley Scenic Drive – Hahndorf to Birdwood
A favourite drive is the 34-kilometre stretch between the German village of Hahndorf to Birdwood in the north, along the Onkaparinga Valley Road (Onkaparinga Valley Scenic Drive – B34) taking in wineries, roadside stalls and charming townships such as Verdun, Balhannah, Oakbank, Woodside, Charleston and Mount Torrens.
Greenhill Road - Adelaide to Balhannah through Central Adelaide Hills
Beginning right in the heart of the city, this drive along 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.