What a perfect time to visit the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. Leaves are starting to change colour, it’s cooling down but not too much yet and the food and wine is second to none. Here’s a few ideas for people living in South Australia to do this Easter weekend or for those further afield, to put on your wish lists.
A little over 30 kilometres from Adelaide taking the South Eastern Freeway then Onkaparinga Valley Road you will come to the town of Oakbank in the Adelaide Hills. For most of the year Oakbank and nearby Balhannah are sleepy hills towns, seasons come and go and when visitors are in town they can see home ware shops, a bakery, cafés, hotels and buy locally grown apples from roadside stalls.
But once a year Oakbank is also home to the Oakbank races on Easter Saturday and Monday. Over the two race days there are flat and jumps races where horses not only race around the picturesque track but have steeple jumps to negotiate too. It’s a picnic race meeting and visitors can drive in and park on the hill to look over the track and enjoy a fun day out with the family. The centre of the track has rides and amusements for kids, and food and drink for the adults but the best fun can be had by packing a picnic or BBQ and your own refreshments and watching it all from the comfort of your deck chairs on the hill.
While you’re in Oakbank seek out some other hidden treasures and just quirky hills things.
It’s autumn and the weather is extremely unpredictable at this time of year, you could have a 30 degree hot and dry day or it could be in the low 20s with rain and fog. Both are possible even just a day apart so it pays to watch the weather forecasts closely and prepare. The hills are always a little cooler then the city and suburbs anyway and temperatures definitely drop when evening comes. Bring layers to put on, pull on the boots and a scarf for just in case.
Being autumn the trees are just starting to get their garish colours on, slowly hinting at the full on autumn colours to come. The Adelaide hills are especially known for the display of autumn colours and every town will amaze, but if you are looking for a spectacular display all in one place then the Mt Lofty Botanic Garden is the place to go. Small enough to walk around in a day, and being hilly you can see a great overall effect of the stunning colour. Being as it is hilly my tip is to park in the lower car park, take the uphill sections first then it’s all downhill for the later stages of your walk. A really popular spot for families too with wide open spaces for picnicking.
Hotels in the hills are getting a great reputation, so much so that it pays to check if you need a booking as they are so popular at the moment. A big part of the reason for this is that quite a few have had stylish makeovers. Sporting trendy décor yet being down to earth with fabulous food and a wide variety of craft beers and locally made wines. Autumn gives you the choice depending on the weather of the day, of dining indoors out of brisk weather or maybe lap up the last of the suns warmth al fresco.
Giving them a run for their money are all the wineries with cellar doors and restaurants that are dotted throughout the hills. You will find more than you can easily visit in a day so the best tip is to pick a region for the wines you like, the views you want or the food on offer. Most of the wineries these days offer choices from platters of regional produce to restaurant dining. I’ve blogged about some of my favourites before which you can read about if you search for hills wineries.
Melbas Chocolate Factory in Woodside is a must see. An fully operating chocolate factory it produces old time favourites as well as quirky goodies relevant to the surrounding countryside, fancy a chocolate cow pat or sheep’s nuts? Trust me they taste better than they sound. Not to mention you can get free samples to taste as you wander through the factory and shop. Something for everyone to love here.
The best thing is that all of these with the exception of the Oakbank Races, can be seen and done anytime you like.