If you’re planning a vacation to Australia and you decide to visit Adelaide, in South Australia, then the Barossa Valley should definitely be on your travel list. Situated approximately 75 kilometres/47 miles north east of Adelaide, not only is it an attractively scenic region, but it also offers a variety of activities to fill your time. You can spend a full day here, or really do justice to your visit and stop overnight, allowing the Barossa Valley to reveal the reasons for its popularity. Accommodation is plentiful, with over 3000 beds being available, whether it be from bed and breakfasts in cottages, farm houses, or luxury retreats. Although Barossa Valley is well known for its wine and its outstanding wineries, that’s not all there is on offer.
A Little Background
The Barossa Valley was first settled by the Europeans in the mid 1800s, by mainly the German and British who both brought their cultures here, and which are very noticeable when visiting the region. You will see it as you pass by a beautiful old Lutheran church or pioneer cemetery. You will also experience it when enjoying the local culinary specialties.
You could say the Barossa Valley is a little bit of Europe relocated to Australia, but that is not the full story, as it has its own distinctive atmosphere and flavour. There are 3 major towns, each with its own individual characteristics.
Tanunda is the most German influenced, when the first settlers came in 1840, and the focal point of the Barossa Valley. With its strong European heritage, distinctive church spires, wineries, cafes, and restaurants, there is plenty to see and do in the town.
Angaston is more English and is also home to some of Barossa’s best food. You need to be prepared to take home lots of local produce from here, especially from the Farmers Market, which takes place on Saturday mornings. It features an amazing array of stallholders selling fresh fruit and vegetables, herbs, specialty breads, mouth watering pastries and baked goods, and much more. Take the time to visit the Angaston Blacksmiths Shop, which is run by volunteers, and the Barossa Historical Museum, where some artifacts featured are a vintage organ, a model of Wartburg Castle, and Samuel Hoffmann pottery. Here you can learn about the unique past lives of heritage buildings in Angaston, see photographs of how Tanunda looked in the mid 19th century, and discover how the Bethany Lutheran Church has stood proudly at the centre of this small town for over a century. There is also the Greenock Aviation Museum, with its private collection of preserved aircraft and general aviation memorabilia.
Nuriootpa is a mixture of both German and English influences, and is the commercial centre of the Barossa Valley. There are more than 50 wineries in the nearby area. There are also some fascinating and eclectic secondhand stores in Nuriootpa, including Wilhelm Schaedels (sometimes mistaken for a museum!) and the Community Helpers Warehouse, recommended by locals as a true treasure trove. The Barossa Bush Gardens here are a peaceful wildlife haven and the place to see locally indigenous plants.
Another town of European influence is Bethany, the first village established in the Barossa. Settled into in 1842 by 28 families who emigrated from Prussia (now Poland), it continues to be a closely-knit community centered around its church, grape growing, and wine making, and features some of the last remaining Heuffendorf settlers’ blocks in the Barossa.
Attention, Wine Lovers!
If it’s wine that interests you, then you are heading to the right place. The wine industry plays a major role in the Barossa Valley, as it’s the main source of employment for many residents. It is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions, and unlike most of the wine industry in this country, it was influenced by the German settlers. The many hectares of vineyards are the most distinctive feature of the region, and the success of the wine industry here has historically been celebrated every two years with a week-long Barossa Valley Vintage Festival. The festival draws visitors from all over the world and offers entertainment, including a huge street parade, concerts, and gourmet dining. The Barossa Valley is primarily known for its red wine – in particular, Shiraz. Other main grape varieties that are grown in the region include Riesling, Semillon, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon. There are also some fortified wines traditionally produced. Many of Australia’s largest and most notable wineries are either headquartered or own extensive holdings in the Barossa Valley. These include such name wineries as Penfolds, Peter Lehmann, Wolf Blass, and Yalumba.
On your winery visits, you will certainly be spoilt for choice. There are more than 50 wineries in the region where you can sample the wines produced, and in many cases, also enjoy a good lunch or dinner. An exceptional winery is Chateau Tanunda. Established in 1890, it is Australia’s largest and oldest chateau, and is famous for handcrafting Barossa’s top wines. It is a truly awe-inspiring place to visit. The overall estate covers an impressive 250 acres and boasts over 22 acres to a dedicated rose garden.
Barossa Walking Trails
The Barossa climate and terrain support a broad range of walking options. There are numerous walking and cycling trails, town walks, and secluded pockets of bush land, providing a wonderful diversity of experiences and views. The Tanunda Heritage Trail follows markers on the 2.5kilometre/ 1.5 mile trail through Tanunda. There are six markers in total and there are lots of opportunities to visit cafés, galleries, and other shops along the way.
The Barossa Goldfields Walking Trail attracted some five thousand fortune-hunters when gold fever flared up here briefly in the late 1800s. The remnants of their labours can be seen within the Para Wirra National Park.
For nature lovers, Hale Conservation Park is a haven for rare, native wildlife. A four-hour hiking trail explores the park’s rocky ridges and leafy woodlands. For a few weeks each winter, stunning blooms of red flame heath carpet the landscape − a truly captivating sight for photographers.
Barossa Valley’s Other Experiences
A unique experience includes scenic sunrise balloon flights, which can be taken in the town of Seppeltsfield. The music of the Marananga Brass Band, which has been entertaining for over 80 years, welcomes visitors to band practice at 8pm every Tuesday night. It is an integral part of the Barossa’s culture. Want to play golf? There are several 18 hole courses available.
With so much on offer, consider spending quality time in the Barossa Valley. It will truly make for an unforgettable experience on any Australia vacation.