We’ve been roaming around Adelaide and wanted to make the most of our time here by doing a couple of day trips—we considered venturing to Kangaroo Island and after adding up all the costs of how to get there (renting a car for the day, taking a ferry there and back with said car, and the cost of fuel) we decided to opt out. For those that already have a car and are exploring more of Australia, Kangaroo Island might not be too bad, but alas it wasn’t in the cards for us.
Instead, we decided to explore Belair National Park for some proper bushwalking and ended up seeing three wild koalas and a handful of kangaroos! Prefer hanging with human folks and not Australian fauna? For those that are looking for other day trips outside of Adelaide, this is all about Hahndorf—Australia’s charming German town!
We’d heard of Hahndorf from several of our Aussie friends and they always mentioned that it was good for wine, kind of a slower pace, and tons of good food. Everyone always noted that it felt like a little fairy-tale town brought in from Germany with a Sonoma twist. Well, our interests were piqued!
Here’s what a day trip to Hahndorf is like…
otherwise known as how we ate our way through South Australia’s German town!
The original caretakers of the land, the Peramangk Aboriginal people, date back to about 2,400 years. They had named the region ‘Bukartilla’ in reference to a local swimming hole. As European settlers began to colonize areas of Australia, there is not much documentation of the Peramangk people post 1850.
We mentioned above that Hahndorf is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement—now why is that?
European history comes alive in the little town of Hahndorf and its roots can be traced back to its beginning in the mid-1800s.
Here’s a little backstory:
In 1838, a man named George Fife Angas made a trip to London on behalf of South Australia’s colonization program. While in London, he met Pastor Kavel, a man whose mission was to help German Lutherans that were being persecuted by the King of Prussia. The solution? Angas suggested that South Australia would be the ideal place for the German Lutherans to seek refuge.
Now there’s more to this story than just a ship and some people. The Danish ship captain, Dirk Hahn, wasn’t too keen on making the long voyage to Australia, however, he was feeling pressure from the ship’s owner and didn’t want to seem cowardly. So, despite previous bad experiences with long voyages, he set sail for Adelaide with 199 people aboard.
He was at sea for 129 days (per his logs), and unfortunately, a handful of souls perished to typhus. In late December 1838, he reached Adelaide and the English colonists welcomed the German refugees.
During the long voyage to South Australia, Captain Hahn formed deep friendships with the people on board and wanted to help them settle in the new land. He negotiated for an area of land in the Adelaide Hills where they could set up their new life.
The people began to farm, establish businesses, and build German-style houses. In honor of Captain Hahn, they named the city after him.
There are a few options to consider for how to get to Hahndorf.
You can rent a car and drive yourself. It’s about 30-40 minutes driving from the city center of Adelaide.
Uber is also an option, at normal times it costs around $40-50 AUD— though there will probably be less availability of drivers going from Hahndorf back to Adelaide, so keep that in mind.
We relied on public transportation as it was the most affordable option and allowed us to imbibe much of the local liquor.
The bus (Adelaide Metro) from the city center took about an hour to get into Hahndorf. A day trip ticket was about $10.50 AUD. With the day trip ticket, you can hop on and off the bus to venture to other locations around Hahndorf if you’ve got the time!
Eat, eat, drink, eat, and shop.
On the bus ride there, we heard a few Australian teenagers complaining about Hahndorf and wondering why anyone in their right mind would want to spend a day there. Granted as a teenager who’s not allowed to drink nor has funds to spend on food, we can see why Hahndorf wouldn’t be as entertaining…
This place is definitely more fun for adults!
Are you a lover of cheese? One of our favorite cheeses to pick up from our local market in Tasmania is by Udder Delights. When we found out their headquarters/shop was located in Hahndorf, we were, well, “udderly” delighted!
Sample alllllll the wine at Landhaus—it costs $5 AUD to sample their line of wines (about 16 or so), and then if you buy any of the wine that $5 goes toward the bottle. This was a pretty darn good deal and we weren’t able to make it all the way through the line of wines.
Go on your own personal food tour and find the seasonal specials. We started with the creamiest mushroom soup at The White House. We continued on to try the ‘beesting’ cake at Cafe Assiette, a hot dog and delicious grilled meats, and a pretzel and apple strudel at the German Cake Shop.
Needless to say, we were stuffed. There was no shortage of mouthwatering delights here!
If you’ve got more time, you might want to do a walking tour to learn more about the area or a class (we contemplated taking a cheese making class, but we’ll have to save that for another time!). Certain times of the year (November to April) you can go strawberry picking at Beerenberg Farm.
As for shopping, there’s a range of boutiques from antiques to toys and clothes to places that offer traditional cuckoo clocks, candle makers, and natural beauty products (Chelsea even scored an emu oil at Coco Marie—perfect for Adelaide’s dry weather!).
Prefer a pint to pinot? Here are a few places to get a stein of beer:
We felt like we got a pretty good idea of what Hahndorf has to offer with just the day trip, though we read their fruit and vegetable market is a MUST!
Ideally, we’d say if you can dedicate a proper weekend to exploring, that would probably be good. That way you can take your time at the different tasting rooms and sample more of the local foods. That said, we were there from around 11 am until 5 pm, and we got quite the taste for the place: 1 tasting room, 5 restaurants, and several boutiques.
If we had more time, we would’ve loved to go on one of the guided walking tours of the place to delve into more of Hahndorf’s history and get a local’s perspective.
Hahndorf was a delight to visit and a great city break! It has a small-town appeal and is an ideal place for foodies. While there are some more touristy shops, it didn’t feel overrun with cheesy things.
While we were visiting in Australia’s winter (beginning of July)—we can only imagine how magical this place must be in autumn with all the trees lining the main street.
Where have you ventured to in South Australia? Have you been to Hahndorf or are you planning a trip? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!
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