Located just 25 minutes from Adelaide, Handhorf is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement and celebrated 175 years in 2014. It still has a strong German flavour most evident in the small goods outlets, bakeries, pubs, restaurants and cafes that line the bustling main street’ – Adelaide Hills.org
Handhorf is a truly picturesque little town founded by Prussian Lutherans in 1839. It is so close to Adelaide, you really don’t need to leave it out of your trip. We visited in January, and the weather was lovely. We have been told that Autumn is spectacular too because of the wonderful colour of the leaves on the trees.
Driving in to Handhorf, it hits you how German this little town really is. The bakeries are pumping out freshly baked pretzels, there are sausages hanging in the windows of the butchers, German flags proudly swaying in the breeze, and souvenir shops selling all kinds of Germanic keepsakes including huge beer steins. We particularly liked the aprons which made the children look like they were wearing traditional German costume…Monty liked playing the accordion… The shop assistant didn’t enjoy it quite as much!
I always find it fascinating to think that people came to Australia, seeking a safe place to rebuild their lives, and they ended up somewhere like this. The journey must have been daunting, such a huge trip. Then, to build a town so much like home, a community and a brand new life, it’s incredibly brave.
We visited The Handhorf Academy which is the regional centre for art and heritage. Originally a boarding school, and later a maternity hospital, this 19th Century Heritage building could tell some phenomenal stories of courage, excitement and fear as early settlers built their new lives.
There are four galleries, a migration museum and a shop selling locally handcrafted products. This is also the home of the tourist information office, otherwise known as the place where Monty left his shoes.
A visit is a must. Go in and be captivated by objects and stories relating to the lives of Hahndorf’s pioneering families. We particularly liked the outfits worn by the Lutheran children, the ladies ornate lace dresses, and the children were amazed by the furniture and an old pram.
After a bit of a walk and the purchase of some salami type sausages that nearly blew our heads off, it was time for a trip to the play park! We like to use Monkey Bars all over the world. No Monkey Bars are ever left out!
Once we were too hot to swing, we headed into the Seasonal Garden Cafe which was heavenly. Fresh produce from their own garden, and juices squeezed right there for you to enjoy! We lazed in the sunshine sipping on green juice, until Mr W’s phone ran out of battery, Monty squealed and Poppy insisted we head off to our next destination! Bliss ruined…
Top Handhorf hints
- Take a walking tour of Handhorf if you have the time. They take about 90 minutes, but you get to visit places that the general public can’t. We love a guided tour, as you learn so much more about a place, and the children have to be quiet too! Win win!!
- The Handhorf Leathersmith is a great shop! And if you walk right to the back, they have the biggest bunnies you ever did see! The kids will be asking you to buy them one all the way home!
- There are plenty of cellar doors in Handhorf, and a craft brewery there too. Gulf Brewery are a micro brewery, who offer tastings at the cellar door, or for those who have a little more time, they pair food with beer for another truly Handhorf experience.
- Handhorf is a shoppers heaven. The high street is filled with local craftspeople making wonderful wares. You can find anything from hand crafted leather wares to cuckoo clocks to toys, books and candlemakers. We just bought food, (surprise surprise) but were tempted by so much more!
- One of Australia’s most famous artists, Sir Hans Heysen’s home is nearby on Heysen Road. Visit The Cedars, explore his garden, home and studio.
- The Prancing Pony craft brewery is about five minutes away in Totness. If you didn’t get chance to sample the beers in Handhorf this is definitely worth a visit.
- Beerenberg Family Farm has ‘pick your own strawberries’ from November to April. There’s also a wonderful shop selling a huge range of jams, sauces and relishes. Their website if full of lovely recipes too! (drool)
- Wineries surround Handhorf, so there is no possible way you could miss out on sampling some of the Adelaide Hills local wines.
- The children will love the Hahndorf Farm Barn. It’s a farm/wildlife park and a great place to spend a few hours. They have picnic areas, tractor rides and the children get to try their hand at milking a cow or even holding a python!! Family tickets for 2 adults + 2 children is $47
The Adelaide Hills are like a treasure chest, full of wonderful food, wine, beer, and adventure. It’s a fabulous place to spend time together exploring. Head to Handhorf and wind your way through the surrounding area slowly, taking it all in as you drive! You won’t be disappointed!
Flights – We flew direct to Adelaide from Melbourne with Tiger Air. For all four of us the cost was approximate cost $450
Car Hire – We hired a car through Avis at Adelaide airport – approximate cost $179 for three days.
Hotels – Adelaide and the surrounding areas have so much variety when it comes to hotels. Whatever your budget, it wont be hard to find somewhere that fits!