Handhorf – A little bit of Germany in the Adelaide Hills

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! 

     Close by: 

  • 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!

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This photo caused a major tantrum “I’m not a girl and you made me the girl”….. Oh how we laughed… (not)

Hobart to the Central Plateau with a detour for cheese!

 

tassie map

After an epic first day in Tassie, and still with full tummies, we decided to head into Hobart for a small brekkie, and a last minute look around before heading to the Central Plateau.  Breakfast was a “cruffin” (croissant pastry made into a muffin! I KNOWWW) and a coffee at the very cool Brooke Street Pier. We’re ready for day 2!

First stop – Mawsons Huts Replica Museum

The Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum is situated in central Hobart, also known as the “The  Gateway to Antarctica,” just 50 metres from Constitution Dock. A couple of photo’s and a little kick of the penguin (don’t ask me why he does things like that, I have no idea) and we headed indoors.

The museum was opened on the 102nd anniversary of the departure from Hobart of the Australasian Antarctic expedition 1911-14 led by Douglas Mawson. The huts here are replicas of the ones still in Cape Denison – Antarctica – constructed in 1911 by the men of the Australian Antarctic Expedition. Hurrah, Poppy has been learning about Mawson at school as part of their “explorers” topic, so this visit was epic parenting!!!

We were greeted at the entrance by Warwick, who talked us through a photo slide show and explained in great detail the trials and tribulations of the Australian Antarctic Expedition and about the conservation work still going on at the huts. I had goose bumps just thinking about what a struggle it must have been for those brave young men back in 1911. Warwick made the visit come alive; he filled us all with eagerness to get into the huts and see for ourselves the living conditions the men were subjected to out there on the ice and learn about the work they were doing.

Once inside, you can see just what life was like for the explorers, it all becomes real. Pictures of thick ice under the beds gave us chills. Poppy was fascinated by the typewriter and sat like Angela Lansbury from Murder She Wrote, whilst the rest of us explored. Jeannie another member of staff told us about her own visits to the huts as part of the conservation team. She was truly incredible. It’s not very often you meet someone who has been to the Antarctic, let alone taken part in an incredible expedition to almost follow in the footsteps of one of history’s greatest explorers. We read stories of each man on the 1911 expedition, saw their meal plans, felt the blankets, saw the sledges that were used. It was truly one of the most fascinating museums we have ever been in.  There was so much to learn about a rarely mentioned, incredibly heroic Australian explorer, and visiting was also a great way to help raise much needed funds for the conservation of the huts. A must see if you’re heading to Hobart!

 

The Drive

We apologised to the kicked penguin, bought a few postcards, and got in the car, to begin the next leg of our journey! We were going South first via Kettering, Birchs Bay, Randalls Bay in the Huon Valley, past Eggs and Bacon bay, all the way round back to Hobart then off up to visit Richmond Gaol, and on to the  Central Plateau. Our journey took us via some great places. We found a beautiful little grocers heaving with local produce and beaches bursting with oyster shells, the views were breathtaking. “It’s like Scotland, it’s like Iceland, it’s like Wales…” No, it’s like Tasmania. It’s perfect! And we’re in love!

Our reason for driving South was to drive the coast a little, and to visit Grandvewe, Tasmania’s only sheep milk ‘cheesery’. It was where Tim and I could taste cheese and sip Gin whilst the kids feed the sheep! We have our priorities right!

Well worth the drive; the kids were grubby, chatting about sheep poo and happily chomping on blueberries; our purchases are making the car reek of cheese, but hey, we’re on our way!!

 

We were running a little late after all our stops, so I rang ahead to the Central Highlands lodge, to check we’d be in time for dinner! We were told in no uncertain terms “the kitchen closes at 7!”

We couldn’t have driven any faster as the road had run out of tarmac and we were bumbling along the dirt, frantically trying to avoid all sorts of mysterious wildlife. Every now and again Monty would shout “RAAAAAT”, Tim would swerve and the little possum would watch us fly past like lunatics! The children found this hysterical, I was a wreck.

We’re here!

It was pitch black and thick with fog when we arrived at the lodge. There to greet us was yet another enormous furry Possum hanging from the bar window, and a crowd of locals, peering through the glass at us as if they’d never seen anyone round here before. We walked into the reception/bar.. silence… Um… I looked at Tim, Tim looked at Poppy, Monty burped.. The landlord mumbled something from behind the bar, then proceeded to ignore us for ten minutes as we desperately tried to order dinner before the kitchen closed. We felt awkward to say the least. It didn’t help that we all proceeded to get the nervous giggles. My shoulders were shaking, and tears were rolling down my face, I just wanted to get the room key and go hide..

We had a family cabin waiting for us, so we ate quickly in almost silence, with the other guests who were uncomfortably keeping themselves to themselves. We backed out of the bar, smiling and waving, to blank stares.. We escaped to the cabin! Ahhhh it was cosy beyond cosy!!! There were heated blankets, thick duvets, and a basket with our breakfast in it ready for the morning.

 

As bizarre and frankly standoffish as our greeting was; even though everyone managed to make us feel like we’d waltzed into their living room unannounced; we had the best night’s sleep, in the most comfy beds.  We woke up refreshed, with incredible views across the Great Lake, kangaroos bouncing outside our window and were ready for more Wilson antics on Day 3!

We’re heading to Deloraine and the Mole Creek Caves before another night in the cabin! Look out!!


 

Mawsons Huts Replica Museum: Cnr Argyle and Morrison St, Hobart, TAS, 7000  Tel: 1300 551 422 or (03) 6231 1518 Email: info@mawsons-huts-replica.org.au       Ticket Prices: Adult:$12 Concession:$10 Child (up to 16):$4 Family :$28

Grandvewe Cheesery59 Devlyns Rd, Birchs Bay, TAS, Australia Tel: (03) 62674099  Email: info@grandvewe.com

     Richmond Gaol: 37 Bathurst Street, Richmond TAS 7025 Tel: (03) 6260 2127                                                            Email:                                                              Tickets: Adults: $9 Children: $4 Family: $22 (2 adults and children under 17)


Central Highlands Lodge7795 Lakes Highway, Miena TAS 7030 Tel: (03) 6259 8179 Email: highlandslodge@bigpond.com.au