The lastminute lovelies in the Barossa
The lastminute Lovelies’ trip to Adelaide and the Barossa has left us feeling seriously silly. Confession: like most Sydney-siders, when we’re planning a weekend away we generally gravitate towards the usual suspects– Melbourne, Byron Bay, maybe Noosa or the Gold Coast…But after spending a truly sensational weekend in South Australia, we’ve moved Adelaide and the Barossa right to the top of the list. True story.
Landing after just two hours in the air (though it felt like five minutes – thank you Stieg Larsson!), within minutes we’re wandering through Adelaide’s brand new design market, Bowerbird Bazaar. It’s like the pages of Frankie Magazine come to life – over 70 smiling stallholders showing off hand made cards, jewellery, art, clothing, homewares and more.
After filling our bags, next stop – filling our bellies! We head for famous Gouger Street and sit down at Concubine, a modern Chinese restaurant that’s like none we’ve experienced before. Forget chicken with cashew nuts – we’re talking crispy squid with apple and leaf salad, salt and pepper whole quail with garlic and fresh lime, and slow braised Barossa pork belly in dark soy. Washed down with our first SA wine of the weekend, a crisp Shaw + Smith sauv blanc from the Adelaide Hills, we are sat-is-fied. Or are we?
On our way to check out Adelaide Festival’s Northern Lights at historic North Terrace, we pass one of the city’s famous Cibo Espresso bars. Suddenly our bulging bellies are ready for more, and we stop in for the biggest, best value gelato this side of Rome. The coffee is supposed to be incredible too, but it’s late and we have an early start. Next time my pretty, next time…
Gelato dripping, we’re soon staring, dumbstruck, at the Northern Lights. A giant light installation, Northern Lights bathes the city’s historic architectural icons on North Terrace in stunning coloured lights, with the projections changing at regular intervals. It’s like a giant kaleidoscope of colour, and marks the perfect end to a perfect evening.
Ready to hit the hay, we head to our accommodation at the Majestic Roof Garden Hotel. On our way in, we can’t help but notice the huge signs plastered across the hotel’s front windows – Winner: Deluxe Accommodation (South Australian 2009 Tourism Awards), Winner: Best Value Accommodation (‘The Australian’ 2009 Travel & Tourism Awards), Finalist: Deluxe Accommodation (Australian Tourism Awards 2009). We don’t blame them for showing off – we would be too! Best of all, the Majestic is a deserving winner. Sleek, classy and fantastic value for money, it’s super central and, as the name promises, has a fantastic roof garden just made for sunset cocktails. Cheers! We particularly loved the sliding partition between the bath and the bed, although with just the lastminute Lovelies in town, it didn’t get much of a workout! Just another reason to come back – next time, with our lucky partners in tow.
Next morning, we’re up early and head over to the Adelaide Central Market for brekkie at Zuma Caffe. An Adelaide institution, it’s barely 8:30am and the place is absolutely humming. The food is great, the service efficient and friendly, and the coffee smells as good as it tastes.
Wandering out into the vibrant, buzzing Central Market, we’re instantly glad that we hadn’t explored on an empty stomach. This foodie mecca is absolutely breathtaking, with row upon row of scrumptious goodies just begging to be whipped up into a fabulous feast. It’s a little like Sydney’s David Jones Food Hall, except without the pretension or the price tags. From home made olive oil to fresh zucchini flowers, oozing cheeses to giant chocolate crackles, the lastminute lovelies would move to Adelaide for the Central Market alone.
Supplies in the boot, it’s time to head for the (Adelaide) Hills. Along the way we stop off at Mount Lofty Summit, a lookout that has been nicknamed “the window to South Australia”. You can see all the way across Adelaide and the Hills to the coast, which makes for a pretty spectacular photo backdrop, so we click away happily for a few minutes before hitting the road again.
The Adelaide Hills may only be a 20 minute drive from the Adelaide CBD, but you feel a million miles away. Dotted with vineyards, farms and gorgeous little roadside stalls selling fresh produce and flowers, the Hills feel like a slice of quintessential Aussie countryside. We stop in at one stall, the Apple Fields Orchard Shop, and stock up on figs and strawberries (two double punnets for $5 – bargain!) before continuing on to our first wine tasting.
Bird In Hand is a 100 acre vineyard and olive grove with its own cellar door, meaning that you can try their wines, olives and olive oils before you buy (or don’t – they’re not pushy.) Sparkling wine fans should note that Bird In Hand do a great sparkling pinot noir, which means none of those pesky chardonnay grapes. Poor old cardonnay, Kimmy!
Next stop, The Lane Winery. It’s time for lunch, and we sit down in the restaurant come cellar door for a mouth watering meal overlooking the vines. This lastminute Lovely had the most incredible pork belly, while the other girls enjoyed a scrumptious sage gnocchi and incredible duck confit. Because The Lane’s bistro doubles as its cellar door, we had the luxury of tasting the wines on offer before we ordered, and were thrilled with The Lane’s own Block 10 Sauvignon Blanc – so much so, that we grab a few bottles to take home with us too.
Full bellies in tow, we set off for Hahndorf, a quaint little town that’s also Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. The leafy main street, lined with no fewer than 90 buildings dating back to the 1800s, is bookended by two unmissable foodie attractions – Udder Delights, and Chocolate @ No5. The former is a cheese factory come cheese cellar, home to a range of award winning artisan goat and cow milk cheeses – we love the goats camembert. The latter, Chocolate @ No5, is a gorgeous 1850s cottage full of, you guessed it, chocolate! We dip piles of strawberries into the most insanely delicious chocolate fondue, and leave for the Barossa feeling ridiculously full and ridiculously happy.
Only an hour’s drive from Adelaide, the Barossa encompasses the Barossa Valley and Eden Valley, and is the heart of the Australian wine industry. Rows of sprawling vines are dotted with charming farms and villages, bringing together the three highlights of the region – food, wine and history.
We check in to the Novotel Barossa Resort, and immediately notice the most striking feature of the hotel – every room has a view. Built in a low rise semi circle, just two stories high, the Resort wraps around a natural amphitheater, green with rolling hills and vineyards. We crack open a bottle of wine, set out a cheese plate, and toast the view from our verandah. Ah, the serenity…
Soon enough it’s time for dinner, and we set out for 1918 Bistro & Grill in the nearby town of Tanunda. A local fave, this cheerful restaurant offers great food and a fantastic wine list, and after sampling an incredible 2002 Whistler shiraz, we add Whistler Wines to tomorrow’s must visit list.
Next morning we’re up early to meet John Baldwin for our Barossa wine tour. John and his wife Libby run Barossa Daimler Tours, a truly phenomenal experience where you ride around the Barossa in a very rare 1962 Daimler, one of only six brought to Australia to tour the Royal Family in the 1960s. Coupled with John’s endless knowledge of and passion for the region, plus the fact that’s he a real character, this is an exceptional way to experience the Barossa, its fascinating history, and of course its wineries!
John drops us off at the famed Penfolds winery, where we join a Make Your Own Blend tour and head to the Winemakers’ Lab. White coats on, we taste Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre (GSM) varietals, plus the current Penfolds Bin 138 GSM, before experimenting with quantities of each varietal to make our very own blend! Best of all, we get to take it home in our very own personalised bottle – what a souvenir.
With a taste for wine, we head off to stock up the cellar at a few more wineries – the Whistler Shiraz, Rockford’s Alicante Bouchet, and Seppeltsfield’s RUBY Lightly Fortified Grenache, plus their insanely good raspberry cordial – trust us, it needs to be tasted to be believed.
After all that wine, we figure it’s time for some dine, and head off to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. We make it just in time for the daily demonstration, where Maggie’s team cook up a storm using Maggie’s very own verjuice. The demos take place in the studio kitchen where Maggie and Simon Bryant filmed the ABCs popular ‘The Cook And The Chef’, and we can’t help but put on Maggie’s apron and take a pic “cooking” in her kitchen before stocking up on quince paste, vino cotto and verjuice.
Last stop – Barossa Helicopters, because it’s time for the ride of our lives. Very much a family business, we’re greeted by mum and dad, Peter and Sandra, who have two daughters who also fly choppers. After a brief safety demonstration, it’s up, up and away, and we’re hovering above the beautiful Barossa. If it’s beautiful from the ground it’s absolutely breathtaking from the air, and the lastminute Lovelies are grinning like Cheshire cats.
It’s the perfect end to a perfect weekend, and we sadly wave goodbye to the Barossa as we make our way to the airport. It’s been a fabulous trip, and we can’t stop raving about our visit to Adelaide and the Barossa – there’s just so much to see, do and experience, and all within an hour of the Adelaide. Just like they say, it really is a “brilliant blend”.
The lastminute lovelies xox