A misty view over Adelaide from Mt Lofty Summit
06 November 2017
This morning I made time for a stroll around Hahndorf, quick breakfast at Otto’s Bakery, before we set off for the town of Stirling, Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens, and the Mt Lofty Summit, before heading back to Adelaide for our flight home later this afternoon.
Although we didn’t have too much time to explore Hahndorf, it was enough time to discover how quaint it is, and why it was so crowded on Sunday afternoon when we arrived. It is definitely a place for Adelaideans to visit on a weekend, lots of pubs, cafes, quaint shops etc.
The German history of Hahndorf can be traced back to 1838 when George Fife Angas, a director of a South Australian company, made a trip to London to promote colonisation. During his trip he met Pastor Kavel who was trying to help German Lutherans, being persecuted by the King of Prussia, to immigrate to safer places. Angas was moved by the plight of the Lutherans and persuaded Kavel that South Australia was a suitable place for emigration and also provided the generous financial assistance of 8000 pounds.
On the 28th of December 1838 the 344 tonne ship Zebra carrying 187 German Lutheran immigrants (38 families) arrived in Port Adelaide. The ship’s passengers were unfortunately unable to disembark the ship until the 2nd of January 1839 due to low tide. The ship’s captain Dirk Hahn, a Dane, had grown to respect the passengers and promised to help them achieve their goal of settling and farming together. He was able to negotiate a parcel of land in the Adelaide Hills.
The negotiated contract provided the families with 100 acres of land rent free for the first year. Of this 19 acres were allocated for housing and roads and the remainder for cultivation. In addition the settlers were also provided with a years’ provision of seeds and some livestock, all on credit as a communal debt. The settlers resolved to buy the land at the end of the first year however it took them a few years to completely discharge the debt. I n addition to the 38 families that arrived on the “Zebra” an extra 14 families who had previously settled at Klemzig joined the settlement. The names of the 52 pioneer families are inscribed on the gates of the Pioneer Memorial gardens in Hahndorf.
The new settlement was named Hahndorf (Hahn’s village) in honour of Captain Hahn who had assisted the refugees to achieve their goal. A bust of Captain Hahn has been erected in the Pioneer Memorial Gardens in Hahndorf.
The pretty village of Stirling, just 20 minutes from Adelaide, is considered a key gateway for the region, and our first stop after leaving Hahndorf. But before continuing on to explore further afield we were sure to take the time to enjoy this well-loved Hills town and some of its nearby attractions. We only spent a short time in Stirling but loved the leafy streets and quaint shops.
Founded in 1854, Stirling grew rapidly as a result of the expansion of apple growing and market gardening to satisfy the demand of the expanding city of Adelaide, just 15 kilometers away. Stirling became popular with Adelaide’s wealthy residents in the 1800s, who built summer houses to escape the heat of the plains. A walk through Stirling will reveal some of the most beautiful homes in South Australia.
Adelaide Hills is part of the Mount Lofty Ranges and is a pleasant, thirty minute drive South East of Adelaide. There’s plenty to do in these wonderful hills full of large Gum trees, including bush walking or visiting the Conservation Parks, historic townships and wineries. The region is known for its wine, the most famous found in Lenswood, recognised for its Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, the Piccadilly Valley, or Chain of Ponds, producing a fine Chardonnay. For a full view of the surrounding hills, city and sea, climb Mt. Lofty Summit, set among the green forest, orchards and rocky views of Adelaide Hills.
The Mount Lofty Botanic Garden overlooking the Piccadilly Valley features displays of cool temperate plants, which thrive on the eastern slopes of Mount Lofty. The collections in the garden come from various geographic regions such as South America, China, East Africa, New Zealand, South East Asia and North America.
Spring and autumn are both magnificent seasons to visit, with stunning mass displays of magnolias, rhododendrons, camellias and roses adding a splash of colour to the gardens. The sweet scented ATCO Heritage Rose Garden, featuring both modern and old-fashioned roses is particularly popular.
Several picturesque walking trails take you up and down the gardens seven valleys, including the Fern Gully – home to one of the richest collections of ferns in Australia. The Bank SA Nature Trail is wonderful at all times of the year allowing visitors to experience the diversity of original plants in the Garden.
The gardens are very beautiful, but as they are set in the Adelaide Hills it is very “hilly” and in some places there are signs indicating the risks of walking along some of the steep paths (very loose gravel) and other signs indicated no entry due to tree lopping in various places. Although the sun was out, the wind was quite strong, so we only stayed for a short time fearing we would be blown over soon! We did have a little visitor though!
A short distance from the Botanic Gardens is the Mount Lofty Summit, the majestic peak of the Mount Lofty Ranges in the Adelaide Hills, with spectacular panoramic views across Adelaide’s city skyline to the coast. Each year more than 350,000 people visit the peak which is more than 710 metres above sea level.
The Summit complex features an accredited Visitor Information Centre and Gift Shop which includes interactive touch screens to learn more about the Summit and surrounding tourist attractions. Adjacent to the visitor centre, you can take in the views of Adelaide at the fully licensed Summit Restaurant and Café, and we sheltered from the keen wind in the cafe for warm scones, jam and cream and coffee which was quite delicious (below).
There were lots of energetic locals walking and exercising at the Summit, apparently there is a the popular walk down to Waterfall Gully, or join the Heysen Trail or stroll along a walking trail through native bushland to Cleland Wildlife Park. We didn’t do any of this, just content to get back to the car and out of the wind!
Having some time up our sleeves before going to the airport we decided to return to Adelaide and see some more of their beaches. It wasn’t quite so windy at sea level, and we enjoyed a walk along the waterfront near Henley Beach one of the two closest beaches to Adelaide central business district and a favorite spot to cool off after work on hot summer evenings. Henley’s bustling centre of beach side activity revolves around the grassy foreshore, jetty and alfresco cafe precinct. There are nine restaurants within the precinct offering a variety of cuisine including Thai, Greek, Italian and good old Aussie fish and chips. After our walk we decided to have lunch at the Henley Beach pub (below left) and looking north of the beach (below right). Looking south of the beach we could see the pier on West Beach (below centre).
Too soon the time arrived for us to make our way to the Adelaide airport, check in our hire car, check in our luggage and go through security. We had given ourselves plenty of time to relax before our 6.15pm flight back to Canberra. It has certainly been a busy, sometimes tiring, holiday but I have enjoyed every minute of seeing new scenery especially in the majestic Flinders Ranges, the picturesque Fleurieu Peninsula and the Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills vineyards – wonderful memories!
Read more about Hahndorf here