A weekend in the Barossa

If you have heard of one Barossan resident, it's likely to have been the effervescent, ever-busy, food-loving Maggie Beer.

But there’s more to the Barossa Valley than Maggie, even though she sort of typifies the region. Warm, friendly, talented – read, multi-skilled – and welcoming. 

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Most people visit the Barossa with one firm agenda in mind. Wine-tasting. No, make that two aims. Food and wine.

Almost any time of year is an ideal time to drop in for a weekend or a few days mid-week. There is something on almost every month in the area. The famous Barossa Vintage Festival, a week-long autumn knees-up of music and dining and drinking, is celebrated as only this place can in April and May.

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The famous Barossa Farmer’s Markets is the place to be every Saturday morning in Vintners Sheds, Angaston. There’s everything from puff pastry to potatoes, honey, olives and lamb – plus noisy chatter and music and good cooking smells. You might even bump into Maggie, as she is a frequent shopper there.

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There are several small towns scattered through the Valley and it is relaxing to just wander through them, supping, sipping  and shopping! Catering to every taste there are dozens of small boutique shops selling everything from designer clothing to baby good, books and baskets.

Angaston, was settled by Cornish miners and other British settlers joined them later, so it is looked on as a more ‘English’ town. Yet it is not as simple as that. The town is named after George Fife Angas who was responsible for sponsoring many of the original Lutheran emigrants to the area.

Today the town is vibrant and full of weekend visitors. Coffee at the South Australian Company Store is a must and you should relax overlooking vineyards before visiting Angas Park Fruits where South Australian dried, crystallised and choc-dipped fruits are a decadent temptation.

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Tanunda is the more German of the towns. Settled by the Silesian emigrants who arrived in the 1840s and whose heritage has given so much to the area, it’s the epicentre for many of the region’s major wineries. Chateau Tanunda, Peter Lehmann, St Hallett and a dozen or so others use this postcode. It’s also the place to come for hearty Germanic breads and sausages.

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But for sheer joy (and some little well-earned exercise after all the wine-tasting!) it's hard to beat an afternoon cycling the path which recycles (!) a stretch of former railway track.

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Jacobs Creek Retreat, the historic Nitschke family settlement on the banks of the creek where wine growing began, has become luxury accommodation.

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The grounds feature pergolas draped with the floppy blooms of tea roses, their sensuous scent heavy in the night air. This is the famous David Austin rose garden. Some visitors come here by day for a tour of the garden, while those less green-thumbed choose to join a sausage making class, led by the retreat’s chef, Wyndham House, and then smoke their creations in the original 160-year-old smokehouse.

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This room channels an Italianate feel – a marble statue, a huge mirror – and it is spacious and cool, ideal for this often hot area.

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Chateau Barossa was the dream creation of owner Hermann Thumm who arrived penniless in Australia then founded Chateau Yaldara in 1947. Later he turned to collecting art and antiques and in 1999, at 88, he created this mansion. Thirty thousand rose bushes were planted in what he hoped would become the finest rose garden in the world. It was opened by the Queen when she visited the Barossa in 2002.

Today, the Chateau houses a cellar door and the palatial rooms behind this are filled with what is said to be one of Australia’s finest collections of 19th-century porcelain, as well as priceless antique glassware, art and furniture. Upstairs Thumm's original apartment is being converted into a palatial bed and breakfast accommodation.

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.....read more


F&T drives from Mildura to Adelaide deviating through the Barossa Valley

The Facts:

Where it is: About an hour's drive from Adelaide

How to get there: Self-drive or coach or tours from Adelaide.

When to visit: Year-round

Find out more: Barossa Tourism

 

 


 

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Download this article as a pdf:

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Want to know more about South Australia?

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Developed without convict labour, South Australia presents differently in some respects to the other states. Certainly the large German migration in the 1800s affected both the land-use and culture of the state, greatly influencing the food and wine industries.

The Barossa, especially, thrives because of this. The German accent of the area is less apparent now, but still evident in the wide variety of deli items, breads and smallgoods, and of course the wines produced there.

The Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley and Fleurieu Peninsula are also rich with wine and food producers. In all these areas, farmhouse cheeses, berry producers, yabby farmers and apiarists abound, and are repeated on Kangaroo Island, a case-in-point of how diversification, due to falling prices of traditional industries, can be turned to advantage by gutsy and energetic farmers.

Yet much of the land in South Australia is wild and inhospitable to small holdings. In the north and west, large stations run cattle and sheep, or raise wheat, but the coastlines of the three peninsulas mine the wealth of seafood, oysters, fish, tuna and abalone from the Southern Ocean.

And then there is lovely Adelaide. Laid out on classic lines, encircled by parkland, backdropped by hills, this city is a gastronomic paradise. This was the first city to legalise the use of kangaroo and emu, bush foods are alive and well here, as is the state's other rich produce. From markets to outdoor dining, formal restaurants to riverside dining, this city takes its food very seriously.

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In 2011 South Australia tourism has massively outstripped the nation with a 7.4 per cent rise in domestic visitor expenditure this year, compared to zero growth nationally.

Visitor numbers to South Australia have also risen 6.1 per cent and topped the nation with an increase of 7.4 per cent in visitor nights, according to new National Visitor Survey statistics released today.

SA Minister for Tourism, Gail Gago, says this is great news as the State's tourism operators prepare for their busiest time of the year.

"We're bucking the national trend during a difficult time for Australian tourism, and these figures are especially important for our regional tourism operators, who rely so heavily on the domestic tourists who make up 93 per cent of our State's overnight visitors," Minister Gago says.

"The statistics show that the rise in domestic visitation is, in fact, being fuelled by regional tourism growth, with a hike of 7.1 per cent in overnight visitor numbers to regional South Australia.

"The State Government's long-term strategy of ongoing investment in innovative and sustainable tourism infrastructure across the State, coupled with strategic and successful marketing campaigns targeting high-yield domestic visitors, is clearly paying dividends, she says.

Minister Gago says she expects this growth to continue as the Government invests in its Best Backyard campaign to encourage South Australians to explore their own State, and prepares to launch a new multi-million dollar interstate campaign in the New Year.

"Our brilliant summer events period, which kicks off with the Santos Tour Down Under and continues with the Clipsal 500 Adelaide, WOMADelaide, Adelaide Fringe and Adelaide Festival, will also bring visitors from around Australia and the globe to our State," she says.

"These latest results, coupled with last week's growth in international visitor expenditure, make tourism a $4.7 billion industry for South Australia, up 6.9 per cent on a year ago compared to 0.9 per cent growth nationally. 

National Visitor Survey results for the 12 months ended September 2011 include (compared to the previous year):

-        7.4% rise in SA domestic visitor expenditure to $3.98 billion, compared to zero change nationally.

-        18.75 million domestic visitor nights spent in SA, up 7.4%, outperforming all other states and territories and the nation.

-        7.1% increase in domestic overnight visitor numbers to SA's regional areas, pumping dollars into local communities.

-       Highest growth of all states and territories in domestic holiday purpose travel for SA, with domestic tourist numbers up 6.5% and nights up 12.2%. Nationally holiday visitors and nights were unchanged.

-       6.9% growth in total SA travel expenditure (includes both domestic and international) to $4.7 billion, compared to 0.9% growth nationally.

 

(from South Australian Tourism Commission)

 

 

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