The Barossa Valley is probably one of the most evocative places in Australia. The mere mention of its name conjures up images of sun-drenched afternoons sitting in some gently scenic location sipping a robust red or a wonderful white.
It’s no wonder then that the Barossa, approximately 70 kilometres north east of Adelaide and just an easy hour’s drive from the South Australian capital, features so prominently on many a grey nomad Big Lap itinerary!
The region was named ‘Barrosa’ (meaning ‘Hill of Roses’) by the SA colony’s Surveyor –General Colonel William Light, after the site of a victory by the English over the French in the Spanish Peninsula War. Misspelling on later maps gave it the unique Australian name ‘Barossa’.
The major drawcard for most visitors is the chance to tour the area’s myriad of wineries, both small and large, sampling the produce at the cellar door. It’s a wonderful way to spend a lazy afternoon and the majority of visitors are generally impressed by the friendly and relaxed atmosphere that seems to pervade. Of course, if you’re in the mood for some serious sampling it is essential that you take an organised tour or let your more restrained partner do the driving.
More than 20% of Australia’s wine is made in the Barossa, helped mainly by a simply superb climate for viticulture.
The region’s most famous wines are the Barossa Shiraz, which is the product of the warm, low-lying Barossa Valley; and the Eden Valley Riesling, which owes its success to the higher, cool climate of the Eden Valley.
While wine will always be the headline act in this part of the world, there is a lot more to the Barossa than that. Arts and crafts seem to fit naturally with the region’s attractive little towns, and there are numerous galleries and studios to enjoy.
The Barossa Valley is a wonderful place to explore at a leisurely pace. There is always something interesting or quirky to capture your attention.
And then there is the scenery itself. It’s no wonder so many artists have been inspired to settle here. There are several magnificently scenic drives to take and a number of excellent parks and reserves.
IN THE AREA
The Para Wirra Park is major recreation area and it simply explodes into life during spring when golden wattles and native wildflowers bloom; bushwalkers and birdwatchers are drawn to Warren Conservation Park which also offers panoramic views across the Barossa; the Kaiser Stuhl Conservation Park – nestled in the Barossa Ranges – features creeks, rocky granite outcrops and low lying forests; and wildlife and birdlife abound in the scenic conservation parks at Hale and Sandy Creek.
If you don’t feel like shouting, the Whispering Wall at the Barossa Reservoir is the place to get your message across. The perfect acoustics of the curved reservoir wall create a phenomenon that means someone standing on the far side 140 metres away can hear your every word.
The nearby Barossa Goldfields gives visitors an insight into the Barossa’s heady, rip-roaring gold rush days. It is hard to imagine when you are here but, back in 1868, there were approximately 10,000 frenetic fortune hunters in this small area. Today, there are sign-posted walking trails through the Goldfields.
MAKE SURE YOU …
Whisper at the Whispering Wall; enjoy a sample or two at one of the numerous wineries; visit Yalumba Winery in Angaston which was established in 1849 and is therefore the oldest continuously family-owned winery in Australia; explore the arts and craft galleries of the area; pack your bushwalking boots and your binoculars and head out to the Warren Conservation Park.
WHERE TO CAMP
There is no camping at the conservation parks in the Barossa Valley but there are many top caravan parks dotted around to pull up for a few days or for a few weeks. Let’s face it … after a hard day’s wine sampling, you’re not going to want to have to go too far to find your bed. Cheers!