For grey nomads looking for a healthy dose of Christmas spirit as they travel over the festive period, the South Australian village of Lobethal is the place to go.
Located 35 kilometres east of Adelaide in a picturesque valley, Lobethal is surrounded by apple and cherry orchards and a growing number of wineries but – at this time of the year – it’s the Christmas lights that are the star attraction.
The community of 1800 or so people has a long history of German immigration dating back to 1840. While Christmas was always important to the largely Lutheran population, it wasn’t until the early 1950s that things went ‘next level’.
Apparently, it started when a few local business owners decided to paint light bulbs to decorate their shops and businesses … and the Lights of Lobethal legend was born.
The tradition has ‘snowballed’ to become the largest Community Christmas Light Display in the Southern Hemisphere.
There are tens of thousands of lights across multiple locations and hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to town each year to enjoy the spectacle. The event also incorporates the annual Christmas Pageant through the town’s main street, Living Nativity performances, stalls, markets and much more.
Away from the bright lights though, Lobethal is full of heritage buildings and is well worth a look in its own right. The Lutheran Church Complex includes the first Lutheran Seminary in Australia which was built in 1842, the oldest original Lutheran Church, and the Lobethal Archives and Historical Museum which contains a lot of information about the lives of the early German settlers.
The Onkaparinga Woollen Mill Museum offers a fascinating glance into the Onkaparinga Woollen Mill, which operated from 1872 until 1993. Tours are conducted regularly. Also worth a look is the imposing marble sculpture, entitled Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, which was created by Korean artist, Hwang SeungWoo and won the People’s Choice award in 2012.
Many grey nomads also enjoy taking one – or all – of the four established walks that are on offer at the Lobethal Bushland Park, just to the north of town. And then of course there are those gorgeous wineries and the famous Lobethal Bierhaus.
For grey nomads who find themselves in the area, Christmas really has come early!