Located in the South Australian Adelaide Hills, Hahndorf is one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations. A twenty minute drive from the Adelaide CBD along the South Eastern Freeway brings you to this quaint historic township.
Hahndorf is officially classified the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia.
On 28 December 1838 ‘The Zebra’ a three masted 350 tonne ship ended its voyage from Altona, Hamburg at Port Misery, South Australia. It had successfully transported 188 Prussian Lutheran migrants escaping religious persecution in their home country. With the help of the ships Danish captain, Dirk Meinhertz Hahn, a parcel of 100 acres, 28 kilometres south east of Adelaide, was negotiated. In recognition of the captain’s support and assistance the fledgling settlement was named Hahndorf (Hahn’s Village).
Nowadays the German legacy and tradition is very much apparent. Houses, with their white walls and dark wooden beams, are built or restored in the typical German’Fachwerk’ style. The bustling Main Street is lined with century-old European elm and plane trees and German bakeries and restaurants serving German cuisine – think wursts!
While Hahndorf has preserved much of its heritage and flavour, new and modern businesses and stores are popping up everywhere, creating an exciting mix of old and new. A fantastic blend of authentic souvenir and craft shops, art galleries, cottages and modern fashion outlets attract both local and international tourists.
Whether you’re a backpacker, family, couple or high-end traveler there is a wide range of accommodation available. From campgrounds to B&BS and classy hotels every necessity and requirement is covered. Gourmet restaurants and other eateries greatly contribute to the unique holiday feeling that you get when spending some time in and around this great little town.
Hahndorf is also the perfect base for exploring the wineries and vineyards of the surrounding Adelaide Hills, the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale. The region produces some of the world’s finest cold-climate wines. Many wineries and cellar doors offer visitors a taste of their wine along with a meal prepared with love and local produce. That is one of the very things adding to the authenticity of the area.
A major attraction in Hahndorf is the historic Beerenberg Farm, where, in season, you can pick your own strawberries or enjoy the beautiful rose gardens. The farm was founded in the 1830s by the Paech family, who were among the first settlers in Hahndorf. It is currently run by Grant and Carol Paech and has gained a worldwide reputation for its jams, tasty sauces and pickles.
The pastures and eucalypts surrounding the town used to be an inspiration for the renowned landscape artist Sir Hans Heysen. His former homestead and Bavarian style workshop, ‘The Cedars’, is a unique national treasure in Australia and is open to the public. Inside you can enjoy an amazing exhibition of his paintings highlighting the bygone days and lifestyle in Hahndorf. This exhibition also underscores the demanding circumstances these pioneers endured during early settlement.
Another fantastic place for some wonderful family time is the Hahndorf Farm Barn. Located on the village outskirts, the Hahndorf Farm Barn offers a great day out in the countryside, including the chance to have a genuine Aussie bush barbecue, which – honestly – is something that every visitor to Australia should experience.
The Hahndorf Academy was the first permanent building in town. Formerly a school with an outstanding reputation, it now houses the largest regional art gallery in South Australia. In its heyday the school educated 200 students and from the early beginning there was a huge focus on arts and music.
Later on, graduates of the Academy founded the Elder Conservatorium of Music at the University of Adelaide. Nowadays exhibitions display the work of local artists, some of which actually live at the Academy. Additionally there is a quaint German Folk Museum in the building as well, showing an interesting look at the early days of settlement in town. The Hahndorf Academy also houses the Visitor Information Centre, which makes it an ideal place to start your visit.
If you have seen and done it all and still have some time left, Hahndorf serves as the perfect gateway to the Murray Riverland to the east and the Fleurieu Peninsula to the south, both excellent options for a daytrip.
While Hahndorf may be a bit of an off-the-beaten-track destination in Australia, it absolutely is worth the visit. There’s plenty to see and do. Taste world-class wines, visit working farms, learn about local history, enjoy art or watch artists at work, have tea in the German Cake Shop. There is any number of quality outlets selling antiques, leatherworks or souvenirs
There is plenty to like about Hahndorf as a fantastic destination.