The Barossa Valley is located around one hour north of Adelaide in South Australia. It is best known for the world class wines that are produced in the area. Almost everyone who visits the Barossa Valley does so to taste some of those amazing wines. But what do you do if you have had enough wine for the day? You could go take a nap, or you could instead check out some of these other things to do in the Barossa Valley, that aren’t wine tasting!
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- 1 About the Barossa Valley
- 2 Best Things to do in Barossa Valley
- 2.1 Start the Day with Hot Air Ballooning at Sunrise
- 2.2 Walk the Whispering Wall
- 2.3 Check out the View from Menglers Hill Lookout
- 2.4 Have an Icecream at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop
- 2.5 Pick up some Fresh Produce at a Farmers Market
- 2.6 Steiny’s Traditional Mettwurst Tasting Room
- 2.7 Do some Tasting at the Barossa Valley Cheese Co
- 2.8 Go Kayaking on the Warren Reservoir
- 2.9 Take a Walk with an Alpaca
- 2.10 Do some Craft Beer Tasting
- 2.11 Or Perhaps Some Gin Tasting
- 2.12 Get the Perfect Instagram Photo at Lyndoch Lavender Farm
- 2.13 Take a Cooking Class
- 2.14 Be Amazed at the Herbig Family Tree
- 2.15 See the Barossa with a Segway Tour
- 2.16 Explore the Picturesque Towns
- 2.17 Take a Hike in the Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park
- 2.18 Take a Bike Ride Amongst the Vines
- 2.19 Visit One of the Many Galleries or Museums
- 2.20 Taste Vasse Virgin Olive Oil
- 2.21 Admire a Collection of Classic Jaguars
- 2.22 Cruise down Seppeltsfield Road
- 2.23 Try the Traditional German Sport of Kegel
- 3 Where to Stay in Barossa Valley
About the Barossa Valley
The Barossa Valley was first given it’s European name in 1837, just a few months after the first settlers came to Adelaide. It was named by Colonel William Light, who was the person who planned out the city of Adelaide’s grid-like layout surrounded by parklands. The name “Barossa” is attributed to a spelling mistake. It is believed it should have been Barrosa, in memory pf the “Battle of Barrosa” in France which Colonel Light took part in.
The Barossa Valley has a strong German heritage, with many settlers arriving to the area in the 1830’s and 40’s as they fled from prosecution in their homeland. Visitors today can still see many Lutheran churches and schools, and evidence of the history is in the town names. Many of the wineries carry the names of the German founders too, such as Langmeil Winery.
The German settlers were a tight-knit group and held strongly onto their traditional culture until World War I. So much so that even today there is a German language dialect called Barossa Deutsch.
The best way to get around the Barossa Valley is by car
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Best Things to do in Barossa Valley
Today the Barossa Valley consists or a handful of small towns dispersed amongst the grapevines. The largest town is Nuriootpa, and this is a great place to base yourself for your time in the area. From there visitors can fan out and access all the Barossa Valley attractions as well as the things to do in Nuriootpa. Sometimes though it can be hard to find things to do in Barossa Valley not wine related.
Once you include some of the many wine tasting options to the list, it’s very easy to keep busy for a few days with activities in Barossa Valley. It’s a relaxed and sleepy place though, so take it nice and slow, and savour the peace and beauty of this area in the time it deserves.
Start the Day with Hot Air Ballooning at Sunrise
I had the opportunity recently to take a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Barossa Valley and is one of the best things I have ever done! This is one of the most incredible Barossa Valley experiences to do. It will include a very early morning pickup, and once airborne, around one hour of peaceful floating over this magnificent valley. Of all the Barossa Valley things to do this one is defintely the most romantic – perfect for honeymoons, anniversaries and birthdays.
Once the flight is over, passengers are treated to a full breakfast including sparkling wine while reliving the experience.
Walk the Whispering Wall
If you are looking for unique Barossa Valley activities, this is a good start. Located in the Williamstown area, the Whispering Wall is the dam holding back the water from the Barossa Reservoir, one of Adelaide’s main water sources. The shape of the wall creates a strange effect, leading to the unusual name. Two people can stand at each end of the wall, more than 100 metres apart, talk to each other in a quiet voice and clearly hear each other. It’s very surreal.
The area around the Whispering Wall is now designated as a nature reserve, so it’s a good place to take a short walk and admire the wildlife in the area.
If you are visiting in summer like we did, be aware that the reservoir is closed on days of high or extreme fire danger.
Check out the View from Menglers Hill Lookout
Named after a local winemaker, Menglers Hill Lookout is a great place to get views over the whole Barossa Valley. While, yes, it is a valley, the hills surrounding the area are not all that tall, and there are very few locations that give a good view. Make your way up to the car park and spent some time here admiring the area.
Take a short walk through the Barossa Sculpture Park that is also located here. There are perhaps a dozen or two large sculptures made out of granite to have a look at as you admire the view.
Have an Icecream at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop
When planning your list of what to do in Barossa Valley this absolutely has to be included! Maggie Beer is a well-known Australian cook. She has written numerous cookbooks and appears regularly on television. She was never a trained chef though, her focus is on good, home cooked food. In the 1970’s she started producing paté on her property in the Barossa. She eventually opened the Maggie Beer Farm Shop, and now has dozens of products available for sale, including some of the best icecream available anywhere.
During your visit to the Farm Shop you can taste many of the delicious products. This is also the perfect location to have lunch. Maggie’s daughter now runs The Eatery, and is open for lunch everyday. The menu changes every day in line with the local seasonal products that are able to be sourced, but it will always be beautiful, gourmet offerings. The food here is perhaps the most beautiful I’ve eaten anywhere. Bookings are essential.
The Eatery also offers classes, so you can do a class on everything from making desserts, to gin school, to kids cooking classes. Start with a simple one hour interactive class to see a cooking demonstration, taste some of the results and learn about the history of Maggie Beer’s farm – see the details here.
Pick up some Fresh Produce at a Farmers Market
With so much fresh produce in the area, it’s no surprise to find great farmers markets when we are searching for what to do in the Barossa.
The Barossa Valley Farmer’s Market is held every Saturday morning from 7:30 to 11:30am in the Vintner’s Shed, Angaston. You can find everything here from fruit and vegetables, eggs, smallgoods, cheeses, breads and pastries, meat, honey, olives and olive oils and much more. Visit the Breakfast Bar to grab a local breakfast burger and a gourmet coffee. The stalls vary slightly each week, but you can check out their website here to see which producers and there each week.
At the southern end of the Barossa Valley, visitors can also find the Mount Pleasant Farmer’s Markets. These are on each Saturday from 8am – 12pm at the Mount Pleasant Showgrounds. While they do showcase Barossa Valley produce, they also include some of the great Adelaide Hills producers too. You can find all of the current stallholders listed over on their website here. Breakfast is again offered, and keep your eye out for other events, such as evening markets and full day festivals.
Steiny’s Traditional Mettwurst Tasting Room
Steiny’s is another of the local producers making a delicious product. If you love smallgoods and cured meats, call into their tasting room in Nuriootpa to try some of the boutique varieties of mettwurst they produce. Ranging from traditional plain or garlic flavours, right up to kangaroo or brandy mettwurst, there are nine different flavours to choose from. There are also ranges of pepperoni-style sticks, jerky and bacon for sale.
We picked up some Steiny’s Mettwurst at the farmers markets, and the traditional garlic one was delicious.
Do some Tasting at the Barossa Valley Cheese Co
Cheese and wine go together like peas in a pod, so there is no surprise to find a fantastic cheese producer right in the centre of Angaston. Drop past to taste some of the cheeses made with local cow and goats milk, and take home your favourites along with all the cheese accompaniments offered too. If you are planning a picnic, there are a variety of packs including things like crackers, dried fruits, quince paste and more.
During your visit you can watch the live stream of the cheese making process coming straight from the factory. If you are in the store at 11am or 3pm then you will also be able to see Halloumi cooking demonstrations. Visitors can participate in other tasting experiences, such as a seasonal cheese platter, a cheese and wine tasting, or if you don’t drink wine, there is one for cheese and tea pairing too.
While you are there, check out the information about a custom-made cheese wheel cake. These are apparently becoming popular even for weddings! Definitely an interesting alternative for cheese-lovers.
Go Kayaking on the Warren Reservoir
Right on the edge of the Barossa Valley in the Mount Crawford area is the Warren Reservoir. Recently the South Australian reservoirs have been opened to the public for recreation purposes, and now kayaking is available here. Choose from either double or single kayaks and spent two hours exploring this part of the Barossa Valley from this unique perspective.
Take a Walk with an Alpaca
How fun is this suggestion for your Barossa things to do list? Aurora Sky Alpacas are giving visitors a chance to take one of their alpacas for a walk. Get up close to these buddy animals and take all the photos you want. On arrival you spend some time with the alpacas and choose which one you want to walk. After your thirty minute walk, you can also opt for an additional platter or high tea to enjoy. You will leave wanting to take one of these adorable animals home.
Do some Craft Beer Tasting
While wine might be the most common drink made here in the Barossa, there are also a few local craft beer makers popping up in the area too. Here are some worth checking out
- Steins Taphouse, Nuriootpa (not actually a brewery, but you can get most of the local craft beers here in one place)
- Greenock Brewers, Greenock
- Barossa Valley Brewing, Tanunda
- Rehn Bier, Tanunda
- Western Ridge Brewing, Greenock (these guys don’t have a cellar door, look our for their beers in local outlets or at the Barossa Farmers Market)
- Ministry of Beer, Rosedale (No cellar door, but you can find these beers at Steins Taphouse above)
Or Perhaps Some Gin Tasting
If beer and wine tasting are not enough, then how about some gin tasting? The Barossa Valley is starting to see distilleries appearing amongst the vines. While some wineries are extending their ranges to include gin or whiskey, there are also some stunning dedicated tasting rooms just for gin.
Start your gin tasting at one of these:
- Seppeltsfield Road Distillers, Marananga
- Barossa Distilling Company, Nuriootpa
- Durand Distillery, Nuriootpa (no tasting room, but they do have their owns gins and a gin school if you are keen to learn the art of gin making)
Get the Perfect Instagram Photo at Lyndoch Lavender Farm
Lavender farms the world over are seeing a rise in visitors as the pursuit for that perfect Instagram photo increases. The Lyndoch Lavender farm is no exception. You can wander out into the lavender fields for that perfect shot, or browse the myriad of products made from the lavender that are for sale. There is also a cafe on site to taste some of the products such as lavender scones or one of the four different types of lavender icecream.
If you are interested in the farm, take a $2AUD self-guided tour which includes tastings and tea/coffee or pay $7AUD and have a fully guided tour with a few more extras.
I unfortunately didn’t have a chance to test out these tours as a wild summer storm came over just as we arrived and cut the power. I hope to visit this pretty location again on my next visit to the Barossa Valley.
Take a Cooking Class
Maggie Beers is not the only place in the Barossa Valley to off cooking classes. With all the amazing local produce available, it is no surprise to discover Casa Carboni located in Angaston. This is an Italian cooking school offering classes from pasta making to a class based on produced picked up at the Barossa Farmer’s Market that weekend to a vegetarian class. Matteo Carboni hails from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy and studied in Bologna, so has a great foodie pedigree. If you don’t want to cook, you can taste the foods during breakfast or lunch, and on Friday evenings the cooking school turns into a wine bar too.
Not quite a cooking class, but you can learn to make cheese with the Cultured Cheese School. The offer workshops to teach the art of cheese making. Whether its Camembert or Haloumi, you can find a class to suit your tastes. Have a look at which classes are coming up on their website here.
Be Amazed at the Herbig Family Tree
Yes, I am telling you to go and look at a tree, but it’s not actually the tree itself (although it is a bit unusual!) that is interesting, it’s the story. The red gum itself, located near Springton, is estimated to be somewhere between 300 and 500 years old. It has split apart at the bottom so much that in the 1850s, Friedrich Herbig moved in to live inside the stump, later bringing his new wife to join him in this strange dwelling.
The first two of their huge clan of sixteen children were born in the hollowed out tree. They soon ran out of room, and Herbig built a small hut nearby to move his expanding family into. The tree stands today as a reminder of the hardships faced by the early settlers and their tenacity to overcome the obstacles and thrive.
See the Barossa with a Segway Tour
Take a unique look at some of the Barossa views and vineyard areas at Seppeltsfield Winery by Segway. These tours are such a fun way to get around, and here you can spend about an hour zooming around, learning about the Barossa and having some scenic photo opportunities you would otherwise not have access to.
Explore the Picturesque Towns
While there are only a handful of larger towns in the Barossa Valley – Tanunda, Nuriootpa, Angaston – there are dozens of little towns scattered around. Many of these smaller towns will have little local businesses that visitors can take advantage of and often a wander down the main street can unearth all sorts of places. You will find cute little cafes and teashops, antique stores, second hand book stores, small museums and galleries and many small producers. Some of these little towns contain acclaimed restaurants and accommodation too, so look for the hidden gems during your visit.
Take a Hike in the Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park
There are two walking trails in the Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park that will give you the opportunity to stretch your legs and wear off some of the amazing Barossa Valley food and wine. The main attraction is the park’s namesake, Horse Head Rock, which can be seen by taking the Wallowa hike. As you walk through the scrub, across creeks and along rocky outcrops, look out too for the local wildflowers, especially if you visit in spring or early summer like I did. You will also almost certainly see kangaroos on your walk at any time of the year.
Take a Bike Ride Amongst the Vines
There is over 40km of sealed bike trails through the Barossa Valley, from Gawler to Angaston so why not hire a bike (or bring your own!) and enjoy the region at a slower pace. Throughout the Barossa there are many bike hire places, ranging from simple hire at the Novotel Barossa Valley, to E-bikes at Barossa Bike Hire. You can also book your E-Bike in advance here. There are also three cycle hubs – Gawler, Tanunda & Kapunda – that provide more facilities, such as bike hire, bike repair stations, toilets & showers, picnic facilities, water and wifi, for those perhaps cycling further.
Visit One of the Many Galleries or Museums
There are various museums and galleries scattered all through the Barossa valley. Here are just a few you may like to visit
- Barossa Museum – Located in Tanunda, this museum focuses on the history of the area, particularly the German settlement.
- Greenock Aviation Museum – this is a private collection of airplanes and other aviation memorabilia. It also includes a huge collection of model aircraft.
- Jamfactory at Seppeltsfield – A gallery of many of the local crafts, from glassware to knife-making to millinery to leather work.
- Doddridge Blacksmith Shop and Angaston Museum – Located in Angaston, here you can see demonstrations of the lost art of blacksmithing.
- The Taste of the Region Interpretive Centre – Located in Kapunda, this display includes three rooms dedicated to the nature in the area, the history, the settlement, and the local Aboriginal people.
Taste Vasse Virgin Olive Oil
Vasse Virgin are located in Seppeltsfield, where you can start by looking at the various olive oils and other olive items produced by them both here and in Western Australia. Along with other gourmet food products, Vasse Virgin also produces a wide range of natural skincare. During your visit here you can look down below and watch the artisans producing their soap range using traditional techniques.
Also available are various workshops to learn how to make your own lip balm, or to learn about perfumes or olive oils.
Admire a Collection of Classic Jaguars
Located in Tanunda, the Carl Lindner Collection of Classic Jaguars is a private collection that has taken over 40 years to amass. Now there are over thirty immaculately restored vehicles on display for the enthusiast to admire.
They are open for self-guided tours on Tuesday and Thursday from 10am-12pm, and there is a guided tour on those same days at 2pm.
Cruise down Seppeltsfield Road
The name “Seppeltsfield” has come up a lot during this list, so it is likely you may have already ticked this one off. Seppeltsfield road is a pretty, palm-lined boulevard. It is often depicted in tourism ads and instagram shots, and is particularly a favourite for those visiting with a drone. Why not stop and check it out at either sunrise or sunset to get some beautiful photos yourself?
Try the Traditional German Sport of Kegel
This could be the answer if you are looking for fun things to do in Barossa Valley or things to do in Tanunda! Kegel is a traditional German game brought to the Barossa by the original European settlers of the area. It’s a lot like ten-pin bowling, but there are only nine pins and the lane is a lot longer. If you are in the Barossa on a Friday, head down to the kegelbahn at the Tanunda Kegel Club and discover what this game is all about.
Where to Stay in Barossa Valley
It’s not possible to to cover all the stuff to do in Barossa Valley in a day. If you want to stay even longer to enjoy all the attractions at a leisurely pace, here are some of the places I have stayed at over the years when I have visited – and a few extra special places too.
- Novotel Barossa Valley – One of the top rated hotels, I have stayed here multiple times. It’s a typical 4.5 star hotel with comfortable rooms, good food and fantastic views over the vines
- Lawley Farm – One of the first places we ever stayed. This is a fantastic, relaxed B&B, just perfect for a weekend getaway.
- Jacobs Creek Retreat – I haven’t actually stayed here, but I have been to a wedding in the grounds and it is one of the most romantic locations I’ve ever been to. Lovely rooms and a stunning garden. Great for a special weekend away.
- Discovery Parks Barossa Valley – I’m including this one especially because they have glamping tents! They also have a wide range of other accommodation from cabins to camping sites.
- The Louise – this B&B is pure five star luxury with one of the best restaurants in South Australia on site.
- Vine Inn – located right in the centre of Nuriootpa this budget option has hotel rooms and apartments available
For more information on Barossa Valley tourism, call into the Visitor Information Centre on the main street of Tanunda.
Visiting more great South Australian locations? These posts might help
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Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred. She has lived in the state for almost her whole life, just one short stint away as a teenager with her family. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.