Australia Travel: 5 Things To Do In The Barossa Valley Besides Drink Wine

barossa valley

Barossa Valley. Photo courtesy of Kyle Taylor via flickr

While Australia‘s Barossa Valley is well known for its wine offerings, the destination showcases a variety of lesser-known offerings. From museums preserving the region’s German heritage to free food sampling to wildlife spotting, there is something for everyone. To help you plan a well-rounded itinerary in the Barossa Valley, here are some suggestions.

1. Food Sampling At Maggie Beer’s

Most people know Maggie Beer as the co-host of ABC’s The Cook and the Chef; however, not everyone has heard of her Barossa Valley farm shop. An immersive experience for any epicure, Maggie Beer Farm Shop showcases endless racks offering free samples of her gourmet products, all made with local ingredients by Maggie and her staff. Shelves present neatly stacked recipes alongside tastings of pastes, oils, vinegars, marmalades, jams, sauces, marinades, vino cottos, sugos, syrups, relishes, wines and, of course, her signature pâtés. Along with trying a variety of foods and condiments, the farm shop also hosts complimentary cooking demonstrations at 2 p.m. daily.

Don’t leave without sitting on the patio and enjoying an innovative tea blend—like Rainwater Mint, Chocolate Marmalade, Sunday Roast or Wine and Roses—with a homemade slice of lemon merengue tart. While you eat, gaze out onto the sky-blue turtle pond, a setting that blends perfectly with the ambient Barossa Valley.

2. Hot Air Ballooning

For some adventure as well as aerial views of the lush Barossa Valley and nearby ocean, opt for a hot air balloon ride. Barossa Valley Ballooning is the most popular company to go with, as well as reputable with a Air Operators Certificate issued by CASA, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority. The tranquil and scenic experience lasts about an hour and allows riders to watch the sunrise over the Barossa, with rabbits hopping around the vineyards, golden wheat dancing in the early morning breeze and the balloon reflecting over the waters below. Once you’re back down on the ground, the pilot will take you and your companions to celebrate with a buffet breakfast and Champagne toast.

3. Bird-Watching & Wildlife Exploring

The Barossa Valley is home to a variety of conservation parks, allowing for bird-watching and wildlife viewing in a natural environment. One of the top bird-watching spots is the Sandy Creek Conservation Park, which preserves some of the Barossa’s last remaining sandy soil lowland vegetation. Birds like rainbow bee-eaters, zebra finches, diamond firetails and the peaceful dove play here, as well as western grey kangaroos. You can also visit the Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park, which features panoramic views of the Barossa Valley, a variety of landscapes and animals like kangaroos, echidnas, possums, white-naped honeyeaters and scarlet robins.

One way to truly immerse yourself in this side of the Barossa Valley is to stay at the Wings Barossa Bird & Bush Retreat. The experience allows you to sleep in a country homestead while immersing you in 170 acres of bush, rolling hills and fertile valleys. Some of the wildlife you can expect to see include koalas, eastern brown bandicoots, echidnas, rabbits, kangaroos, lizards and deer. Additionally, typical bird sightings are Adelaide rosellas, yellow-tailed black cockatoos, red-browed firetails, white-throated treecreepers and square-tailed kites, to name a few.

4. Galleries & Museums

Full of history and culture, the Barossa Valley is home to many worthwhile art galleries and insightful museums. Start at the Barossa Regional Gallery in Tanunda, which features art exhibitions, workshops, performances and education programs throughout three expansive gallery spaces. Along with showcasing local arts, crafts and music, visitors can experience local heritage through the restored Hill and Son Grand Organ, a grand structure thought to be the epitome of perfect organ design when it was created in 1875.

Next, explore Tanunda’s Old Mill Gallery and Cafe (32 Murray Street), showcasing artwork inspired by the region as well as handmade jewelry, silk scarves and homemade jams and chutneys. If you’re more interested in fine art, Peter Franz Fine Art Gallery (19 Barossa Valley Highway) in Lyndoch showcases works from South Australian artists, including everything from ceramics to glass works to photography and textiles.

And if you decide you would like a glass of wine after all, many of the cellar doors double as art galleries, like Peter Lehmann Winery, Gomersal Wines and Kabminye Wines.

In terms of museums, the Greenock Aviation Museum houses a private collection of preserved, replicated, restored and model aircraft. Fun fact: The museum has the Southern Hemisphere’s largest public display of 1/72 scale model aircraft, with over 1,400 models showcased. As for history, the Barossa Historical Museum resides inside an 1865 post office in Tanunda. The space displays artifacts and provides a glimpse into the region’s German background with items like a vintage organ, church furniture with German inscriptions and a traditional black wedding dress.

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Photo courtesy of Lindsey G via flickr

5. Brewery Touring

Along with making world-class wine, the Barossa Valley also creates impressive beers. The region is home to two main breweries: the Barossa Brewing Company in Greenock and Barossa Valley Brewing in Lyndoch. Located in a historic 1860s Wheat Store, the Barossa Brewing Company is a boutique brewery that uses local ingredients to create their beers. Some of their signature varieties include The Miller’s Lager, Greenock Dark Ale and Wheatstore Ale, which you can learn more about through a tour and tasting or by enjoying a meal at the nearby Greenock Creek Tavern.

Then there is Barossa Valley Brewing, which is also a boutique brewery started by Denham D’Silva who, inspired by North America’s small-batch brewery revelation, decided to bring craft beer to Australia. The beers are 100 percent all-natural and are made without the use of force carbonating or pasteurizing. And while they only serve two types–a full-bodied honey wheat Bee Sting ale and a bold American pale Organic Ale—both have won awards and are truly worth the visit.

*This post originally appeared on Travel + Escape

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