Monday, January 21, 2013

Mt Lofty, Hahndorf and Lobethal

From the top of Mt Lofty you can see Adelaide all laid out before you.

Mt Lofty summit
Adelaide CBD
The town of Hahndorf is absolutely delightful and is described as Australia's oldest surviving German settlement. It has a strong village feel; its streets are planted with 100-year-old plane and elm trees, and lined with cafes, shops, craft outlets and galleries, and the sandstone buildings are softened with roses, vines and lavender.

In 1838, a group of German Lutherans emigrated to South Australia to avoid religious persecution by the King of Prussia. They arrived at Port Adelaide in the ship Zebra under the captaincy of Dirk Hahn (a Dane). He had grown to respect the passengers and promised to help them achieve their goal of settling and farming together, negotiating a parcel of land in the Adelaide Hills for them.

The negotiated contract provided the families with 100 acres of land rent-free for the first year along with a years' provision of seeds and some livestock, all on credit as a communal debt. To earn the money to repay the debt, many of the men left the village to work for wealthy landowners clearing the bush and building fences. The women were left behind to labour on their small farms, raising animals and vegetable gardens and making butter and cheese.

These women found a ready market in Adelaide for their fresh produce (as almost everything was imported to the colony at the time) and they walked the 35km winding track with their goods in baskets on their backs or suspended from yokes across their shoulders. After a few years the 52 pioneer families had completely repaid their debt. They named their settlement Hahndorf (Hahn's village) in honour of Captain Hahn who had helped them achieve their freedom.

During World War One there was anti-German prejudice and this resulted in all the German names of settlements being changed. Hahndorf became Ambleside in 1917. It was reverted to Hahndorf in 1935 as part of South Australia’s centenary celebration.

The villagers are very proud of their German heritage and it is everywhere evident from the taditional menus at the pubs to the structure of the buildings, and the items on sale: clocks; steins and intricate woodwork, candles and German folk art.

I adored the musical boxes (spieldosen), nativity scenes, teddies and santas, little bakers, reindeer and carol singers in lederhosen. The wooden children's toys are outstanding with carvings of old men playing chess, mini fishermen and an entire range of nutcracker soldiers, dentists and beer drinkers!

We called into the German Cake Shop for morning tea, where we had giant pretzel doughnuts and cherry strudel.

Sausages are another German speciality: fresh, cooked, smoked, cured and dried. Several shops display racks of them hung up to tempt buyers with their delectable smell. We bought Aussie-made in the end with a kangaroo salami, and avoided the unsubtly-named bum burner.

Nearby Lobethal was renamed Tweedvale during the anti-German paranoia of WWI but reverted to its original name soon after. It is known for its Christmas festival of lights, its Grand Carnival, weekend markets, and old woolleen mill where the Onkapiringa blankets were made. We appreciated it for its support of the Tour Down Under and its microbrewery.

This artwork made from Paris Creek marble by South Korean sculptor Hwang Seong Woo was commissioned to celebrate Lobethal's woollen mill history - how's that for multicultural!
Naturally we had to visit the microbrewery at Lobethal Bierhaus! Once again we had a tasting paddle so we could sample the wares, beginning with a Bohemian Pilsner (4.8%) - straw colour, yeasty barley taste, crisp and refreshing; recommended as an accompaniment to a fish dish.

We moved onto the Hefeweizen (5.4%) which tasted like those fondant banana sweets and was supposedly good with a summer salad, and then the boldly named Good Bier (4.8%) which was an easy drinking beer with moderate bitterness and citrus flavours - probably a fine match for a cheese and pickle sandwich.

Lobethal Bierhaus, ouside and in.

My favourite was the Bruce (3.5%), which is considered a 'light' beer, although this is actually the usual strength of top English beers (Brakspear's is 3.8%). It's golden brown in colour and made with British malts (including Maris Otter), Whitbread yeast, and a hop combination of UK Challenger and NZ High Alpha variety 'Big Banger'. It's nutty, bitter, hoppy and absolutely yummy.

Their Pale Ale (5.6%) claims to be 'like Little Creatures' although I'm not entirely certain of that. It's an American-hop-based golden copper ale with a sweeter taste and an aroma of pubs. The tasting ntes suggest you pair it with a hot chilli dish or rich food.

The Red Truck Porter ((5.2%) has a roasted malt flavour and a strong suggestion of smoked almonds. And finally the Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (5.8%) relies upon golden rolled oats and English hops and yeast to present hints of chocolate and roasted coffee flavours with a smooth, silky finish. This would invariably be a winter favourite to be savoured in front of a smoky peat fire.

Him Outdoors compares notes with The Friesian
We returned to our hosts to eat our spoils from the markets - date sourdough bread, camembert, fig paste, kangaroo salami, and smoked almonds. Another fine day's touristing.

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