Hahndorf. A must see or no? I was not entirely sure. But it is the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia. It is a mere 25 minutes’ drive from the city and it is on every tourist brochure about Adelaide! So, it certainly has something going for it. As my companions were more than keen, I decided to go along with their better judgement.

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Front entrance to The Cedars, former home of Sir Hans Heysen
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Ant Nest by Ron Rowe – a sculpture in the front lawn of The Cedars acquired by Peter Heysen

 

But firstly, if you are into landscape art, then you are in for a bonus. The former home and studio of Sir Hans Heysen, the famous Australian Landscape artist, The Cedars, is located here. He was well known for his watercolours of towering gum trees. He loved them so much that he acquired some of the land just to protect his beloved gum trees. He also holds the record for the most winning entries for the Australian landscape prize. There are guided tours at various times during the day (just ask at the reception) but we did not stay for that. His daughter, Nora Heysen, was also reknowned for her paintings and you can see some of her work here as well.

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Main street of Hahndorf

After leaving the Cedars, it is just a few minutes before you will find yourself driving into Hahndorf Main Street. It is hard to miss. 100 year old elm and plane trees lined the sides of the street and nondescript houses are replaced by quaint little shops. And once we parked our car and got out to walk around, you could be forgiven into thinking that you just landed in a small village in Germany. Even the souvenirs are German! Although not every shop is like that, it is easy to see the German heritage alive and well.

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Our massive pork knuckle!

We walked up and down the entire street and finally stopped for lunch at Hahndorf Inn, recommended by the bottle shop next door. Of course, you can guess what’s on the menu here . . . . German fare! We loaded up on ribs and a pork knuckle which looked big enough for a T-Rex! After that, we literally had to roll out of the Inn and down the road to our car.

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So, what did I think of Hahndorf? Well it depends on what you are after. It is a historical place of sorts and if you have an eye on architecture and buildings from a certain era, they have a good representation here. It is also full of history on early german settlement. But some of the shops can get a bit tacky and I don’t know why a visitor to Australia would be buying German souvenirs here. It all seems pretty odd to me. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our day out. The cloudy forecast gave way to sunshine and we were more than pleased to be soaking in the rays after the long winter we had here.

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The Luther Rose at the base of the fountain in Alec Johnston Park. Hahndorf has one of the oldest Lutheran churches in all of Australia.
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Roberts Mortuary, built in 1861 was one of the first stone buildings in Hahndorf. It was used to store coffins (but now is a fine arts shop!)

 

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Thiele’s Cottage, built in 1845 for the first couple to be married in Hahndorf, Johann Thiele and Anna Schmidt. The gum tree under which they were married was felled to provide timber for the woodwork
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The Hahndorf Academy, a former boarding school then maternity hospital and now a gallery and museum with exhibits of the pioneering families that made Hahndorf. Well worth the visit.

 

 

 

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