The green hills and sprawling vineyards of Eden Valley make for relaxing day trips exploring back roads and tasting local wines. Driving through the township itself, you would be forgiven for thinking that what you see is all there is to this little town but linger a bit longer and you'll soon discover that there is much more. Here are seven great reasons to stay a while and get to know this little part of the world.
Your visit should start either by booking into one of the local Bed & Breakfast homes, or, if you want to truly immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area, you can stay at the Eden Valley Showground Caravan Park.
I paid a visit to this park and spoke to the manager, David, who has been with the park since February 2016 and is keen to see it flourish. He goes out of his way to provide that extra customer service to make your stay enjoyable.
Manager, David chats with regular visitor John
The park is situated in peaceful surroundings - with the occasional visit from local wildlife - and has immaculately clean facilities. There are 8 permanent sites, 12 powered overnight sites and numerous unpowered sites. All sites are spacious and budget-friendly and there is a covered barbeque area and playground for the kids.
Playground, Eden Valley Caravan Park
While checking out the kitchen and laundry facilities I met up with Gemma and Dave from Salisbury who were visiting for the weekend. It was their first visit to Eden Valley and they were more than impressed with both the area and the park facilities.
Gemma and Dave, first-time visitors to Eden Valley
John Ostendorf, a semi-permanent resident of the park, says he keeps coming back because it's family friendly and well positioned close to both Adelaide and the Barossa. I also caught up with the Marrone-Armistead family who were visiting for the weekend, using the park as a home-base while checking out the local wineries.
The park is perfectly situated as a home-base from which to explore the other hidden treasures of the Eden Valley and the nearby town of Springton.
The Eden Valley Hotel
According to proprietor, Aileen Rogers, the Eden Valley Hotel is more of a community hub than a pub, where locals and visitors alike are all welcome to come in for a drink and a chat. Aileen has managed the hotel for seven years, along with her daughter, Danielle, and has built a reputation in the community as a committed and caring friend who has become a part of the lives of the Eden Valley locals.
Proprietor Aileen welcomes you to the Eden Valley Hotel
The hotel has a friendly and welcoming front bar and a cosy dining room with a fireplace for those cold winter nights. The menu includes seafood, chicken, steak and schnitzel with a choice of sauces – all generous portions and reasonably priced and of course, there is a vegetarian option and a children's menu. On the day I visited, the daily specials included home-made tomato soup, Mexican chicken and salmon meatloaf.
Dining Room, Eden Valley Hotel
The hotel also has an adjoining room which serves as the buffet area when needed, and at other times as a retreat with a comfy couch and the proprietor's prized art-works on the wall. Further on there is a pool room with a full-sized table, and a small pokies room.
Out the back is a fully- enclosed beer garden with a unique water-feature built by Aileen's nephew, and a small lawn. There is a large under-cover dining area that seats up to 60 people for use in the summer and beyond that, down a small set of steps, is a children's playground. At certain times of the year, during events or special occasions the hotel offers live music.
Water Feature, Alfresco Dining Area
Playground, Eden Valley Hotel
It is both a kid-friendly and dog-friendly hub and exudes an overall welcoming family atmosphere. Open for dinner Wednesday to Saturday, 6pm to 8pm, lunch Friday to Sunday 12noon to 2pm, and for pizza Friday to Sunday 2pm to 5pm, Aileen is always ready to welcome you with a smile and cold glass.
Lillefield Gallery – Eden Valley
Lillefield Gallery, Eden Valley
Follow the signs from the main street of Eden Valley and they will lead you around the corner to Matthews road where you will discover the Lillefield Congregational Community Centre which houses the Lillefield Gallery. The building itself is a magnificent heritage-listed church formally owned by the Uniting Church, and now council-owned.
Some of the items on display at the Gallery
I spent some time with president, Virginia Arnold, who has been with the Gallery since it was established ten years ago. She and a team of passionate volunteers work to support local artists and artisans and to keep the gallery vibrant and diverse, showcasing beautiful works set against the dramatic backdrop of beautiful stained-glass windows. I enjoyed wandering through the displays of paintings, woodcraft, metal sculptures, jewellery and textiles.
Virginia Arnold, Curator, Lillefield Gallery, Eden Valley
The building is also still used as a non-denominational community church and is hired out for weddings, memorials,reviews and other functions. The Salvos hold a service there on the second Sunday of each month, followed by a shared supper.
Throughout the year there are workshops offered at the venue which include mosaics, ceramics and holistic and well-being practices.
The Gallery Hosts Weddings and Special Events
Virginia showed me a number of photographs of events that have been held and has generously allowed me to share some here.
The gallery is open most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm and you can call Virginia on 85641087 for more information
The Wood Carver's Haven
Just a few kilometres out of Eden Valley on the road to Angaston, you will see a quaint sign pointing the way to the Woodcarver's Haven.
Look for the Hand-carved Wooden Sign
Owner and creator, Michael Mason has been in the business of creating beautiful pieces out of wood for around 27 years, starting out at Tanunda and then moving to the current picturesque location on Mirooloo Road.
With a background as an orchardist, Michael also grows Shiraz grapes on the property.
Michael Mason, Woodcarver, Eden Valley
Entering the workshop the first thing that draws the eye is a display of magnificently and meticulously carved rocking horses – Michael's specialty. Each horse is painstakingly crafted by hand and each has its own unique identifying number with an accompanying certificate.
Michael will restore old horses, make new horses to order and will also sell plans and DVD's for you to build your own, along with all the accessories you need, like saddles and bridles.
Some of Michael's hand-carved horses and restoration in progress
His talent for meticulous hand-carved products extends to furniture and in 2003 he completed a baptism font, alter and lectern for Urara College in Alice Springs.
A selection of wooden products on show
Michael's biggest passion, however is teaching workshops. At a cost of $550 for ten lessons he will teach you the art of woodcarving and wood-turning. You can sign up for a week-long course and create your own unique rocking horse or furniture piece that will become a family heirloom. Some of his students have been attending for up to ten years and bring others with them, and several have gone on to win first place at shows around the country.
I checked out the visitors' book in the workshop and here are just a few comments:
'Unbelievable workmanship,' (from a customer who had a table restored.)
Rocking Horse Accessories
Call in and you will see for yourself what they mean. It's clear that Michael has pride and an attention to detail that is not found in mass-produced work. His workshop is open for viewing to the public for free and for bus tours by prior booking at just $5 a head.
Eden Valley Scenic Drive
With the town of Eden Valley as your base, you can take off in any direction and find picturesque views. Head South on the main road and you will encounter the town of Springton, or North and you eventually end up in Angaston, but in between there is lots to discover.
Old Stone Wall, Eden Valley
If you turn down Rhyne Park road, beside the caravan park, you will be taken on a leisurely, winding tour of the back roads of Eden Valley, past picturesque hills and old stone walls. Turning right on Jutland Road you will cross over a pretty, sheltered creek and, another few kilometres on, you will find the South Rhine Water Reserve.
Tranquil Creek, Jutland Road, Eden Valley
In this spot you will also discover the soldiers war memorial, an unassuming, solitary, stone cairn set out in a field that is easy to miss if you are not looking for it. When you see the sign announcing the site of the Rhine Water Reserve you're there. Just head through the little gate.
If you continue on Jutland Road you will see magnificent hills and valleys and the road will eventually take you back into the Eden Valley township.
Eden Valley Lookout
Heading out of Eden Valley in the direction of Angaston, you will see a sign pointing to the Eden Valley Lookout which was established by the local tourism and promotions group. The lookout site is dominated by a huge 6.8-metre high wooden cross that overlooks the valley, a tribute to the Christian heritage of the area.
Entrance to the Eden Valley Lookout and Wooden Cross
Wander around the park and check out the information plaques that tell the story of Eden Valley. One plaque in particular tells of the origin of the town's name. It seems that an early visitor to the area discovered the word 'Eden' carved into a tree and from then on the area was known as Eden Valley. Sadly, the tree is no longer there but the name lives on.
Wander amongst the plaques and learn the history of Eden Valley
There is a picnic table and walking trail here as well and it forms part of the Lavender Federation Trail Loop which winds through Springton and forms part of a much larger trail that stretches from Eudunda to Murray Bridge.
Just a kilometre out of Eden Valley, on Rushleigh Road you will discover the Fernfield Winery, home to Scott and Rebecca Barr who have owned the property since 2013.
It took a serious and life-changing car accident to set this young couple on the path to fulfilling their dreams and purchasing the winery from previous owners Bruce and Bron Lillecrap. Although Scott and Bec have backgrounds in winery work and chemical engineering, Bruce and Bron worked with them for the first year to see the winery succeed.
The main attraction is the unique tasting room. The first original dwelling in Eden Valley, built in 1886 by early settler William Lillecrap, the cottage has remained in the Lillecrap family for generations. It once served as a home for wayward girls, but eventually fell into disrepair. In 1996 it was lovingly restored by Bruce and Bron, a testament and homage to their ancestor, William. When it came time to retire they sold it to Scott and Bec, knowing it would be in good hands.
Consisting of only four tiny rooms, this cottage retains the charm and character of the era in which it was first built. You enter via a lovely shaded verandah, which houses a wood heater and tables and chairs from which you can enjoy the view of the rambling hills and vines. This takes you into a cute little front room with sumptuous sofas and an open fireplace. Off to your left is a tiny room with racks of lovely wines to choose from.
Stepping into the 'kitchen' which is now a tasting room with an elegant bar, you can pull up a stool and sample a selection of wines complemented by unique hand-made chocolates. The rustic stone walls and solid wood mantles add an air of comfort and class to this humble little place. On the wall you will see photographs of the restoration journey which shows how far they've come and how much work was involved in bringing this home back to its former glory.
Scott speaks with passion and obvious pride about the property, its history and the award-winning wines they now offer. Their cabernet won best in the Barossa two years in a row and their Eden Valley Riesling won silver in the International Wine Challenge in London.
Try some of Fernfield's Unique Hand-made Chocolates to Complement your Wine.
Fernfield is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 11am till 4pm. While you're there enjoying your wine and chocolate by the fire, ask them about their gift packs and personalised labels for your special occasion and about becoming a member of their exclusive club.