Barossa Valley
South Australia

Orchard House

South Australia is one of Australia’s most underrated tourist destinations. Adelaide’s arts and food scene just keeps getting better and more creative, now punching well above its weight for the small, exquisite city’s 1.2m population.

One of the city’s great strengths is how quickly one can escape to the hills, vineyards or beaches north, east, west or south. The Barossa is a favourite for its stellar wineries, excellent food, rolling vineyards and gentle towns, still a reminder of country life gone by.

There are still surprisingly few good places to stay – Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage is a favourite, but on this occasion, travelling with friends, we needed a little more space and Orchard House fit the bill nicely.

The old cottage is set in a working orchard, so in the right season you can wander a few metres and pluck yourself a crisp apple to eat lazily on the verandah. Surrounded by lavender hedges, fig trees and birdsong, this is a place of great peace and owned by none other than Barossa doyenne Maggie Beer.

Maggie’s country hospitality is evident everywhere, starting with an invitation for coffee and cake at her famous Farm Shop, a few minutes up the road. On arrival at the newly restored cottage, down a white-stone road with vines either side, there is a loaf of fresh bread and Maggie’s preserves under muslin, a handwritten card, and a basket of olive oil and verjuice to take home as a gift. Welcome, indeed.

As imagined, the kitchen is a cook’s dream with a bank of Miele appliances that took up nearly my whole field of vision. The cottage is otherwise spacious with two large airy bedrooms dressed with oatmeal linen, a living room looking out over the orchard with a fire laid ready to ward off any chill in the evening air, and that welcoming country kitchen. Gorgeous paintings and prints by local artists line the walls and light streams through the house, making it difficult to leave and explore.

However, managing to drag ourselves away, there is plenty to do within easy reach – Seppeltsfield with its terrific restaurant Fino and the Jam Factory Gallery is a favourite, as is Artisans of the Barossa, where several niche wineries hold concessions so you can try several different wines over a platter or two. The Barossa Market is always buzzing, and it’s hard not to leave weighed down by smoked bacon, fresh-churned pats of butter, blueberry custard doughnuts, blushing cherries, dripping cubes of honeycomb and soft white cheeses.

Luckily it’s so easy to get to that a return is imminent.