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Mount Lofty Botanic Garden & Stirling Hotel, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

View from the Noel Lothian Viewing Platform

My partner, Enigma and I stayed overnight one weekend at an Airbnb in the Adelaide Hills to attend a wedding and needed something to do the following day to make our stay more of a weekend away.

Enigma suggested a visit to the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden followed by lunch at the Stirling Hotel.

If you're curious about our Airbnb stay it was in a self contained guest house known as Borow in the township of  Uraidla. Definitely a very pleasant stay, but more functional than a relaxing getaway in itself. Best suited to someone touring the Hills region and just in need of somewhere comfortable to wind down at the end of the day that's more roomy and homelike than a hotel room.

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden

I've visited the Mount Lofty Summit several times over my last 23 years in SA, most recently as part of a guided bus tour, and I've never heard of the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden. Enigma and I were expecting something along the lines of the Adelaide Botanic Garden which is still quite substantial but only about half the size of the Mount Lofty Garden.

To be honest the Mount Lofty Garden is probably under rated as a tourist attraction with its varied skill level walking trails, impressive views, and public art sculptures scattered around the park. Lawn areas are expansive with plenty of seating, and tables for a family picnic.

Sculpture Guardian Figures by Greg Johns.
Sculpture: Guardian Figures by Greg Johns.

Enigma and I walked close to three kilometers, doing a lap around the park on the relatively easier bitumen covered trails. 

While we're not particularly plant aficionados we saw many plants labelled from around the world including sections from New Zealand, China, and South Africa.

On weekends and public holidays, 9am to 4pm, Spring through to Autumn, local chocolatier Bracegirdle’s park their bus in the lower carpark area should you wish to purchase lunch and refreshments on site.

Tip: If you're planning a visit, while Sunday is quite busy by about lunch time, it's the only day that parking is free. We arrived around 11am and there were still plenty of parking spots in the lower carpark.

The Stirling Hotel

Beef + Bacon Cheeseburger and Chips.
Image: The Stirling Hotel Instagram
After visiting the park, The Stirling Hotel was sort of in the direction of home. I think Enigma may have chosen this on a recommendation from a friend at the wedding.

For a Sunday lunchtime in the hills, on a nice (but cool) day, the hotel was pretty busy, however, we were able to find a table in the casual seating area (without a reservation) with no trouble.

As well as hotel lunch and dinner food staples The Stirling has an entire Pizza menu if that is more your style as well as vegan options too.

Pricing is pretty standard inline with most SA hotels. Enigma and I both ordered the beef + bacon cheese burger with chips to continue our unofficial quest to try all the burgers not made by fast food chains in SA.

They were very nice. Not as big a bun as some places we've been to but definitely more than enough to fill you up.

The atmosphere of the hotel was particularly good with real fireplaces keeping guests warm even in the out door deck areas.

Named Hotel of the Year at the 2022 AHA|SA Awards so, if you need more than my recommendation that's probably enough to at least give it a try.

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All in all a morning walk around Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens followed by lunch at The Stirling Hotel made for a very pleasant Sunday before we headed back home. Highly recommend it.

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