“My husband works in the city and it takes him about 45 to 50 minutes to get there,” says Bec Smith, passionate local and head of Strathalbyn’s local tourist body. “It allows us to enjoy raising our children on two acres surrounded by family and friends.”
Certainly, geography has played its part in making Strathalbyn a favorite for those looking to leave the big city behind.
Situated on the eastern edge of the Adelaide Hills and bordering the Fleurieu Peninsula, the town is within an easy drive of the coast, the wine regions and Adelaide Airport.
What’s to love
Founded in 1839 by Scottish settlers, Strathalbyn impressed our researchers with its gorgeous sandstone buildings and churches. St Andrews Uniting Church, for example, dates back to 1844 and sits on the pleasant River Angas that cuts through town.
Strathalbyn received high marks for its healthy weekend visitor trade, its strong arts and crafts scene (there is a monthly market) and buzzing cafes.
The town is 56 kilometres south-east of Adelaide and 45 kilometres from Murray Bridge, making it a popular commuter town offering slightly cheaper housing than Adelaide. With an occupancy rate of 91 per cent, Strathalbyn is a “real town” rather than an urban area full of holiday houses.
Many locals, including Heather Merrill, will happily spend a Sunday afternoon at a nearby winery in the Langhorne Creek wine-growing district.
“It is lovely to take a 10-minute drive and enjoy a glass of red wine at the end of the weekend,” she says. Furthermore, a 20-minute drive will take you to the Historic port town of Milang, situated on the banks of Lake Alexandrina.
In addition to its stunning old buildings, Strathalbyn is often described as the unofficial antique town of South Australia and on the third weekend in every August the town hosts the two-day Collectors, Hobbies and Antique Fair.
Local halls are filled with antiques, craft and memorabilia, while a big open-air trash and treasure market is held on the Sunday.
Ms Smith says first-time visitors should also make a beeline for the Soldier’s Memorial Gardens.
“When I was little I would feed the ducks at the river here with my grandmother and it is a great thing to do,” she says.
She also recommends enjoying a coffee (or two) in Dawson Street and admiring the many antique and homewares stores in High Street.
What the locals say
Mrs Merrill is full of superlatives when describing the town she calls home.
“It is just so pretty, so lovely, and so friendly,” she says. “And most importantly it still has a town centre even though a lot of development has gone on in the 18 years I have been here.”
Ms Smith agrees, adding that it is a town where people are connected to one another.
“If you go to the local IGA you know everyone’s name,” she says.
“We have interesting stores and galleries here, and you can’t walk for six seconds without hitting a café,” says Ms Smith. “It’s the Toorak village of South Australia.”
Strathalbyn is the perfect spot for Adelaide commuters who want a touch of the quiet life. Says Ms Smith: “It’s about the lifestyle.”
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