Ask the locals and most of them will tell you their ’burb’s cool factor is on the rise. It’s not just because it’s the home turf of hip-hop legends Hilltop Hoods. A collection of cute cafés, quirky shops and creative corners make Blackwood worth the stop.
1. Relax: Wittunga Botanic Garden
You know you’re in for a smile-packed afternoon when you hit the Wittunga Botanic Garden’s a patch of green with a dedicated Butterfly Garden and Bird Garden. This 13-hectare botanic wonderland is worth a trip to the Hills. Hang out under a tree, spot purple swamphens on the billabong, or take a free guided tour (departs every Tuesday from 10.30am at the carpark off Shepherds Hill Road). There’s a patch full of Kangaroo Island flora and the original Ashby family residence is also worth a gander. Edwin Ashby established the private abode in 1902. He had a thing for birds, butterflies and plants, hence the special sections dedicated to winged creatures. Admission is free, every day.
Enter via Shepherds Hill Road or Sherbourne Road.
2. Eat: Hillbilly’s Café
Formerly known as Hillbilly’s but don’t let the name confuse you. Owner Frank Boke hails from Chile and loves a chat about his homeland. “It’s the only country in the world where you can go skiing in the morning and swimming in the sea in the afternoon,” he says with a smile. Nowadays, Frank is fond of his new, hilly hood. “We’ve been here three and a half years. We have plenty of regulars coming through and we are very busy all the time. We’ve got so many different things. Everything is fresh and made on premises.” All-day breakfast and lunch is popular and they cater for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free diets. Once you’ve scoffed your fill, keep exploring the delightfully quirky little café. Frank’s wife Denise did the decorating and the result is a mix of hessian strung to the ceiling, memorabilia, teacups full of marbles and bookcases full of books for exchange and sale (money goes to Minton Farm Animal Rescue Centre).
7/225 Main Road.
3. Shop: My Girl Lollipop Boutique
You’re in the Hills, you’ve got a hot date coming up but you don’t want to trek to the city where expensive parking gets in the way of you and a good frock. Kristen Saunders at My Girl Lollipop to the rescue. The fashion-forward local stocks dresses, skirts, playsuits and accessories for women and children, including South Australian label Bagira. She also stocks locally made gifts including candles by Chloe Jane Candle Co, Inspired Candles, and pieces by D-Art wood-burning artist Natasha Dart. Smokin’.
Shop 2/225 Main Road.
4. Drink: The Artisan Café
It takes a while to flick through the substantial menu at this art-packed café. There’s a lot on it, including all-day (every day) breakfasts and a decent wine list. It’s a nice place to spend the afternoon. The café is tucked down a laneway shaded by grapevines but there’s nothing tiny about the space – three years ago, the owners expanded and there’s now more room for leisurely lunches and plenty of tables for all that food. The walls are packed with art by the likes of local contemporary abstract artist Simonne Joyce and tea pots come encased in crazy, knitted tea cosies. They host poetry nights on the fourth Saturday of each month, too.
252 Main Road.
5. See: Art Attack
There’s art everywhere if you look hard enough. From splashes of colour inside and outside The Little Mexican Takeaway (254 Main Road), where artists Jake Holmes and Violet Cooper lent a helping hand, to yarn-bombed railings on street kerbs. Or, if you’d rather create your own, Blackwood Yarnaholics knitting and crochet group could be the ticket. The motley crew meets at the Artisan Café twice monthly on Sunday afternoons to work their nimble fingers into a frenzy.
6. Do: Keystone Tattoo
For a dose of ink of the permanent, wearable kind, hit Keystone Tattoo. Artists Craig and Darren work magic in their wonderful upstairs space. They’re true creatives and offer illustration, graphic design, graffiti and street art, signwriting and photography services. They’re nice dudes, too.
239 Main Road.
7. Treat: Bloom Town
Bloom Town owner Camilla Boseley knows her way around a floral arrangement. She cut her teeth in the world of flowers 22 years ago and went on to work in Dublin and create pretty arrangements while travelling around the world on super yachts from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean. “I’d be in the Maldives and fly flowers in from Holland,” she says. The Eden Hills girl opened her Blackwood florist in April 2016 and the space is a pretty mix of bouquets, blooms, succulents, and venus fly traps (find them out front). Art, cards and flower pots painted by local artist Nate Finch are a nice touch.
Shop 4, 240 Main Road.
8. Read: Blackwood Book Exchange
There are two signs above this maze-like bookstore: ‘Blackwood Books’ and ‘Tardis Books’. Call it what you will, it’s still one of South Australia’s largest secondhand book haunts. Proprietor David Christophel loves to chat (find him if you can among towers of tomes) and his collection of books about South Australia and its history is impressive: Old Mining Towns, Miracle On Tynte Street, Natural History of Eyre Peninsula and By Popular Demand: The Adelaide Festival Centre Story, to name a few. There’s a book to cover just about any obsession. Stop, flick awhile and revel in the sweet smell of print.
168 Main Road.
Where’s your favourite place in Blackwood? Let us know in the comments, below.