THE ADELAIDE HILLS is a distinctively separate region, running along the eastern side of the inner Adelaide metropolitan area.
Even in pre-European days, the Hills had their own Aboriginal tribe, the Peramangk, while the Kaurna lived on the Adelaide plains and foothills and the Nganguruku and Ngarrindjeri tribes were in the east.
Explorer Matthew Flinders, on the Investigator, in 1802 made the official European record of the Hills when he named their highest peak Mount Lofty.
With colonial settlement, the Hills took on more distinctive aspects when many of the early German Lutherans headed there and created towns such as Hahndorf, Lobethal and Blumberg (now Birdwood).
With the highest rainfall in South Australia, the Hills hold major water assets and have a wide range of land uses such as orchards and market gardens.
Access to the Hills has been boosted by the south east freeway. This has opened the way for centres such as Mount Barker to expand. It has become the fastest-growing inland city in Australia.
Tight planning rules have been imposed elsewhere to preserve the rural character of the Hills. But development has become more intense with hobby farms taking over many dairy farms.
The wine industry is also adding to Hills tourism with an expanding range of cellar door eateries.
This add to other tourist magnets such as Hahndorf and its strong German theme, Cleland Wildlife Park and the National Motor Museum plus the gardens and natural scenic views.