Nuriootpa's name is thought to be derived from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘meeting place’, as large numbers of Aboriginals once gathered there to trade. It is also thought to have been derived from the Aboriginal word “Nguraitpa” which means “the neck country”, and is a reference to the Dreamtime Story of Yurebilla, and how the landscape from the Mt Lofty ranges through to the Barossa Valley was made.
It is still recognised as the commercial centre of the Barossa and ‘Nuri’ is right at the centre of the region's wine production. This is a growing town with a population of around 5,500 that services more than 50 wineries in the nearby area. Some of the best-known cellar doors are found here, including Elderton, Wolf Blass Visitor Centre and Penfolds – where want-to-be winemakers can design their own blend on a daily tour.
A visit to the Barossa Bushgarden is recommended - this community project is successfully growing plants that are indigenous to the area, while the Bush Chapel at Coulthard Reserve is a place for quiet reflection or celebration.
Town founder William Coulthard's original bluestone home ‘Coulthard House', opposite the police station, is worth a look as around this property and the generosity of its owner the town grew and prospered.
The peaceful North Para River meanders through town and Nuriootpa Linear Park provides a delightfully scenic riverside walk from Coulthard Reserve to Tolley Reserve on the Barossa Valley Way – both ideal spots to settle down for a picnic or barbecue lunch with regional produce bought from the main street baker or butcher.