It would be reasonable to assume that Richard Hawkins was a Londoner. Not a lot seems to have been recorded about him beyond the fact that he held the licence for the Crafers Inn and other hotels. In 1859 he purchased land where the road to Echunga branched off from the Mount Barker Road. Here this inveterate publican - son of a publican in the city of London - built a new hotel and, in deference to the horses and bullocks which did all the hard work in this neck of the woods, provided a simple hand water pump and trough. Thus did Hawkins transfer a name so well known across the world by christening his hotel the Aldgate Pump. Names of great tradition were often transplanted by pioneer settlers, but it is probably wrong to place Aldgate in the same category as Piccadilly - named almost in jest for a London namesake so totally different. It is more likely that Richard Hawkins used the name simply for personal associations.
In the City of London, the Aldgate Pump was a feature of early city life back into the mists of time. Transplanting such a name holds greater tradition than any other to a British colony, for this was the absolute heartbeat of the world those pioneers left behind; the comforting links they forged to help them through the early years when they relentlessly carved a new life from the unforgiving bush. Richard Hawkins had interests throughout this portion of the Hills, but it was the Hills Land and Investment Company which officially laid out the town much later, in 1882. The promise of the railway kick-started the town and prompted a major refurbishment and enlargement of the hotel.
The facilities of a township developed, but for the most part the district's industries were rural-based, including nurseries and market gardens; by the 1930s farmers had formed a co-operative and were operating a bacon factory. What you will find here is a tight-knit town huddled in a beautiful little valley; a town revelling in the typical country traditions of craft shops, bric-a-brac, fresh fruit and vegetables and more. When you see the numbers of people from the plains as well as the Hills descending on Aldgate at the weekend you will understand the niche the town has carved for itself.
Among the highlights of the area is Stangate House, or, at least, its magnificent garden which is open to the public during spring. The garden, partially looked after by the Camellia Research Society in conjunction with the National Trust, contains an oak tree reportedly planted by a goldseeker in 1838. It also now has some of the old camellias transplanted from the site of Stevenson's Garden.
The district's early population was sparse, and most probably centred on the South Australian Company, judging from the area's early name of Company's Tiers. In 1868 George Hunt subdivided some of his land and created Ashton. How many George Hunts, at this period, hailed from the same area of Northamptonshire? There was the one who farmed at Third Creek and was responsible for Ashton's genesis (named after his English home village). There was his son, who prospered as a draper and in the 1890s bought the stunning mansion Tranmere House, which still stands near the Tranmere Bowling Club.
And there was another. In London, Benjamin Disraeli's Chancellor of the Exchequor was George Hunt from a well-known family at Wadenhoe, a stone's throw across the River Nene from the village of Ashton. It poses intriguing questions about the family background of the man who started the little Adelaide Hills town. By the early 1980s there was a store, post office, church, Rechabite hall and scattering of homes. Now Ashton is a tiny hamlet which relies largely on apples and pears for its livelihood. This led to the formation of a Co-operative and construction of a cold store. The district, though, built other industries, like Weald View Gardens nursery, Munn's Auldwood Cider Factory and a spring water business. Of interest to the visitor is Ashton Hills Vineyard, a small cool-climate winery.
Ashton's visual heritage is well scattered. The most obvious item, on Monomeith Road, is the almost church-like structure (now a private dwelling) of the former Rechabite Hall (1880s). The old Methodist Church, on the main road, and the former store (1880s) are also now residences.
More extensive than Ashton, Basket Range gained its name from a source that is still uncertain. The most convincing story relates to the timber cutters, who required a licence, and a licence inspector named Basket was reportedly stationed there. In the vicinity of Deep Creek one of the area's pioneer families, the Burdetts, established a wildflower garden, specialising in Australian and South African plants. At its peak this garden, together with the annual cherry blossom display, was a Hills showpiece which brought visitors from Adelaide in droves.
Also popular was the jam produced by the Cramond family. Like Glen Ewin jams at Lower Hermitage, its origin was a periodic over-supply of fruit. The old jam factory is still on the property, known as Surrey Orchards, and still occupied by the Cramond family. Until quite recently it was still possible to buy Cramond produce at the historic Surrey Orchards complex.This sharply-angled country was gradually tamed, helped by the waters of Deep Creek for irrigation. Families who carved a future here included William and Betsy Moulds, who started the property now known as Woodlands Estate. The township, though, didn't begin to develop until the 1880s, initially with a Bible Christian Chapel and a still-operating primary school.
A more recent feature, though, now attracts most attention - Camelot Castle Restaurant and Motel. Much has been added since the original structure was completed in 1936. Real estate agent Albert Pinchbeck had a home built of random sandstone, its design modelled on one of England's stately homes, Warwick Castle. Pinchbeck didn't occupy it for long; by 1941 Warwick Park, as it was called, was in the hands of a doctor whose home and practice were centred in these extraordinary surroundings on the valley floor. A few years later it became a tourist venue serving afternoon teas; then came a period as a private residence until it emerged as the Camelot Castle Restaurant.
From its start in 1839, Balhannah was an important centre for the valley country. It possessed a butter and cheese factory by the mid-1890s and by the start of World War I it had one of Australia's first fruit cold stores, which is still operational. Balhannah didn't make a fuss about such things, though - it just quietly went about its productive life. A boost in 1883 was the arrival of the railway. Being thus connected with Adelaide provided a bonus which gave it an edge over the other valley townships. The station structures remain relatively unaltered.
Its dairy factory closed in the 1920s - the house built for the complex is now privately occupied, while the adjacent factory buildings serve as a garage.
Of much earlier origin, though extended over the years, is the Golden Cross Hotel of 1850, which was the town's second hotel. The Anglican church of St Thomas, dating from the 1860s, occupies an attractive setting.
The Balhannah Co-operative Society's cold store started in 1914 at the hands of nurseryman H N Wicks and August Filsell. The original store built of wood and insulated with sawdust, was powered by a gas producer, a system better remembered as a World War II alternative fuel for motor vehicles.
The name comes from Sir William Birdwood, a British General during World War I who led the Anzacs at Gallipoli. His name was chosen when the World War I place names committee decided to replace the town's original 'enemy' name of Blumberg. How the first name came into being is still a matter for debate, but the most likely source was early settlers coming from the Prussian town of Blumberg, which is close to the river route used by the Silesian pioneers on their way from such places as Züllichau and Klemzig.
Blumberg, then, was predominantly German in origin. Migrants who had temporarily settled at Lobethal began looking for land of their own in 1848. Pastor Fritzsch recommended this spot beside the Torrens, where he camped on the way to Bethany. Birdwood grew with homes on land leased from The South Australian Company. A church, a flour mill and a hotel formed the hub of the township some distance away; then complications were caused by the split in the Lutheran church. There was also another small village called Oliventhal, separated from Blumberg by a single farm. Oliventhal is remembered by Olivedale Street, though a German style half-timbered cottage is named Oliventhal and reflects the mid-19th century beginnings of the village.
Blumberg soon provided support for outlying farmers as well, particularly with its flour mill. There were also periodic gold finds in the area, and this helped establish Blumberg as a supply centre. Such factors helped Birdwood become an influential township in the Upper Torrens region. First in line for the visitor is the National Motor Museum. From modest beginnings, simply known as Birdwood Mill Museum, its large and historically important collection of motor cars, motor cycles and commercial vehicles deserve its more commanding title of National Motor Museum.
The Blumberg Hotel managed to reverse the trend of substituting allied names for German ones during World War I. Originally (1856) a single-storey hotel known as the Napoleon Bonaparte (apparently because some early settlers had been conscripted into Napoleon's army whilst still living in Silesia), it gained large-scale extensions two decades later. This brought to its present form, a two-storey bluestone building with balcony and impressive iron lacework.
Two other hotels had by then been de-registered. One was the Bismark, whose licence only existed for a couple of years or so - it still stands as a private dwelling in the main street. Other surviving buildings began as a blacksmith, butter factory, post office, primary school and more. One of Theodore Pflaum's houses is now part of Birdwood High School. Structures still serving their original purpose include the Institute, a Catholic church and a complex with the Lutheran church at its heart. The Holy Cross Lutheran Church was built west of the main town area. Its cemetery is the earliest portion of the complex, while the Gothic Revival church was erected in 1860.
North of Birdwood, along the Mawson Trail, is the Cromer Conservation Park. During the 8km run from Birdwood to Gumeracha the Torrens begins to assert its presence as a river. The country still holds a pleasantly rural aspect with gently rounded, grassy hills. The views are park-like, often with a canopy of towering river red gums, vineyards have been established in recent years. At times the River Torrens provides a delightful vision; the stream is broader and more open with its water tumbling over stones and little boulders like mini rapids.
John Dunn started Bridgewater, laying out the township in 1859. His Bridgewater Mill is now the town's focal point for visitors, a towering stone building with a massive water wheel still turning gently after more than 130 years. These days it operates as a winery - Croser's Petaluma - and restaurant. When Dunn first opened the mill it was filled on weekdays with workers and on Sundays with a church congregation, for Dunn allowed its use by the Bible Christians. They sat on bags of wheat, the unbecoming nature of which may have contributed to the building of a proper chapel later the same year. Solid building that it is, the former church now serves as a private home.
The town winds through a gully, hemmed in by steep wooded hills. It is worth finding a parking spot and wandering at leisure along this attractive and surprisingly busy thoroughfare. On the outskirts of Bridgewater, Kain Avenue leads to Old Mount Barker Road. Shortly after there is a Y-junction with Old Mount Barker road bearing right and soon petering out. The left fork is also a 'no through road' leading to Arbury Park, formerly the Downer family property. Bushland spanning Cox Creek at the Y-junction has been made into the Deanery Reserve. In this spot stood the Rural Deanery as the area's first inn.
BRADBURY AND LONGWOOD
You won't find bustling townships here. Developed from the needs of the blockers, they were no more than small gatherings of facilities and services, and most of those have declined since transportation improved and the likes of Mylor and Stirling were but a few minutes drive away. Longwood began when two brothers named Colbey opened a general store on land Edward Colbey had purchased in 1884. The property, named Longwood Glen, found an unexpected bonus through the arrival of the blockers.
'Longwood Glen' has a suitably rural ring for such a spot, but it is recorded that the name comes from 'Napoleon's house of exile in St Helena', where 'the father of the Colbey brothers had associations'. Longwood is barely a mile from where the emperor was interred in 1821 on this rocky South Atlantic outpost. The Colbey links with the island remain a mystery. Back in the Mount Lofty Ranges, Longwood store, in time, added a post office. An Institute was built after the turn of the century.
Bradbury began when a post office opened in 1920. It has retained a thinly populated, rural atmosphere with no true hub of settlement. In time some of the area's properties were annexed because sweeping country to the east became part of the catchment area for the Mount Bold Reservoir. Between Bradbury and Scott Creek Conservation Park this catchment area, clothed with native forest as it dips towards the Onkaparinga River, provides an impressive sight.
Early on, gold was discovered by the Onkaparinga near the present site of Bradbury. Shallow shafts yielded 'a good quantity' of gold, which in places had native copper associated with it. There was a rush to the spot, which was called Bigg's Flat, providing support for Mylor's predecessor, the little community of Rockford.
One of the blockers who later settled in the area, William Nicholls, was possibly inspired by that episode for he searched diligently for minerals. Some finds were of commercial value and included clay, kaolinised sandstone and silicates. They provide minerals for pottery, paper manufacture, pigments, glass and more. A pottery operated at Longwood Gully during the early decades of the century, while the silicates for glass manufacture have proved important for the district.
While the district had its share of rural settlers by the 1850s, Carey Gully was in steep and difficult country and never developed to the same extent as the other towns. Its name first appeared in an 1851 report as 'Paddy Carey's Gully', and gradually the settlement grew. By the mid-1860s it boasted 'a post office, three chapels, two stores and a population of about 60'. As you reach the settlement from Rangeview Road you will pass an attractive dwelling which clearly had its origins as a church; it was the Forest Road Bible Church, built in 1864.
In the early years this scattered little community was known as Sixth Creek and gained its present identity reputedly because it was the first area in South Australia to cultivate cherry orchards. Crops, vegetables and fruit orchards existed from around the 1860s. From the Marble Hill road, Cherryville's little cluster of homes and outbuildings nestle deep in the creek valley, surrounded by a broad landscape of hills. Most people will be content with this view; those who want a closer look can take the steep hill down to the valley. The community possessed a school, Baptist Church and post office at different times. The 1899 stone church has become a private home whilst the former one-roomed school is now a community building.
CHAIN OF PONDS
The Chain of Ponds was orginally the valley of Miller's Creek from Kersbrook to the Prairie, Philptown was the locality at the junction.
A small settlement established by the South Australian Company was named Chain of Ponds. First settled early in the 1840s, the township was laid out after the opening of the Main North Eastern Road with the road to Kersbrook and the Barossa in the 1850s. Oliver Philp established a hotel there and from this, the town of Chain of Ponds developed. It was a small community (described in the early days as a hamlet), but played a 'stopover' role in the difficult trek across the Ranges. Named for a run of waterholes, the settlement was compulsorily acquired in the 1970's by the Government amid fears that pollution from the township would affect water in the adjacent Millbrook Reservoir. The town was then reported to include two post office buildings, institute, church, service station, a handful of cottages and the old Morning Star Hotel. Little more than a cemetery exists as a reminder of Chain of Ponds, though it appears on maps as a navigation point. The road then crosses an arm of the Millbrook Reservoir, which was built early last century. Much of Millbrook township was swallowed up by the reservoir.
A long winding climb up the once notorious Breakneck Hill still passes through the towering rock cutting which was the pride of the district when it was laboriously created following the gazettal of the 'North Eastern Road' in 1854. In fact the creation of this road was regarded as such a feat that its completion was marked by a progressive opening ceremony - Breakneck Cutting, the Inglewood Bridge (also still in use) and a bridge at Chain of Ponds were all declared open on the same day. A procession of 30 coaches, 60 horse riders and numerous pedestrians moved from one feature to the next in a day of celebration.
Charleston is a good example of the contrasting settlements developed by the British and German pioneers. The Dunn and Newman families were the dominant settlers, both hailing from south-west England. Charles Newman was a classic 'yeoman farmer' from Somerset who came to these headwater regions of the Onkaparinga to look after the South Australian Company's land.
Later the first of the Devonshire Dunn family arrived; others followed, including John Dunn, who in time built one of the best-known milling companies in the colony. The pace of life in the 19th century rural Somerset and Devon was 'pedestrian' - a pattern of unhurried endeavour with little interest in major expansion or new technology. When a journalist wrote of Charleston, decades after its creation, that it was 'a very slow place indeed', he was unwittingly reflecting the heritage of the people who founded it.
They adhered to an English-style existence - homes constructed with stone and cob (a clay/straw mix) and thatch, which the families had used for centuries, and there was no concession to Australia's climate. The Dunns and Newmans were the district's figureheads and most activity radiated from them - how different from the communal style of the German settlers, where early families were largely on the same level with their smallholdings.
Charles Newman's home, "Blackford" was built of Carey Gully stone in 1855. The Dunn property "Gumbank" - the 1843 homestead and farm complex, much of it built in traditional Devon style - is still standing. Both are along Newman Road and the rather severe façade of "Blackford", in particular, is easily spotted during the drive to Charleston Conservation Park. A cluster of homes, barns, outbuildings and the like around Charleston possess enough 19th century remnants to make this little-known hamlet an interesting spot. The few businesses here include native timber furniture by Charleston Woodcraft, while the hotel provides a more Australian style of country architecture.
In the heart of this countryside is a small community where the amount of habitable land hardly seems enough for a township. First in the district was William Kelly, from the Isle of Man. Together with his wife he reached South Australia in 1838 and within a few months was squatting at Cudlee Creek. They named their property 'Sulby Glen' from their home across the world. 'The location seems to have been chosen,' says a district history, 'for its likeness in many ways to the old Glen.' Sulby Glen typified what Cudlee Creek would become: '… well-known for cheese-making. Quite a lot of wheat was grown; fruit trees were planted and a lot of potatoes marketed.' Probably Kelly's letters back home were instrumental in more Manx Kellys later becoming pioneers of the Yankalilla district.
Another pioneer family was that of George Hannaford, among the first South Australians to grow apples commercially. His son Stephen expanded the business and was reputedly the first colonist to export apples - each wrapped in newspaper, packed in kerosene cases, sent to Port Adelaide by horse transport and then shipped to England as deck cargo. To put it mildly, getting apples to England in good condition in such crude conditions was remarkable.
By 1909 he was using an Albion truck for journeys to Adelaide's East End Market, causing all sorts of consternation among people unaccustomed to the internal combustion engine (and, no doubt, amazement for others in negotiating this rugged country just six years after motor vehicles first went on sale in the State). There are more tales than those for people inclined to dig into the district's past. Cudlee Creek is in two distinct parts. One, at the junction with the Lobethal road, possesses some of the orchards for which the district is renowned and is near the confluence of the Torrens and Cudlee Creek (from an Aboriginal word for 'dingo river').
The most prominent building is the cold store, built for a fruitgrowers' co-operative in the 1920s. Next door is a more mellow building, the 19th century Old Creamery and Post Office. It began as a branch of the Gumeracha Butter Factory and later became a cheese factory. The growth of the fruit industry forced dairy farmers from the area, and this factory later reopened as Cudlee Creek's general store and post office. Also in this part of the settlement is an Uniting Church, built for Methodists in 1882. The second portion of Cudlee Creek contains a deli, caravan park, picnic grounds, Cudlee Creek Restaurant and Gorge Wildlife Park. The wildlife park - among Australia's largest privately-owned collections - has operated for some 30 years and has species ranging from big cats to kangaroos and koalas. Exotic species like pumas and ringtail lemurs add a pleasing dimension to the Hills sanctuary, though the balance favours Australian wildlife.
Not all the creatures arrived in the sort of way you might expect. A contented gannet, far from its natural ocean habitat, came as a disoriented 'rescue' from Morphettville Racecourse! And you can't miss the flock of white ibis for they congregate everywhere; far from being 'exhibits', they form a wild flock which has simply adopted the park and raids the food supplies of the inmates. The entrance to the wildlife park is along a side road (near the river bridge) which continues for less than two kilometres and ends at Prairie - virtually an extension of Cudlee Creek and a delightful landscape of rolling hill country, orchards and sheep grazing. If nothing else, this little run demonstrates how the Cudlee Creek area, seemingly so hemmed in by steep hills, supported extensive rural industries.
CRAFERS WEST / EAGLE-ON-THE-HILL
A stopping point for travellers since 1853, Eagle-on-the Hill Hotel was originally known as Anderson's Inn, after its first proprietor. When Adelaide publican Abraham Fordham took it over he renamed it the Eagle Inn, and in time it became Eagle-on-the Hill. The popular explanation of the name is that Fordham captured a wedge-tailed eagle and cadged it in front of the hotel. The real story derives either from the promising nearby Eagle silver-lead mine or from a property named Eagle's Nest, owned by a former Royal Navy officer, Captain Homersham.
Having gained its somewhat romantic name, the hotel then probably gained its eagle on the verandah. After the bird escaped, when a bushfire destroyed the building in 1889, its image was perpetuated with a stone bird atop the replacement building. This hotel was destroyed in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires. The eagle survived and now enjoys pride of place on a plinth in front of the new hotel. Apart from its famous bird of prey, the hotel had the distinction, in 1956, of opening South Australia's first motel accommodation.
A number of shadows drift across the origins of Crafers. It was at the heart of the Tiers, the haunt of Tiersmen and woodcutters who lived behind Mount Lofty. Since many tiersmen were escaped convicts, or had other reasons to drift from the limelight, Crafers was host to a motley crew. There was, too, a bit of a shadow about the man who started it all, David Crafer. Was he an ex-convict himself? There were rumours about it. Crafer had reached Adelaide during 1838 and became a timber merchant and licensed victualler. By the end of the year he and his wife were in the Tiers, running the Stringy-bark Hotel. Soon renamed the Sawyers Arms, it inevitably became better known as Crafer's Inn.
Just as inevitably, a settlement grew around it, the people presumably watching with interest the comings and goings at the Inn. In 1840 three men who had wrought havoc around Gawler gravitated to Crafer's Inn and demanded endless free drinks. After a time Mount Barker settler John Bull arrived and was promptly bailed up, joining Mrs Crafer and the ostler. The place was pandemonium, with the bushrangers treating a houseful of tiersmen to whatever grog they fancied. Bull managed to escape and fled towards Adelaide in search of the police. When the troopers arrived, instead of facing the fury of three armed and desperate men, they found two hopeless drunks. The third man, James Fox, had escaped but was captured later.
The two who wrote the script for their own capture were George Hughes and Henry Curran; from their litany of crimes, 'attempted murder' sealed their fate with a death sentence and they were hanged at Adelaide Gaol. That drama was a significant step in ridding the Adelaide Hills of its 'badlands' image. Aware of his Inn's notoriety, Crafer was anxious to improve things and built a very different hotel beside the new alignment of the Mount Barker Road. He called it the Norfolk Arms; it was as big as The Sawyers Arms was small, as grandiose as the other was simple.
Crafer reportedly announced that the Norfolk Arms was for 'respectable' people and the Sawyers Arms for the Tiersmen - and if the latter turned up at the Norfolk Arms he would take to them with a whip. Shortly afterwards he returned to Adelaide, his colourful sojourn in the Tiers leaving a permanent mark on the map with the township of Crafers. The nature of its early days influenced a groundswell of religious growth and efforts by the temperance movement, with Crafers becoming a 'preaching place' by the early 1840s. The Primitive Methodists built a chapel in the early 1860s. Not long afterwards the Anglican Church of the Epiphany was opened for worship. Education soon came and an Institute was functioning before 1870 - Crafers was well on the way to scrubbing out its murky origins.
The Mount Lofty Hotel opened in the 1850s, in opposition to the Norfolk Arms, but was destroyed by fire after a couple of years. Around 1880 the present Crafers Inn was built. It matched the style and quality of other hotels built during this fruitful period - large, solid, square two-storey stone structures, typically with an ornate balcony graced with iron lacework. The Norfolk Arms next door, dwarfed by the new structure, burnt down in the 1920s. Crafers today is a typical Hills rural township, a bustling community which supports many Adelaide commuters who enjoy the space and relaxed nature of the Hills, and with more heritage than has been described here.
There is a road sign for Castambul, but little to see at this old settlement. Batchelor Road and Cork Screw Road head away from the river and one or two properties are along them, leading towards Montacute Heights. Australia's first payable gold mine, the Victoria, was near Batchelor Road. Originally, Castambul was a property owned by Price Maurice; on Batchelor Road is an 1856 cottage which became its head-station.
Along with his Fourth Creek station, Maurice used Castambul to breed Angora goats. The 'exotic wool' trade in South Australia began in 1856 when John Haigh imported South American alpacas (similar to small llamas) and Western Asian angora goats, which he bred near Port Lincoln. They were apparently supplied by his uncle, Sir Titus Salt, a Yorkshire woollen merchant who manufactured angora wool. Price Maurice purchased Haigh's entire flock of angoras, while Sir Thomas Elder bought the alpacas. Maurice, impressed with their potential, sent to Turkey for additional animals. He named his Sixth Creek property Castambul after the district in Turkey from which they came. The main town there is now known as Kastamonu, a short distance from the Black Sea coast. In the other direction lies Ankara, the Turkish capital, whose earlier name was Angora.
Early Forest Range was closely bound up with gold seekers. Activity along Stony Creek in 1854 spread further afield in what became known as the Forest Range and Forest Glen goldfields. The Forest Range fields yielded some 6000 ounces - including one nugget of 48 ounces, and South Australia didn't produce too many of that magnitude. Through all of this the usual industries continued - timber cutting, fruit and vegetable growing. In the earliest days the region was known as of Stringybark Forest, or The New Tiers. The name Stony Creek features prominently in early reports. However, eventually the region was named Forest Range which included the area that is now known as Lenswood (until 1917).
Among the earliest settlers was Caleb Biggs who, with his brother Joseph, began timber cutting in the 1850s. Biggs was responsible for the most substantial building along the main road, a large single-storey building whose first portion was probably Biggs' home and wine shop around 1870. By the early 1880s it had been extended and was the Forest Range Hotel until sold to Pike's Brewery at Oakbank. They kept it going until 1938 and it is now a private home.
Forest Range and Lenswood, only some 3km from each other, concentrated on fruit growing, with apples as the prime product. The area is now the State's leading apple growing district and features strongly with pear, cherry and wine-grape growing. Early this century the Forest Range Fruitgrowers' Co-operative Society was formed, boosted when land held for many years by a gold mining company was sold off in small allotments, mostly to fruitgrowers. The Forest Range packing shed operated until about 1950, when its operation was absorbed into the Lenswood Cold Store. A number of private packing sheds in Forest Range support the local industry.
Known as North Gumeracha in the early days, and more as a district than a township.
This is one of the region's more curious settlements, for it is only some 3km from Gumeracha and so would hardly be expected to have developed to the extent that it did. It grew initially at the hands of a blacksmith, Alexander Forest, who laid out the town in the late 1850s. Considering Gumeracha was just down the road, it mushroomed astonishingly - post office, store, wine shop, wheelwright, blacksmith, butcher, school and more. The community reached its peak in the 1880s, when it was the closest township to the Watts Gully goldfield, an 1884 discovery which promised rich pickings - one of its many nuggets, weighing more than 14 ounces, was worthy of purchase by the Government, whilst nuggetts up to 30 ounces were found.
Today, Forreston's commercial aspect is no more. The community straddles the main road and is quite extensive, though scattered. There is a timeless character, homes and satellite buildings comprising a blend of old and new. One gable-ended house with rendered stone walls on the main road dates from the 1850s and was at first Alexander Forrest's blacksmith shop; later he converted it to a home. Another home began life in the 1860s as a post office and there are more Victorian reflections in the district.
GUMERACHA and KENTON VALLEY
The South Australian Company took up a parcel of land in 1839, based on the 'Sources of the River Torrens' Special Survey. The settlements of Gumeracha, Kenton Valley and Forreston all developed on it. Well before Gumeracha was laid out, the Company established a district headquarters and opened it up for sheep grazing. The station was called Timnath and was originally managed by William Beavis Randell. After a short time Randell set up business on his own account and became a pivotal figure in Gumeracha's development.
He built for himself and his large family a home which he named Kenton Park, after his home town in Devon. This estate later gave its name to the small community of Kenton Valley, along the Gumeracha-Lobethal road. There was also a need to house his workforce and their families. Six cottages were built from local bluestone, another for those who worked his dairy farms, and a further one for the mill manager (who, for years, was Randell's son John).
The Randells were Baptists and at first gatherings were held at Kenton Park. When numbers became too large Randell donated land and funds for a church. Salem Baptist Church was built in 1846 and is the oldest Baptist church still in use in South Australia. Enlargements made over the years don't hide the somewhat austere original. Baptism for this denomination involves total immersion of the body. At Salem Church they achieved this across the road, where a permanent pool of clear water was fed by a spring. The congregation planted a ring of 14 Oak trees around it. Today the spring has dried up and the ground levelled, but the ring of oaks - tall and stout trees - still stand.
The Torrens waterhole around which the South Australian Company's enterprise centred was called by the Aborigines 'Umeracha'. How the 'G' came to be added remains a mystery, but as early as 1841 the Company used the spelling Gummaraka. A formal town began in 1860, predictably at the hands of William Beavis Randell. It became the regional centre and these days supports the district council. The busy main street reflects the presence of commercial businesses on an unexpected scale. Its heritage is scattered throughout: along Victoria Street, close to Kenton Creek, is the core of old Gumeracha - Randell's Mill (now a private residence), the mill manager's house and mill workers' cottages, Salem Baptist Church and the Ring of Oaks, as well as Gumeracha's first police station and courthouse.
Also still standing are the two homesteads which so influenced Gumeracha's development. There is an irony in the fact that William Randell and the South Australian Company parted company at Gumeracha, for now his home and the Company's are separated by the entire township. Randell's Kenton Park is on the Birdwood side, while the Company's original home, Ludlow House (a rare tangible reminder of this all-powerful firm) is a kilometre or two on the Adelaide side. Spend a little time relaxing at Gumeracha's major tourist attraction - the Toy Factory and Big Rocking Horse, with wooden toys, souvenirs, Australian art, coffee house, picnic gardens and a native flora park with more than 4000 Australian trees and shrubs.
Gumeracha was also the birthplace of steam navigation on the River Murray when W.B. Randell's son William Richard Randell carted the materials for his steam boat Mary Ann from Gumeracha to Mannum.
The subdivision of Heathfield, which officially occurred only in 1926, resulted from a westerly drift of public facilities from the locality known as Aldgate Valley (where Aldgate Creek winds from Aldgate to Mylor). In this district - Shanks Road - is a little stone building opened in 1889 as the Church of Christ, built on land donated by a former American whaler who settled in the Aldgate Valley in the 1860s. The church doubled as a school, and remained so for almost a decade until a new school building (still used as Heathfield Primary School) was erected by the Longwood road.
The main development of Heathfield occurred further still to the north-west - principally post-war development with a store, post office and garage, and a recreation area with an oval. In the 1960s a new high school was built. Heathfield is thus a small but important community, the school as its centrepiece, one or two services like a deli and garage - and all stemming from the religious philanthropy of an American whaler several kilometres away.
HUMBUG SCRUB WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
A portion of wild country - and exceptionally remote in the early days - was utilised during the mid-1840s by squatters Paddy and Mary Gavan. Mary would occasionally come to town for supplies and was forever asked 'how she liked living in that desolate place'. Mary Gavan's reply was invariably 'I call it a humbug'. From this discontented source was coined a name which has stuck to the present day.
Humbug Scrub Wildlife Sanctuary has existed for more than 90 years and bites into the eastern flank of Parra Wirra Recreation Park. Its main object is the protection of native flora and fauna, especially endangered species. It is open to the public on weekdays 12 to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday 11 to 5pm. There is an entrance fee of $3 for adults and $1 for children. Family pass includes two adults and two children $7 and a yearly family pass is $20. Hamlins Gully, which passes through Humbug Scrub, and Mary Gully witnessed some of the area's gold fever.
UPPER AND LOWER HERMITAGE
Upper Hermitage is a rural residential district, where the signs of habitation are low-key. Just to the east lies Lower Hermitage, and between them they occupy some of the land sections originally purchased by a man whose name is now little known, Thomas Williams. Why he isn't better remembered is a mystery, for in his day he was a man of exceptional influence. He was a leading banker, the High Sheriff of Northhamptonshire and a major shareholder in the South Australian Company. On his arrival here he was promptly installed as one of the initial members of the Legislative Council.
Jointly with Governor Gawler and John Barton Hack, he purchased portions of the Little Para Special Survey, and was the only one of the three to actually settle there. A biographer made the bold claims that 'he was the first gentleman to make a home in the country, formed the first garden and vineyard and one of the first sheep and dairy stations.' This all occurred from 1839 on the Hills land where he called his home "The Hermitage". After some years the mainly wood homestead burnt to the ground. By then Williams had returned to England and it was left to his daughter to administer the estate. Bit by bit it was cut up and sold and in time became Upper and Lower Hermitage.
INGLEWOOD AND HOUGHTON
Some 7km beyond Chain of Ponds is the old village of Inglewood. Houghton already existed along an earlier road, and its people banked on the new main line of road supporting their future. They were, to put it mildly, upset to discover that the new road would bypass Houghton, taking a course considered to be 'more advantageous' to travellers. Out of this came Inglewood, initially as an hotel constructed in 1858 at the hands of Firman Deacon, who could see advantage in the midst of Houghton's adversity.
When the hotel was close to completion, Deacon offered his builders five gallons of beer to provide a suitable name for it. Overnight the men, deliberated, finally agreeing on Inglewood, a name emanating from the north of England. By the time Deacon arrived the next day the name Inglewood Inn had been painted on a board opposite the bar. Some settlers, a store or two and the like came on the scene and that is as large as Inglewood grew. Today the historic inn is still its focal point, with one or two supporting businesses - fresh vegetables, a general store, pottery and more keeping the little community busy.
About a kilometre beyond Inglewood is the road signposted to Houghton (officially the start of the Lower North East Road). Ironically, as the 'displaced village', Houghton is a more substantial settlement than its neighbour. The township was laid out in 1841 by land agent and auctioneer John Richardson, on part of his land. His own mixed farming property was named Houghton Lodge, which is presumed to have been named after one of the English towns of that name.
During the 1840s Houghton was the hub of the district. It gained a simple stone Union Chapel serving several denominations, the Travellers' Rest Hotel, blacksmith, school, dwellings and other trappings of civilisation, together with a reserve which is now Houghton Common. It would be hard to find a more attractive and well-kept village than Houghton. It lies in something of a hollow to the triangular Houghton Common, whose centrepiece is a prominent war memorial. An impressive survivor from the 19th century is the two-storey home "Bristol House" on Houghton Hollow Road, named in the 1870s when purchased by a woman who hailed from Bristol in England. It was, though, built much earlier by Houghton's first butcher, William Reeds, who used it as both residence and shop - hard to believe now among its leafy surrounds.
Beyond Houghton, some north-south roads are worth exploring - Range Road North, Lower Hermitage Road and Range Road South among them. Lower Hermitage was for many years the home of Glen Ewin jams. At present a wine storage business is carried on at the old McEwin property, and there is also Tubbies Australia, makers of oak casks, red gum furniture and the like. The Main North East Road makes its final meander around the hills before descending the western scarp to Tea Tree Gully. The lower portion of the descent passes, on the left, the Anstey Hill Recreation Park, while to the right in the shadow of the lower gully is Newman's Nursery.
Inverbrackie - home of the Woodside Army Camp - pre-dates Woodside, having been settled by Scottish Migrants only a handful of years after Proclamation. Its name recalls the spot in northern Scotland from which pioneer settler Dr William Innes hailed. Inverbrackie grew as a private subdivision but Woodside was soon the dominant community. One survivor from those first years is the Inverbrackie Hotel (or Payne's Inn, as it was known), built of stone in 1846 beside the Nairne road and now a private dwelling. During its short licensed career, a meeting of the Scottish migrants produced plans for a Presbyterian church. Known as the Inverbrackie Caledonian Church, it took shape, also beside the Nairne road, in 1849.
After a few decades the church had become too small and the congregation shifted to a larger one in Woodside. It was allowed to deteriorate and is now a creeper-covered ruin. The adjacent cemetery contains the gravestones of early Scottish settlers, including members of Oakbank's Johnston family. The remains of the church complex are close to the intersection of Nairne Road and Pfeiffer Road, while the former hotel is a few hundred metres closer to Woodside along Nairne Road.
IRONBANK AND UPPER STURT
One of the smallest of the district's hamlet settlements, Ironbank was settled as early as any of the others, but was only subdivided in the 1960s. Facilities like a Methodist Church and school provided community services. Ironstone was discovered near the banks of the Sturt River in the 1850s and was quarried as flux for the smelting works - hence the name Ironbank. Deep in the Sturt River valley, the district possesses fine forested country.
Across the river a steep climb leads to Upper Sturt. Appropriately, the Aboriginal name for this area was Warriparri - 'creek fringed with trees'. It was laid out as a Hills settlement in 1920 but had a thinly-spread rural population long before that. As with Ironbank there were one or two public facilities - a primary school by the 1870s, for instance, and a War Memorial Hall - but with commercial services as close as Belair there was no need for major development.
Sir Josiah Symon - lawyer, politician and co-framer of the Australian Constitution - has been described as 'a classic nouveau riche' whose egocentricity made him less than popular. He built a mansion at Upper Sturt which he called "Manoah", and the kind of attention and money he lavished on it can be judged from the fact that he engaged Hans Heysen to decorate the ceilings. It is now a religious retreat centre.
Steep hillsides which form so much of this part of the Ranges give way here to more gentle, park-like slopes. Small wonder, then, that settlers had discovered this favoured country by the late 1830s and established farms here. John Bowden arrived in 1841. He had managed the South Australian Company's dairy farm at Hackney, then bought an 80 acre section in the hills, built a home and named it "Kersbrook" after the Cornish farm where he was born. By 1844, Bowden was recorded as having '800 sheep, 62 cattle, one horse, 13 pigs, 16 acres of wheat, eight acres of barley, plots of oats, maize and potatoes and a fruit garden'. By this time he had other interests as well, not least the Yorke Peninsula sheep station "Penton Vale".
Kersbrook always remained his home base, and he died here in 1877. A stone and timber frame barn which he built in the 1840s can be seen in Scott Street, a fine reminder of Kersbrook's origins. The creation of a settlement came from William Carman, a blacksmith who had found work at the Enterprise copper mine near Williamstown. In 1851 he built the Wheat Sheaf Inn, a blacksmith shop and wheelwright beside the increasingly busy road to the Barossa. It attracted a number of settlers; a private school was started and by 1858 Carman had some of his land to form a town.
This he had called "Maidstone", after his Kentish birthplace, and though the locals preferred the identity of Kersbrook, they had to wait until 1917 for an official name change. The district became a noted agricultural area, especially for fruit. One orchardist was quoted as having at Kersbrook the largest fruit-growing business in Australia. These days it is a quiet rural town with enough glimpses of the past to tell something of its history. Carman's Wheat Sheaf Inn is still there, though camouflaged as a private residence in Scott Street; some early cottages and outbuildings, the Church of Christ from the 1860s all reflect Victorian Kersbrook.
South from Kersbrook, a run of some 5km down the valley brings you to the Chain of Ponds junction with Main North East Road.
Lenswood is the youngest township in the Adelaide hills, given its name in 1917 upon the opening of its post office. The name was derived from the French coal mining town of Lens and marks the contribution of the region to the WWI battlefields of France, although Australians are not known to have fought in the Battle of Lens. Despite its claim to youth, Lenswood’s settlement hails back to South Australia’s colonial settlement. Then known simply as a part of Stringybark Forest, or The New Tiers, the development of the adjoining Forest Range district was the forge of Lenswood’s development from its earliest days. The region’s Stringybark timbers and gold, discovered at Stony Creek, Forest Range, in 1854, were a magnet to the district.
The area that was to become known as the Lenswood Valley was called Mitchell’s Flat initially, after Thomas Neilson Mitchell, who made the first land purchase of the district in June 1850. Sections of land had been offered for sale from £1 an acre. By the late 1850s, the name Mitchell’s Flat had been superseded by Abbotts Flat at its northern end and German Swamp and Wash Creek in the southern end. By 1866, the area that is today the hub of the township was referred to as Jerry’s Flat.
Nearly all sections of land had been sold by 1865. Eucalypt forests were felled and the hilly and undulating tracts of land transformed into vegetable gardens and orchards by forebears of many of today’s townsfolk. Families grew and a school was opened at Jerry’s Flat in 1869 with 47 enrolments. The wooden slab structure remained the school building for some years, which church services being conducted in Sundays. An early settler, John Brock Fry, was appointed as teacher in 1871 and made a significant contribution to education over 30 years and has a large number of descendents still living in the region.
Sitting on land formerly owned by J.B. Fry, at Jerry’s Flat, the Lenswood Co-operative Cold Store is the largest apple storage facility in South Australia. Founded in 1933 and opened in 1934 the co-operative stakes a claim to operating some of the most modern and technically advanced purpose-built apple handling facilities in Australia. It sits in the heart of Lenswood's geography and history and is the heart of the local industry.
Lobethal's origin lay with passengers from the sailing vessel Skjold. After landing at Port Adelaide they headed temporarily for existing German communities. A shepherd alerted the Hahndorf contingent to good land near the upper reaches of the Onkaparinga, and 18 families decided to move there. Their guide and mentor, Pastor Fritzsche, came too, with his wife and mother-in-law (a woman whose financial help for cash-strapped migrants was vital to the town's early development). The village was fashioned in the same way as Bethany and Langmeil - as a 'hufendorf'. The main street became Mill Road, and while the town may have developed out of recognition, elements of the hufendorf layout remain.
Industry came in 1850 with FW Kleinschmidt's brewery. It closed after about two decades when Kleinschmidt decided to concentrate on Hop growing - this subsequently became one of Lobethal's prime products. The vacated brewery building then housed the Lobethal Tweed Factory - this eventually became the Onkaparinga Woollen Company, employing hundreds of local people until its closure a few years ago. Onkaparinga textile products were widely known around Australia. The wool company began at Hahndorf with a settler named Kramm, whose 'factory' comprised hand looms in a mud hut with thatched roof. Two Lobethal brothers named Kumnick persuaded him to move to the disused brewery building in Lobethal.
By 1875 the business had grown so much that larger premises were needed. The foundation stone of the new building, was laid by Marie Sudholz, whose father, JW Sudholz, was a director of the new company and, at Gilles Plains, the colony's largest hay producer (hence Sudholz Road). In 1894 one of CW Kumnick's sons, Ewald, took over his father's carpentry business and promptly introduced an industry hardly expected from the son of a German settler; he converted a disused church, Zum Krueze Christi, to make cricket bats from locally grown willow. In a short time he was able to claim the patronage of 'nearly all the country clubs and a large number of those in the city, while customers in other colonies are also supplied'. In 1931, when money was hardly being tossed about, the factory produced 3000 bats, and the company continued until about 1950.
Other businesses over the years included fruit drying and brickmaking. And it beat Adelaide by almost half a century in staging an Australian Grand Prix race - they were first held in the 1930s, before Formula 1 existed. Lobethal suffered an enforced name change in 1917 ('Lobethal', from the Old Testament, translates as 'Valley of Praise'). Tweedvale, honouring the town's major industry, was the new name but it didn't have quite the same ring. Lobethal wasn't forgotten, and it reverted to its original name in 1935. The town is not as overtly Germanic as Hahndorf and Tanunda, but the influence is there. Apart from hints of hufendorf along Mill Road, the town boasts the oldest Lutheran church in Australia - St John's, built in 1845.
Satellite buildings around the church have also survived, in particular a single room cottage which became the first Lutheran theological seminary. By 1962 this half-timbered building had been enclosed within a new building and became the centrepiece of the Lobethal Archives and Historical Museum (open by appointment). Its displays reflect well the diverse history of the district and it has as one of its prize possessions the 1641 Bible which belonged to Pastor Fritzsche.
The major tourist attraction has nothing historical or Germanic about it - unless you count a visual interpretation of some of Grimm's fairy tales. Fairyland Village and Fauna Park contains animated fairy tales in an attractive setting, native animals, light lunches and Devonshire teas, barbecue and picnic facilities. An annual tradition sees the people of Lobethal providing a display of Christmas lights which brings Adelaide people in droves during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Bushland Park is a joint venture between St John Ambulance Auxiliary and the former Onkaparinga District Council now Adelaide Hills Council. The Park was originally an E&WS reserve with two reservoirs which provided the town's water.
There are facilities for fairly large-scale groups; day visitors can enjoy the country, with its stringybark, blue gums and wildlife. There is a camping area and canoeing, while the reservoirs contain redfin and yabbies.
MONTACUTE and MONTACUTE HEIGHTS
Copper was found here in 1843 by a man seeking a lost steer. Rich green copper oxide coated a rock outcrop, and searches revealed more of the same. A mine was established by a syndicate and they named it Montacute, after a little town in Somerset. This was at the behest of the Hon John Baker of Morialta, the syndicate member who bid for the land at auction. Baker's birthplace is recorded as 'near Ilminster', which is close to Montacute. The venture developed well enough until, like so many mining concerns, it ground to a halt when the Victorian gold rush deprived it of workers. Over a kilometre to the north, a shaft was being sunk in 1846 when a vein of gold was discovered. This, the Victoria Mine, became Australia's first commercially-exploited gold deposit.
There is precious little of this early mineral excitement left to see - the odd shaft and relics are scattered about but not in public areas. The one substantial reminder is a stone cottage on Cork Screw Road: the earliest portion was built in 1853 as the mine captain's residence. There was also on Cork Screw Road a curious remnant of another industry - a water wheel which operated one of Australia's few water-powered sawmills. Its operation was not lengthy as it was set up to cut posts and rails for the Gorge Road construction around the time of World War I. It is beside Sixth Creek where the steep hillsides rear skywards in the background.
Cork Screw Road provides a quite stunning descent as an alternative to Montacute Road, with precipitous forested slopes and deep gullies. It comes out at Gorge Road, Castambul. The mines of Montacute stimulated settlement, but the land generally being steep and difficult to cultivate, much of the area was divided into sizeable estates. Smaller blocks generally clustered along gullies and creeklines - Fifth Creek and its tributaries. In this fashion Montacute grew with a handful of facilities at its heart. Within that hub area the Fifth Creek orchardists, market gardeners and farmers formed a village during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A couple of churches, store and post office, school and Institute were the major constructions. St Paul's Anglican Church, erected in the 1880s, was largely rebuilt after being damaged by the 1955 bushfires which destroyed Marble Hill.
Many of the old buildings are still standing, though some no longer serve their original purpose. Probably the oldest surviving public building (now privately owned) is the simple stone Wesleyan Chapel, dating from 1862, while a cottage on Montacute Road was most likely built when the area first opened up in the 1840s.
Before the days of air-conditioning the lucky people retreated into the Adelaide Hills in January and February, relishing every puff of cooler air when the plains were shimmering in 40 degree heat.
A summer cottage for the Governor was first established in Belair National Park, an arrangement which lasted until the 1870s, when the colony was enjoying a purple patch of economic wellbeing. An area which had seen little development was earmarked as the site for a Vice-Regal summer residence more in keeping with the Governor's role. Marble Hill was built during 1879 and 1880, named for the presence of marble nearby. The daughter of William Giles, one-time manager of the South Australia Company, reputedly provided the name when Governor Jervois was dining with her. The Governor invited her to christen his new home. She remarked that specimens of marble had been obtained from the big hill in the locality, whereupon His Excellency said "Then we shall call it Marble Hill". Its architectural style was Victorian Gothic Revival, designed by William McMinn with the Government's Architect-in-Chief, E. J. Woods, as overseer. Marble Hill, though, was the brainchild of the Governor of the day, Lt.-Gen Sir William Jervois, and he provided an initial sketch of what he wanted.
The imposing two-storey house, with tower and spire, began to take shape and visitors came back to Adelaide with nothing but praise. Construction was blocked sandstone, some from local deposits. Three sides were verandahed. Of the 26 rooms, the largest was a drawing room 32ft. by 20ft. There were marble floors and marble mantelpieces, a staircase of Huon pine and Blackwood and roofs of slate. Location was all-important to the Jervois dream, not only the altitude to ease the heat but also unparalleled views from the square tower to the plains, the gulf, hills and valleys in all directions.
Life at Marble Hill
In the nature of Vice-Regal appointments, Governors came and went, each bringing his own personality to the summer home. There were some who loved it and others that hated it. Lord and Lady Kintore were enthusiastic enough to greatly develop the gardens. Sir George Le Hunte became popular with the locals for providing picnic teas in the grounds. Another Governor organised cricket matches on Ashton Oval, during one of which former Australian captain Clem Hill was reported to have 'hit a ball from Ashton to Deep Creek'. If that sounds a might exaggerated, even in his retirement Hill was something of a legend in Adelaide (so was his father, John Hill, who founded that great rival to Cobb & Co., Hills Stage-coaches).
A cricketing saga of a different kind occurred in 1912, when the touring English cricket team found itself among ashes of a kind it had not anticipated. They were invited to dine at Marble Hill on a stifling hot day when bushfires broke out and raged around the property. The cricket team 'had to drive between two walls of fire', and when they reached Marble Hill they jumped from their cars and helped save the mansion from the hungry flames. So its varied life continued, until the dawning of the day on 2 January 1955. Governor Air Vice-Marshall Sir Robert George and Lady George were in residence. The day progressed with classic bushfire weather - a temperature around 109 degrees, searing northerly winds and a dust storm. Fires broke out and spread.
A fitful wind charge brought one of them racing towards Marble Hill. In no time the home was ablaze. Lead on the tower melted and dropped onto cars parked below. The Georges and their staff worked frantically to dowse the flames: when it became clear they had no hope, they covered themselves with wet blankets and took shelter down the drive. Here they crouched helplessly and waited. The mansion burned and the spire of the tower crashed to the ground. The bushfire swept on but Marble Hill continued to burn until it was but a vast stone shell.
Forty years on
In more than four decades the ruin of Marble Hill has passed through times of hope and despair. During one period, under the National Trust, some renovation work was carried out - just enough to make Marble Hill intriguing for visitors. After the Trust withdrew, the Friends of Marble Hill was created and the ruin reopened. It is open on the second Sunday of each month.
Much of Mount Torrens' main street is almost a flashback to the 19th century. It was a district developed largely at the hands of the Dunn family. By the early 1840s a complex of buildings known as Barton Springs existed just west of the present main street - farmhouse, smithy, stables and the Cornish Arms Inn. Designed to serve the traffic to the Reedy Creek Mine near Palmer, it was augmented by traffic from a nearby copper mine. Mount Torrens proper was laid-out in 1853 - the year steam navigation began on the Murray. Its heyday was the late 19th century and by World War I its importance was diminishing. For that reason it was caught in something of a time warp, explaining why today's Mount Torrens is much as it was early in the century.
Among so many images of the past, there is an attractive little two-story house, shrouded by trees and shrubs, on the eastern side of the main street near an old stone bridge. Extended over the years, the house is believed to date from the 1840s and was once a cobbler's shop. Quite different, presenting a severe façade in the streetscape, is an old stone warehouse. There are 19th century homes and a range of business premises - a former smithy, shop, wheel-wright, coach house and more. The historic vision of Mount Torrens extends beyond the main street and rewards a quiet stroll.
Close to the junction of Aldgate Creek and the Onkaparinga River you will find, on some maps, the name Warrakilla Hill. In the 19th century Warrakilla was the name given by George Woodroffe Goyder to his home in this vicinity. As Surveyor-General for more than 30 years at a crucial period in South Australia's development, Goyder's work was of paramount importance to primary industries. It was Goyder who suggested some relatively flat ground here as a town site when service centres were needed to support the new workingmen's blocks. The town dates from 1891, proclaimed by Acting Governor Sir James Boucaut, who named it after his Cornish birthplace.
A child of the blockers movement, then, Mylor was also effectively a replacement for a little community which had informally developed on a property named Rockford. Mylor thus gained instant substance as established businesses transferred to the new location and it quickly provided supplies and services. Some settlers formed a co-operative store, while others handled anything from bread to bootmaking. A church or two and a school were soon up and running; oddly, though, there was no hotel and, in fact, there has never been one - every attempt to gain one was frowned upon by temperance-minded Methodists so that no pub ever materialised. Much heritage from Mylor's early development still stands.
There are some surrounding Park Lands and reserves, while outside the town, close to the Onkaparinga River, is the Mylor Recreation Centre. This wedge of land, bigger than the town itself, had its origins in an 1898 initiative by the Government to provide an experimental orchard to research the best fruits for the area.
Mount Lofty Summit, at 727m, was clear enough above the rest of the Ranges to be picked out by Matthew Flinders in 1802 - and he was on Kangaroo Island at the time. Thus did the loftiest peak in the Ranges get its name. Its summit has been a drawcard for people from the first days of settlement, and by 1840 a cairn and flagpole had been put in place. An obelisk built in 1885 acted as a shipping navigational aid (and more recently as an aerial one, too). A kiosk, built so that people could enjoy the views in comfort was burnt in the 1983 bushfires. Among 19th century improvements was a horse trough - if a horse had just hauled a carriage to the summit of Mount Lofty it well deserved a drink!
Many parts of the Adelaide Hills suffered terribly during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires. Among them was Mount Lofty, and since then the summit has boasted only the old obelisk and a fire watch tower. During 1996 the site was given a kiosk, bistro, viewing platforms and a walkway to Cleland Conservation Park. Not only was much of the high bushland devastated, grand old properties dating back to Victorian times were substantially destroyed. Among those restored to something like their former grandeur is Mount Lofty House. Arthur Hardy owned much of the high country and built Mount Lofty House during the 1850s as a summer residence. Apparently he enjoyed its seclusion so much that in time he lived there permanently.
Renovated now from its fire ravaged state, it offers facilities including accommodation, dining and afternoon teas. Adjoining Mount Lofty House are the Mount Lofty Botanical Gardens. In 1948 the Adelaide Botanical Gardens sought a hills location where temperate climate plants could be established. As a nucleus, land was purchased on the eastern slopes of Mount Lofty where timber had once been cut for the Broken Hill mines. Land acquisitions brought the area close to one hundred hectares, which was developed largely with the kind of exotic plants suited to these higher altitudes.
It took a quarter of a century to establish the gardens. Plants came from a wide variety of sources, including properties which faced upheaval through the construction of the South Eastern Freeway. The gardens comprise an attractive tapestry of largely European tree and shrub species, ranging from rhododendron and magnolia to camellia and conifer, and are open daily. While good walking paths are provided, the garden is predominantly hilly. Brochures are available on site.
Robert Norton was recorded as the first person to drive a team of bullocks up the horrendous final portion of Giles' Hill to Norton Summit. A wood carter for the South Australian Company, one of Norton's tasks was to bring timber to fence the West Terrace Cemetery. He was a long-time resident of the Magill area and his daughter was the first bride to be married at Magill's historic St George's Church. Norton Summit's start as a village was so modest that it is difficult to pin down a year for its genesis. Landowner Charles Giles divided some areas into smaller sections during the late 1840s and early 1850s; another report lists only a couple of homes and a store in 1868.
Settlement became more established in the 1870s. William Sutton had several buildings constructed, the most enduring of which was the still-dominant Scenic Hotel. Another landmark took shape at this time - St John's Church of England. Much of the finance and supervision came from the Baker family, who owned the Morialta property around the hill. With its octagonal bell tower, the church enjoys a commanding position on a knoll above the hotel. Bit by bit the facilities of a small township came together - stores, blacksmith, baker, butcher and a school or two among them. The timing of the town's major development matched the growth of Richard Vaughan's East End Market, which provided a boost for fruit and vegetable growers.
John Baker was a dauntless pioneer pastoralist and politician who built a home and carved a livelihood on almost inaccessible hilltops above Morialta Gorge as early as 1847. A fine 17-room home was built there. A large, recently-renovated stone winery complex (its future use undecided at this stage) is now among a few reminders, off Colonial Drive, of Morialta's grand days, when guests included the Duke of Edinburgh and the future King George V. Baker made a hilltop racetrack, and one of the horses trained there - Don Juan - won the 1873 Melbourne Cup in the fastest time recorded in the first 16 years of the race.
Morialta's days as a gracious home ended with its sale to the Protestant Federation during the 1920s, to be used as a boys' home. It is now occupied by the group Youth with a Mission. A leading fruitgrowing family from the early days - the Playfords - is still in the same business here. The third generation - Sir Thomas - was the longest-serving Premier of South Australia and a statue of him was unveiled at Norton Summit in 1996. Apart from the fine country, Norton Summit's principal interest is the historic Scenic Hotel, with its long years as the district's centre of social life. The heritage-minded will find St John's Church of interest, while the Post Office (the former Council Chambers) occupies part of a small museum of local memorabilia, including items from the orchardists so important to the region.
James Johnston's parents brought their large family to South Australia in 1839 in the largest ship seen in the colony to that time, the great East Indiaman Buckinghamshire. By 1840 they were in the Onkaparinga Valley, opening up the Oakbank district. James and his father, William, created a brewery by the riverbank - the start of a family influence which spread far beyond the valley. Obviously not short of money, it is recorded that they brought an English stonemason out to build grand homes for the two brothers who are principally remembered as the brewery's leading lights.
Both houses are still landmarks. Oakbank House was built for James and his family at the edge of the brewery complex, while Dalintober is perched above Elizabeth Street and was originally owned by Andrew Galbraith Johnston. The brewery complex is still largely intact, now selling cordials and soft drinks. Sales are available on site, so you can walk through the courtyard and savour the character of one of South Australia's most venerable drink manufacturers.
In Elizabeth Street are memories of Oakbank's second brewery. It was founded in 1885 by Henry Pike, once employed by the Johnstons as carpenter and cooper. As a hobby he made a few gallons of ale by a process learned, apparently, from his mother. From this grew Pike's Dorset Brewery, named after his native country in England. The distinctive brewery tower is a landmark and the attached building is filled with the cottage crafts of Oakbank weavers. Apart from hand-woven fabrics from wool, cotton, linen and silk, there are the mellow surroundings of Pike's Brewery, a few relics of the brewery days and photographs which help tell its story. Both breweries ceased beer production because of a virus in the yeast, the only cure for which was to shut down for some years.
In the main street is a venerable Oak tree reportedly brought as an acorn in James Johnston's pocket. The family hailed from the Oak Bank district of Glasgow, and this was a perfect way to transplant the name. There is more to see of Oakbank's absorbing past - a heritage walk leaflet is available locally. Oakbank's Easter Racing Carnival - one of the best of its type in the world - began during the 1860s. The competitive nature of South Australians and a pride in their mounts led to the first races on a patch of land provided by the Johnstons. Put on a more formal footing in 1875 with the creation of the Onkaparinga Racing Club, the following year saw the first official race. The grandstand was 'a brewery wagon owned by Johnstons, and the judge stood on an upturned butter box'.
The prospect of a steeplechase came about when the committee examined the proposed course and found that a large gum tree had fallen across it; the fallen tree promptly became one of the jumps. When it rotted away a new tree replaced what had become a symbol of the Great Eastern Steeplechase. The selected tree was left overnight, partly cut through. By morning the wind had blown it down - across a road, through telephone wires and tangled in power lines. Such is the folklore of the Oakbank Easter Race Meeting - for more than a century a sporting and social institution - and still with a log as one of the jumps.
A letter in the Adelaide Advertiser in the early 1860s referred to a settler in this area who suggested going for a walk. 'Where shall we go?' she was asked, and received the typical Londoner's reply 'Let's take a walk down Piccadilly'; from the start this was a joke in the largely uninhabited wilds of the Ranges, which were as far removed from London's frenetic life and endless lines of brick façades as you could get. Like its near neighbours, Piccadilly thrived on a mixture of its altitude and fertile soil and is still predominantly an area of market gardens and nurseries.
Many people in South Australia have good cause to remember the area's major feature, Woodhouse. Since the 1950s it has been owned by the Scout Association and is today still used regularly by many groups as a camping area. How many of those who have enjoyed a day or two at Woodhouse are aware of its story - that this venerable building took shape in 1848 and is thus among the oldest surviving grand homes outside Adelaide; that its best-known early owner was George Milner Stephen, Advocate General and Acting Governor; that its major developer was Richard (later Sir Richard) Hanson, Premier of South Australia from 1857 to 1860 and first Chancellor of the University of Adelaide?
In its early years, Woodhouse covered well over 1000 acres which included portions now forming the Mount Lofty Golf Course and Arbury Park.
Paracombe spreads on either side at the top of Torrens Hill Road. Most is to the left, but the important fruit cold store is in the other direction. The area was originally owned by John Barton Hack, but by 1840 he had sold one portion to Jacob Hagen and the other to John Richardson. Hagen provided the name Paracombe, probably deriving from the Little Para River, whose headwaters are in the vicinity. Both men placed managers on their properties and thus two men hailing from the same English country - Essex - found themselves as neighbours, modestly starting careers which were to shine later on.
One was Walter Duffield... (His) neighbour, Joseph Barritt, initially looked after the property for JB Hack in 1839 and then did the same for John Richardson. Anyone hailing from the same area as Barritt can visualise the shock to the system Paracombe must have been: breathtakingly steep hills with birds-eye views across the gorge and plains contrasted dramatically with the bleak flats of the River Blackwater and the ancient little village of Hazeleigh from which the Barritts hailed. Remembering the dank November mists and sluggish waters of his homeland, Barritt placed on record his vision of the new land. He asked the reader (presumably relatives back in Hazeleigh) to imagine 'that you can see me coming down a steep narrow ridge with six bullocks, just wide enough for the dray, with a load [of stringybark], where both sides are so steep, almost frightful to look down...'
The stringybark was for his new home, for by 1841 he had purchased a section of Richardson's land and was starting on his own. Predictably naming the house Hazeleigh, he then wrote home to ask his fiancée to join him. They were married in 1843. Hazeleigh witnessed the birth of his first son, and later the death of his wife during childbirth. After that tragedy he moved to new country in the Barossa Valley, and almost at once his son was drowned in the South Para River. Barritt re-married and soldiered on, building up his Riverside property near Lyndoch and becoming one of the colony's most respected pastoralists. The old bluestone homestead, verandahed in the classic Australian fashion, is still in use a few kilometres from Lyndoch.
Paracombe remained a sheep station past the turn of the century. Subdivided then, and with an influx of smaller landholders, the trappings of civilisation were required - school, post office, church and recreation hall, for instance. It has never grown much bigger than that, though a changing emphasis towards fruit growing led to the construction of a packing shed and then a cold store.
The town of Stirling was born at the hands of land speculator Peter Prankerd, who was also involved with sections around Callington and Kanmantoo - the silver and copper country - and many other areas. His survey for Stirling took place in 1854, a short way east of the present town centre. Prankerd was a friend of Edward Stirling and named the new township in his honour. The pastoralist Edward Stirling - best known for his partnership with Sir Thomas Elder - settled near Strathalbyn. During his years there he was also, for a time, a member of the Legislative Council.
When Parliament was sitting, he rode the round trip to Adelaide and back in the day - over 100km. Leaving at the crack of dawn, he stopped for breakfast at the Wheat Sheaf Inn (near present-day Echunga), then continued down the Mount Barker Road to Adelaide. At the end of the day's proceedings he did the reverse journey, again stopping at the Wheat Sheaf, this time for supper. Edward Stirling, then, while never a resident of the town named after him, knew the district well enough. Among the first to settle here were George Brown, his wife Cecilia and their young son. The Browns came to Adelaide in 1856 in the sailing ship Switzerland, a lesser light in the famous James Baines fleet.
Brown's first son was born on board the Switzerland, which provides half the reason why a Welsh coalminer's son was christened Israel Switzerland Brown. Their first Stirling home was 'cornsacks draped around a hollow tree'. A stone house soon took its place - reputedly the first stone dwelling in Stirling and still in existence. It has, of course, long outlived its builder - but, for all that, George Brown survived until the 1930s and the venerable age of 106.
The town's initial services were in place before the 1860s - some commercial enterprises, a chapel, school and hotel. The hotel, opened in 1859, was called the Halfway House, for this was the mid-way point between Adelaide and Mount Barker. The present Stirling Hotel replaced it after a fire in 1899. That Stirling Oval is next door is no coincidence for the oval's land was donated by the hotel's owners, Johnstons of Oakbank - in exchange they expected to receive the franchise for some of the town's sporting events. In the 1870s a telegraph office opened and a new industry came to town - the Wirrilda jam factory. It was successful enough for a time but was unable to survive the trade downturn during the 1890s. Where this industry once flourished there is now a supermarket.
Another industry was the district's quarries, and of the best-known was the building stone quarry in Milan Terrace, operated by Walter Torode. In addition to local buildings, it provided materials for the Morphett Street Bridge and Elder Conservatorium in Adelaide. Portions of St Peter's College's original building, dating from 1849, used Stirling sandstone. Not surprisingly, Torode built an impressive home for himself, which has stood the test of time within the present boundaries of Aldgate.
This brief look at the Stirling story provides an idea of the historic nature which today rubs shoulders with a modern, busy community. How closely the two mingle can be judged from one of Stirling's latest innovations - the Adelaide Hills Wine Centre - which occupies the former general store from the 1880s. A quiet wander around the town reveals restaurants and coffee shops, antiques and crafts and a range of facilities among a settlement still with much of its pivotal heritage.
SCOTT CREEK AND DORSET VALE
Surveyor Charles Harriss caused a few ripples with his naming policies - not least because he delved into ancient history and mythology to come with names like Hadrian Creek and Jupiter Creek. Land used by two brothers named Scott as a sheep run was given the name Scott Bottom by local residents, and the adjacent waterway was consequently christened Scott Creek by Harriss. In later years this drew a furious response from a descendant of a man named William Rowe Hill; he had been the first settler in the district and his name should therefore have been perpetuated.
William Hill was Scott Creek's first settler, well before Harriss came through in 1848. He thus deserved the accolade just as much as Jon and Charles Scott, though anyone game enough to occupy those distant landscapes so early deserved any recognition they could get. Nowhere is that better mirrored than in a tale that Hill and a former shipmate on the voyage from England lived within 5km of each other at Scott Creek for several years without realising the other was there. The Scotts were well-known settlers as far as Bordertown whose genesis was the little community of Scotts Woolshed on their property. They were also wraithed in a little mystique from being cousins of Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott.
William Hill had settled here by 1840 and a number of others soon followed. They cut timber and engaged in general farming. His fellow voyager was George Mackereth and the 5km between them placed Mackereth in the district still shown on maps as Scott Bottom. When a post office and telephone exchange opened, the name bestowed on the locality, without any apparent local connection, was Dorset Vale. Later there was a school here, too, but that was about the extent of Dorset Vale's growth. George Mackereth's rather rustic old stone house still stands and William Hill's cottage survives at Scott Creek - two important relics of the pioneer timber-getters.
After being a timber-getter's domain and a brief mining centre, Scott Creek's next identity was the more settled one as part of the blockers' territory. An all-purpose public building was acquired - an iron church, which had once served goldminers near Woodside, was moved here and served initially for religious purposes, school and meeting hall. By 1899 a separate schoolhouse had been built, but the locals had to wait until the 1920s for a new hall. Scott Creek Conservation Park mirrors much of that very individual past. No-where in the true heart of the Adelaide Hills is there such a vast emptiness as the district of which this Park is a part - well over 200 sq km has no communities greater than the likes of Heathfield, Longwood, Scott Creek and Cherry Gardens, and most of them are in the northern portion.
Imagine how it was for the first settlers of the 1840s, tucked away among the steep gullies, winding creeks and dense swathes of Eucalypt. No wonder one historian was prompted to point out that 'for years at a time denizens of Scott's Creek were forgotten altogether in their remote forests'. A heritage focal point is the ruins of the Almanda Silver Mine, whose story began around 1850 when a dray of Scott Creek produce broke open a rock containing copper. In the haphazard manner of the era, a shaft was promptly sunk and named Wheal Maria.
The results were discouraging and it was soon abandoned. It may never have gone beyond that but for the involvement of an assayer named William Ey, who by chance spotted an abandoned pile of the ore on a Port Adelaide wharf in 1868. He realised that its interest lay not in copper but with silver. Ey and a partner leased the site and hauled out a trial batch of ore, from which came two silver ingots. A syndicate then formed the Almanda Silver Mining Company and installed the kind of equipment such a venture needed, while eager prospectors descended on the area. Soon 235 claims had been pegged along Scott Creek.
The winnings though, were too small and work ceased during 1870. There were a few more tries before Almanda was finally left to quietly decline. By then, 10,000 ounces of silver had been extracted. Today you can follow the Almanda story with two interpretive trails within the conservation park. Just beyond Almanda (near Dorset Vale Road's crossing of Scott Creek) there is a road off to the left. This is the site of old Dorset Vale and a short way along the side road is Mackereth's Cottage.
URAIDLA AND SUMMERTOWN
These towns possess similar backgrounds and are only about a kilometre apart. They can be traced back to the 1840s with settlers who scaled the steeply-angled slopes of Green Hill to occupy the fertile high-level valleys. The laying out of the towns did not occur until the 1870s (Summertown) and 1880s (Uraidla), but that was to some extent a formal acknowledgement of existing settlement. People occupied the slopes and valleys, growing wheat and vegetables. Uraidla's deep valley was christened Chapel Valley, for the Bible Christians first built a wooden chapel and then, in the 1850s, a stone one.
Neither exists now, but a lovely model of the stone chapel stands on the site (Swamp Road), surrounded by a cemetery with many a 19th century headstone. The landscape beyond the cemetery is superb - across the valley and up gentle cultivated slopes, backed by high forested hills to the summits of Mount Lofty and Mount Bonython. Soon the region was producing a range of vegetables and the likes of apples, cherries, raspberries, rhubarb, plums, pears, walnuts and strawberries. By the 1880s there were plans to make cider from apples and champagne from rhubarb. The Hills boasted a few cider factories but rhubarb champagne never really caught on.
Both towns developed significantly from about the 1870s with the trappings of commercial and social life - 1,500 were in the district by 1893. A good portion of the heritage survives, and some can be seen during a meander through Uraidla. There is, for example, on Parish Hill Road, a little dwelling of rammed earth probably dating from the late 1850s. The Uniting Church, gable-ended and built of random sandstone, was originally the Bible Christian Chapel built in the 1890s. At much the same time the Church of England built 'St Stephen'.
The Institute is one of the most identifiable main street buildings, and mellow homes date from the town's years of consolidation. The hotel has its heritage, though you wouldn't think so from its design - the main structure dates only from the 1930s and represents extensive rebuilding after a fire; the original hotel was in place in the 1870s. In Summertown a towering two-storey building at 1084 Greenhill Road (privately owned now) has stood since 1856 and for many years was the Mount Lofty Hotel. Its great size and early date emphasise how influential this high valley was.
The simple facade of the Uniting Church dates from 1881, when it was the Mount Tabor Bible Christian Chapel; from the same decade comes the more ornate Institute. The rather grand two-storey building at 1025 Greenhill Road was intended as an hotel when it was built in 1857; though converted to a residence, it provided at least some of the duties of a hostelry. The two towns provide little hubs of activity and much of heritage interest; they possess a range of facilities like shops, service stations, hotel and nurseries. Uraidla got its name from Aboriginal associations, while Summertown was originally advertised as an ideal 'summer town' from which to escape the heat of Adelaide.
A township was laid out in the 1870s by Carl Storch. Given the German name for 'green valley' - Grunthal - the town's identity changed during World War I to a battle scene from that conflict. Verdun is close to Hahndorf, whose strong Germanic influence was clearly felt here. The district has a number of properties with distinctive German-style architecture, particularly rural outbuildings. An image of the town's earliest years is the Stanley Bridge Hotel, dating from the early 1850s and still possessing its original structure though greatly expanded.
Off Beaumont Road is an impressive collection of mining buildings. Grunthal Mine developed early in the 1870s to harvest copper. High prices prompted the company to provide extensive plant and equipment as well as an 11-roomed house for the manager. Only a few years after the mine was opened, plummeting copper prices forced its closure. The shafts filled with water and pumping equipment lay silent. The complex is now privately owned and items like the manager's house, engine, boiler and crusher houses and the mine chimney have remained largely intact, nestled among the hills.
The Johnston family of Oakbank, seeking outlets for its brewery products laid out the town of Woodside in the 1850s. In the days of animal transport this filled a gap in the journey between Oakbank, Charleston and Lobethal. The first commercial building was the Woodside Inn. Now the Woodside Hotel, it has changed out of recognition but remains the historic genesis of Woodside, including, for many years, the headquarters for the Onkaparinga District Council. The major visitor feature is Heritage Park and Melba's chocolate factory. As well as guided tours of the chocolate factory and sales of products, visitors can see a woodturner, puzzleman, glassblower, jeweller, potter and more. Arts and crafts occupy the centre, and there is a tea room.
The term Heritage Park reflects more than a century of development for the Onkaparinga Cheese, Butter and Produce Factory. It was the first such enterprise in the Onkaparinga Valley, starting in 1889. The South Australian Company, which had farms in the area, probably built the factory to process milk from the farms run by its tenants. In 1919 it was bought by the SA Farmer's Co-operative Union and operated until a rationalisation programme in the 1970s spelt the end of the factory. The Police Station and courthouse complex is a solid, well-built group dating from the town's earliest years. Many other buildings catch the eye - the original St Mark's Church of England and the Uniting Church (originally a Wesleyan Chapel) both date from the early 1850s, for example, though in general Woodside's heritage is more low-key than in some towns. The Bedford Hotel, for instance was re-modelled, changing the appearance of a building which has served the public since 1857.
One of the better-known homes is Woodlands, in Elizabeth Street, a two-storey balconied structure built about 1859 for Dr Hermann Esau - he used it as home, surgery and dispensary, as did later doctors.