Monday, 9 February 2009

Old Houses in the Adelaide Hills

When I first drove through Mt Barker I decided that it may be a town with a long and venerable history. From memory, the sign at the beginning of the main street said “Historic Gawler Street” – that was a fair warning! The town centre has many historic buildings nestled beside modern ones, including the inevitable Maccas (it’s not exactly nestled, rather standing out there on it’s own with a surrounding carpark!) and new shopping centres. Historic Gawler Street does, however, have some old time buildings that work and blend well.

A bit of history …

What is today known as Mount Barker was first sighted by Captain Sturt from Lake Alexandrina in February 1830, though Sturt believed he was looking at Mount Lofty, which Flinders had discovered in 1802. Captain Collett Barker rectified this error when he undertook a survey of the district in 1831. Sturt renamed the mountain in honour of Captain Barker who was killed by Aborigines while exploring near the mouth of the River Murray later that year.

Captain Sturt reported favourably on the agricultural potential of the area, with rich soils and luxuriant native pastures of the surrounding undulating hills and plains, but it was not until the late 1830s that this area was explored further. The first Special Survey of the Mount Barker District was opened to prospective buyers in March, 1840. Land was cleared and the rich agricultural land was developed for grazing and crop production. In February 1840 the proposed layout of the township of Mount Barker was announced.

Moving into the closer suburbs you will come across a large number of mostly, well kept and renovated old homes. These vary from tiny workmen’s cottages to large estate homes.

Driving out of town towards the Laratinga Wetlands, I glanced left at an empty block and there sat what in it’s youth would have been a stately home. It took me a few dead ends to try and find my way, through the new developments, to the rear of the home, to discover that serious renovation was taken place there. I returned to the original viewing position and discovered that a closer look showed me that the main roof had already been replaced and that the bull-nosed iron on the verandah would be next in line as that is part of what was being done at the rear. I wonder if the vacant land in front of that beautiful old house will become a new subdivision soon.

That cappucinno at Hahndorf would have to wait until the next day, because I had taken too long looking at “just down the next street.” I did however get one in Mt Barker at Giovanni Pizza.


swenglishexpat said...

Interesting three posts about the buildings. The ones in stone are quite similar to old houses / farm buildings in France. With Oz being a young country, it is important to keep them and look after them.

BTW - It is terrible with all the fires in the south-east. Every British news programme opens with footage from that area. Poor people losing everything, sometimes their lives in such a horrific way. May it soon end.

Veronica said...

The places were amazing ... and I truly hope the city fathers ensure their continued existence ... and not give way to "progress"
The fires have been horrific, you could look at for an update.