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Published July 12th 2017
Be tempted, again and again
Once again the near-mandatory stop in the Southern Flinders Ranges is my calling, one that been so for many years and one that was met with some angst when there was a temporary close from 2014 to 2016. But back open, and with new owners and a new product range, I am here sampling some of the best pies in the universe at the old Stone Hut Bakery.
Well, perhaps the statement about being the best in the universe may be a slight exaggeration, unless of course Stone Hut was at the centre of the universe, something that seems unlikely in this small village on the edge of the Wirrabara Forest and located at the end of the Laura to Stone Hut Rail Trail. A town of seemingly few residents other than those in the bakery or the accommodation cabins and a town where the state speed limit only reduces to 80kmh.
As I contemplate some of the cold pies to take home, I note the brochures table, and lo and behold the Stone Hut Heritage Walk lies in the centre. A quick glimpse over the contents and the walk is about 1.5km with some 16 items of historical significance. Perhaps not enough to ensure my calorie input and output is accurately balanced, but I set off anyway to find out a bit more about this little village that has never been much more than a bakery to me.
The village of Stone Hut was named after an old stone cottage built on the edge of the Rocky River in the 1850's around 1km west of where the current village lies. The current village was surveyed in 1874 as part of South Australia's pastoral expansion and soon filled with tradespeople who would help build new homes, buildings and assist with the development of the Wirrabara Forest, one of SA's first forests. The old Blacksmith's shop was one of the first built in town and is still standing today in the guise as the old Stone Hut Bakery.
Coaches on their way through the town would often stop at the Royal Mail Hotel at the southern entrance to the town, a hotel that was open from 1874 to 1941 and demolished some years after that. The schools of the town were a bit more longstanding with the first school that lasted from 1875 to 1877 now a private residence, which the second school operated for 90 years from 1878 before closing.
One of the reasons for the school's longevity may well have been the 21 children born to Fred and Dulcie Tobin, and whose cottage stands on the side street. Possibly the Tobin's may have also assisted with the formation of the local tennis, football and cricket clubs whose inter-town games with Laura and Wirrabara were known to bring out the best in the locals.
In 1910 the rail line arrived into town and with that brought a new focus. As the town wasn't far from other towns, it never developed as a "railways town" but rather became a marshalling centre for local farmers and their grain. A Station Master's cottage and a few Railway cottages were built alongside the rail line, as well as a platform and associated infrastructure, all of which was gradually removed after the rail line closed in 1986, and subsequently replaced by the now popular Laura to Stone Hut Rail Trail.
By far the largest and grandest building in the town is the Stone Hut Soldiers Memorial Hall which was opened in 1926. At the time the memories of World War One were still strong and the community rallied together and raised monies to help support the building of a Hall that the whole village could enjoy for years to come.
Each of the 16 points of interest on the walk are marked by information boards providing further details as to the significance. The Stone Hut Heritage Walk is available to visit all year round, while the Stone Hut Bakery is open from 7.30am to 5pm seven days a week and stocks a wide range of baked products and other local eats from the Southern Flinders Ranges.