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Published July 16th 2015
Finding some long lost farming towns
The historic settlements of Dutton and St Kitts were first founded in the 1850's by an odd combination of pastoralists from England and farmers from Saxony in Germany. The pastoralists held leases over large parcels of land in the area, and in an effort to get workers in to the area they sought to create some towns including the township of Dutton. The farmers (or Sorbs/Wends as they were known in Australia) travelled from Germany in search of a new lifestyle, and established a number of farming properties in and around St Kitts.
Today the townships of Dutton and St Kitts are part of a quiet farming community between Truro and Eudunda. While the population is a lot smaller than its peak, many of the original buildings remain. To enable visitors to experience the life of these early pioneers, a 31km self-guided historic tour through the districts of Dutton and St Kitts has been created.
The tour starts from the parking bay in the centre of Truro, and opposite the popular Sunrise Bakery. The drive heads north on the Eudunda Road before turning in to the gravelled Valley Farm Road where we pass the small hamlet of Pine Hut. Interpretive signage gives us an indication as to the history of the Pine Hut Church and School (1863).
Around the corner is a large farm complex with many old and majestic buildings (1850). Now used only for storage, these buildings once held church services prior to the establishment of Pine Hut in the mid 1860's.
The tour then takes us in to the historic township of Dutton. Dutton was named after Francis Dutton, a famous pastoralist from the huge property of Anlaby, and was first surveyed in 1866. Many of the homes are well maintained and a credit to their owners, with most keeping as much of the heritage as they can. Nearby the St John's Lutheran complex of school (1876), church (1871) and bell tower (1891) also remains in good condition with most buildings still operational today.
A memorial in Dutton to commemorate the SA Jubilee 150 has recently been joined by some large signage indicating that the Lavender Federation Trail now passes through the town on its winding way to Eudunda. This long distance trail is easily walked in parts and covers most of the eastern side of the Mt Lofty Ranges.
The tour through Dutton takes us past the blacksmith's shop (1875), former store (1869), post office (1873), telephone exchange (1921), Congregational Church (1879) and the Holy Cross Lutheran Church (1900). Many of these buildings are now in private hands, with some owners spending more on restoration works than some others.
The tour then leaves Dutton and heads to St Kitts. St Kitts is high country and was very intensely farmed by pioneers who cleared all arable land, and left trees only alongside creeks, outcrops and roadsides. Fencing alongside hilltops and creeks ensured that cattle and horses could feed without getting in to cropping areas, and thus maximising yield.
The popularity of churches continues through St Kitts with some magnificent examples of 19th century architecture in the St Pauls Church (1904) and St Petri Lutheran Church (1910). The strength of these buildings is evident in their continued use today.
Supporting those churches are numerous farm buildings and complexes in this farming district, some still in use today and others in disrepair. As time has passed, and farming has become more mechanical, farm sizes have expanded thus leaving many surplus and beautiful buildings along the way.
The drive passes an old house made of distinctive reddish (local) stone, which is now used as a farmshed. Another property, this time built in to the side of the hillside, shows the ingenuity of the locals when building properties 150 years ago. The drive continues back in to Truro and concludes at the parking bay.
The history of the region of Truro, Dutton and St Kitts was discussed in great detail in the book "Truro – The Travellers Rest" by Reg Munchenberg. This history has been incorporated in to the Truro Walk, the Truro and Barton Drive, and this historic drive of Dutton and St Kitts. All three tours are free and available to be conducted at anytime. Information is available from the website (refer links above) or from the Information Board in the Parking Bay at Truro.
Based on the information provided from this website we had an enjoyable and informative afternoon drive on a lovely Adelaide Spring day. Well worth the effort with old buildings and history at every turn.