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Published March 7th 2016
United we stand, divided we fall
Colin Thiele was a man whose life was told through his much loved books. Whether it was the Sun on the Stubble, The Valley Between, Blue Fin or everybody's favourite Storm Boy, Thiele's books would unite families together as they shared the stories and reflected on the words of country life and companionship. Perhaps then that it is apt that the bronzed statue of Colin Thiele sits amongst the Centenary Gardens at Eudunda. Let me explain.
It was in the mid 1840's that Eudunda evolved from a watering stop for stock brought overland from NSW. The fresh water springs were called "Eudundacowi" by the Ngadjuri people, and thus helped form the name Eudunda. However it was the early 1870's when development started with the building of the Eudunda Hotel, Appelt's store and Klaebe's building which initially operated as the Hambours Drapery, all servicing the needs of the passing stockmen.
Before long it was necessary to add the Doctor's Surgery and Residence, the National Bank, the Police Station and Court House and Davey's flour mill and terraced houses. Davey, like most of the well-to-do people in town resided and made their living on this southern side of town on the top of hill overlooking the remainder of the town.
Meanwhile to the north, and at the bottom of the hill, the not-so-well-to-do people were also busy establishing their part of town, with the Royal Hotel appearing in 1879, followed in quick succession by the greengrocer, Pollards wheat store, hairdressers and the butchers. Industry in the north was catered for by the blacksmith, ironmongers, and the cream and butter factory all of which were employers of labour during those days.
In 1878 the division in the town was to become formal following the introduction of the Adelaide to Morgan rail line, a physical landmark that delineated the north from the south, the superior from the inferior, the top from the bottom and the haves from the have-nots. With the formalities now set in place, local businesses and the Council set about fixing the discrepancy, and in the twenty years post the introduction of rail, Eudunda was booming with passing rail and road trade being supplemented by local farmers who were using the town as a regional hub.
With this hub came the creation of more shops, bakeries, a Commonwealth Bank and the Eudunda Club, thus giving the north a bit more of an identity. However at the same time the southern side of town was also growing with the introduction of more local shops including a tailor, bakery and another butcher's shop.
At the turn of the century the Eudunda Farmers Co-op Society opened a store on the northern side of town to cater for the locals, while soon thereafter the introduction of motor cars saw the opening of two garages on the southern side of town, close to where the local car owners were most likely to be.
Perhaps it was the World Wars or perhaps the passage of time, or maybe just the weight of numbers with substantially more people living in the north than the south, but the town started to come together as one. The Town Gardens were built in 1936 alongside the dividing line with the Centennial and Memorial Gardens being built there in 1946. Ironically Colin Thiele had come to town in 1936 to stay with his uncles (on the northern side), and to use the rail line to travel to Kapunda school each day.
In 1994 the last train ran on the line, and the rail line was removed from around the Gardens. A bronze statue of Colin Thiele was installed in the Centenary Gardens in 2005 commemorating the life of the local hero whose stories brought people and animals together with the common cause of companionship. And in 2015 the Lavender Federation Trail continued its journey from Murray Bridge along the former rail line.
The Eudunda Family Heritage Gallery have put together two walking tours of Eudunda, named the bottom end and the top end. Both of them start and finish from the statue of Colin Thiele in the Centenary Gardens, with brochures available online (south or north) or from the Gallery, located on the north side of town.
A neat and tidy town that very few tourists go out of their way to visit.The Eudunda Farmers Co-op Society Ltd went onto become a major country group of aprox. 50 stores,spread across the state;employing many people.These stores serviced the farming communities and townspeople of SA. for around 100 years.For almost 40 years their Head Office was in a large building on North Terrace,next to the Anglican Church.