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Published September 8th 2015
Taking time out to see this town as it once was
Hahndorf, that tourist Mecca of a town just off the South Eastern Freeway, has a heritage that dates back to the late 1830's when German immigrants first settled in the town. Today we see a bustling and vibrant tourism industry built around some of that German influence and interspersed with fine bakeries, cafes and other dining houses.
Former Sonnemanns Bakery (first in the Hills) - Steve Hudson
But Hahndorf was not always like that. In fact, before the expansion of vehicle ownership, Hahndorf was like many South Australian villages and had a unique and intriguing heritage of its own. The Hahndorf Heritage Walk seeks to reflect on those early days by highlighting the significant pieces that brought Hahndorf to where it is today.
Starting at the Visitor Information Centre, the walk quickly heads towards the original physical and spiritual centre of Hanhdorf on the old Balhannah Road which is the home to the St Michael's Lutheran Church. The original church (1840) was demolished when the new larger church was built around it in 1858.
There are several churches in Hahndorf with the St. Paul's Church of England in English Street marking the spiritual home for the growing number of Anglicans who came to Hahndorf over time and worshipped at the Hahndorf Academy or at Blakiston. Meanwhile the tall St Paul's Lutheran Church (1890) makes a huge statement at the eastern entry to the town symbolising the strength of religion amongst early German immigrants many of whom chose Hahndorf over the soon-to-be popular Bethany in the Barossa Valley.
Despite the popularity of hotels in other regional South Australian towns, the Main Street of Hahndorf was the home of only 2 hotel / inns over time. At 80 Main Street is the original site of the first hotel in Hahndorf, being the original German Arms. This hotel burned down in 1861 and a substantially larger and newer hotel was built over the road and used the same German Arms name.
Similar to the German Arms was the Australian Arms which resided in premises at 46 Main Street, before moving across the road in 1863 and changing its name to become the Hahndorf Inn. Today the premises at 46 Main Street belong to the unique and much visited Leathersmith and Bush Gallery which sells all sorts of oddities to visiting tourists.
Next door to the Hahndorf Inn and heading east was a range of shops that included the shoemaker, butchers, wheelwright, coach builder, blacksmith and doctors surgery. All of them have changed their use over time, with the doctors surgery at 5 Main Street continuing the same theme of distributing therapeutic medicines - who could possibly argue that the chocolates distributed today from Chocolate @ No 5 are not therapeutic ?
The arts also feature strongly in the heritage walk around Hahndorf with the Hahndorf Academy and Heritage Museum at the Visitor Centre being a great example of how to reinvigorate a tired old building in to a popular visiting place for many. Meanwhile next door features a huge sculpture known as "The Angel of Hahndorf" which takes pride of place in the gardens on the Main Street.
The Angel of Hahndorf outside the Hahndorf Academy - Steve Hudson
Over the road is the Pioneer Memorial Gardens established in 1939 to commemorate Hahndorf's centenary. The gardens also recognise the efforts of women in the early days who would often make the 22km trek from Hahndorf to Burnside in order to get fresh fruit and vegetables for the family. This trek, known as the Pioneer Women's Trail, heads west from Hahndorf along part of the Heysen Trail and past The Cedars, being Sir Hans Heysen's original Hills home.
Continuing the walk up and down the Main Street we pass many old buildings which served early Hahndorf's early days well. The vast majority of these buildings are now in the hands of new owners and have become popular visiting points in their own right with most of them having a plaque which identifies the origins of the building.
The Hahndorf heritage walk is around 3km long and covers the area declared as a State Heritage Area, reflecting the importance of this German Village to the history of South Australia. Brochures for the walk are available from the Visitor Information Centre in the Hahndorf Academy or from the Adelaide Hills website.
Well done, Steve, as usual. The first time I visited Hahndorf in the early '90s I remember a model train house where I took my son and daughter. I'm not sure if it is still there as I visited Hahndorf two years ago but only to meet up with friends, not a general exploratory visit.