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Published July 9th 2018
Amble around Auburn
When was the last time you took some time out and escaped daily routine? One of the great things about South Australia is that you don't have to go too far to discover new landscapes, whether it be coastal, rural or river.
Only 1 hour and 40 minutes drive north of Adelaide on the southern edge of the Clare Valley lies Auburn, a town which provides a great stopping off point for further exploration. You can't help but be impressed with the historic old buildings dotted throughout the town, many of which are heritage listed.
Auburn was originally developed as a transport hub during the time when copper had been discovered at Burra during the early 1850's and was on its way to Port Wakefield (previously Port Henry) to be shipped out. During the peak of copper production around this period, there was said to be up to 100 bullock drays a day passing through Auburn.
The township was originally known as Tateham's Waterhole, named after a man William Tateham, a pioneer who had squatted in the area back in the 1840's.
Auburn is well renowned as the former home of one of Australia's great authors, C J Dennis (born there in 1876), particularly for his published work of "The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke", in 1915. Another lesser known figure associated with the town was an Australian cricketer, Ernest Jones who was born here, who spearheaded Australia's fast bowling attack. However, unfortunately, he was also known to have been the first ever cricketer to be called for throwing in a test match.
A self-guided walking trail map and information can be downloaded from the Walking SA website which comprises 28 points of interest covering the full spectrum from an old boot factory to an English style shop, a former Butter factory and everything in between.
Here are 8 impressive historic buildings and 1 historic remnant I came across during my walk:-
1. The Rising Sun Hotel
The Rising Sun Hotel is believed to be the first commercial premises in Auburn, dating from 1850. Although the current building dates from 1907, it is a well-preserved piece of architecture, still with its stables intact. The original loft in the stables was at one time utilised as a temporary telegraph office and the first telegraph message was sent by Charles Todd in 1862 during the testing phase.
Today it is one of the finest pubs in the Clare Valley region and has won several awards over the years including "Best Bistro- Regional Award" in 2013 and 2014 as well as the National Awards for Excellence 2013, held in Canberra.
Whether you are dropping in for a quick drink or a nice meal or staying a little longer, the Rising Sun caters for all.
New wine and dine packages are now available for 2, 4 or 6 people, which also include 2 nights accommodation in one of their superior Muse rooms, a $50 meal voucher per couple as well as a hosted tour of the Clare Valley wine region. Prices for rooms start from $130 per person per night. If you prefer the superior style of accommodation, FYI, there are only 3 of the superior Muse rooms available, so you would need to plan and book ahead.
Main courses in the dining room vary between $22.90 and $35.90 and cover some mouth-watering dishes including Atlantic Salmon, Beef Strips, Lamb Cutlets and Sirloin. Should you prefer good old fashioned pub fare, the classic bar menu may be more to your taste, including burgers, schnitzels, fish and chips and parmigiana.
If you are up in Auburn on Mondays and Wednesdays, the great news is that kids eat free! Rising Sun can be found on Main North Road as you travel through the town.
Housed in a historic 1860's building, Terroir Auburn started out back in 2012 as a 30 seat restaurant. Nowadays it has the addition of a cafe as well as accommodation. Run by a husband and wife team, he as a trained chef, and she, with experience in the wine industry. The Terroir is classified as a bistro, and most of the produce is sourced locally. The experience is very much "Lovacore dining" which means people being interested in eating food which is locally produced.
Examples of dishes include Confit Duck Leg, Chorizo and Steamed Broccolini, Pumpkin and Curry Leaf, as well as Peanut and Cabbage Slaw.
The bistro is open from Wednesday to Saturday between 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm. It is also open on other occasions, so you will need to check by ringing 08 88492509. You will find Terroir on Main North Road.
Originally home to Auburn's second brewery, unfortunately, the business fell on hard times and it eventually closed, with the original buildings demolished. They were replaced subsequently by farm buildings, later converted into a butter factory. It successfully operated as a cream depot, with the collection of cream from local farms during World War 2.
The Taylor Brothers from Gawler who owned the butter factory eventually sold to SA Farmer's Union delivering small goods and collecting cream and crates of eggs from farms in towns such as Snowtown, Jamestown, Brinkworth and Eudunda.
Later milk was collected for the Golden North Factory in Clare. Then in 1981 the site was bought by Grosset Wines, who still operate there today. Grosset is an independently owned winery producing 9 premium wines per vintage. With only 25% exported, the local market gains the benefit of savouring some top quality products, with Grosset Wines named as the Winery of the Year in June 2018 by wine expert Matthew Jukes.
Grosset has also been awarded "Best Value Winery" and in the world's top 100 wineries in 2017. Vineyards are located in various places around South Australia including Polish Hill vineyard, Springvale (in the Watervale region), and in the Piccadilly Valley in the Adelaide Hills (the second coldest place in South Australia).
You can have a fine tasting at their cellar door, which is located on the corner of Manoora Road and Stanley Street in Auburn. The cellar door is open from the first Saturday in September - 10 am - 5 pm Wednesday to Sunday.
One of the things I love about Auburn is the re-invention and the bringing back to life of some of the old heritage buildings. This particular building was used as a boot factory from the 1880's, and its proprietor, Daniel Smith having originally started up boot-making in Auburn during the 1860's.
During the latter part of the nineteenth century, Auburn was very much a service town and Daniel conducted a successful business with 8 employees, particularly with knee-high wellington boots selling for around 1 pound a pair. Daniel's son, David continued the business, later transforming it into a general store.
The building served as commercial premises right up until 1993, when an antique shop opened together with accommodation, now known as The Loft/Cobblers Rest.
The venue offers 1 and 2 bedroom B&B style accommodation and is located at 24 Main North Road, Auburn. Bookings can be made on 0424 784 572.
Like many of the buildings around Auburn, this structure has been of multi-purpose use and started life as a saddlery shop run by a Robert Wylie. This building, like so many other stone buildings in Auburn was built by Joseph Meller, a stonemason.
Due to the slope of the terrain, many buildings including this one on this side of Main North Road were built with two levels, with shop fronts upstairs and residential accommodation downstairs.
Later the premises were utilised as a butcher shop run by a Mr Lock, reportedly known for his brightly painted carts. Other businesses subsequently occupied the site, with the building becoming run-down and in disrepair. Renovated in the late 1990's, the site has been used for residential, bed and breakfast and occasional commercial use.
Auburn's heritage listed Old Corn Store has been resuscitated and is now the home of South Australian Visual Artist, Hellen Bakhoff. Prior to Helen, it had been the home of a range of creative owners selling their art and craft works.
Hellen had a solid background and experience in barn conversions, so was able to restore and re-design the interior into an appealing place for not only her own textile work but also other artists.
Back in June, Helen displayed some of her fine examples of paintings, textiles and photographs, some of which had been inspired by a trip to Ghana.
Exhibitions are shown regularly at the gallery - and a new one is imminent. Take note that the gallery is currently closed during July, however, will be re-opening for the SALA festival on 3rd August, with the theme of "Fabulous Footwear". The hours are between 10 am and 4 pm, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.
You can find Linhay Gallery at 13 Main North Road (on the corner of Port Road). Hellen also conducts regular one-day and weekend classes and workshops, in a variety of textiles techniques.
Yes, you are right, this is not a building, however, it is such an interesting piece to be found on the main street of Auburn, signalling an item from another era, which was common back in the nineteenth century.
This stone, crafted by the stonemason, Joseph Meller, was erected in 1864 and was designed for passengers seeking to disembark horses and carriages. In order for a lady in particular to keep her dignity and respect, these would have been welcomed, as carriages, in particular, were designed with large wheels, so the distance from the carriage to street level was impractical.
The St Johns Anglican Church (Gothic Revival Style) was built of Auburn bluestone and quoins and dressings of Watervale sandstone around 1862 with stonemasons Joseph Meller and James Scott cutting the stone. Mellor considered his stonework on the window surrounds above the altar to be his finest work. Further local material used in building the church included Welsh slate for the roof and Mintaro slate for the church steps.
At the time of its completion, the church was considered to be the most elegant building in South Australia's north.
The parish hall was built in 1908 by Bede Meller, with some of the stone from the dismantled Wesleyan chapel at Leasingham and some from one of the Auburn breweries. A vestry was eventually added to the northern side around 1960.
Built as the 25th Mechanics Institute Building in South Australia in 1859, its membership included SA's State Governor at the time. Mechanics Institutes eventually morphed into libraries, however were originally formulated to provide training and education for South Australia's labour force. A library operated at the site for many years, as well as being used as private schools for a time.
It has also been an office for the collection of grain for assaying before it went to the stacks in the railway yards. The building was also used as a cub and scouts hall and various commercial enterprises including tea rooms (downstairs), shops upstairs and at one stage a bed and breakfast establishment.
Most travellers just drive through the town in their way to other destinations.Having stayed in the town for a few nights as a base for visiting other places in the Clare ,I really got to appreciate what a pleasant place it is.Fine old buildings, a really good country hotel and an excellent base camp to visit other parts of the valley and Burra.