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Published June 30th 2016
National Trust plans to create a major new attraction
Martindale Hall, an Iconic Clare Valley Attraction
Martindale Hall is a stately mansion at Mintaro in the Clare Valley, a popular tourist attraction in South Australia for many years. Built in 1879, this State Heritage building is one of the state's best loved heritage homes. Martindale Hall was bequeathed to the University of Adelaide by the previous owners, but in 1986 the university gifted it to the people of South Australia to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of South Australia.
In a letter announcing the gift, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Adelaide said that the gift "is given so that the people of South Australia may be assured that Martindale Hall will be kept available to them for their enjoyment and appreciation of their Heritage".
Hunters at Martindale Hall 1890. Back to the Future? (Image: State Library SA B17736-4)
Until 2014 Martindale Hall was a popular Mintaro attraction for weddings and functions, and much sought after for Clare Valley accomodation. Guests could hire the Hall and stay in the unique bedrooms decorated with period furniture and priceless artefacts. Murder mystery tours were also held at the Hall, with guests served at meals by a butler and maid. Thousands of people flocked to Martindale Hall to take advantage of this unique heritage tourism attraction in South Australia.
Unfortunately South Australia's economy was in a very poor state, and the government began to sell off heritage buildings in a fire sale. The government announced in 2014 that Fort Largs was to be sold to a developer, Z Ward at Glenside Hospital was sold to mining company Beach Energy, and it wasn't long before rumours began that Martindale Hall was for sale.
Martindale Hall Coach House - A Horse Drawn Vehicles Museum?
An unsolicited bid for Martindale Hall was lodged by a syndicate late 2015, wanting to build a luxury resort and wellness retreat for the wealthy. Unfortunately the syndicate's bid would have completely eradicated the character of parts of the heritage building, while providing only minimal public access. When public consultation took place on the unsolicited bid, a storm of protest erupted on the Your Say website.
There has been no comment from the government about the syndicate's unsolicited bid since that time.
In May 2016 the National Trust of South Australia announced their own unsolicited bid to buy Martindale Hall. The National Trust have a long history of preserving heritage buildings around the world and making them affordable for public access, and the SA Branch successfully provides public access to many iconic buildings around the state.
Ayers House is a popular venue managed by the National Trust with a museum, guided tours, and the popular Miss Fisher Costume Exhibition that attracted tens of thousands of visitors.
The National Trust's Miss Fisher Speakeasy at Z Ward Glenside
The unsolicited proposal by National Trust SA will enable Martindale Hall to remain open to the public, while taking advantage of its location in the beautiful Clare Valley to enhance links with the local community. A comprehensive program of special events is planned to ensure that the Hall remains an international heritage tourism attraction. The local community will benefit from a dramatic increase in visitors and an increased demand for Clare Valley accommodation.
Clare Valley Attractions: an Adventure Playground at Martindale Hall?
A busy program of events and fun things to do all year round at Martindale Hall will be available. Go horse riding, play polo, have a game of cricket or croquet. All of these activities were once a feature of life at Mintaro, and would be welcome Clare Valley attractions.
A key part of the National Trust's proposal is working with the local community and businesses in close relationships. The locals need Martindale Hall to become a more successful attraction, and the Trust sees major benefits in a strong partnership with other Clare Valley attractions.
Look forward to a busy event calendar at Martindale Hall. Concerts, live music, food and wine festivals, garden shows, car rallies, antique and collectors road shows and equestrian events will help to spread word of this beautiful place to much wider audiences.