Old Marion Village Heritage Area

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Posted 2016-09-03 by Kat Mayfollow
Take a stroll around this historic area with a museum, churches and old buildings to explore along an interpretive self-guided walk. In a joint venture between The City of Marion and the Marion Historical Society, the old township area of Marion's early days has had much work done to protect and promote the heritage of the area. The heritage area is nowhere near the bustling Marion shopping region of today.

The design and planning development of the original Township of Marion is one of three Adelaide districts designed by Colonel William Light. After completing the Adelaide survey, Light and his partner Boyle Travis Finniss started their own company called Light and Finniss and Co. They employed planners, surveyors and cartographers, such as Nixon who made the maps of the layout of the new village of Marion. Many of the streets here are named after the men who developed the area.

Not too far off busy Marion Road, via Finniss Street is a narrow street called Township Road. This once was the main street of the village of Marion with many busy stores, churches, a pub and a police station. The area attracted mainly Irish Catholic emigrants who developed the area into large market gardens with small farm cottages as dwellings. The region grew vegetables, grapes, fruit trees and almond groves. As the land was nestled around the Sturt River, this provided water. Wells were sunk to provide water during the dry summers.

William Light was in his fifties when he came to South Australia and he was not a well man towards the end of his life. He designed the first wooden bridge crossing the Sturt River here but never lived to see its completion. The reason he chose this spot as the centre of Marion township was because at this part there was only one river crossing, whereas in other areas more crossings were necessary, so it was cheaper and quicker to build only one bridge here. There have been three bridges built across this river. Now the river sadly looks more like a deep drain as it has been concreted on all sides with a new modern bridge. This was deemed necessary to halt flooding to the modern suburb of Marion.

In the olden days, the river was an important source of water for the surrounding cottage farms and the market gardens that were established here. Also, there were many wells in the area. The whole area of the Adelaide plains has a large underground water source that comes from rainfall off the Mount Lofty Ranges. When the church bells struck during the week, this was a warning that a child was missing. Everyone downed garden tools or domestic chores to run to the nearest well to check for children, and this is often where they found them. When the cobwebs were broken, it meant someone had gone down the well

If you look around the landscape you will see some huge old river red gums. Gaze up at these ancient trees and you can imagine how the area once looked. These were growing where the river once flowed, but the course has been altered over the years. The retirement cottages on Finniss Street was once a large shaded area by the creek where horses and bullock teams heading south to Victor Harbor and Cape Jervis were rested and watered. It was a short walk to the pub on the corner where horsemen and coach passengers also rested and had a brew. It was a natural in those days to stop and rest a while at a river so a perfect place for a pub to be built.

%%There are many things to do in this historic area:
1. Visit the Display Museum The best place to stop first is here at the museum and pick up a brochure of the self-guided walk.

2. Self Guided Walk. If you are not going on a Sunday then download a PDF doc guide map here Or simply follow the markers along the footpath in the direction of the arrows. Start in Township Road. At St. Ann's Chapel go down the side street and you will find a sweet old cottage

3. Annie Doolan's Cottage

4. George Street Reserve

Also on the walk, you can see a few remaining old houses and two magnificent little stone churches on Township Road. Unfortunately, most of the early cottages and buildings have been torn down. A few still remain and can be seen where there are markers. A brickworks was on the land where George Street Reserve now is located.

The work Colonel Light's company did in establishing this area is honoured in Marion's own Light Square, you can see some plaques and information about the early Kaurna people and William Light. This is where the first survey peg was situated so this really was where it all began from wild bushland. It is hard to imagine now standing in the middle of suburbia with the sound of a lawnmower in the background. Here you will learn why all the markers on the paths have pavers pointing in a certain direction. From here you can walk on to George Street Reserve. There are toilets and seats to have a rest on. Continue the walk up George Street and back to the Display Centre. The walk is easy to follow and the information is interesting. Children will love to follow the trail and see what is coming up next.

The historic significance of this area as one of the first townships of Adelaide is highly regarded. Township Road is no longer the hub of Marion. New bridges were built and traffic diverted to the busy thoroughfares of Marion and Oaklands Roads. It is now a simple quiet suburban street with some old churches in it. But these streets have a story to tell. A visit here is a fascinating look at the early days of Adelaide and the interpretative work that has been done is a credit to the organisers.

I would like to acknowledge the information shared by John Jarmin of the history group for much of the information for this article, and the helpful and friendly volunteers at the history display museum. These people have a wealth of knowledge about Marion, most of them having lived in the district for many years, so drop by and have a chat if you would like to know more about this historic part of Adelaide.

147787 - 2023-06-14 00:56:21


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