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Published July 1st 2015
The town of two halves, hidden in the Gilbert Valley
Located approximately 100km north of Adelaide lies the township of Saddleworth formed alongside the banks of the Gilbert Valley. The town was named by James Masters in memory of his former English home in Yorkshire, and it was in early 1840 that Masters took up an area of land extending from Riverton to Saddleworth and Auburn as a sheep run. The discovery of copper at Burra saw many small towns pop up along the route from Burra to Port Adelaide, and Saddleworth commenced in the late 1840's.
Saddleworth was a town of two halves divided by the Gilbert River. Fierce rivalry saw competition for buildings between the northern parts (alongside the Gilbert Valley Hotel) and the southern section (alongside the Saddleworth Hotel). That competition continued for many years, although it was successfully compromised by the Institute (1873), Police Station (1877) and Post Office (1878), all of whom were built at the mid-point between the two villages.
It is at the Saddleworth Institute that the Saddleworth Historical Walk (according to the brochure) or the Saddleworth Heritage Walking Trail (according to the sign) commences. The trail starts at those buildings at the mid-point of the township, and heads south passing the magnificent architecturally designed St Aidan's Church (1894). Built from local stone, this building breaks from traditional churches of that era with its range of intricate design, something uncommon in Australia at the time.
On to Belvidere Road, and the main road of the southern half, and we pass the former National Bank (1869), the Saddleworth Hotel (1869) and the Huppatz Garage (1909). At 23 Belvidere Road is the former Elders building (1938) which was built on the corner of the sale yards. All of these buildings have information boards at the front of the building detailing some of the past stories about that current location.
The Methodist Church (1861) is the 2nd oldest building in the town and is still in use today. At the back of the church is the old Church of England Cemetery. This cemetery was very unusual being located within the township and surrounded by houses, and it was no surprise when the cemetery was closed in 1891.
On the other side of the road from the Cemetery is the former rail line that ran from Tarlee through to Terowie. The line was closed in the 1980's, and most of the station buildings demolished in 2010.
Many of the buildings on Belvidere Road are now owned privately with some becoming residences while others have taken up that country challenge of being a relevant antiques and collectables centre. The former council offices (1889), corner store (1900), ironmongers (1869), bootmaker (1869) and blacksmiths (1872) are amongst a number of buildings that have been well maintained over the years.
The Bank of Adelaide building is an impressive two storey building, whose life was unfortunately cut short by war. Built in 1938 to service a booming banking industry, the building was closed in 1942 as part of wartime rationalisation of industry.
Back on to the main north-south road, and the War Memorial (1922) stands tall. Carved from Italian marble, the soldier cost 800 pounds which was raised mainly from public subscription. Continuing north we head through the northern part of town, and past the Hill Street Saddleworth Primary School (1870). Like a number of schools in the mid-north, it was built on top of a hill.
The oldest building in town is the former store of Siekmann and Moule (1859). On the main road, this store also hosted the National Bank in one room and the Post Office in another until both eventually built their own buildings. After its extensions in 1873, this store became the largest store north of Gawler for a period during the 19th century. Today the building is home to the Saddleworth Museum and is open to the public on Sunday afternoons.
The Salvation Army Barracks (1884) building stands on the main road to Auburn, while at the corner of that road is the (now) Gilbert Valley Motel. Originally thinking that the railway would run through the northern end of town, the owner built a hotel and named it the Railway Hotel. Despite the railway being constructed further to the southeast, the hotel continued to do well by virtue of it being on the intersection of the two main roads in to the town.
The Saddleworth Historical Walk is stated to be 3km long, but my legs suggested it was closer to 4km. The walk is free and available to do at any time. Public facilities are available along the walk, as is food and drink at a couple of the local stores. Brochures for the walk are available from the sign at the Institute, the Saddleworth Museum or at some Tourism SA outlets in the mid-north.
I loved living there when I was younger, didn't really care about its history then but thank you as I found it very interesting now. The buildings are as beautiful as ever:) I can remember making a 'tourist walk' up at Primary School, Surely it couldn't be the same one.