In the main street of Riverton, about 90 minutes from Adelaide, a unique example of early life in the area around the Gilbert River, is open every Sunday between the hours of 1 to 4pm. Entering the museum will cost you nothing, but a wealth of information about the lifestyle of a past era is on offer for those who take the time to visit.
Located at 20 Torrens Road, extending over four allotments in the rural town is the Scholz Park Museum. The home and business premises of the Scholz family for over a century, the stone cottage, Wheelwright and Blacksmith shop gained State and National Estate listings, becoming an example of life in the pioneer days as the Scholz Park Museum.
August Scholz first settled in Riverton in 1865 with his wife Wilhelmine Strempel and their son Ernst. After migrating to Australia from Poland in 1860, he disembarked from the SS Peter Goddefroy, accompanied by his father Gottlieb, also a wheelwright by trade. After initially settling in Mt Torrens, near his brother, he moved to Riverton to set up his own wheelwright business.
To accommodate his growing family, he built a four room stone cottage in 1872, and then established a partnership with neighbouring blacksmith William Saunders, before purchasing the Saunders business and premises in 1886.
August Scholz, colleagues and family members outside there Blacksmith shop at Riverton c1900. B33054 State Library of South Australia
Together with his three sons, the family business as wheelwrights, blacksmiths, coachbuilders and machinists was established, manufacturing many of the reapers, drays, wagons, ploughs and farm machinery used throughout the district.
Continuing until 1966, the business also employed other people from around the area before the property was sold to the District Council of Riverton by August's grandsons, Harold and Norman Scholz in 1970. As a condition of sale, the land, building and contents were to remain an example of the early days of the town. The property was restored and opened to the public as a museum in March 1981
Adjacent to the Blacksmith and Wheelwright Shops, Scholz Cottage on the main street of Riverton, is an insight into how the family lived back in the late 1800s. The living room, kitchen and bedroom are furnished with pieces purchased by the Scholz family. Books in English and German rest near old lamps and clocks. The camera, glass negatives and photographs belonging to the youngest son Edwin, are a feature on display in the cottage. The cottage also witnessed some sadness with Pauline and Hulda, two of August and Wilhelmine's daughters dying in a heatwave in 1839.
Near the cottage, the Blacksmith Shop, complete with overhead bellows, forges and anvils demonstrates the tools of trade used by the Scholz family for over a hundred years. Examples of horse drawn vehicles and farm equipment are on display in the shed near the Blacksmith shop.
Blacksmith Shop, Riverton c1910. B16934 State Library of South Australia
In the Wheelwright shop, the machinery and benches with many handmade tools, remind visitors of the life and times of these hard working craftsmen.
A small laundry and printing office are also located in the Wheelwrights shop.
The Scholz Park Museum Committee and the Riverton Community Management Committee have been working on the development of the museum to ensure that future generations will be able to revisit the past for decades to come. If the Sunday afternoon opening hours are not suitable, appointments can be made by contacting John Glistak on email@example.com
or contacting the Riverton Information Centre.
Riverton Local History and Information Centre. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Riverton is a welcoming town, the largest in the Gilbert Valley, with a main street full of historical buildings. Almost every structure was built in the 1800s, when the town was a stopping point for bullock teams transporting ore from Burra to Port Adelaide. Walking and cycling trails in the area provide the opportunity to get out and explore and if you are a foodie, check out the country fare on offer from the bakery and the local hotels, steeped with a history of their own.
Take a drive out to Riverton, check out the museum and enjoy a journey back to the early days in South Australia.