Tea Tree Gully township, in the northeastern suburbs of Adelaide, is located 19km from the city. The bustling North East Road passes through the centre of the modern Tea Tree Gully, with its shops, hotels and restaurants. Taking a walk through the township reveals a street of historical buildings, all with stories to tell.
Until 1900, the township of Tea Tree Gully was known as Steventon, named after the early settler John Stevens. First settled in 1839, the area became a popular site for squatting by stockholders and travellers working their way up North East Road, due to its proximity to Adelaide and the fresh water supply. Settlers cleared trees in the area, using them to build fences, in order to establish market gardens in the rich and fertile land.
Built in 1854, the Highercombe Hotel, now the location of the Tea Tree Gully Heritage Museum, has been a meeting place for the community since the days of early settlement in the area. The largest room was used for a variety of functions such as council meetings, lodge meetings and dances. A decline in customer numbers due to the redirecting of North East Road in 1875 caused the hotel to cease trading in 1878. The building was then used as both a post office and, on the southern side, the residence of the schoolmaster. The building became a private residence and then a library and council offices in the 1960s.
In the care of the National Trust since 1967, the building had fallen into disrepair before being restored and transformed into the Heritage Museum. Visitors can view a wide variety of historical pieces and information, skillfully displayed in rooms including a nursery, kitchen and bedrooms, as well as the old post office and an old school room. Open to the public on the third Sunday of every month from 1 to 4pm, the museum is also used for school and group tours. Admission prices are $5 for Adults, $4 Concession, and free admission for children under 16.
Dunn's Cash Store
Dunn's Cash Store, now Ruby Raja's Restaurant . Hazel Cochrane
Just a few paces from the museum is the site of Dunn's Cash Store, now the popular Ruby Raja's Indian Restaurant. Built in 1854, the store was built for J. E. Cooke, the area's first shopkeeper. The store was taken over by William Dunn in 1881, operating as Dunn's Cash Store for the next 80 years. The building has been used as a restaurant since that time, previously as the North East Highway Restaurant and now as the Ruby Rajas.
Built using locally quarried stone, circa 1854, the Rumps Bakery building was leased by Charles Rump and converted into a bakery in 1867. Ernst Heitman, who was initially employed as an assistant in 1884 and later as a manager in 1889, purchased the business from Charles Rump in 1893.
Built in 1854 by the town founder John Stevens, Ellis cottage was also built from local stone. Purchased by Richard Ellis and later occupied by Claude Ellis and his wife in 1913, the building was extended to accommodate their growing family.
It is hard to imagine a whole family residing in the small cottage compared with the houses we live in today. The cottage was used intermittently until the Second World War, then as a storage area.
The Flour Mill
The Flour Mill, now the Fox & Firkin- Hazel Cochrane
Now known as the Fox and Firkin, this building was originally a flourmill built in 1853 by S. Camper & Company. The flourmill was constructed on a site where the drawing of water from the springs to power the steam flourmill could be facilitated. The building became a storage site for chaff and grain when the water supply became inadequate for the flourmill. In 1881, Richard Ellis converted the building into the butchery. Ellis's son used the stone removed from the third storey of the building to construct a house and butcher's shop on the western side of the mill. Dick Ellis transferred the butchers shop back to the mill in 1946 when he took over the family business. Since that time a ground floor room has also been used as a barber's shop and an art gallery before becoming the Fox and Firkin Hotel.
Across North East Road, on Haines Road, is the site of the local Council Chambers built in 1855. The first local Chambers to be constructed in South Australia was instrumental in establishing local government in the area. Designed by architect William Weir, the white painted stone building is now an art gallery. To commemorate the centenary of the settlement of Tea Tree Gully, the Pine Plantation was planted in 1937 on Haines Road, behind the old council chambers.
Constructed at the same time as the Highercombe Hotel and opening five months later, the Tea Tree Gully Inn, as it was originally known faced tough competition. Together with the limited population in the area at the time frequent changes in licensee resulted. As the third hotel in the area to be granted a license and being located away from the main road, the Inn struggled to remain profitable. Further exacerbated by the exodus to the goldfields in 1850, the Inn changed hands fourteen times in the first twenty years of operation. In 1875, when the main road was rerouted to the current North East Road, the Inn was then on the main thoroughfare. When customers moved their patronage from the Highercombe to the Tea Tree Gully Inn, the Highercombe Hotel closed down later that year. There are rumours surrounding the existence of an underground tunnel between the Inn and the Highercombe Hotel designed for bootlegging. Until 1921, mail coaches stopped at the hotel now known as The Gully Public House and Kitchen. The hotel continues to provide food, beverages and entertainment to the local community.
Located on Perseverance Road, Haines Memorial Park is located in the heart of the Tea Tree Gully Township. Easily identified by the gazebo in the centre of the park and the old drinking fountain in the park dating back to 1909, restored by the Rotary Club of Tea Tree Gully in 2005. William Haines who left the land to the people of Tea Tree Gully upon his death in 1902 once owned the area. Spending almost all of his life in the area, he was interested in the welfare of the people in the district and wanted to provide an area for recreation. The Park was officially opened by the Governor in 1909.
Replacing the original church built in 1863, due to the continued growth in the congregation, the prominent stone building of today was built in 1913. Named after the Reverend F. Medcalf, the minister of the original church from 1887 to 1890.
One of the oldest surviving church buildings, the former Baptist Church has significant importance with the early development of the area. Services had been held in private homes until the congregation met in 1862 to generate funds to build the church building. The resulting building, opened on 24 March 1863, is now used as a Sunday school and hall.
There are a variety of shops, cafes and hotels in the township, who are happy to welcome visitors and if you are in the area, park the car and take a walk around and soak up the history of the early settlement in the area.