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Published February 1st 2016
See what's changed up at Mount Barker
Come on up to Mount Barker
If Captain Collett Barker, the original surveyor of the land around Mount Barker could envisage the immense growth and development that the area has undergone and is still going through, I'm sure he would be both overwhelmed and impressed.
Unfortunately Captain Barker did not live to see that day, having been reportedly killed by native tribesmen near the Murray mouth two years before Adelaide was officially settled.
However other explorers, including Barton Hack, Morphett, Stephens, Wade and Cock re-discovered and opened up the area for settlement describing it with "the climate being salubrious and the elevation considerable, and a most desirable spot for summer residences".
Today Mount Barker is around 34 kms south-east of the city of Adelaide, about a 35 minute drive up the freeway, with a population of over 30,000, and said to be one of the fastest growing populations in South Australia.
Taking a walk around Mount Barker opens up all of your senses and there is an interesting mix of visible heritage, wide-open parks and spaces as well as the introduction of more community facilities and more modern infrastructure.
Gawler Street, being one of the main streets in Mount Barker, is a great area to explore, offering some great eating places including Millie's Bakery which has been operating in Mount Barker since 1980.
Freshly prepared bakery items including various varieties of pies, pasties, sausage rolls, freshly made sandwiches and rolls, cakes and great coffee.
Millie's now offer over 18 different products and have added a great decking outside for those pleasant days.
Or if you want to try something more substantial, how about visiting The Barker which is now fully renovated, originally dating from 1840 with an impressive range of bistro/casual meals from Mediterranean through to traditional pub fare.
On Gawler Street, there are some interesting shops to browse including Hillbilly's Country Living so if you are into kitchenware, then Hillbilly's is reported to be have the most comprehensive range of kitchenware in the Adelaide Hills.
If you have an appreciation for the fine arts, Gawler Street now has an Art and Cultural Walking Trail which starts at Nonna's Kitchen, an excellent Italian and Mediterranean Restaurant/cafe and finishes at the bottom end roundabout.
Signage indicates the premises along Gawler Street which are part of the trail, and upon entering the various businesses, you have an opportunity to view some great artistic pieces by local artists.
All of these works are for sale and are housed in institutions such as the Commonwealth Bank, Bendigo Bank, Millie's Bakery and Blooms & Baskets.
With over fifty participating artists, the trail is well worth exploring. Who knows, you may pick up a great piece of artwork locally produced.
The difficult situation for any community is to find the right balance between heritage and development and Mount Barker is no different.
It is heartening to still see heritage buildings dotted around Mount Barker, one in particular being Auchendarroch, originally built in 1860 and now housing the Wallis cinema complex and Tavern.
The restoration of the property has also now allowed parts of the house to be used for weddings, corporate seminars, engagements and birthday celebrations.
Other significant heritage buildings include the Old Police Station dating from 1868 and St Werburg's Chapel originally built in 1873 as well as two heritage pubs dating back over 100 years and several old bank buildings.
With Mount Barker continuing to grow and expand, it has become difficult with the amount of traffic utilising the area, with only one entrance and exit from the South-Eastern Freeway.
Therefore a new Interchange is being built at Bald Hills Road, which will provide another entry/exit point to the freeway and hence Adelaide. The expected completion date on this important project is deemed to be June 2016.
With the building of the interchange has also given developers the opportunity to add further infrastructure with proposed new wetlands as well as a site for a possible future added school.
There are also plans to improve the town centre of Mount Barker, reinforcing it as the main retail, business and service centre in the greater Adelaide Hills.
I have been going to Mt.Barker since 1948 and the main street has not changed all that much.I was surprised to read your population figures...these would make Mt.Barker the second most populated area,outside of the city.
A trip to Mt.Barker summit is worth the time and effort.Excellent views and easy to drive to.
I might mention that for those who feel like they have spent enough time at Mt.Barker,drive 2O mins. away through Wistow to Strathalbyn...many would say the prettiest small inland town in SA.