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Whatever Happened to Old Tanunda ?

Home > Adelaide > Walks | Places of Interest | Historic Houses | Escape the City | Day Trips
by Steve Hudson (subscribe)
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Published August 2nd 2016
Where has it all gone ?
No-one is quite sure when the township of Tanunda was first founded. History suggests it was in the early 1840's but little remains of those early days, days when the earliest settlers were German Lutheran immigrants who left their native Prussia to form new homes in the Barossa Valley and to bring some distinctive German style and class to the region.

Town Walk of Tanunda, Bethany, Langmeil, Tanunda Hotel, Tabor Church, Langmeil Church, Heysen Trail, Mawson Trail
Visitor Centre - Steve Hudson


In fact, they were so successful that Friederich Gerstaecker is quoted in 1851 as saying on the Town Walk of Tanunda brochure that "Tanunda is a nice little place, but entirely German. There are German public houses, a German drug store, German doctors, stores, blacksmith, carpenter, school and church. In fact, everything is German".

Town Walk of Tanunda, Bethany, Langmeil, Tanunda Hotel, Tabor Church, Langmeil Church, Heysen Trail, Mawson Trail
Heritage Trail Bollards - Steve Hudson


A quick trip to Tanunda today reveals that other cultures now have an influence, so what happened in between ? A short walk on the Town Walk of Tanunda, incorporating the Tanunda Heritage Trail bollards, provides some glimpse into Tanunda's past which gives an insight as to how Tanunda is today.

Town Walk of Tanunda, Bethany, Langmeil, Tanunda Hotel, Tabor Church, Langmeil Church, Heysen Trail, Mawson Trail
Tabor Lutheran Church - Steve Hudson


The walk commences outside the Barossa Visitor Centre in a building that itself was a former store dating back to the 1880's. But over the road, the first real glimpse into the town is seen at the mighty Tabor Lutheran Church, built in 1849. Originally the Free Evangelical Lutheran Church, the building has undergone several renovations over the years, while the gardens remain largely as they have always been. The main reason for that is the number of burials that took place in those grounds last century, and the headstones that remain partly obscured but intact.

Town Walk of Tanunda, Bethany, Langmeil, Tanunda Hotel, Tabor Church, Langmeil Church, Heysen Trail, Mawson Trail
Old headstones - Steve Hudson


Almost next door is the Tanunda Hotel, one of the earliest buildings in town. A former fine establishment built from local stone in 1845, it has also undergone significant renovations over the years with a second story added, the injection of Angaston marble into the premises, and an impressive long veranda with wrought iron columns and lacework imported from England to give it a more contemporary feel in line with Tanunda's growing status in the Valley.

Town Walk of Tanunda, Bethany, Langmeil, Tanunda Hotel, Tabor Church, Langmeil Church, Heysen Trail, Mawson Trail
Tanunda Hotel - Steve Hudson


The former Post Office, Old Mill, Printing Office and Tanunda Institute show some signs of German heritage, but these are fast being overtaken by signs from opportunistic retailers who are seeing an opportunity to adaptively re-use and insert a new business into an otherwise good building.

Town Walk of Tanunda, Bethany, Langmeil, Tanunda Hotel, Tabor Church, Langmeil Church, Heysen Trail, Mawson Trail
Old Mill - Steve Hudson


The first Lutheran Pastor to arrive in the colony of SA in 1838 was Pastor Kavel. Initially involved with the formation of Bethany, Pastor Kavel came to nearby Langmeil and was instrumental in the formation of this new town, and its Church before its eventual morphing into the larger township of Tanunda. A memorial to Pastor Kavel sits in the cemetery at the rear of the Langmeil Lutheran Church.

Town Walk of Tanunda, Bethany, Langmeil, Tanunda Hotel, Tabor Church, Langmeil Church, Heysen Trail, Mawson Trail
Langmeil Church and Memorial - Steve Hudson


Outside the Church is Maria Street, a living example of the history of buildings over the last 150 years. From early cottages and quaint homes to German and English houses, Maria Street has an interesting diversity of housing styles from over the last 100 years highlighting the changing cultures over the years.

Town Walk of Tanunda, Bethany, Langmeil, Tanunda Hotel, Tabor Church, Langmeil Church, Heysen Trail, Mawson Trail
Maria Street Housing - Steve Hudson


In the middle of Maria Street is Der Ziegenmarkt, or Goat Square as it is affectionately known. Formerly the centre of the township of Tanunda, Goat Square was a hive of activity as a meeting place at the regular traders' markets. Over the years, the retailers have moved towards Murray Street, leaving Goat Square as a quiet square in the backstreets where in a moment of reflection, one can imagine the hustle and bustle of early pioneer's life in this square.

Town Walk of Tanunda, Bethany, Langmeil, Tanunda Hotel, Tabor Church, Langmeil Church, Heysen Trail, Mawson Trail
'Goat Square' by Rod Schubert - Steve Hudson


Bilyara Road was the road that linked the townships of Langmeil and Tanunda, and is also lined with a variety of housing, albeit from those with different income levels. The late 19th century villas and the 1920's Tudor style bungalows are prominent on this road which was once known as the Langmeil Road, but was forced to change its name to Bilyara in 1915 at a time when anti-German sentiment was running strong.

Town Walk of Tanunda, Bethany, Langmeil, Tanunda Hotel, Tabor Church, Langmeil Church, Heysen Trail, Mawson Trail
Bilyara Street and Rotunda - Steve Hudson


And perhaps that might be part of the reason that Tanunda is losing much of its German heritage. A quick glimpse down the main street, and Schrapel's Department Store retains the only facade with a large link to the past in a street that is fast becoming well known for its cafes, coffees, walkers, cyclists and tourists aplenty.

Town Walk of Tanunda, Bethany, Langmeil, Tanunda Hotel, Tabor Church, Langmeil Church, Heysen Trail, Mawson Trail
Former Schrapel Department Store - Steve Hudson


The Town Walk of Tanunda is around 2.5km and is child and wheelchair friendly, and provides a wonderful insight into this great town. Town Walk and Heritage Trail brochures are available online or from the Visitor Information Centre.
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Why? One of SA's great towns
When: Any time
Where: Tanunda
Cost: Free
Your Comment
What a wonderful little historic town, Steve - love the photos too!
by Elaine (score: 3|5492) 782 days ago
Ah. something better to do than drinking in the Barossa Valley.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|6149) 781 days ago
One of my favourite towns in S.Aust.The Heritage Walk might be the way to go next time I visit.I wonder why there are other towns with similar names such as Kapunda and Eudunda...I wonder if this has aboriginal significance?
by noelp (score: 3|1180) 777 days ago
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