A Brief History Of Hahndorf

The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser (SA : 1880 – 1954) - Thursday 10 December 1936

On December 29, 1838, the "Zebra," under Captain Hahn, brought 187 Lutherans to the new British Colony to find religious freedom on account of differences in their religious beliefs in the homeland. The immigrants were, however, unable to land until January 2, 1839, because of the low water at Port Adelaide.

The first thought of the gallant Captain Hahn was to endeavour to obtain assistance for his immigrants by applying to Mr. Gilles, the Treasurer, but his efforts were of no avail. He made similar requests to Messrs. Finnis and Metcalfe (some doubt seems to exist as to whether this should not be McFarlane), but it was not until Mr. F. H. Dutton and Mr. D. McFarlane casually mentioned that they were partners in the Mount Barker special survey that Capt. Hahn saw any hope of obtaining help.

He appealed to them for a portion of their land on which to settle the newcomers, and received a sympathetic hearing.

An inspection was arranged, and on January 24 the party began its journey into the hills. At 11 a.m. they breakfasted on the top of Mount Lofty and by 2 pm another halt was made on a hilltop and there the party lunched under a gum tree in the deep silence of the Australian virgin bush. They, however, again set to and travelled until the track opened out into a fine green meadow with the Onkaparinga River not far behind. This had an immediate and great appeal to Hahn, so that they camped that night with the shepherds of Mr. Finnis.

The following day, after much discussion with Messrs. Metcalfe (or McFarlane), Dutton, and Finnis, Captain Hahn was successful in making an agreement whereby the Lutherans were to have 150 acres of land free of rent for one year (38 acres were set aside for building requirements), together with provisions.

Furthermore, they were to receive six cows, a few fowls, ducks, geese, and pigs. If the venture were a success, then at the end of 12 months each family was to receive at a reasonable rent as much land as they could work.

The owners also agreed to build a church, provided the Lutherans found the labour and contributed £40 to the pastor's salary—and so by 1 p.m. the whole matter was finalized.

At 9 p.m. that night Capt. Hahn spread the glad news to the immigrants, and immediate preparations for the departure took place. Already, the bulk of the luggage had been landed, and the party, was occupying the "mud huts of the Klemzig settlers (November 21,1838).

As the cost of transport was prohibitive, it meant that the goods had to be carried from the seashore to the present site of Hahndorf—a colossal undertaking which only their grit and determination allowed them to survive. March saw the first settlers arrive, and by the end of May all were once more together.

Their new home proved to be a plain, luxuriant with kangaroo grass and enclosed by heavily-wooded hills, while near the centre was the natives' "bukatilla"—swimming pool. (This is still to be seen from the property of Mr. F. Wotzke to Mr. Smith's bridge). Here they erected their dwellings from the wood which grew on the land, and in honour of Capt. Hahn, who made the settlement of these 52 families possible, they called the place Hahndorf.

It was on May 24, 1839, that the settlers showed their loyalty to the British Throne by gathering before the Governor's house and swearing allegiance to the Queen.

In 1915 the name of Hahndorf was changed by Parliament to Ambleside. Following upon the representations of Mr. H. Krawinkel (chairman of general committee), Mr. C. G. E. Nitschke (chairman of local committee) and other members of the German Australian Centenary committee, the historical name of Hahndorf was restored as from December, 1935.