Early Wheat Growing and Flour Milling in the Adelaide Hills Region

The Granary of Australia

Initially in the Colony of South Australia, although some wheat was hand ground, flour was mainly imported from interstate with a large duty payable.  In 1838, some colonists had planted 20 acres (8 hectares) of wheat on the fertile Adelaide Plains which was so successful that by 1841 there were 10,000 acres (4,000ha) of wheat being grown in South Australia. 

From this start, South Australia rapidly developed to the forefront of the Australian wheat industry and came to be considered as 'The Granary of Australia' with more and more land being cultivated with wheat.  Wheat production increased very rapidly from 10,000 acres (4000ha) in 1841 to 90,000 acres (36,000 ha) by 1855 and 900,000 acres (364,000ha) by 1875.  Exports of flour rose from 23,000 tons in 1868 to 85,000 tons in 1884, much of this tonnage going to Queensland and New South Wales.

The 1880-81 season was a poor one with production of 8.2 million bushels (223,000 tonnes) compared with 14 million bushels (380,000 tonnes) in 1879-80.  South Australia’s population at this time was 270,000 and 3.0 million bushels (82,000 tonnes) of wheat provided enough flour to meet local demand.

In the Adelaide Hills Region (which includes the Mount Barker district), wheat cultivation reached its peak around 1860, but went into decline after that due to disease, poor management of the crops, and increased competition.  The early 1890's saw the end of the wheat industry boom in the Adelaide Hills.

Early Major Developments

The following Timeline lists the major relevant developments during the early period of the Colony:

1836.  The British Province of South Australia established as a free settlement was officially proclaimed by Governor Hindmarsh on 28th December, 1836.

1837.  Food was in short supply and the colonists were reliant on food and stock to be supplied by ship from NSW and Tasmania.  Colonists were eager to purchase livestock and good farming land.  With the collapse of livestock prices in NSW, substantial profit awaited anyone who could overland herds of livestock successfully from NSW to Adelaide.

1838.  Overlanders from NSW drove sheep and cattle to South Australia, yarding the livestock in the Mt Barker district.  The first to leave NSW was Edward John Eyre (departed Dec 1837, arrived July 1838), followed by Joseph Hawden and Charles Bonney who were the first to arrive (departed Jan 1838, arrived April 1838), and then Captain Charles Sturt and Captain John Finnis (departed May 1838, arrived August 1838), with other overlanders following.  The early overlanders were very impressed with the quality of land in South Australia and its potential for pastoral development.

1839.  The first South Australian Special Survey was released in the district of Mount Barker.  It was successfully applied for and purchased by William Hampden Dutton on behalf of himself and his partners Duncan Macfarlane, and Captain John Finnis on January 11th.  The Partners made provision for Hahndorf to be established (the first village in the district), and for the township of Mt Barker to be created.

Ridley's Stripper Harvester 1843.1840.  Wheat growing was established in South Australia, with 400 hectares initially under cultivation.  By 1841, this had increased tenfold to 4,000 hectares.  Mt Barker District farmers Walter Paterson, John Bull and Allan Bell played an important role in the development of wheat growing in the colony. 

1843.  A mechanical harvester, the Ridley Stripper, was developed by John Ridley which revolutionised the harvesting of wheat. This contributed to an ever increasing areas of land in the Mount Barker district being utilised for wheat farming.  By 1844, the area under cultivation with wheat was 7,592 hectares.

1846.  The abolition of the English Corn Laws led to export opportunities for South Australian grain.  552 tonnes was exported to Sydney, New Zealand, Singapore and Mauritius.  Wheat grown and milled in the Mt Barker district won prizes in Australia and England.

1849.  The British Navigation Act was repealed, enabling colonies to use cheaper shipping companies to export grain.

1850.   Wheat growing was in full swing and Mt Barker farmers won prizes for their grain and flour in England and Vienna.  People arrived in South Australia to specifically farm in the Mt Barker district.

1866.  Disease of the wheat crops in the early 1860s culminated in the great rust and smug plague of 1866-1867 which put a stop to wheat growing in the wetter parts of the Adelaide Hills.

1890.  Wheat growing in the Eastern, Northern and Western areas of South Australia led to the end of the wheat era in the Mt Barker district and most local mills ceased milling flour.

Early Flour Mills in South Australia

The need for self-sufficiency in flour led to the establishment of flour mills in South Australia with the first built in 1840 by Ridley at Hindmarsh, Adelaide.  Turning the harvested grain into flour was a high priority and flour milling became the colony's first secondary industry.

Early flour mills used stone rollers (mill-stones), imported mainly from France, which sieved off the bran producing a fine wholemeal flour.  In the 1880’s, existing Stone Mills were generally converted to Roller Mills which had many advantages and produced a highly refined white flour by sieving off bran, pollard and semolina.  Steam power was mainly used, but there were some wind powered and water powered mills constructed with an isolated horse powered or bullock powered plant.  Once steam mills became established, generally in more convenient sites than wind and water-mills, the latter became uneconomical to operate.  Eventually, electric power was used on remaining flour mills.

Most early mills were located within the metropolitan areas such as Hindmarsh, Kent Town, Thebarton and Hackney.  In the early 1840’s mill construction was extended to the country areas initially in the Adelaide Hills, followed by Gawler then Hawker, Quorn and Port Augusta in the north; Tanunda and Angaston in the Barossa; and Noarlunga, Aldinga, Willunga and Second Valley in the south.  Expansion of mills continued throughout the State in the 1850’s with new mills at Strathalbyn (1849), Bridgewater (1852), Stockwell (1854); Birdwood (1854) and Salisbury (1855), with towns such as Murray Bridge, Balaklava, and Port Lincoln soon added.

Early steam-powered flour mills included Ridley's at Hindmarsh (December 1840), Kent's at Kent Town (January 1841), the Finnissbrook Mill at Burnside (steam and water-power), the Company's Mill at Hackney (1842), Dunn's Mill at Mt Barker (1844), and Wittwer's Mill at Hahndorf (1851). 
Early wind-powered flour mills included those built at Lyndoch Valley (stone tower), Hay Valley, Adelaide West Terrace (Nixon's), North Road Prospect, Adelaide West Terrace (Phillips' stone tower), and Hahndorf/Mt Barker (Nixon's).  Two more windmills were completed later at Morphett Vale and Encounter Bay, and another windmill was begun in 1846 at Port Lincoln but was never completed. 
There was also one water mill (late 1842) on Cox Creek near the junction with the Onkaparinga River, and another Dunn's Mill at Bridgewater (1859). 
Larger and more modern mills were later built at Leadenhall Street, Port Adelaide (1868); Eudunda (1872) Jamestown (1873); Greenock (1873)  and Mannum (1876).

By 1856, 60 flour mills were operating with a capacity such that the entire South Australian wheat crop could be processed in less than three months. Flour production was now exceeding local demand so that exports were being explored.  At this point in time, Interstate sales were considered exports and the main outlet.  By 1859 there were a total of 75 flour mills operating in the Colony.  This phenomenal expansion of flour mills over 40 years peaked at 117 in 1880.

The rapid rise in flour mill construction was followed by an equally rapid fall.  In 1881 alone no less than 33 flour mills ceased to operate.  These were mainly in country areas servicing small communities and with no export markets.  Wheat prices were high for that time resulting in many small flour mills becoming non-viable.

Our Mill Power  [Extract from Adelaide Observer - 8 December 1860]  ...... Such a detail is furnished us by the Statistical Register of the colony for the year 1859, a compilation from which we have already derived much valuable information.  From that document we learn that at the close of last year there were in this province no less than 73 steam-mills and 2 water-mills, driving collectively 195 pairs of stones.  The steam-mills were worked by engines possessing an aggregate power equivalent to that of 969 horses in addition to which one of the mills returned as a steam mill (that on the West-terrace) was also furnished with machinery for using wind motive power, and three of the country steam-mills had facilities and machinery for the employment of water power.  .......  With respect to the local distribution of our mill power the statistics furnish us with tolerably complete information.  The two exclusively water-mills are situated, the one in the district of Echunga, the other in the district of Macclesfield.  The first drives three pairs of stones, the second one pair only. .......

John Dunn

The eminently successful John Dunn of Mount Barker built numerous mills in South Australia.  In January 1900 all of J. Dunn's mills were offered for sale. 

In ‘The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser” 28 July 1887, John Dunn stated: "The dates of foundation of the principal mills in connection with my career in this colony are:

John Dunn snr 1802-1894

  • Hay Valley windmill, now abandoned, 1841
  • Mount Barker mill, which yet does its work efficiently and well, 1844
  • Adelaide warehouse, 1856
  • Bridgewater, about the only mill in the colony worked by water wheel, 1860
  • Nairne mill, which I bought from its original builders, 1864
  • Mount Torrens mill, which was hired as an experiment, about the same date
  • Port Adelaide mill, bought from my son John after his return from Fiji, 1866
  • Port Pirie, 1877
  • Wilmington and Port Augusta, 1878."

Early Flour Mills Operating in the Adelaide Hills Region

1839  Hahndorf

Hand and foot operated mill needing 2-3 people to run it.  Hand operated grinding stones.  Coffee grinder.

1841  Echunga

J.B. Hack’s horse-powered mill.  In 1845 this mill was converted into a wind-powered mill.  In the South Australian (16 December 1845) the Echunga windmill, Mount Barker, was offered for sale for £300 ($600).  "It cost the present owners £500 ($1000), who only want a small deposit and 12 per cent interest on the balance, or will join a practical man of business who will put in £150 ($300).  As the hill crops will be saved in a few weeks and the windmill be in full work early replies are wanted.''

1841  Hay Valley

Hay Valley Mill c1919.John Dunn's Hay Valley Mill c1869.John Dunn’s windmill.  John Dunn built his first mill, a wind-driven flour mill, in the Adelaide Hills at Hay Valley near Nairne.   It was an unusual structure, being a primitive fixed windmill built with a tree trunk as the central support and with seven timber uprights. The structure was composed entirely of wood, as also was most of the machinery, including huge cog wheels and spindles.  John Dunn described the time spent in erecting his mill as the hardest eighteen months of his life.  Dissatisfied with the limitations of this mill he then built a steam mill at Mount Barker, which was completed in 1844.

1842  Hahndorf

S. Jaeschke’s bullock powered mill.  Hahndorf’s farmers planted their first cereal crops on the slopes surrounding the village in 1839.  As their yields increased so did the problems of making flour.  Until future mills were operational, grain was painstakingly ground into flour by hand.  Samuel Jaeschke set up a bullock-drawn mill at No. 54 Main Street to service this growing industry.  His brother-in-law Gottlob Linke’s skills as a carpenter and wheelwright probably aided Jaeschke's enterprise which may also have benefited from the skills of Friedrich Gottlieb Lange, a flour miller.

1842  Mount Barker/Hahndorf

F.R. Nixon’s windmill.  Construction of Frederick R Nixon's stone wind-powered mill was completed in 1842.  This mill was located on the brow of a hill overlooking the road between Hahndorf and Mount Barker.  This hill was subsequently known as "Windmill Hill".  Milling at Nixon's site ceased in 1864 as it was no longer able to compete with steam mills.  The mill lay dormant until 1928, when the first renovation of the windmill as a tourist look-out tower was carried out.  At this time A.E. Braendler (the then owner) donated the windmill and some surrounding land to the Mount Barker District Council.

1842  Grünthal (Verdun)

J.F.W. Wittwer’s watermill.  Early in 1842, Hahndorf’s flour miller, Wilhelm Wittwer, decided to farm at neighbouring Grünthal, with milling as a highly profitable second income.  He erected a waterwheel on Crown land at nearby Cox Creek, a little above where it enters the Onkaparinga River (present-day Section 3849, Hundred of Noarlunga), some four kilometres below The Deanery.  Possibly, Wittwer chose the millstones from outcrops of granite further downstream along the Onkaparinga gorges.  'The Observer' of 2 September 1843 spoke glowingly of Wilhelm Wittwer’s initiative:  [The] good water mill is abundantly supplied from Cox Creek during six months of the year, and it is expected that even in the summer months, the supply of water will be sufficient to keep at least one pair of stones a-going.  It did not last long, as it was wrecked by a flood.  The owner, Mr Wittwer, then built a new steam mill in Hahndorf and moved the grindstone from Cox Creek.  These same stones that ground wheat in 1842 now stand in front of the St Michael's Lutheran Church in Hahndorf.

1844  Mount Barker

John Dunn’s steam mill.  Captain John Finnis was chiefly instrumental in persuading John Dunn to start milling in the township of Mount Barker and for this purpose Messrs Dutton, Macfarlane and Finnis (the Mt Barker Special Survey partners) each gave a half acre of land for a mill to be situated opposite the existing tannery in Cameron Rd.  The first covering for the millstones was a wooden shanty which was soon replaced by a substantial stone structure in which J. Dunn was assisted by Mr Rogers of Sandergrove.  The mill opened in 1844 and was the first steam-powered flour mill outside of Adelaide.  During its 50 years of operation, 532,053 bags of wheat were deposited at the mill producing 425,648 bags of flour.

1848  Gumeracha

Randell's Mill as the Gumeracha Butter and Cheese Factory, c.1900. Randell’s steam mill.  William Beavis Randell worked for the South Australian Company and was one of the earliest pioneers to the Colony, arriving with his family in South Australia from Devon in the late 1830's.  He was granted land in the area and was the founding father of Gumeracha, laying out the town and building many of the early buildings including the flour Mill.  The Mill was completed in 1849, with two foot (0.6m) thick, bluestone walls, three stories high with huge flywheels and attached machinery.  Milling ceased in 1874 and the property became a butter and cheese factory under a local cooperative.  In February 1912, a fire broke out and part of the building was destroyed, with the third story collapsing, the roof caving in and the building left derelict.  In 1923 the building became a milk depot, then a butcher's shop.  In 1978 Mr Peter Brokenshire undertook a huge restoration project to house his art gallery.  In 2006 part of the Mill was converted to a self contained Bed and Breakfast, and after 2013 used as a residence plus 'Randell's Mill Bed and Breakfast'.

1851  Hahndorf

Wittwer's Mill Hahndorf c1907.F.W. Wittwer’s steam mill.  This steam-powered flour mill was erected in 1851 and operated for nearly sixty years producing brands of flour such as ‘Pride of the Hills’, ‘Windmill’ and ‘Phaultless’.  The mill was built by the miller, F. Wilhelm Wittwer Jnr., one of Hahndorf’s foundation settlers.  He re-built the mill in 1854-55 after the boiler exploded and the mill burned down.  His three sons carried on the milling business following his death in 1904.  The flour mill ceased operations in 1912 and then turned to producing chaff and processing wattlebark for the tanning industry.  In 1923 all milling operations were closed down and the building was used as a wood and grain depot.  In 1971, it became a German-style restaurant, ‘The Old Mill Restaurant’ and motel units were built at the rear.

1853  Mount Torrens

Steam mill.  In 1853 the town's flour mill was built by a co-operative of local landowners.  A Mr Townsend, after a successful venture in the Victorian goldfields, moved to Mount Torrens in about 1852.  When the local flour mill was built, at a cost of £3,400 ($6,800), he was appointed manager but soon after bought the mill.  Six years later Mr Townsend was obliged to retire on account of failing eye-sight, and gave up the mill to his sons.

1854  Birdwood (Blumberg)

Randell and Peerless Mills, Blumberg c1895.Steam and roller mills.  In the 1850s the three-storey 'Randell Mill' was built in the town of Blumberg (now Birdwood).  'Fritz' and Heinrich Pflaum established a tannin-mill alongside the Randell flour-mill and used its steam power plant.  In 1877 they bought the flour-mill and expanded their flour-milling.  In 1887 they built a new adjoining four-storey 'Peerless Mill' for £7000 ($14,000); this was bold given the colony's agricultural recession at that time. The mill boasted the latest German and American technology, including steel rollers.  Pflaum's experience in overseas trade ensured profitable exports of 'Peerless' superfine flour which won prizes at international exhibitions.  He often travelled in Europe, the United States of America, China and Japan.  Electricity replaced the original Watt steam engine in the 1930s but the striking chimney was retained.  By the late 1940s the Mill ceased production, replaced by newer and larger flour mills at Port Adelaide.  The machinery was sold for scrap and the building abandoned.  In 1964 the building was purchased and developed as a Motor Museum, opening to the public the following year.  The museum has developed over the years and now as 'The National Motor Museum' has established a strong reputation as a centre of specialisation for Australian motor road transport history.

1854  Bridgewater (Carripook)

The Lion Mill at Kain Ave, subsequently referred to as the 'Old Mill', was erected by William Wailes in 1854.  Wailes bought the site (two acres of Section 1142, Hundred of Noarlunga) from Cornelius Birdseye on 16 Jan 1854.  It was an excellent site, as it faced both the old and new Mt Barker Roads.  Three months later, a three storey steam powered mill was nearing completion.  However, by the end of the year Wailes was in financial difficulties and, with the concurrence of the chief creditor, Nathanial Oldham, sold the property to Philip Levi.  From 1857 to 1859 it was leased by John Dunn & Son, while that firm built the Bridgewater Mill near the point where the new Mt Barker Road crosses Cox Creek.  The Johnston brothers operated the Lion Mill in the 1860s, but it soon ceased milling due to the competition from Dunn's new mill.  Martin Kain bought the Lion Mill about 1865, having previously worked in Dunn’s Mill.  The Lion Mill machinery was sold to Albert Trilling in a dispersal sale held in 1872, which he subsequently removed to a mill he had built at Jamestown.  The century-old Lion Mill and the chimney were badly damaged in the 1954 earthquake.  It was demolished and some of the stone used to build the new RC Church in Bridgewater.  The Ryan family live in the miller’s house and the former mill wall remains form part of a rock garden.

1856  Mount Barker

'Emu Steam Mill', usually referred to as 'Wedd's Mill'.  There are a number of references that state that there were two flour mills existing in Mt Barker township, Dunn & Co's and A. Wedd's.  The exact location and details of Wedd's Mill have not been ascertained, except that by 1852 the Mt Barker Steam Mill Company had been formed by prominent local residents, and in 1856 they obtained a site for the erection of a steam flour mill.  This was stated to be located in Mount Barker Town on The Great Eastern Road leading directly to Wellington.  The mill was operating in 1857 as in May of that year Wedd and John Smith advertised for the purchase of wheat for their mill.  Early in 1869, Wedd's variety of flour won a prize at the Royal Adelaide Horticultural Show.  However in February 1869 the mill was sold by auction.  In December 1869, the mill was completely destroyed by fire.  A report in the 'Southern Argus' newspaper 18/12/1869 stated  -  'Wedd’s Mill burnt down at about 2.30am.  Trooper Nalty helped to put out the fire.  But all efforts to stay the course of the flames proved futile, and in a short time, nothing was left but the bare walls.  The mill belonged to John Winzor of Adelaide, and Mr John Ledger has just taken the premises on a lease, and was getting the mill in working order for the forthcoming season.  SA Insurance Co £850 ($1700).  Inquest showed no reason for the fire to begin.'

1857  Nairne

Albert Mill, Nairne c1872.Albert steam mill.  Built by Thomas Stoddart in 1857 and called the Albert Mill after Prince Albert.  In 1864, John Dunn purchased the mill for £1,500 ($3,000) and completely remodelled it.  The whole of the machinery was rearranged, an additional floor added, and new silk-dressers and other machinery incorporated.  The improved mill operated from 1865-1906, resulting in the Nairne area being denuded of trees to supply wood for the steam driven mill.  From 1906 to 1926, it was used as a hardware and grain store by the Beacham family who after which donated it to the South Australian State Government.  In 1942, it was transferred it to the National Fitness Council to be used as a hostel during WW2.  It is now privately owned. 

Apparently, there were two flour mills in Nairne as indicated by the following newspaper articles:

[Register 13 Jun 1864] - “both the mills in Nairne have been purchased by gentlemen long known and highly respected in this neighbourhood.  The new mills — formerly the late Mr. Toll's — have been purchased by Mr. J. Dunn, M. P., for the firm of Dunn & Co., and the old mill — formerly known as Mr. Dawes's — by Messrs. Johnston Brothers, of Oakbank and Cox's Creek.  Great improvements are, I hear, to be made in both mills, to render them equal to the production of the finest flour, and they are expected to be soon in full operation.  The inhabitants of this township may be safely congratulated on these evident signs of progress and improvement.”

John Dunn in an article in ‘The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser', dated 28 July 1887 stated:  "I did not want the Nairne mill, and would not have thought of starting there myself.  I bought out the firm who had built it in order to enlarge my Mount Barker and Bridgewater business.  The first Nairne mill broke down, and the next, and the next, while, even when things looked prosperous there, the prices were kept very low.  After I was in possession of one of the two mills set up at Nairne, a district firm hired the other, and we two set to work in the highly interesting operation of cutting each other's throats.  At last I found the only way for either of us to do well was to acquire both mills.  I therefore offered either to sell mine or buy the other, and the result was that the two came into my hands and I did a good trade for some years."

Extract from Hahndorf Community Assoc. Facebook Page (22Oct 2022)  -  Mt Barker Local History Centre 

Thomas Stoddart built the old Albert Mill, Junction Road, Nairne in 1857. John Dunn purchased the mill in 1864, and the mill underwent an entire remodelling with an additional floor obtained by excavation, increasing the building to five stories. With the extensive alterations complete, the engine for the mill restarted on the 18th April 1865. During the evening, Messrs. Dunn & Co. entertained their workers, with a few of the leading inhabitants of Nairne, to a dinner at the Millers’ Arms Inn.

Dunne & Co owned the Albert Mill at Nairne for over 30 years and eventually closed in 1906.


  • Local History Centre - https://localhistory.mountbarker.sa.gov.au
  • TROVE Newspapers SA Weekly Chronicle 29/04/1865
  • PH-V51-00014 Nairne: Albert Mill, J. Dunn & Co. Date: 1880
  • PH-V51-00015 Nairne: Albert Mill. Date: 2006

1859  Bridgewater

Dunn's Mill, Bridgewater ca1880.Bridgewater Mill Wheel (Old Rumbler) c1907.  Note children in bottom RH corner of photo.J. Dunn and Sons steam and watermill.  Initially, John Dunn leased the Lion Steam Mill at Kain Ave, Carripook while building the mill at Bridgewater.  John Dunn & Son had bought two allotments of Section 1141 from J Addison in 1855.  The larger one, just below the Deanery, was used for building a large dam, which was finished by December 1857.  In August 1858, plans and specifications for a steam and water mill were sent to Scotland.  By March 1859, the foundation stone of the new mill had been laid.  Machinery, including three pairs of stones, arrived January 1860.  The giant ‘pitchback’ waterwheel known as the ‘Old Rumbler’ was manufactured in Scotland, brought out in pieces and assembled on-site.  Weighing 26.4 tonne and an imposing 11.27 meters in diameter, it required 30,000 litres of water each minute to drive it.  It was the largest waterwheel in the colony at that time.  By mid 1860, the new mill commenced grinding by water power with steam power being installed six months later.  Specialised in grinding wheat for export, the mill's flour won 1st prize in the International Exhibition held in London in 1862.  In 1866, John Dunn retired, and his son took over the mill.  However, the dam just above the railway embankment did not store enough water, and in 1870 another was built further upstream on the property now called Arbury Park.  Almost as soon as it was finished, the earthworks failed and the resultant flood carried away the Deanery Bridge, the lower dam and the Main road bridge.  The upper dam was never rebuilt.  The Mill remained successful until the 1890s when the flow of water from Cox Creek slowed down to the extent that the Mill became totally depending on steam driven power.  Soon the Mill was no longer profitable and in 1895 ceased operation.  In July 1900, J Edwin Thomas took over the Mill which was subsequently purchased by Gill, Gellert, and Co., of Port Adelaide in 1901.  In March 1907, Frederick Peter Knight a former apprentice and head miller of Dunn's purchased the property, being joined in a number of partnerships over the years which involved several name changes.  In 1909, the Mill was gutted by fire and was rebuilt at great expense.  Around 1917, the Mill was bought by Murray Valley Milling Company who rebuilt the Mill using electric machinery from Germany.  In the 1920s and 30s the Mill lay idle for almost 17 years.  Fire again struck in 1947, but this time damage was contained to the third floor.  In 1957, the non-functional Mill was sold to Hamilton’s Ewell Vineyards and became the property of Petaluma Winery in 1985.  The ruin was then fully restored as a wine cellar and quality restaurant, and subsequently under various ownerships has remained a restaurant.

Bridgewater Mill  [Following comments by Reg Butler, Hahndorf]  -  Reputed to have made the first semolina in SA.  People came with 56lb bags to buy for porridge.  Bridgewater mill ground slowly - bakers liked this flour best; never any trouble to sell it.  Rumoured that Dunns used Bridgewater flour as samples for export orders and then filled orders from other mills.  When the dam dried out in summer, the mill employees used to plough the soil with two horses and a single furrow plough, and use the best for their market gardens.  When the 1st downpours came, the sluice gates opened and the poorer soil went down Cox Creek into the Onkaparinga River.  Best wheat supposed to have been grown at Monarto, with limestone.  Wheat came to Bridgewater by train and use 6-8 tonne trolleys to unload from a siding about a week in spare time.  Atkinson’s of Crafers, local butcher, supplied a tin of dripping once a week to grease the wheel.

1863  Mount Pleasant (Totness)

Totness Roller Flour Mill - [On back of photograph] 'The old mill Mount Pleasant / 1926 / Reproduced in the "Observer", Nov. 27, 1926'.The Mount Pleasant Flour Mill (Totness Mill) was the last of the flour mills to be established in the valley of the Torrens.  Weinert’s mill at Lobethal was sold in 1862, after its owner Gustav Hittmann declared bankruptcy.  The forced-sale price of £500 ($1,000) appealed to Henry Giles snr, and as a result he decided to establish a mill within Totness (Mt Pleasant).  In 1863, Gustav Hittman dismantled the machinery at the Lobethal flour mill and transferred it to the new Totness Mill where John Godlee supervised the installation.  The mill commenced operation and produced flour which was considered to be of first-rate quality, however, it only operated for a few years due to disease in the wheat crops.  In 1900, the mill was sold by Henry Giles to Alfred Townsend of Mt Torrens, who upgraded and modernised it, greatly increasing its annual output to 3,500 bags.  The mill then became known as the Totness Roller Flourmills and was operational until it burnt down in September 1923.  The tall chimney was subsequently demolished in 1951 as it had become unsafe due to salt-damp.

? Lobethal

Lobethal Flour Mill c1860.In the early days of Tweedvale (Lobethal) a miller named Lange came from Hahndorf and started a mill opposite the present Institute. The ruins are still to be seen.  Wheat went up to 20/- per bushel, and things boomed.  This brought Weinert and Bevilqua on the scene as rival millers.  Then wheat dropped to 2/6.  The new mill closed, but Lange's kept going, being successively owned by Hannaford August Lange (son of the preceding Lange), and Scarman & King.  It ceased operations about 1878.


The above information was compiled by AM (Tony) Finnis from information and articles by Bernard Arnold (Gumeracha and District History Centre Inc.), Anni Luur Fox (Hahndorf Branch National Trust of South Australia), Don Goldney (Mt Barker Branch National Trust Of South Australia), Reg Butler (Historian Hahndorf), Lyndell Davidge (Hahndorf), Newspaper Articles (Trove), "A Miller's Tale - The Memoirs of John Dunn of Mt Barker", The Government of SA Publication "A History of Agriculture in SA - Flour Milling (2013)", plus other sources.

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