LOCATION:  80-82 Main Street, Hahndorf

Hahndorf General Store  c1998

The original German Arms Hotel was established as a small hostelry at 80 Main Street in 1839 directly opposite the existing German Arms Hotel.  It  was the first licensed hotel in Hahndorf.  After a fire destroyed the original hotel building in 1861, the German Arms Hotel business was transferred in 1865 to a new two-storey, stone and brick building opposite at 69 Main Street.  The current house and attached store was built on the site about 1898.

Extract from The Mount Barker Heritage Survey (2004)

The German Village Store c2004Local Heritage Recommendations - One of the important store and residences to be established during this period was Paech’s store.  This was constructed in 1898 on the site of the town’s first hotel (The German Arms, 1839) which had been destroyed by fire in 1861, and the license transferred to the German Arms across the road.  Paech’s store has provided goods for the local community for over a century, and continues the significant commercial history of the site.  It is now know as the German Village Shop.

Statement of Heritage Value - This is a significant surviving example of a mid-19th century German xx which provides evidence of the German settlement of Hahndorf; has significant associations with the development of the town; demonstrates the pioneering German way of life, design and construction methods; and contributes to the outstanding heritage character of a town which is one of Australia’s most significant tourist attractions.

Extract from 'Hahndorf - A Journey through the Village and its History', by Anni Luur Fox

The original 'German Arms Hotel' was established as a coffee shop by Gottfried Lubasch and his second wife Anna Dorothea in 1839, the year that Lutheran refugees founded the village of Hahndorf.  At a time when all settlers were busy trying to clear the land of native bush in readiness for planting crops, this seemingly rash venture was well thought out by the 49 year-old entrepreneur.  The main track to Melbourne went past his front door and the South Australian Company hut and stockyards for spelling animals after their long journey from the eastern colonies, were directly opposite.  Until this section of land was opened up for subdivision in 1849, Hahndorf developed only on the north eastern side of the main road.  Lubasch's coffee shop stood at No 80-82 (now the site of the General Store), across the road from the current hotel at No. 69.  Gottfried Lubasch had been a Sergeant in the Prussian army and decorated at the Battle of Waterloo.

The Lubasch family enterprise quickly gained a reputation for its fresh bread, sweet fresh butter and delicious smoked bacon.  A licence to sell wine and spirits in 1839 soon added to the clientele at 'The German Arms'.  One pioneer traveller recorded in his memoirs the delights of lying on freshly mown hay in the barn, being lulled to sleep by Christmas carols wafting over the fields from the Lutheran church nearby.  As they grew up, Lubasch's six capable daughters helped to run the hotel and his other enterprises including a mail run to and from Adelaide.  By her superlative skill as a sheep shearer, Johanne Dorothea Louise attracted the attention of Lachlan MacFarlane, who became a prosperous landowner.  After marriage they built the first part of the Oakfield Hotel in Mt. Barker which was later developed into a mansion called 'Auchendarroch' by Robert Barr-Smith.  A seventh daughter came to South Australia with her husband in 1855, a year before her father died.

The S.A. Register of 4 August 1851 described the Arms as 'a small comfortable house, snug and clean, exceedingly well-conducted and more quiet than inns usually are'.  James Ide had become publican in 1849 and had kept up the well-deserved reputation until his death in 1851.  His widow married Francis Robert Hunt who took over management of the hotel.  She died in 1859.  

A fire destroyed much of the original hotel building in February 1861, the year that the widower Hunt remarried.  His brother-in-law, Thomas Ide, was in charge in 1865 when the grand new hotel was completed across the road at No. 69 Main Street.

After Alfred Miller married Alma Haebich in 1899, he built the house and attached store at No 80-82.  The tiny fachwerk (half-timbered) cottage next door at No. 84 was once Podgy Post's butcher shop.  Half was demolished to make way for Shueard's Shop at No. 86.  After The German Arms was relocated over the road, the building has had many uses including a Grocery Store, a General Store and currently the FruChoc Shop. The Hahndorf Grocery Store had a long history of serving the community.

Early Licencees and Historical Milestones

(From information compiled by Reg Butler)

Almost as old as Hahndorf itself, the German Arms has followed the town into offering tourist hospitality to the state, the nation, and increasingly, the world.  Even by 1897, 'Handlebar', a newspaper columnist recommended the hostelry to touring cyclists as 'a resting place to dream of rustic surroundings and homely country folk'.  The hotel became the first in South Australia to gain a Sunday trading licence - August 1982.  Long may the German Arms retain Dr Samuel Johnson's urbane observation:  'There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.' (Letter to James MacPherson 21 March 1776)

  • 1839-1849 Gottfried Lubasch - Gottfried Lubasch, the founder of the German Arms, was born in 1790.
    In 1812, aged 22, he joined General Count Yorck's Prussian troops, which had to fight with Napoleon's army in Russia.  Three years later, in 1815, Lubasch sounded the bugle for the Prussians to join in the Battle of Waterloo, when they helped to defeat Napoleon completely.  During the 1820s and 1830, G Lubasch worked a small farm at Rissen, a village near the Oder River, south-east of Berlin.  He married twice and had a family of daughters.  In 1838, the Lubasch family came as Lutheran refugees to South Australia, to avoid religious persecution in their homeland.  Early in 1839, Gottfried Lubasch became a foundation Hahndorf settler and soon opened a coffee shop in his main street home.  By December 1839, he had turned this business into a hotel, 'rather of the Germanic order'.  Lubasch also acted as Hahndorf's first postman.  'He usually conversed with Germans in the German language and with Englishmen in English.'  From 1849, Gottfried leased the German Arms to other licencees and returned to farming.  He died at Hahndorf in 1856, a wealthy man with considerable property. 

    • Gottfried Lubasch built the first German Arms directly across the street from the present hotel.

    • 'The Germans at Hahndorf have a mill worked by bullocks, a general store, a respectable inn, kept my my honest friend Lubasch ... where he is doing well... '    (District correspondent 'The Observer' 2 September 1843) 

    • Mt Barker's miller, John Dunn, stayed at the German Arms in December 1840:  'My two brothers and I ... asked for a bed, but couldn't get one in the house.  We were told, however, that there was some native grass, lately cut for hay, in one of the sheds ...  Except for the tickling of thousands of grass seeds, we were happy enough ... '   (J Dunn Memoirs 'Mt Barker Courier' 10 December 1886) 

  • 1849-1851 James Ide 

    • English colonist, James Ide, took over from Gottfried Lubasch in fine style:  'On Thursday last, Mr Ide, landlord of the German Arms, gave his opening dinner, to which upwards of 70 of the farmers etc of the district were invited, but owing to the thunderstorm on that day, not above a third of the guests came forward ...  Mr James Johnston was croupier; and the company spent a happy evening.'     ('Southern Australian' 27 March 1849) 

    • 'Old colonist', touring South Australia to produce 'a state of the colony' for the daily newspaper, 'The Register', also praised the hospitality:  'In the village street are stores and a post office ... as well as a good inn, called the German Arms (a most vague appellation), kept by Ide.  This small, but comfortable house, snug and clean, exceedingly well conducted, and more quiet than these inns usually are, not being over-frequented by disorderly society ... '   ('The Register' 4 August 1851) 

  • 1851-1853 Sarah Ide 

  • 1853-1862 Robert Hunt 

    • Mrs Hunt, wife of publican Robert Hunt, died in October 1859: 

    • 'At an early hour in the day, several gigs, spring-carts, and horsemen arrived in Hahndorf, and at 1pm, the mournful procession left the German Arms Inn.  It consisted of a hearse and mourning-coach, each drawn by 4 horses, followed by about 25 gigs, spring carts, German wagons, and about 50 horsemen, with long black hatbands.'   ('The Advertiser' 14 October 1859) 

    • On 13 February 1861, a fire did tremendous damage to the German Arms  'The fire started about 1 or 2pm ... a blaze between the chimneys and all round.  Several people were in the bar, but they were all sober ...  There was great destruction of property, a large number of bottles being broken ...  Several cases of wine and spirits were brought out ...  The furniture and effects are almost totally destroyed.'   ('The Register' 18 February 1861) 

  • 1862-1874 Thomas Ide 

    • By January 1865, the present German Arms premises, across the road from the first inn, were nearly ready for use: 'This two-storey, almost newly-built guesthouse, comprises 14 rooms, 2 cellars, kitchen, washhouse, stabling for 12 horses, nearly new yard and fruit orchard and a 20,000 gallon water tank ...'   ('Sud-Australische Zeitung' 13 January 1865) 

Early Ownership

(Information from The Hahndorf Allotments Database. by Reg Butler)

Old Lot No. New Lot No. Street No. Street Name
23 ** 26 80 Main Road
Year Sold New Owner Occupation Owner's Home Personal
1839 Gottfried Lubasch cottager Hahndorf From Rissen, Brandenburg
1853 Gottfried Lubasch # farmer Hahndorf GRO title.
1856 Maria Liebelt %  widow of Gottfried Liebelt Hahndorf Daughter of G Lubasch
1869 Wilhelm Paech ^ farmer Hahndorf LTO title. Husband of Maria Liebelt, nee Lubasch
He operated the 'Union Inn' at this stage, at the other end of Hahndorf's main street.
1869 Thomas Ide * publican Hahndorf  
1886 August Haebich  blacksmith Hahndorf  
1913 Alfred Miller saddler & hairdresser Hahndorf Son-in-law of August Haebich
1946 Alma Miller

widow of Alfred Miller

Hahndorf Operated a grocery store

 Clarence Miller
Mavis, his wife

Edgar Miller +



invalid pensioner




Son of A Miller
Nee Wallace
Son of A Miller
1976 Kevin Diment
Mavis, his wife
Peter Beecham
Pam, his wife






Son-in-law of K Diment

1987 John Paech
Kathleen, his wife
Lorna Paech

Nee Hutson
Nee Grivell. Widow of Darcy Paech & mother of J Paech


** This undivided Lot also contains No 80A Main Street; 80B Main Street; 82 Main Street.
1968 - C Miller divided NH 26 into two sub-lots:
        Sub-lot 1: 80 Main St, 80A Main St, 80B Main St; 82 Main St - 3567/89 current title
        Sub-lot 2: Education Department - for the Hahndorf Primary School - no direct street access.

# G Lubasch built and operated the 'German Arms' between 1839-1849.  Leased the premises out after that.

% M Liebelt was the youngest child of G Lubasch.  She rented out the 'German Arms' premises to the brothers-in-law Robert Hunt and Thomas Ide.  R Hunt
shifted the hotel business across the street in 1862.

^ W Paech was the son of George Paech, of Paechtown, near Hahndorf.  W Paech became the second husband of Maria Liebelt, nee Lubasch.

* In 1968, the Education Department purchased the rear of this Sub-Lot to extend the grounds of the Hahndorf Primary School.

+ In 1872, E Miller transferred his interest to his nephews, Rodney Miller traveller Hahndorf & Douglas Miller plaster Hahndorf.  D Miller died 1974; his share
devolved to his brother and sister, Malcolm and Barbara Miller.

3567/89 current title