Additional Information regarding the Hahndorf Branch of the NTSA and its activities is available from the following:

National Trust of SA  (NTSA)

Hahndorf Branch NTSA

Background to Branch

Branch Activities

Minutes of Meetings and Reports

Hahndorf Pioneer Womens' Trail

Endangered Place

Main Street Signage

Peramangk Aboriginal People

The following provides an overview of NTSA Hahndorf Branch activities up to the present time.  This page should now be kept up-to-date on a continuing basis.

Planning and Development Issues

Overview 1976 to 1992

By late 1977, the Branch became embroiled in trying to prevent demolition of buildings at 21, 23, 25, 27 Main Street to be replaced by a shopping complex, "The Market Place".   It was the forerunner of a decade of confrontations with developers and government.  Consistent pressure was applied via letters and telegrams to Federal, State and Local government.  Questions were asked and issues debated in parliament.  An independent evaluation was undertaken by Victorian architect, Peter Staughton, who reported to Mt. Barker Council.   John Storey presented the Branch case against development based on land title searches by Anni Luur Fox, Lyndell Davidge, Ralph Dettman and Elaine Potts, corroborated by data from historian, Reg Butler. Unfortunately, threats and tempers ran high.

While local residents were loathe to sign our petition against demolition, tourists were eager to do so.  The issue was clearly important to people beyond Hahndorf's borders.  Our survey of residents views in 1976 had shown that the majority was in favour of conservation.  They preferred to remain anonymous and leave the public fighting to the Branch.  For years afterwards people continued to ring John or Anni asking what the Trust would do about THEIR problem!  Our involvement in the Sir Hans Heysen Centenary celebrations in 1977 was a chance to show what a polite, cultured lot we really were by showcasing Hahndorf's traditions in music, visual arts and vernacular architecture without the usual vitriol about development.

Various stalling tactics ensured the Market Place saga continued throughout 1978.  The legal obstacle of Mt. Barker Council's approval of the development "in principle', had to be overcome.  From 16-18 October, the Planning Appeals Tribunal deliberated over conflicting evidence.  The case was lost on a point of law but an acceptable compromise was reached.  Three buildings out of four would be restored with a State Government grant of $30,000.  The shopping complex would be built at the rear.  Without the Hahndorf Branch campaign, these 19th Century buildings erected by the Martin Family over several years, would have been lost and with them, the built history that makes the streetscape unique.  These events led to a National Estate grant for Gordon Young's "Hahndorf Survey" as well as the formulation of the Hahndorf Supplementary Development Plan in terms compatible with conservation.

By the tenth year of Branch operation, even though legal means of enforcement through the S.A. Heritage Act (1978) and the Hahndorf Supplementary Development Plan (S.D.P. 1981) had been in force for some years, the Branch was still adding to its record of conflict with government, developer and even its own National Trust Head Office embarrassed by its tactics.  Through its very public territorial behaviour, research and political lobbying, at least the Branch had helped to push the State towards addressing the issue of conservation through legal means.  When polite requests backed by copious research were ignored by authorities, we resorted to desperate measures.  The action had to be immediate.  Other branches upset by our well-publicised tactics in the 70's and 80's, began experiencing similar pressures of development a decade later.

On relinquishing his ten year post as Chairman in 1986, John Storey reported at the A.G.M. that the administrators of the S.D.P. were still not adhering to its principles of development control or seeking to achieve its objectives without continual Branch coercion.  Their values differed markedly from those expressed in the document prepared by Neill Wallman and the Department of Housing , Urban and Regional Affairs through consultation with residents, business people and the Hahndorf Branch.  Walter Wotzke and John Storey had been our representatives on the Hahndorf Working Party to formulate the first S.D.P. in 1979.  The Branch eventually complained to the National Heritage Commission that Neill Wallman had ignored a number of recommendations by the Hahndorf Survey conducted with the Commission's grant in 1979.   At one point Mt. Barker District Council lost its jurisdiction over planning and development in the village.

No amount of lobbying reversed the total zoning of Main Street as "Commercial" in accordance with planning orthodoxy of the day.  We viewed such blanket zoning as incompatible with the S.D.P.'s objectives since it favoured the removal of the residential component of Main Street.  As we predicted, commercial development escalated at the expense of gardens that had graced the town for over a century.  Shops appeared where roses and pansies had once delighted the eye.  The historic mix of commercial premises next to residential was disappearing.  This meant constant vigilance by the Branch to achieve its aim of preventing demolitions as well as new developments out of scale with existing built form and spatial organisation.  The price for our successes and some spectacular failures was extensive media coverage adding to the numbers of curious tourists drawn to this unique settlement.  Actions considered positive had their negative side with some traders erring on the gross side of retailing.  Without the economic value of tourism we are certain that our arguments about conservation would have fallen on deaf ears.

Since our first major confrontation in 1977, the danger to Hahndorf's built heritage has moved from demolition to enthusiastic in-fill developments which still threaten to overwhelm or entirely remove components essential to its retention.  After analysis of the Hahndorf Survey's findings, these vital components were identified as:

  • All buildings listed A,B,C by the Hahndorf Survey of 1979-81.

  • Gardens and old flora.

  • Spaces between buildings.

  • A mix of residential and commercial use in Main Street.

The Branch submission to Mt. Barker Council and the South Australian Planning Commission in 1986 asked that the scale, size and density of developments should reflect the forms of existing structures and that any residential buildings changed to commercial use should retain their residential ambience.

While not expressed in the simplified format above, the retention of these components had formed the basis of the Branch submission to the Hahndorf Working Party formulating the S.D.P. in 1979.  They were put to a legal test at the Planning Appeals Tribunal from 16 January 1987 -16 November 1989.  John Storey, and Anni Luur Fox conducted the Branch case against the developers, who proposed to remove a 100 year-old street tree and wooden barn, to add a second storey to a farm cottage built in 1845, attach 15 shops and build a giant aviary next to the Hahndorf Creek.  All signs of old flora and out buildings had been removed from this old German farmlet.  The grand old bay tree originally planted in keeping with age-old tradition to deter witches, had been blown up with gelignite which had cracked the walls of the cottage.  In this same period, another developer backed out of a legal battle after a preliminary conference at the Planning Appeals Tribunal with Branch representatives Lyndell Davidge and Anni Luur Fox.

Other players against the development were the S.A. Planning Commisssion, Mt. Barker District Council and a group of residents led by Larry Oien of the Zebra Gallery.  Total Branch cost was $550 for calling, Gordon Young from Techsearch as its expert witness.  After forays to the S.A. Supreme Court and the High Court over the validity of the S.A. Waterworks Act 1932-1978 (the Advertiser, 8 Feb.1989), the Tribunal finally concluded in 1989 that the development "did not pay sufficient regard to the objectives, proposals and principles of the S.D.P".  Despite this judgement, the issue resurfaced in 1992, requiring further representations by the Branch to Council.  This time, the aviary was even bigger.  At stake was Hahndorf's authenticity, a vital asset in the cultural tourism industry referred to by the Arthur D. Little Report of 1992.

1992 was the year that yet another open space in the streetscape was filled with shops, leading us to grumble that Main Street was becoming like Unley Road jammed to the footpath with buildings.  The inept, insensitive siting of the development was clearly in violation of the S.D.P. supposedly protecting the historic "Character" which included gardens.  No space for anything like that in this development!  We complained to the Minister, but the foundations had been poured smack up against the footpath, and he was unwilling to demand their modification.  The Branch was appalled!  Hahndorf had been declared a State Heritage Area in 1988 encumbered by special requirements regarding advice and planning approvals.  Some people had run foul of authorities for daring to use pop-rivets in their rooves.  This development had a much greater impact on the streetscape than a few pop-rivets.  It caused great mutterings up and down the street about law and order.

The over-riding aim of the Branch from inception, was to ensure that the town retained its old buildings and "character", an attribute that often seemed to defy verbal definition.  Since the urban environment could be looked on as the greatest work of art with powerful effects on the human psyche (if we are to believe research into environmental psychology), those of us schooled in visual art drew parallels between academic analysis of a work of art by focussing on its components, and that of analysing the streetscape.  In both cases the objective is to gain understanding of the the existing fabric.  As any first year art student soon discovers, removing or adding a single component, changes the work dramatically.  In the case of Hahndorf, we had defined the components that formed the streetscape, and tried to prevent their obliteration.  Understandably, planning and development issues occupy the most space in Branch minute books.  Lest the major problems described above brand the Branch as an isolated group of territorial old chooks desperately defending the henyard from newcomers, the following list of activities provides a broader view of its life in the community.  Most of us were newcomers ourselves, albeit with some ancestral links to the early settlers.
Anni Luur Fox  (Nov 1998)

Hahndorf Master Plan

The branch has had input into the 2 planning and review workshops.  Other participants have been:  Mt Barker District Council, Transport SA, Planning SA, Tourism SA, Hahndorf Community Association, Hahndorf Business & Tourism, Heritage SA.
Lyndell Davidge  (6 March 2005)

Mt Barker District Cultural Mapping Report

Anni Luur Fox spent over 40 hours editing the Hahndorf section of the report.  It is very important that people who are engaged to do such reports take the time to research carefully and ensure that sources are accurate and updated.  Anni discovered one property listed as a significant heritage building was in fact built in the early 1990's.
Lyndell Davidge  (6 March 2005)


Hahndorf Pioneer Womens'Trail

In 1978, Lyndell Davidge's suggestion that the Branch organise a walk from Glen Osmond to Hahndorf to mark the 140th Anniversary of founding had been lost amongst pressing development difficulties and plans for the windmill restoration.  An invitation from the Beaumont House Committee to conduct a public walk from Hahndorf to Beaumont along the trail trudged by pioneer women carrying produce to market, revived interest.  Major Ian Ferguson transferred a hand-drawn map of 1841 from the Angas Papers, to a modern map.  John Storey, Anni Luur Fox, Clare Ferguson, Lyndell Davidge and Rodney Allen blazed the trail.

Queen Mother's cake and cucumber sandwiches were served in the grand dining room at Beaumont House to the scratched footsore hikers from Hahndorf by Lady Downer, Mrs. Simpson and Warren Bonython.  What a stark contrast to life in pioneer Hahndorf!  After the first public Walk on 20 April 1980, the Branch subsequently conducted three more very successful Walks with the Beaumont House Committee in 1983, 1985 and 1986.  The route is still popular with schools and walking groups.  In October 1994 as part of the Centenary of Women's Suffrage, the Trail was featured in "WomenTrek" culminating at the closing ceremony in Mt. Lofty Gardens.  After many years of requests by the Branch that the Trail be officially marked, the Department of Recreation and Sport began the process in 1995 but was unable to complete the route.

In 1999, Anni Luur Fox was contacted by Adam Trottman, Project Officer, Outdoor Recreation Unit, Office for Recreation and Sport, Department of Industry and Trade.  The South Australian Government had set aside six million dollars to develop walking/cycling trails in South Australia over five years and would like to include the Pioneer Women's Trail!  Having called a meeting with Adam and representatives of the Hahndorf Community Association and Hahndorf Business and Tourism Association, the Branch continued to liase with these groups and initiated a grant application to Country Arts S.A. regarding design of bridges spanning the Onkaparinga River.  Our Secretary, Lyndell Davidge, did most of the time consuming "leg work" for this application submitted by the Community Association.  We have pledged further support.
Anni Luur Fox  (Nov 1998)

This is an ongoing project in partnership with the Office of Sport and Recreation.  There is a track being cleared along the southern spur that spills into the creek and park near Beaumont House.  We are currently reviewing the logo and associated signage.  We are considering organising a walk to Beaumont House as part of the 50th celebrations of the National Trust.  The first re-enactment was undertaken in April 1980 (25 years ago !!).
Lyndell Davidge (6 March 2005)

Echunga Mines

Venturing out of Hahndorf, the Branch examined the wisdom of becoming custodians of the mines in 1980.  Although insurance premiums dictated against taking on that project, a public tour of the goldfields was successfully undertaken in collaboration with Greg Drew from the Department of Mines and Bert Streather from the South Australian Community Recreation Association.  The tour was an embarrassing success.  164 unexpected people dangerously stretched facilities organised for 50 bookings.  Fortunately no-one dared venture off the distinct paths.  Mineshafts hidden in the bush for over a century proved a deterrant to explorers.
Anni Luur Fox  (Nov 1998)

Cemetery Crawls

A pleasant means of informal education was a series of visits to cemeteries in the Mt. Barker District organised by Reg Butler who prepared questionaires and provided excellent commentary.  Fifty people joined in the first crawl from Hahndorf to Mt. Barker and Blakiston in 1982.  Examinations of Inverbrackie and Nairne followed in 1983.
Anni Luur Fox  (Nov 1998)


Branch members Faye and Les Hayward asked for assistance in the conservation of this town.  Paul Starke ultimately received a grant from the South Australian Department for Environment and Planning to conduct an historical survey in 1980.
Anni Luur Fox (Nov 1998)

The Malcolm Wicks Reserve

The Branch accepted the task of acting as caretakers for this 40 ha. reserve of virgin bushland at Forest Range when it was donated to the Trust by Mr and Mrs Malcolm Wicks and Mr and Mrs George H. Nancarrow in 1978.  A Draft Management Plan for Wicks Reserve and Masons Scrub was prepared in 1990 by T. Freeth and S. Collins.  Management is largely dependent on voluntary work with support from the Trust's Nature Preservation Committee and the Nature Conservation officers.  Regular working bees are held to keep introduced species in check.  The reserve is only open to the public via the National Trust.
Anni Luur Fox (Nov 1998)

Hahndorf Street Names

At the suggestion of a descendent of the early settlers, Alma Paech, the Branch asked Mt. Barker Council to rename streets after pioneer families in 1979.  Renaming Willow End and Willow Grove "Braun Drive" and "Kavel Drive" caused considerable controversy.  Since then a number of newly created streets have been given pioneer names.
Anni Luur Fox  (Nov 1998)

The Windmill Restoration (Nixon's Mill)

In the midst of the Market Place fracas in 1977, the Branch was asked to take an interest in the windmill restoration by Bob Ayliffe, a Mt. Barker High School art teacher seeking funds from the South Australian Education Department for the project.  He was unsuccessful in his appeal to the Department.  Articles in the Courier and Advertiser plus persistent requests by the Branch to Mt. Barker District Council to call a meeting of interested bodies, ultimately bore fruit in 1979.  A grant application to the National Estate was completed and a programme of research was undertaken by Lyndell Davidge, Brian Fox and Anni Luur Fox.  John Storey and Patrick McGrath organised a special issue of Bleasdale "Windmill Restoration Port" which raised $7000.  Federal and State grants totalling $13,000 plus Branch funds were sufficient to stabilise the structure by 1980.  Fundraising for the next stage, the sails and machinery, is still continuing.  A development application in 1992 to construct a giant bull as a tourist attraction incorporating the windmill, found little favour amongst members.
Anni Luur Fox  (Nov 1998)

Negotiations have been ongoing for necessary conservation to the stonework and paint.  We applied for a grant under the Historic sites program for 2004, however all funds granted for NT projects were given to the Trust to be delivered as per priority.  Unfortunately Head Office deemed our request to be low priority and therefore no funds came our way.  National Trust requests amounted to $66,000.  I believe that only $10,000 was granted.
Lyndell Davidge  (6 March 2005)

Education and Tours

The exhibitions, events, meetings, publications and media appearances by the Branch could be termed "informal education" and "community activist'.  A number of collaborations took place with other groups in the village...

  • Hahndorf Primary School Centenary in 1979.

  • St. Paul's Anglican Centenary in 1985.

  • Doll Extravaganza in 1987.

  • Hahndorf Lutheran 150 Exhibition in 1989.

From its first year of operation , the Branch conducted tours for schools and other groups, many from interstate and overseas. Invitations to speak at various club functions were accepted regularly.  Our liason with a Victorian company, G.E.T. Educational Tours, began in 1983.  Branch records attest to the popularity of such initiatives in cultural tourism.  In 1984, Paul Church initiated a joint $1,000 project with the Hahndorf Trader's Council to mark thirty buildings with plaques giving historical details.  From 1991-1993, schools had free access to Reg Butler, Education Officer for Hahndorf and the Adelaide Hills.  Believing that the town's educative value to the nation needed more urgent development than could be conducted on a voluntary basis, the Branch successfully lobbied for this appointment by the S.A. Education Department from 1989-1990.  It was the first of its kind in Australia.  At present there is a serious lack of access to such education in Hahndorf.
Anni Luur Fox  (Nov 1998)

Heysen Festival Torchlight Tours

These have proven to be a successful venture.  The Branch would like to extend this concept as a more regular activity.  To this end, Anni has approached the Hahndorf Academy to conduct some history toure from that site.
Lyndell Davidge  (6 March 2005)

Electricity Powerlines

Hahndorf's avenue of main street trees planted in 1885 had been mutilated regularly since 1910 when the Telegraph Department found they were interfering with their wires.  The Branch eventually persuaded the Electricity Trust of South Australia (E.T.S.A.) to refrain from brutal pruning which had left behind a street of misshapen "Gollywogs' every four years.  John Storey's photograph on the front page of the Advertiser newspaper had made its point.!  In 1978 a chance conversation by Lyndell Davidge with an E.T.S.A. linesman alerted the Branch to imminent replacement of wires.  Although initial attempts to institute a tree replacement scheme failed, the campaign for undergrounding the wires in main street was successful with help from the media and David Wotton M.P. By November 1981, the $200,000 project funded by Mt. Barker District Council, E.T.S.A. and the Department for the Environment, was well under way.  Today the trees once again arch over the street as they did in 1910 and some new trees have filled the gaps.  The issue of removing the old trees rears its ugly head with regularity, requiring Branch attention.  They have become a menace to buses.

In 1985, E.T.S.A.'s proposed Tungkillo-Cherry Gardens Powerline threatened to engulf the windmill and skirt the village with gigantic pylons.  The Branch submission prepared by Anni Luur Fox pointed out inconsistencies in the Environmental Impact Statement and argued against visually polluting a valuable economic resource.  In fact, it appeared that the E.I.S. had been contacted AFTER the conclusions had been drawn!  Tom and Donna Johnston liased with other action groups in the hills.  The campaign lasting three years was finally successful in having the powerline rerouted away from Hahndorf.
Anni Luur Fox  (Nov 1998)

The Hahndorf Academy

The Academy had been an important site in the life of the Branch through the interest of its proprietor, Walter Wotzke O.A.M., and its suitability as a meeting and exhibition venue.  A town committee formed in 1987 guaged support for its purchase for the community when Walter sought more time to pursue his life as an artist.  A number of Branch members became part of this group which later formed the Hahndorf Academy Foundation Inc.

The Foundation opened the newly purchased building with a magnificent Heysen Exhibition on 6 January 1989.  During renovation of the ground floor in December 1988, a Branch exhibition of photographs and drawings from the Hahndorf Survey raised $2000 in donations for the Academy.  We organised four major events at the Academy during the 150th year of European settlement.

  • The Hahndorf College Memorial Weekend and launch of "A College in the Wattles", a definitive history of the building and its inhabitants by Reg Butler.

  • The "Passengers from Hamburg" exhibition.

  • Hahndorf Historical Perspectives Exhibition.

  • The Winter Concert Series co-ordinated by Donna Johnston.

Anni Luur Fox  (Nov 1998)

Lyndell Davidge has been involved on the Board as Chairperson for the last 18 months.  This has enabled the Trust to have an input into plans for establishing an interpretive centre within the current German Migration Museum so that the Hahndorf story can be better told.  An interpretive display of the history of the building is being developed for the foyer.
Lyndell Davidge  (6 March 2005)

Street Trees

The removal of an enormous gum tree painted by Sir Hans Heysen in a field near Victoria Street, had been amongst several complaints about the lack of environmental care discussed by the Branch in their deputation to the State Planning Authority in 1977.  No promises of future conservation were received.  Having failed also, to convince the S.A. National Trust's Nature Preservation Committee to include Hahndorf's avenue of trees on its "Significant Trees Register" in 1982, the Branch continued to monitor Mt. Barker Council's attempts at removal.  After several weekends spent plotting the trees on a township plan and assessing their condition, Branch attempts to involve Council in replanting missing trees was successful seven years later.  In 1999, Council's Horticultural Officer, Andrew Gotsheim, presented a substantial report on the condition of the avenue at a Hahndorf Community Association meeting.  A management plan is being formulated.  An issue of importance is the continued removal of eucalypts as Hahndorf's hinterland becomes more suburban and vineyards take over paddocks where stock used to graze.

In 1985, Lyndell Davidge co-ordinated the Tree Centenary Celebrations including a parade, primary school Gala Day, and a partial replanting of Pine Avenue by schoolchildren.  Descendents of pioneer families and town organisations planted trees marked by plaques in the main street.  Eleven verses of "God Save Our Gracious Queen' played by the Town Band and sung by spectators and distinguished guests huddled under umbrellas in Johnson Park, provided mirthful nostalgia.  In the tradition of the original plantings of 1885, schoolchildren devoured a large cake.  Proceeds from Reg Butler's history of the trees, "Cork Elms and Controversy" were earmarked for the windmill restoration.
Anni Luur Fox  (Nov 1998)

As a result of the 2000 community consultation workshops to develop concepts for public art works to celebrate the role played by the Hahndorf Walkers, the council has extended the Avenue trees to River Road.  54 trees representing the founding families have been planted.  Seating and interpretive signs are being developed.
Lyndell Davidge  (6 March 2005)

The Peramangk Aboriginal People

References to the original inhabitants of the district were found as we gained more knowledge of Hahndorf and its surrounds.  In December 1992, Education Officer, Reg Butler invited Dance Excentrix to participate in "Come Out" 1993.  Artistic Directors Anni Luur Fox and Andrew McNicol chose to mount a performance workshopped and performed at Arbury Park Outdoor School by schoolchildren learning about Peramangk culture.  Lyndell Davidge assisted.  Entitled "What Happened Here: A Dance Odyssey", the work received approval from Peramangk Elder, Richard Hunter.  We aimed at more than presenting an intellectual collection of facts and artefacts, even though these would be tools in the creative process.  We wanted to elicit from the children attending our workshops, a re-creative echo that would be communicated through the art of dance.  The project was funded through workshop fees, box office, sponsorship from local businesses and the Central Region Cultural Authority (now the S.A. Country Arts Trust).  A few weeks later Richard and his family were honoured guests at Hahndorf Primary School.
Anni Luur Fox  (Nov 1998)

Peramangk Rock Art of the Mount Lofty Ranges Exhibition

An Exhibition of Photographs by Robin Coles M.Ag.Sc to celebrate the 30 Anniversary of the Hahndorf Branch, National Trust of SA
11 Dec. 2006 – 8 Jan. 2007 at the Hahndorf Academy.

An overview of the Hahndorf National Trust Branch with reference to Peramangk Aboriginal culture of the Mount Lofty Ranges.

by Anni Luur Fox (B.Ed; Grad. Dip. F.E.; Dip. Art T.)  -  Chairperson, Hahndorf Branch, National Trust of SA.

The Hahndorf Academy has played a major role in the existence of the Hahndorf National Trust Branch and its dissemination of historical information that helped to raise public consciousness about the importance of local culture.  The area on which it stands was a favourite summer camping place for the indigenous people of the Mount Lofty Ranges, so it is fitting that this special collection of photographs of Peramangk Rock Art that has never been exhibited in public has been mounted there to celebrate the Hahndorf National Trust Branch 30th Anniversary.

1966  -  After a six year battle, Walter Wotzke had saved the old Academy from demolition in 1966 by purchasing the derelict building and restoring it for use as the Hahndorf Academy Galleries and German Folk Museum. At that time Dr F.J.H. Blaess had produced a small booklet giving an overview of the history of the Academy and the town.  It was out of print and the demand for information was growing.  It was Walter’s insistence that I produce a short book on Hahndorf for sale at the Academy that first opened a chink in my awareness of a culture that had existed here well before Lutheran settlers from Prussia in 1839.

1972  -  In 1972 the South Eastern Freeway construction had extended to Hahndorf, bringing with it hoards of visitors and commercial operators eager to serve them.  Knowing from personal experience the damage a lack of historical knowledge can do to the culture of a community, Walter was anxious for a publication that at the very least, listed some of Hahndorf’s attributes.  My first small pamphlet entitled ’34 Good Reasons to visit Hahndorf’ had grown to 48 Good Reasons by 1975 and a draft of ‘HAHNDORF: a Brief Look at the Town and its History” was ready for editing.  In the process, I had read Pastor Alfred Brauer’s ‘UNDER THE SOUTHERN CROSS: A History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church’ published in 1956.  Apart from a description of Hahndorf’s settlement and its place in the development of the church, it mentioned the indigenous people who called this place Bukartilla.  There was no mention of the name Peramangk.

1976  -  Commerce and the real estate industry were presenting an increasing menace to the town’s built history.  Those of us who formed the Hahndorf National Trust Branch in 1976 did so to fight for planning controls favouring conservation.  This meant a constant focus on research of certificates of title and other documents to substantiate our arguments with government officials and in our first court case from 1977-79.  In 1977 we had begun restoration of the windmill which had also prompted a flurry of research and fundraising to stabilise the structure.  We found an article in the Adelaide Chronicle of 23 March 1933 which quoted an earlier newspaper description of a war between 2000 warriors because  ‘.…  the blacks of Encounter Bay had been nursing a grudge against the Mount Barker tribe …’.   No mention of the tribes’ names.

1979  -  In the year 1979 the Beaumont House Committee asked us to find the Hahndorf Pioneer Women’s Trail to Adelaide they knew had once existed as a means of supplying Adelaide with fresh produce from the hills.  They gave our Chairman John Storey a copy of a map of trails through the hills surveyed in 1841 and left us to figure it out in time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the South Australian National Trust with a walk from Hahndorf to Beaumont House in 1980.  We did wonder if it predated European settlement.  The SA Year Book of 1978 had published an article entitled ‘Aboriginal Culture in South Australia’ by R.W. Ellis showing a map of tribal boundaries that included the name Peramangk in miniscule lettering, based on the work of N.B. Tindale between the 1920’s and 1970.

1983  -  There was little time to follow Tindale’s lead.  We were in the torrid decade of continual lobbying of politicians, bureaucrats and developers which had to be backed by even more research.  It culminated in yet another court case from 1986-89 where we were joined with Crown Law in having Hahndorf’s development plan favouring conservation upheld.  In 1983 the Mount Lofty Historical Society had published Pertaringa, a series of short essays on aspects of the hills which included a mention of the Peramangk.  That year also, Bob Schmidt’s ‘Mountain Upon the Plain: A History of Mount Barker and its Surroundings’ was published with reference to the Peramangk.  In 1985 ETSA’s proposed Tungkillo-Cherry Gardens Powerline threatened to engulf the windmill and skirt too close to Hahndorf with its giant pylons.  As we examined the Environmental Impact Study to prepare our objections we realised there were a number of researched Aboriginal sites in the region.  In 1988 the Torrens Valley Historical Journal published a paper on Peramangk culture by Robin Coles and Neale Draper.

1991  -  In appreciation of his painstaking research into Hahndorf’s history which had developed into a substantial personal archive, the Branch had been instrumental in Reg Butler’s appointment as Hahndorf Education Officer by the SA Education Department.  The township was to be his schoolroom for teaching all visiting students.  Special programs about the district were to be developed.  In 1992 as directors of Dance Excentrix, Andrew McNicol and I took part in Reg’s Adelaide Hills Heritage Fever event at Woodside where we met Peramangk Elder Richard Hunter and scientist Robin Coles.  Earlier that year I had attended a workshop to learn about Aboriginal culture and terminology conducted by Phillip Clarke, Graham Parment and Jane Nelson at Arbury Park Outdoor School.  For some time, Branch members had known about the decimation of Aboriginal people through European diseases and their disappearance from the region by the 1850’s.  We had seen George French Angas’s lithographs but had little knowledge of their customs, dances, art, stories or language.

1993  -  Our knowledge of Peramangk culture remained very basic until 1993 when Reg Butler asked Dance Excentrix to ‘do something for the Come Out Festival with an Adelaide Hills theme.  Rather than scheduling a series of school concerts using our existing repetoire, Andrew McNicol and I decided to do a collaboration with Richard Hunter, Robin Coles and Adelaide Hills school children to learn about Peramangk culture and create a theatrical event about this little known group of people.  The experience would be valuable for creating performances with local people in the Mount Pleasant District for its 150th anniversary celebrations in October 1993 where Reg Butler’s new book on its history was to be launched.  A section on the Peramangk had been included.

‘What Happened Here: A Dance Odyssey” aimed at more than presenting an intellectual collection of facts and artefacts although these were vital tools in the creative process.  We elicited from the children attending our workshops a recreative echo that was communicated through the art of dance.  The audience followed the performers from the ceremonial ground to three successive waterholes and back to the original site for farewell dances accompanied by Richard Hunter who had approved the show after watching dress rehearsal.  A few weeks later he and his family were honoured guests at Hahndorf Primary School where he cooked fish, Peramangk-style.  Lyndell Davidge remained our contact with the school.

2006  -  Unfortunately in its purge of history teachers, Reg Butler’s term as Education Officer from 1991-93 came to an end and with it attempts by the Hahndorf Branch to maintain the impetus of spreading knowledge of Peramangk culture.  We continued to make reference to their culture and even attended the Peramangk Dreaming Forum run by Mount Barker District Council with a view to include descendents in the official marking of the Hahndorf Pioneer Women’s Trail in collaboration with the SA Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing.

When Branch members were mulling over how to celebrate its 30th anniversary, we decided against revisiting our torturous past and its successes in raising public consciousness about the significance of Hahndorf as Australia’s oldest permnanent Germanic settlement.  It had been well-documented and we had been blessed with researchers, organisers and lobbyists of high calibre who had volunteered their labour and expertise to a cause considered to be important.  It was time to pay attention to the culture of the original inhabitants of the region.

The Branch decided to allocate funds to mounting an exhibition of photographs of Peramangk Rock Art by Robin Coles who had been finding and recording new sites with Richard Hunter since the early 1980’s.  To educate the public, they had been running regular tours of these sites.  Some of them are deteriorating and are no longer accessible.  But the photographs remain.  At Richard's request, Robin has been writing a book about Peramangk culture due to be published in 2007.  Richard died in October 2006.  His daughter Isobel has taken over his role.  We are very grateful to Robin Coles for allowing a quarter of his collection of photographs to be exhibited and for Isobel Hunter for agreeing to this aspect of her culture to be seen in public.


1842  -  South Australia, in 1842 by one who lived there nearly four years.  Published by J.C. Hailes 1843
‘From the time of the founding of the colony of South Australia, great interest has been felt in behalf of the native inhabitants of the country …. The boundaries of their particular districts are well known by the different tribes and generally respected by them; something of of the nature of hereditry succession obtains among them, so that they have in their language a term “pangkarra” which signifies a district or tract of country belonging to an individual which he inherits from his father’.  Each “pangkarra” has its peculiar name; and as in the civilised world the owners take their names from their lands, so the natives do in South Australia with the addition of the term “burka”.  One popular character in Adelaide is known by the regal title of “King John”….. his native name was “Mullawirraburka”, signifying “The Dry-forest Man”.

1964  -  Excerpts from Captain Hahn’s Diary translated by Dr Blaess and Dr Triebel, South Australiana, Vol 111, No2, Sept 1964, SA Libraries Board.
Description of the Hahndorf site:  “My first glance fell on beautifully formed trees, which nature had planted there as with the hands of a gardener – the beautiful long grass wet with dew coloured the ground a lovely green; from the several big trees standing majestically, wild birds flitted from branch to branch, cockatoos, parrots and parakeets etc warbling their varied tones. "
Description of indigenous people: “A few of them might have a kangaroo skin wrapped around them to cover their nakedness.  Smallpox must often rage among them as most carry thick scars from it.”
I saw there a jacket which had been put together only from the skins of small opossums by an aboriginal woman.  It was so beautifully sewn that few European women could do better.  If you consider the tools with which the job was done, it deserves greater admiration.  The thread had been made from kangaroo gut.  A small bone sharpened to a point at one end served instead of a needle.”
These people seem very good-natured, at least those living in the region of the Onkaparinga River. The general opinion is that beyond the Murray they are less well-disposed. If they are not provoked they don’t harm any human being.

1926  -  Hossfeld, Paul S.  The Aborigines of South Australia: Native occupation of Eden Valley and Angaston, Royal Society of SA.
This paper would be incomplete without reference to the very numerous burnt out hollow red gums occurring in the district. The majority of the openings face east or north, and provide excellent shelter .... In conclusion the writer voices his regret that these important records of the former native occupation should be doomed to rapid disappearance owing to the mutilation which they are subject to by visitors ignorant of their value.

1975  -  Wittwer E. Allan.  Liebelt Family History, Liebelt Family Committee.
Quote from interview with JOHANN CHRISTOPH LIEBELT,
We left Hamburg in the ship Zebra under the command of Captain Hahn in 1838 and arrived at Port Adelaide after 17 weeks voyage ….. The country around what is now known as Hahndorf had just been surveyed …. Each family taking up land had to be responsible for the price, Viz 7 pounds and acre which eventually we were able to pay off. 
At first our principle means of subsistence were buttercup roots which we had to grub out with our hands, and opossums, the catching of which we learnt from the blacks.”
The area occupied by the town formed part of an old cattle station or maybe even a holding camp for the cattle driven overland from Sydney and Melbourne by overlanders.”

JOHANN CHRISTIAN LIEBELT and his family were pioneer settlers of Hahndorf.
"Christian was allocated 4.25 acres of land in the new village.  Christian built his humble home of wattle and daub on the property.  It consisted of two rooms and a porch.  In addition, a cellar of similar construction was built somewhat removed from the house.  In the door of the old homestead was a spear mark where a spear stuck in the door after an Aborigine had thrown it at Maria Elisabeth as she fled into the house.  She only just made it to safety.
Anni Luur Fox  (Nov 1998)

The History Centre

In October 1998, the Branch applied for a Federation grant to set up a History Centre to house the Hahndorf Land Titles Data Base researched by Reg Butler (local historian) and launched during his time as Education Officer by Greg Crafter, Minister for Environment and Planning.  Apart from setting up other data bases, we aimed to provide a curatorial programme of four historical exhibitions per year, possibly at the Hahndorf Academy if the political situation is positive.  At present there is no adequate support for schools wishing to study the area or visitors seeking historical information.  The lack of residents', let alone traders' knowledge of Hahndorf's history was highlighted during the 1999 Flag Festival in March.  Community groups involved in the parade had no idea that March marked the 160th Anniversary of Hahndorf and its Lutheran churches.  Colin Thiele's concerns at the first Branch seminar in 1976, had come true.

Our grant application was unsuccessful, but Federation funds restored the Hahndorf Academy stable, a very worthy project.
Anni Luur Fox  (Nov 1998)

South Verdun

Anni Luur Fox has been advising and acting as an expert witness for a group of local residents who are objecting to planning approvals for developments at South Verdun.  The area is within the water shed primary production zone of the Adelaide Hills Council and does not support development on the flood plain.  Involvement has included appearances at the Environment, Resources and Development Court, Development Assessment Commission, Development Assessment Panel, Council meetings, Catchment Board & Natural Resources Management Committee meetings.  The developments call for major upgrading of facilities at the service station, Grumpy's Restaurant, and Farm House Hardware.  All of these businesses are requesting that a levee bank be built to decrease the effects of flooding.  It has been a protracted and complex issue.
Lyndell Davidge  (6 March 2005)

Shipping Lists & Land Titles

Reg Butler is in the 9th year of his research. He is currently up to 1859 with cross referencing. This should prove to be an excellent tool for researchers and historians.
Lyndell Davidge  (6 March 2005)

Branch Matters

Branch Membership

We have a depleted membership and find it hard to get people along to meetings.  However, the Trust plays a significant role in planning, commenting and advice in the town with regards to heritage issues.
Lyndell Davidge  (6 March 2005)

Branch Website

Tony Finnis has been very busy constructing this site.  It is still incomplete but offers an interesting and varied introduction to the Hahndorf Branch and Hahndorf.  The site is  It is possible to access the Hahndorf Heritage pages on
Lyndell Davidge  (6 March 2005)
A Hahndorf Community Wiki Website was set-up on July 2005 on a trial basis for 6 months.  If this trial is succesful, then it is proposed to incorporate the NTSA-Hahndorf web-site within the Wiki on a permanent basis.  In the meantime, all current web-work will be concentrated within the trial Wiki.
Tony Finnis  (24 August 2005)