Oral History Interview with Harold Gallasch
Interviewer Birgit Heilmann - Date 12 August 2010 (Digital files 1&2)
Participants in the transcript marked as follows:
Harold Gallasch was born on 21 May 1943 in Adelaide and grew up in Glen Osmond.
His mother was Ida Martha Menzel. She was born in Hahndorf on 21 September 1914. Harold’s father Ernest Leonard Gallasch was born 26 February 1905 in Grunthal. The married couple moved to Glen Osmond.
Harold’s great great grandparents Johann Joseph and Veronika, together with children came to South Australia on The Zebra. Joseph became a farmer and first settled in Hahndorf, later in Grunthal. He became naturalised in 1841.
The interview with Harold is about his childhood memories of daily life in Hahndorf. He often visited his grandparents in Hahndorf. Another topic is the development of the tourism market in Hahndorf. Returning from Papa New Guinea in the early 1970s, Harold started a tourist business in Hahndorf and helped to establish the Hahndorf Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. In addition, he speaks about saving the Hahndorf Academy from being demolished and about its change of ownership in the 1980s. Being involved in community life he also speaks about the Hahndorf Liedertafel and other traditions in the town.
Start of digital file Harold Gallasch
Q: This is the interview with Harold Gallasch by interviewer Birgit Heilmann, it's 12 August and we’re in Hahndorf and it's for the Hahndorf Academy Project. And I thought it’s a good question to start to know when are you born and where are you born?
A: I was born in May 1943 in Adelaide. My parents were just living in the foothills at Glen Osmond on the family property but I was born in Adelaide.
Q: And what are your connections to Hahndorf, in this early days?
A: Connections with Hahndorf, my mother was born here of course and we always used to visit my grandparents here, my father also came from the area and many of our relations live in the area here so we’ll always have that connection to Hahndorf.
Q: And do you have some childhood memories, when you said visiting your grandparents, how often did you come for a visit?
A: I suppose, probably at least three Sundays every month, I would think. Seemed almost every weekend we’d come up here to visit my maternal grandparents. My grandfather was, in the early days quite sick, I'd never known him to be really well, so we always used to come up and visit him, and on occasion too we’d visit the paternal grandparents over at Verdun, the old family homestead and Verdun, but here again, even though I knew the old grandmother, Maria, I never got to know my maternal grandfather, he’d been deceased for some years.
Q: And when you went to see your grandparents in Hahndorf, so was normally Sundays, so how was the Sunday like, what did you do?
A: There always used to be jobs to do-
Q: On Sundays?
A: Yeah, not that we were required to do them, but because my grandfather was confined to bed, that was the opportunity to cut firewood and that sort of stuff, I mean, wood stoves the only heating, and cooking that was available, so we used to cut firewood for the next one or two weeks, so that was one of the common jobs that I used to do. But often I used to come up here and spend the holidays up here too and that often included things like picking fruit and preparing fruit for preserving, vegetables for preserving.
Q: Did you make your own jam?
A: Yes, we used to make all the own jams and I still do some of it, but we used to, there used to be so many different types of jams, there used to be the Logan berries, and all the different berries, the raspberries and the plum jams, and different things we used to do with the peaches and the pears. One of the interesting things of course was watching and sometimes helping my grandmother do the deutsche Kuchen, all the, make up the streusel and all that, and help her prepare that, and it used to be a day’s job, she used to be up at about 6am and getting the dough ready and having it on the, in front of the oven so it would rise slowly for several hours, and after that, when it had risen sufficiently putting it out on the trays, and then putting the streusel on the top and putting it in the oven, and by 5 pm or 6 pm we used to cut big slices off and enjoy the fruits of our labour. It used to be a very interesting time too.
Q: That's quite good to all the day through, preparing some and then you can taste it.
A: That's right. But sometimes they were involved too in making butter and making cheese and I used to see them doing this, I used to do it and then put it down in the cellar to keep it, they actually lived in two houses, one was a very early house, which was on Church Street, house would have been built in the 1850s, very low ceiling, low doors, and they had an underground cellar there which was a pantry and everything was stored there, and everything was kept there, so in the summer all the food would be preserved, so it was available during the winter. At one stage in the, probably about 1950 they moved to a more recently built house, which would have been built in about the 1880s by a Mr Oats from Tanunda, also in Church Street, but that place had no cellar-
Q: So what did you do?
A: By that stage refrigerators were starting to come in and even though we did all the preserving and did the same sort of cooking, and had a big pantry, they did have a refrigerator where, the older house, they didn’t-
Q: This was in the early 50s?
Q: Do you remember, I think your daughter told me last week that your mum was lighting the gas lanterns, do you know something about that?
A: Yes, my mother was actually born in Hahndorf, she was born in the large house on the hill to the north of Victoria Street, which was at that stage was a hospital, small hospital, she grew up here and did her schooling at the Hahndorf Primary School and when she was a teenager she used to go and light the gas lamps in the main street.
Q: Some interesting – when came the electricity lights to Hahndorf?
A: I don’t exactly know, but it would have been around about the late 1930s I believe. During the period, when I came here, I always remember there being electricity, although we always kept very handy kerosene lamps, because many times I remember lighting up the kerosene lamps, but that was usually when the power went off – we had power but it was not regular power like we have today, often the power would be off for the whole evening and then we’d have the kerosene lamps going, and we were cautioned to be very careful with those lamps of course, because a flame and kerosene, it's flammable.
Q: And it's dry in summer, it can easily fire.
A: I know there was one stage when, I mentioned cellars, in the early Hahndorf of course most of the houses in Hahndorf had cellars for the preservation of food, and our house here had a cellar, and the house next door, at 79 still has a cellar, and, because in the winter time the ground water rises, often the water used to come into the cellars, so there had to be some means by which the cellars were kept drained of water, and all the houses this side of the main street, the western side of the main street, in fact had earthenware pipes running from the lowest point in the cellar, under the main road of Hahndorf, under the houses, the opposite side down into the creek. So the cellars would be self-draining, and this worked very well until the E&WS put the underground, and put pipes underground for water pipes and mainly the water pipes, and they put the water down for the main street, reticulated water through Hahndorf, they destroyed all these drainage points for the cellars, and consequently every wet winter, the cellars now fill up with water.
Q: Couldn't you combine the pipes and the drains? They just destroyed it by building the pipes?
A: They just cut through the earthenware pipes, they didn’t take any notice of them, they just cut through them and put in the pipes. All the old places had their own wells, prior to, wells and at a later stage rainwater tanks for water, prior to the water being reticulated through the town, and this property here still has a well out the back there, which we can get water from if we so desire.
Q: So if there's no water you can go in the …-
A: That's right, there's always water in the well and we can use that. Prior to myself coming here it was used for watering the gardens and that. In the early stages too, I remember, the only street that was paved was the main street of Hahndorf, which was the main road through from Adelaide, through Mount Barker, going across to Melbourne, and all the other streets in Hahndorf were basically stone and mud and during the winter it would be mud, in the summer they’d be quite dusty and a very … with the … bones there, and particularly in the winter it used to be quite a mess because I remember where we used to stay and Church Street, every morning the cows would be driven up from the night paddock, up along Church Street, to paddocks where they’d graze during the day, and in the evenings, they’d be driven back to the night paddock behind the house, and particularly in the winter there’d be all the cow droppings all up and down the street, and it used to get quite messy which was just a part of country life in Hahndorf.
Q: And this was the cows from the local farmers here around?
A: Most, in the, this period of, talking of the late 1940s, early 1950s, apart from the, some of the houses and shops in the main street, most of the places back from the main street still had large gardens and orchards and had cows, because they were making their own butter, and their own milk-
Q: And you also got some milk for making the butter, you already mentioned-
A: Yeah, this is, I remember my mother telling me that during the Depression years of the 30s they were virtually self-supporting, and there were very few things they had to buy, I think one of the few things they bought were shoes, they used to make all their own clothes, and my mother made most of my clothes when I grew up, and they used to do all their preserves to preserve the food from the summer periods for the winter periods, so all the vegetables, fruit was grown and preserved, and every place had their own chickens, and most places had a few sheep and also cows, but some people who had a little bit larger land, instead of just having just one or two cows, they may have had ten to twenty cows, and they'd have them at the house during the night, over the night time, milking in the morning, and then they’d take them out to graze on fields further back from the town.
Q: I'm interested in another topic, because it's a German foundation here. When you were younger and visiting here, were they still speaking in German?
A: For some people it had changed, others it hadn’t, to contrast my paternal side of the family, when he came out to Australia, he landed here in January 1839, within a few months of him landing here he was naturalised, allegiance to the Queen of England, and they immediately set about learning English and the whole family tended to go with English, to the degree that when various children went to college at the Hahndorf Academy, it's recorded that one of the Gallasches was really scolded because he couldn’t speak German like a good German, because he’d forgotten it already, and this was in the 1860s, so he was scolded for forgetting a part of his heritage. The other side of the, the maternal side of the family, they lived in the Barossa until around the turn of the 19th century, they moved to Hahndorf in about 1904 and they did a lot of German speaking, and so my grandmother spoke German with a lot of her friends, who also spoke German, usually when I heard the old people speaking, they were speaking German, but they were equally fluent in both languages. And my mother of course she picked up German too, but my father in contrast, knew no German at all.
Q: And did they mention something about that they have had some problems during the war years, speaking German?
A: There was never much mention made of the problems during the war, of course some people did take offence at the Germans and the name of all the towns were changed, and Hahndorf of course was changed to Ambleside and a few of the old shops here still, under the plaster have the Ambleside name on the side of The German Arms, as Ambleside.
Q: So it's still on there?
A: It was, in recent years I saw it there, yeah, whether it's still now, or just covered up in the last few years, but I certainly remember it being there with the last thirty years that I've been here. So, and places like Grunthal where the Gallasches settled in 1841, and the name of that of course was changed to Verdun and it never changed back to Grunthal. Apart from, it's my understanding that a lot of the Germans here kept very much to themselves and the small farmers and, so there was not a lot of interaction with outsiders and so to a degree, they may have escaped some of the antagonism which other people certainly got-
Q: Yeah, the people in the town had more contact.
A: Yeah. I know one thing which was quite an event here in Hahndorf was a big parade which they had through the town, it would have been around about the same time as the centenary of Hahndorf; the centenary of Hahndorf would have been in 1939, around about that time they had a, there was a German warship visited Adelaide and a whole group of the sailors apparently came up to Hahndorf and there was a parade through the town and so on both of those occasions there were big parades through the town, and centenary celebrations and also the visitors, the German sailors from the warship, but at that period, prior to the Second World War, there of course was no, apparently no antagonism towards the Germans at that stage. That's been recorded and a lot of photographs and that, that have been handed down. Another thing as I mentioned previously, memory of the staying in Hahndorf was, the external latrines that, we used to be woken up in the middle of the night by the nightman who, so-called the nightman, who would come around and clang through the gates and clang in with an empty bucket and take out the full bucket of the waste to the truck which used to go around the town collecting all the waste. This would have been during the late 1940s before the introduction of septic tanks in the town.
Q: Yeah today you don’t think that so many things have changed in just having the normal living…
A: Well people often think oh well, you know, the good old days, well, what was particularly good about jumping over cow shit in the main street or being woken up in the middle of the night by the nightman, you know was, but in spite of all those things, most of the people lived to a ripe old age, and many of the people here lived to their late 80s or 90s so may not have been as comfortable, but, apparently in many cases it was just as healthy as perhaps our lifestyle now.
Q: And can I jump in time and, I'm interested in that you come to settle in Hahndorf, so you had told me that you lived for a few years in Papua New Guinea, and then you decided to come back to Australia, so and what was the reason to come back specifically to Hahndorf?
A: For many years of course, I had been visiting Hahndorf, and, grandparents were here, and all my relations were here, and even though I held no grudge against them at all, I really appreciated the family, I just wanted to get away from everything and I mentally said to myself, ‘I want to get as far away from Hahndorf as I can’, but just by chance, it ended up that, when I was in Papua New Guinea, looking for a place to come to Adelaide, to establish a business related with tourism, wherever I looked, there was no alternative, but to come back to Hahndorf.
A: Because Hahndorf was the only place at that stage in South Australia which appeared to have a tourism potential. When I first purchased the house here in 1973, there are only about three other businesses that were actually tourist-related businesses, but there seemed to be people coming here and the Academy was attracting people, and a couple of other businesses were attracting-
Q: What kind of businesses were here?
A: Next door there was Storisons’ which was an art and craft shop, and there were a couple of art galleries, including the Academy had been, to a degree restored, during the early 1960s it had become virtually derelict, but the Hahndorf Academy Trust had purchased the property, done a bit of restoration to prevent it being demolished and then it had passed into the hands of Walter Wotzke who had developed a art gallery there, and that was an attraction in the town.
Q: And when did it start to, the whole phase, The Academy-?
A: Well that started in about the, about 1964, and 66 I think Hans Heysen had an exhibition there, and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Academy, that created a bit of interest. It was the first place in South Australia where there had been any attempt to preserve old buildings, it was where we first realised that South Australia had a heritage which was worth preserving, and there were that core of people around here that were interested in preserving things.
Q: And you played a part in saving the Academy?
A: Not in this initial stage, this was done during the mid 60s, but I saw what was happening in Hahndorf, and I purchased property here in ‘73 and moved here at the end of 1978 and even though prior to 1978 there were the core three or four businesses that were attracting tourism it was a bit of a, to a degree, the only place in the Hills where there was anything like a gallery or a craft shop, anything that wasn’t utilitarian, everything else was, you know, clothes or butcher or bike shop or whatever, this was the only place which was starting to develop a tourism industry, but I moved here in ‘78, there were at that stage about five businesses before me, but in the next four years, probably another twenty to thirty businesses sort of got started that were aimed at the tourism market. So just the, that late ‘70s, early 1980 period was really the period where there was that real impetus in the commencement of the tourism industry here.
Q: And what kind of shop did you develop, what business did you open when you came here? What was your idea?
A: I'd always been a collector, collected anything I came across, and prior to going to New Guinea, I built up quite a substantial collection of minerals, I collected shells and tribal artefacts and, especially when I was in Papua New Guinea, I became aware of a international demand for tribal art, and over the fifteen or so years that I was living up there, I'd put together a substantial collection of New Guinea art, and because not only was I interested in it, but I hoped to be able to sell some of it, to make a living in it. And so when I came back to Australia, I had to be in a location where tourists would come and I'd have a market for those items, which I'd collected. So this sort of induced me to come back to Hahndorf, which I perceived as a growing tourist destination, and when I settled in Hahndorf, we opened up a shop selling natural history specimens, minerals, fossils, meteorites, shells, butterflies, all these obscure, but interesting things. In addition to tribal art from, mainly from Papua New Guinea, my wife also became interested in aboriginal art, so we developed a gallery with aboriginal art, so it sort of expanded, the longer we stayed here.
Q: And the first tourists, were they coming from Australia, were they overseas tourists, do you remember?
A: Mainly Australian tourists at that stage. It's very interesting, I found that I set up this shop with things from Papua New Guinea, and the first item I actually sold was a New Guinea item, which I sold to a Papua New Guinean.
Q: Oh (Laughing).
A: Which was unusual, brought it all the way down here and then the first person to come in and buy something was a Papua New Guinean. Now he had in fact purchased it, because he was a student at one of the universities, to give as a gift to people he’d been staying with. But that slowly developed, and it was probably only about, the early 1980s that I was talking to John Amer at The Old Mill across the road, and, he was talking how he advertised The Old Mill to get visitors coming there-
Q: Was it a restaurant then or?
A: It was a big restaurant yes, John Amer had in fact been instrumental in getting The Buffalo established down at Glenelg, which was developed as a big restaurant in a replica of The Buffalo ship, then he moved up to the, completely restored The Old Mill and as a big restaurant, and at one stage it had the second-largest licence in South Australia, could seat about 450 people. But we started talking about promoting the town, and, I started talking to a few other people including my neighbour John Storey and who had Storisons’ Arts and Crafts next door and very soon there's a group of about four or five of us decided on establishing the Hahndorf Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.
Q: What's it called? –Hahndorf……?
A: Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. And this was the first attempt at sort of jointly promoting the town, and it was in that period, as I said, in the early 80s that there was an influx of new people, into the town, to run businesses and we got some of those interested including Paul Forest, and Peter Hein, quite a lot of shops, tourism businesses started up in that period, the 1980s to 1982 period. So there was a core of probably about ten people we formed Hahndorf Chamber of Commerce and Tourism had regular meetings and did fundraising to raise money to promote the town through, by different publications in papers and maybe a bit of radio advertising and different things like that. So it was a first attempt to-
Q: What was the outcome, so where there more visitors coming because you were advertising?
A: The numbers of visitors were growing substantially and the number of businesses was also growing substantially. This continued up until the period of the pilot strike, in the late 1980s which, major pilot strike and then there was, sort of stopped people travelling, particularly people from overseas.
Q: So was a world-wide pilot strike?
A: No, just Australian pilots, Australian pilot strike, and it affected a lot of tourist businesses quite substantially, but up until that stage, from the early 80s till the, about 88, when the pilot strike was, a fairly substantial growth in tourism numbers and businesses being established in Hahndorf, and at that stage, it was only at that stage, getting towards the late 80s that other towns saw how well Hahndorf was going, that they themselves started to think about tourism for their areas, the Barossa started thinking about tourism, the Fleurieu Peninsula, Victor Harbor, the Southern Vales-
Q: That's quite interesting that Hahndorf was the first place-
A: It was certainly the first-
Q: Do you have a clue why this area was so good for starting tourism?
A: I don’t know, it's funny, but it's always been, to a degree, innovative, it was innovative in that it, the first place where there was any concern for the old heritage, and started to preserve heritage, it was, started to think of tourism, and it was also-
(Interruption – recording stopped) (End of digital file Harold Gallasch 1) (Start of digital file Harold Gallasch 2)
A: As I was saying Hahndorf seems to be a little bit innovative in a way, not that it intends to, but just sort of happens. We set up this Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and it was almost to a degree a first, for South Australia too, apart from The Chamber of Commerce and Tourism in Adelaide, this was the first group outside of Adelaide that had set up to promote the business interests of any group, because around about that same period of time, 1982, 1983, I had a small shop down the east end of Rundle Street, and they, the traders there came to me for ideas of setting up a traders group in the east end of Rundle Street, along the lines of what we had here in Hahndorf.
Q: Are you still involved in the traders group?
A: I was on the committee here for some twenty-five years, but the last few years I haven't been on the committee but my daughter’s now the chairperson of that traders group, so I'm still to a degree fairly much involved with what's happening and probably know more, certainly know more of the history and have got a continuous record of what's happened, for the past and thirty years and Hahndorf in the traders group, yeah. So it's just interesting that Hahndorf has been quite innovative to a degree.
A: And this was in the early, very early 1980s, apart from being involved then in the council of the St Michael’s School, in the mid-1980s there was The Hahndorf Academy was being put on the market-
Q: In the mid 80s?
A: Yeah the mid 1980s.
Q: So it was the story, I read some articles from the early 60s where this discussion was about, it should be demolished, and then it was really controversial, lots of people, so it was in a bad shape, and then it was saved and-
A: It was saved, there was, this Hahndorf Academy trust was formed in conjunction with Professor Van Abbe from the Adelaide University and a group of interested people, they raised some money to purchase the Hahndorf Academy in the early 60s that enabled them to do a little bit of restoration, but they had no funds to do much else. For whatever reason, but mainly because of the lack of funds, and they couldn’t really continue it, one of the members of that group was Walter Wotzke and so for a nominal fee, they transferred the Hahndorf Academy to Walter Wotzke, which was very good for Walter of course, so he got this historic building, and over the years he did what restoration he could and built it up gradually as a gallery, to the stage, as I mentioned early, he had exhibitions of art, including exhibitions by Hans Heysen and even the Queen was due to go and visit him, but in the event, something else happened and only The Duke of Edinburgh came to visit the Hahndorf Academy. But Walter was getting old and the local land agent offered the Hahndorf Academy to me to buy and it would have been very handy, because I was looking for a large building with large space to display some of the, many of the items I'd collected in Papua New Guinea, but I didn’t have the money-
Q: What was the price, do you remember?
A: The price was around about $170,000 – that was about 1985. After I declined to buy it, the land agent put it on the market, the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism here, had a meeting, and there's talk about getting the Mount Barker Council interested in purchasing the Hahndorf Academy, and up to that stage the Mount Barker Council had shown very little interest in Hahndorf at all, all the councillors on the council were basically farmers or land holders, they had little perception of the value of tourism, and no real interest in the Hahndorf Academy. And I said to the meeting, the small meeting of the Hahndorf traders, if you want to do anything about the Hahndorf Academy you have to do it yourself. And this is what I had learnt in Papua New Guinea, where from hard experience I learnt that, if you wanted anything, the only way of getting it was to go and do it yourself, so I took it upon myself to get something organised for the Hahndorf Academy and I started off by speaking to David Heysen, the son of Sir Hans Heysen up at the …, he directed me down to see Peter Heysen, at Glenelg, then I started talking to some of the other business operators in town here, at one of the meetings of the Hahndorf Business and Tourism and we got a core group interested in doing something about the Academy, then we got Alexander Downer interested and I got him to, I called a public meeting, he chaired the meeting, and there was sufficient interest amongst the people at that general meeting held in Hahndorf, to look at purchasing the Academy for the people. However, as this had taken a bit of time, the, a Melbourne company had taken out an option over the Hahndorf Academy and it looked as if it might get out of the hands of the people, so myself and John Storey we negotiated with this Melbourne company and sort of persuaded them that they’d find it hard dealing with the rest of Hahndorf if they tried to take over the Hahndorf Academy. So they left up their option-
Q: Do you know what plans the Melbourne Company had?
A: They were going to turn it into a boutique brewery, brew beer, boutique beers. We wanted it for basically a cultural centre, for a place where we could exhibit Heysen work, interpretive centre for the history of the area, and sort of a tourism office. Anyway, after they opted out of their option to purchase the Academy I went ahead and signed the contract to buy the Academy and then had to persuade the other group of, the Academy Foundation which had formed to go ahead and raise money for the purchase. So that took up a lot of time, probably about three years working, half of my time was spent organising finances, guarantors, getting directors in, organising programmes, repairs, painting, lighting, and everything else, so that took a lot of time.
Q: So that's really good to have the Academy now as it is though.
A: Yes, it was certainly something which the Mount Barker Council was not interested in and no way would have they put money into it at that stage. And even now they're quite hesitant about it at times.
Q: Okay, we might have a short break here.
(End of digital file Harold Gallasch 2) (Start of digital file Harold Gallasch 3)
Q: I've got another interesting topic that I'd like to know more, about the Hahndorf Liedertafel, and you are an active singer in there?
A: I'm an active participant, I try to sing.
Q: (Laughing) When did you start to go?
A: It's interesting how the, for many years nobody sort of, everybody had forgotten about the Hahndorf Liedertafel, it had been a group, a … phase that was active from probably the 1850s for perhaps some 30 years, and had for whatever reason faded away-
Q: So you don’t know the reason why?
A: I don’t really know, I haven't looked at the reasons, but it could have been associated with around about the time when, there was some anti-German sentiment, and there would have been concerns about people singing German songs, it could have been that period in the First World War, but, at some stage the, what once had been a very active German Liedertafel became defunct. Now in the early 1990 heritage architect Lothar Brasse was involved in doing some renovations in the Hahndorf Institute and during the renovations they took out, dismantled the old stage which had been in the institute for maybe a hundred years, and under the stage they found a wooden chest, and in there, all German songs which the Liedertafel had formally sung. And so that created a bit of interest, they find that there had been a Liedertafel and here's all the songs that they had been singing. Lothar Brasse apparently contacted David Gallasch a cousin of mine who was noted as being a pianist and into music and all that kind of thing, and they came up with the idea of re-establishing a Liedertafel in Hahndorf. And this was, a small group was got together in 1992 and they had their first concert in the Institute in 1993 and I joined in 1994.
Q: So there was no Liedertafel from say the early 20th century, up to the late-
A: That's right, yeah.
Q: Oh that's interesting.
A: So it was sort of a, Hahndorf institution which had lapsed and then been reinvigorated and come back, to the stage that we now are, Hahndorf Liedertafel participates with singing groups, Liedertafel from all the major states in Australia, every four years we have a major convention in one city, and that's where the joint Liedertafel’s there is also a Liedertafel in the Barossa and in Adelaide, their Liedertafel have been going consistently, but they started later than the Hahndorf one, the one in the Barossa, yeah, I just forget the dates they started, but they started somewhat later, commenced somewhat later than the Hahndorf one, but they have been more consistent in their continuing on. But we participate now in these annual, in the Liedertafel get-togethers, we also have an annual choir, we sing in various church concerts, or just nursing homes and venues like that.
Q: Are you still singing German songs?
A: Most of the songs we sing are German, yeah.
Q: So how does it go – maybe no one speaks German of you? So is it hard to sing in another language?
A: Mostly there have been one or two people who have some German language skills, most of us don’t, but there's one or two people that do and they can guide us, there have been, a lot of the people, whereas I have some German heritage way back, but have lost the German tongue, but, there are more people in the community here which immigrated out from Germany in the early 1950s and there are some of those people that are able to give us guidance in-
A: In the pronunciation, the German, yes. Same with the, Hahndorf used to have the Schuetzenfest up here. The Schuetzenfest was a traditional German festival of course, but the fact that they had it up – started about thirty years ago, and that they had it in Hahndorf was not, as a result of the Hahndorf residents, but it was a result of the German Club in Adelaide, comprised mainly of more recent immigrants from Germany, those coming out in the 1950s and 1960s, they were the ones behind the organisation of the Hahndorf Schuetzenfest, but of course, after about twenty-five years, having the Schuetzenfest on the Hahndorf Oval, they transferred that now down to Adelaide.
Q: To Adelaide, yes. And did you sing at the Schuetzenfest with the Liedertafel?
A: No, they, the Schuetzenfest primarily seemed to revolve around the Bavarian culture, and a lot of the businesses in Hahndorf, during the 1980s and forward, have been trying to, in a way, cultivate a German theme as an attraction to the town, in addition to the historic heritage of the town, they're trying to cultivate a German theme, but it's mainly been a Bavarian sort of theme that they've looked at, and most of the older residents of Hahndorf, like myself for instance, are opposed to this, because our forebears didn’t come from Bavaria, they came from the eastern steppes or, Prussia, Poland and …, those areas there, far removed from Bavaria, with a completely different culture. So even though people that came out here were basically German-speaking, they certainly weren’t Bavarians, and they had no Bavarian culture, so we've tried to distance ourselves.
Q: That's a good point – so the Schuetzenfest was one attraction to promote the German-ness here in Hahndorf?
A: Well the Schuetzenfest was devised by the German Club in Adelaide, and they thought an appropriate place would be Hahndorf, being a German town, even though the culture wasn’t equivalent, and for many years they sort of promoted it here, and Hahndorf was happy to have it here, because it promoted the town-
Q: And at this stage, did the Bavarian theme develop, or was this later?
A: It developed concurrently in the town, and as a Schuetzenfest, but the Schuetzenfest was only one day of the year, there have been people in the town here trying to cultivate it throughout the year, and it's, the older residents have sort of been trying to dissuade that because we don’t really feel it, well certainly not part of our heritage. Another, I mean, Hahndorf has always had a Schutzen group – shooting group – and from what I understand it's certainly, by far, the oldest shooting club in Australia, from the very early days of settlement here, certainly from the 1850s there are records of different people winning the kingshoot from those periods, and that was a tradition in Hahndorf which still continues, even though it's not, perhaps flaunted as much as it was there. There is still, shooting club is still going, it's still a very active club with them, still some of the old German families participating in it. there used to be, going back in the years, my father remembers where they used to have a, after the shooting contests, there'd be a parade through the town of Hahndorf, and the winner of the kingshoot, would be wearing the big costume with all the badges of, and he’d parade through Hahndorf and ended up going to The German Arms and shouting drinks for everybody. So this was a custom which, my father well remembered, but, that-
Q: And they're still doing the parade ?
A: The parade is not done any longer, that sort of died out over the years, but they still have kingshoots every year, and, Robert Paech has three or four, four or five times in recent years won the kingshoot. So he's had a medallion made which is in joined with the 150 or 60 other medallions on the big costume which the kingshooter wears.
Q: Yes I saw some photographs.
A: You photographed it ?
Q: No, I saw some photographs of kingshoot.
A: Yeah it's a very, very interesting – it's very interesting. We've made a few of the medallions actually to fit on that costume, in recent years. That's one of the – another thing that we've had in Hahndorf here in recent years has been – the feature sort of German customs I suppose are the Bürgermeister, after the establishment of the Hahndorf Commerce and Tourism, which later became the Hahndorf Business and Tourism, we had the idea of having one of the townspeople, preferably somebody, maybe retired, a little bit more time, to be the Bürgermeister and he had a plaque which he wore and he used to take tourists around town to show them the different sites, to show the tourists the different sites in Hahndorf and explain to them some of the history of the town and this was quite a prominent feature of Hahndorf during the 90s, 1990s, the activities or the Bürgermeister welcoming groups of tourists to the town and showing them around.
Q: So was not an official role it was more a- ?
A: It was not an official role, it was an honorary role.
Q: Do you still have – you don't have a mayor here, you are connected to the Mount Barker area- ?
A: We don’t have a mayor; we’re part of the Mount Barker Council, yeah.
Q: It's still continuing or it has stopped?
A: The reason – it lapsed a few years ago, but it's one of those things which, we’d like to continue again, but it does need a suitable person, and for several years we had very suitable people that could do that, but, not the recent years. And while it was initially an honorary position, we did start paying expenses and that and it sort of, started costing a bit of money too and that induced the group at one stage to let it lapse. Another feature of that … I suppose, which was, the town band, which has been always a focus of the township too, so, that's been going for well over a hundred years I believe and a lot of the events in the town, the bands involved in, so it's, from this point of view, it sort of made Hahndorf a community which is a little bit different to a lot of the other small communities around, the band, the Liedertafel, the Schuetzen group, all these different things, it sort of separated Hahndorf out a little bit, given its own identity.
Q: It's always nice to come here I think. Can you remember from your, when you came back in the 70s to today, at the moment, what has changed dramatically, what comes to your mind when you think about these early starting tourism development and today, so what has changed?
A: Initially when they came back, a lot of the places in the main street were still residences, so we, a portion of the places had been turned into businesses, there were initially no new premises built specifically for business, but there were houses, formerly residences, which had been converted to a business use and there were a number of residents still living in the main street, and it was said, when I came back, the average age of the resident in the main street, was about seventy years (laughing) so I felt a little bit out of it being only about forty or something when I ended up here again. So there has been this dramatic change of, a large residential component to a very minor residential component. The council had a development plan in place in the early 1980s which was quite a good development plan, which involved trying to maintain the old structure of the town, with single allotments, discrete areas between the different buildings, with greenery, maintaining the outlook of the town, the old buildings as they were, and unfortunately the council has been the main culprit in allowing Hahndorf to change. It's approved a lot of buildings, building approvals have been in, that they've granted, been completely opposed to the ideas they had in the development plan, and so instead of maintaining the structural integrity of the town, the same building materials, there's glass structures and buildings have been built in … strips of buildings, all buildings joined together, shop, rows of … shops, this was completely against the intent of the – or what was written in the early development plan. So the fact that Hahndorf has deteriorated is largely a result of what council has allowed to happen, and, so initially there were, the best period of Hahndorf I suppose, from the point of view of trading, was when there was about 50 businesses in the town, now there's about 150 businesses, and everybody’s struggling and they're wondering why they're not making any money, and the reason why they're not making any money is because, Hahndorf did too good for its own good, Hahndorf became very popular, that its own popularity attracted a lot of outsiders to the town, who had little knowledge of the town, and weren’t particularly interested in learning about the town, they came here to make business, and make money, they came here and established a business, and too many of them came here, and it wasn’t matched by the number of tourists coming here. So over the past few years, there's three times the number of businesses since the late 1980s but certainly the number of tourists hasn’t multiplied by three, it's probably about the same or maybe even less than the late 80s. So tourist numbers hasn’t increased, the number of businesses here have increased, and the average longevity of a business in town is quite short, many businesses have, may have been here for six months, eight months, a few years, whereby far the longest established business, having now survived for thirty years. But a lot of people they come up on the weekends, they see a lot of people around the town, they think oh that's a good place to invest our payout or our superannuation, they start a little business, fifteen months later, they leave the town, all their savings, all their money’s gone, and another shop up for rent. This unfortunately has happened many, many times. But Hahndorf keeps changing and there are a lot of businesses here with very, good businesses with a very interesting arrange, array of items on display, for sale, it's a lot of things which you don’t even find in the major shopping centres that you can find here in Hahndorf.
Q: … also all the local products and -
A: That's right, a lot of locally made products. Hahndorf has always been, it's changed over the years, years ago I mean, you see old photographs, area around Hahndorf with vineyards, in the 1880s and that, and then vineyards completely disappear for a hundred years, and in the 1980s they come back again.
A: And the wineries come back, the small wineries and they attract people in, so there's, for a period there's, the industry in Hahndorf has changed a lot over the years.
Q: Do you have a favourite place in Hahndorf?
A: I suppose, there's been a lot of good places, but they keep changing. The Old Mill’s a favourite I suppose. There's some interesting stories about The Old Mill too, was, the intention of some of the owners there, and it was, the intention was to build it up like a Las Vegas, but that just didn’t happen, and so, Noel Duffield who had that intention and in fact visited Las Vegas to get some ideas there, and try to install the swings for the show girls and all that, the swings are still there, but the show girls never turned up and the money never came, so he went bankrupt.
Q: That's interesting story, I didn’t know that.
A: Yeah, there's been a, he's quite an entrepreneur Noel Duffield.
Q: Thanks so much for all the information. I think I'm full with all my questions I had in my mind. Do you want to add something you think is important and I didn’t ask?
A: Oh there's just another little Hahndorf thing which I didn’t mention, but which is a little bit unique in Hahndorf is the St Nicholas Parade, St Nicholas is of course an institution established in Europe, in Germany, but not only there, also Holland a number of the … countries and one of the things which the Hahndorf traders did, initially organise and now been taken over by the St Paul’s Lutheran Church, is the regular observance of St Nicholas, on the first Friday of December, and, this is accompanied, or in recent years, there's sort of a barbeque at the church, and then a big parade down the main street of Hahndorf with St Nicholas and Black Peters and all the kids … , in years past we used to have a horse drawn-wagon going down with St Nicholas in the back, the horse-drawn wagon, and throwing out lollies to the children, and usually hundreds of children following St Nicholas through the streets of Hahndorf, and in recent years they end up at the court yard of the Hahndorf Academy and they have carol singing there, and the Hahndorf Liedertafel sings. So it's a real community event which attracts hundreds of people and this is another one of the traditions which you don’t find in other places, but it's that sort of a, a German tradition looking back to heritage of the people that settled this area 170 years ago.
Q: … lovely tradition, I like Nicholas.
A: Yeah. Yes lots of different things about different areas I could talk about, but, I suppose my throat is getting a little bit dry at this stage, after talking for the last hour.
Q: Thanks very much, was really interesting