Mount Barker Facts for the Rising Generation

 Information compiled by Dick Mills and obtained from Don Goldney, Mt Barker branch  NTSA

1st White Man to see Mount Barker

  • Captain Charles Sturt from the lower Murray in 1830. ('Two Expeditions Into The Interior Of Southern Australia', page 158 vol. 2)

1st Inhabitants Of Mount Barker

  • About 200 aborigines of the Peramangk tribe who camped on occasions on the junction of the 2 main creeks.

1st Creek Names

  • Pertinga from Littlehampton, Laratinga from Western Flat. (Old township sketch map).

1st to climb Mount Barker Summit

  • John Morphett and party just prior to December 1837. (Newspaper clippings. Mortlock Library)

1st to explore Mt Barker's Bremer Valley

  • Robert Cock and party on 28 December 1837 when they crossed the Bremer and went on to the lakes. They had first climbed Mt Barker on 21 December 1837. (The Colonial Gazette and Register, 20 January 1838)

1st to keep cattle near Mt Barker

  • Captain Charles Sturt from mid 1837 when he arrived at a site on the Scotts creek just upstream from Dawsley as the third overlander. (Sturt's records per Mr and Mrs Borrow)

1st to keep sheep at the site of Mt Barker township

  • Duncan McFarlane of NSW. His station of a Piesse house, a row of shepherd's huts and sheep-yards were situated where Kia Ora Street ends today. The station was established on his arrival from NSW in late 1838.

1st Overlander

  • Joseph Hawdon arrived at Mt Barker on 29th March 1838 and continued on to Adelaide. He ate lunch where Mt Barker Springs came into being. (R Schmidt, 'Mountain Upon The Plain', quoted from "The Journal of a Journey From NSW to Adelaide")

Early sheep at Mt Barker

  • Duncan McFarlane imported 1100 sheep from Port Phillip district in early 1839. (from author unknown)

1st shearers in the hills

  • were German girls assisted by the men. Each shearer tied the sheep's back leg to her big toe to stretch out the sheep's side and thus avoid cuts. (John Bull in 'Early Experiences')

1st man to farm at Mt Barker

  • John Barton Hack on Western Flat soon after his failure to obtain the Mt Barker Special Survey. (Memoirs Mrs Coleman)

1st land purchased at Mt Barker

  • The Mt Barker Special survey obtained on 11/1/1839 when William Hampden Dutton, Captain John Finnis and Duncan McFarlane paid 4000 pounds into the hands of the Colonial Treasurer. (SAGazette & Colonial Register 12/1/1839)

1st wheat grown in Mt Barker district

  • Sown at Nairne by Hillman, Disher and Milne in 1840. There were some smaller patches as well. (John Dunn in 'Memories of 80 Years', Mt Barker Courier 24/12/1886)

1st flour mill

  • Mr Hack had a small hand mill and the Germans had one at Hahndorf very early. The honour belonged to John Dunn who built a wind powered mill at  Hay Valley in 1841. ('Memories of 80 Years', Mt Barker Courier 29/7/1887)

1st steam powered flour mill

  • The first steam powered flour mill outside of Adelaide was started by John Dunn in Cameron St, Mt Barker on 1/8/1844. ('Memories of 80 Years', Mt Barker Courier)

1st wheat to be harvested by machine

  • In January 1844 John Dunn arrived at a paddock between Mt Barker and Littlehampton with John Ridley's reaping machine. ('Memories of 80 Years', Mt Barker Courier 17/12/1886)

1st leather tanned at Mt Barker

  • John Dunn tanned a little for his mill but Mr Hultgrin commercially tanned leather in pits on the bank of Laratinga Creek below the Wesleyan Church blocks. It was bought out by Thomas Paltridge who needed to tan leather for his shoemaking business. (Obituary Thomas Paltridge, Courier 22/1/1905)

1st police at Mt Barker

  • They were Sergeant Swaffer and Trooper Uphill. ('Wommamakurta', J Schmarl, SA Police Dept.)

1st police residence

  • Trooper Uphill lived inside the butt of a large hollow red gum. (SA Police Dept.)

1st magistrate

  • Captain Francis Davison. (diary Mrs Francis Davison)

1st court house

  • The old police station.

1st police station

  • It was in McLaren St. It stood from early 1840s until 1939 and was the first masonry building in Mt Barker.

1st hotel

  • Gloag's Inn in Cameron St. Next in order: Lowe's Inn (The Thistle) now Barker Hotel; Gloag's Crown Hotel in Hutchinson St, Grays Inn, The Globe in Pridmore Terrace, The Oakfield in Adelaide Rd. (T Paltridge Memoirs)

1st church building

  • One of three nondescript structures built about 1840, one in Cameron St, one on the site of the old PO building in Gawler St and one for the Quakers at Fairfield.

1st regular preacher

  • Henry Appleton who preached under a tree at the site of the Masonic Lodge. (T Paltridge & Rev JB Austin)

1st masonry churches and chapels

  • Presbyterian: 1848, the present building;
  • Catholic: 1857, in Daddow Rd;
  • Primitive Methodist: building begun in 1848, now used by the Masonic Lodge;
  • Anglican: St James, Blakiston, commenced 1847 and Christ Church Mt Barker, 1865;
  • Wesleyan: 1851, Dunn Memorial 1884;
  • Baptist: 1874, now the Pulpit Tavern;
  • Lutheran: 1962.

1st Institute

  • It was built in 1874 as a place where learning could be spread by means of library, literary clubs etc. Prominent men vied with each other for a place in such progress. This resulted in The Founders' Room. Their whiskery portraits gazed down from every wall. Later town hall.

1st public worship service

  • Conducted by Rev Robert Haining in the shade of a red gum on the banks of Pertinga Creek in 1842.

1st parson's horse

  • Badger, who faithfully carried Rev Haining back and forth through stringy bark forests in the Adelaide Hills from 1842.

1st centrally heated house

  • The 'Wedding Cake House', or 'Bollen's Folly' built 1880s. When Dr Bollen returned from the USA Mrs Bollen suffered from arthritis, so he built the house with an exterior furnace and steam pipes to the interior as he had seen in America, for warmth to ease her pain. Bollen also built rooms in Gawler Street with an upper floor, later Gardiners Real Estate Office. When the building was under construction somebody discovered that no staircase had been provided so that it had to be added afterwards. (A Jones, traditional story)

1st band to play

  • Thomas Paltridge's.

1st large cavalcade

  • Came to Mount Barker on 25 July 1859 when 192 horsemen and horsewomen accompanied Sir Robert Torrens from Hahndorf to Mt Barker. They were led by Paltridges Band. It was a kind of victory parade to celebrate the passing of the Real Property act in the previous year.

1st house with an attic

  • The miller's cottage built by John Dunn in 1846 next to his flour mill in Cameron St. It had a store in the basement which was connected to the mill by a tunnel. It is possibly the oldest masonry house in Mt Barker. (Thomas Paltridge Memoirs)

1st bakers oven

  • Was provided by the manufacturers as a handy 'extra' in the boiler flue of the flour mill machinery. John Dunn cooked scones in it to celebrate the starting of the mill.

1st cemetary

There were two early ones.

  • The cottage in Morphett St known as Dead Man's Row or Resurrection Row had a graveyard. (A Jones traditional story)
  • At the site of the present swimming pool where there was once a chapel. Next oldest was the Triangle between Hack St and Adelaide Rd.

1st hospital

  • Dr Robertsons at the Globe, Pridmore Terrace in 1863-71. (Research courtesy of B Ashmeade & Associates). There was also another doctor's hospital at the Chalet.

1st Mount Barker show

  • Held at Nairne in 1847. In those days Mount Barker was thought of by the colonists as an area at least as large as from Woodside to Macclesfield (the Observer 1847).

1st Mount Barker show held in Mount Barker

  • this was on vacant land from Gloags Crown to Gawler Street in 1848. Use was made of the hotel stable yards for the display of livestock (memoirs of Thomas Paltridge).

1st government public school building

  • This was the Primary School in Adelaide road built in 1877. Before this there were schools kept by Masters, Mistresses and Monitors and children had to pay a fee (Mt Barker Primary School Jubilee Pamphlet etc.).

1st foundry

  • It was referred to at Mount Barker as that of J. Adamson in

1st crank and screw skid brake for wagons and drays

  • was invented by Stephen Hack who lived near Mount Barker and was made by Mr Adamson about 1850. Before that the only way to descend Breakneck Hill was to fell a tree from the forest and tie it behind the vehicle (John Bull in 'Early Experiences', and John Dunn 'Memories of 80 Years', Mount Barker Courier 17/12/1886).

1st prefabricated house

  • A Manning House from England, erected at Blakiston by Captain Francis Davison RN in 1840. It is still there (Diary of Mrs Francis Davison and Captain Davison).

1st prefabricated commercial building

  • A bolted together bulk grain store imported by John Dunn and erected at his Cameron Street flour mill in the early 1850s (SA Heritage Department and National Trust memorabilia). The store was made of cast iron and corrugated galvanised iron. Even the roof guttering was made of cast iron.

1st local government

  • The Commission for the Hundred of Macclesfield. It was formed at a public meeting held at Gloags Hotel on 25/11/1849. The chairman was Francis Davison. The other commissioners wer Messsrs Davenport, Stirling, Lambert, L McFarlane and JJ Bonner secretary. The stated purpose of the Commission was for the maintenance and repair of main roads (Mount Barker Courier 20/7/1888).

1st large commercial trip to Adelaide

  • A convoy of 3 drayloads of flour was sent by John Dunn from his mill to Alex Elder. The track was so bad that before the stringy bark forest beyond the Onkaparinga was reached it proceeded at the rate of 2 1/2 miles per day. It reached Adelaide on the 4th day and was sold at a loss because some was docked 20% for late arrival. The consignment was sent in the mid 1840s (Mount Barker Courier 21/1/1887).

1st District Council

  • Proclaimed 22/10/1853. F May, chairman; other councillors were L McFarlane, B Gray, J Frame and J Dunn with D O'Brien as clerk (Mount Barker Courier 20/7/1888).

1st shop

  • Commenced by Mr Gloag at his hotel in Cameron Street in the early 1840s. In 1844 a second shop was commenced at John Dunn's original mill cottage Mrs Dunn who risked the flooded river Onkaparinga in her spring card to obtain goods (Mount Barker Courier 31/12/1886).

1st school building

  • Started in 1844 at a site where Mr Dodd later had a blacksmith shop (John Dunn in Mount Barker Courier 24/12/1886).

1st Main Street

  • This was the route to the mill - Commercial Road (now Pridmore Terrace) and Cameron Street. Commercial Road slanted across as now because the slow turning bullock teams found that easier than right angles as they headed to or from the mill and to or from Adelaide Road.

1st authoress

  • Maude Jean Francis who wrote 'Marian: the Light of Someone's Home' (The Advertiser 18/7/1859 when it was reviewed).

1st Primitive Methodist Church service

  • Held in John Dunn's mill cottage in 1844 or 45. It was marked by the arrival of a small child who was overcome by the people present when all he wanted was a box of matches for his mother (John Dunn in Mount Barker Courier 31/12/1886).

1st Aboriginal battle witnessed by whites

  • Occurred about 1844 between the Victor Harbor people and the local people. It is recorded by Paterson family and the SA police and this or a similar occasion, by the Frame family.

1st lodes in the Mount Barker District

  • Discovered by shepherds in McFarlane Hill just south of Kanmantoo in 1845.(letters of William Giles and Samuel Davenport).

1st mines in the Mount Barker District

  • The Kanmantoo and the Paringa, both in McFarlane Hill and begun by the South Australian company and the Paringa proprietors respectively in 1846 (letters of Wiliam Giles).

1st mining towns in the Mount Barker District

  • Kanmantoo, Staughton and St Ives, all commencing with the arrival of miners in late 1845 (letters of William Giles etc).

1st silver found near Mount Barker

  • On Mr Myles Kavanagh's property at Mount Barker Springs in 1888 (Mount Barker Courier 2/3/1888).

1st rubies mined near Mount Barker

  • 13/4/1888

1st horse for racing (or one of the first horses)

  • Mr Lowe's Peter Finn who competed in the Bremer races at Kanmantoo 18/4/1849 (Observer newspaper 1849). Pter bolonged to Mr Lowe of Lowe's Inn, also called The Thistle. It is now Hotel Barker.

1st swimming place

  • A waterhole in Laratinga Creek near the present Council office. Traditional. It was boys only.

1st commercial swimming pool

  • It was roofed, cost 6d a time or 7/6 per month (5c or 75c). The water was pumped by steam engine from a well and there were change cubicles (Mount Barker Courier 10/1/1883).

1st lady preacher

  • 1883 (Mount Barker Courier 2/3/1883)

1st railway to Mount Barker

  • Opened 18/9/1883. It is now used only intermittently as a tourist line.

1st peak use of railway in the Hills

  • Called the Southern Line. 14,241 passengers were carried for the week ended 11/4/1884 (Mount Barker Courier 1/5/1884).

1st lawn tennis club

  • They played their first match in Mount Barker on 14/8/1884 (Mount Barker Courier 1/8/1884).

1st rifle club

  • Formed 11/4/1884 as a result of the 2nd Russian Scare (Mount Barker Courier - compare Nairne and Strathalbyn).

1st bicycle club

  • Formed in Mount Barker in October 1884 (Mount Barker Courier 17/10/1884).

1st roller skating rink

  • 29/7.1881. The skating took place in the Institute (Mount Barker Courier).

1st eleven

  • Reported to have been chosen to play against Callington (Mount Barker Courier 8/2/1884).

1st reaping and binding machine near Mount Barker

  • Demonstrated in Mr Yates' paddock at Wistow in January 1881 (Mount Barker Courier 6/1/1881). Those people who still harvested standing wheat with a sickle and tied the sheaves by hand were now completely overshadowed by this amazingly clever machine.

1st seeding machine

  • A seed drill, The Farmers Favourite, was demonstrated at Mount Barker in August 1895 (Mount Barker Courier 29/8/1895). This was a big step forward in agriculture because it made possible the sowing of both seed and the new superphosphate fertilizer together at the correct depth at a speed of acres per hour.