What do you know about Norton Summit?

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Norton Summit was settled during the 1840s.  The town's name derives from Robert Norton, who was recorded as the first person to drive a team of bullocks up the horrendous final portion of Giles' Hill to Norton Summit.

Norton Summit's start as a village was modest.  Landowner Charles Giles divided some areas into smaller sections during the late 1840s and early 1850s; another report lists only a couple of homes and a store in 1868.

Settlement became more established in the 1870s.  William Sutton had several buildings constructed, the most enduring of which was the still-dominant Scenic Hotel.  Another landmark took shape at this time - St John's Church of England.  With its octagonal bell tower, the church enjoys a commanding position on a knoll above the hotel.  Gradually the town developed to include stores, a blacksmith, baker, butcher and a school or two.  The timing of the town's major development matched the growth of Richard Vaughan's East End Market, which provided a boost for fruit and vegetable growers.

John Baker, a dauntless pioneer pastoralist and politician built a fine 17-room home 'Morialta' above Morialta Gorge.  In Morialta's grand days, guests included the Duke of Edinburgh and the future King George V.  Baker made a hilltop racetrack, and one of the horses trained there - Don Juan - won the 1873 Melbourne Cup in the fastest time recorded in the first 16 years of the race.  Morialta's days as a gracious home ended with its sale to the Protestant Federation during the 1920s, to be used as a boys' home.

The Playfords, a leading fruitgrowing family from the early days, still resides in the area.  Sir Thomas Playford was the longest-serving Premier of South Australia and a statue of him was unveiled at Norton Summit in 1996.

Apart from the fine country, Norton Summit's principal interest is the historic Scenic Hotel, with its long years as the district's centre of social life.  Also of heritage interest is St John's Church, and the local museum.