The following articles elaborate on the history of the Pioneer Women and the trail they took to convey their produce from Hahndorf to Adelaide.
For further details of the Pioneer Women's Trail, please refer to the publication, 'Early Hahndorf and the Pioneer Women's Trail' by Anni Luur Fox. This publication includes the original plan and a list of the founding families plus additional historical information.
First National Trust Walk
The following article by Anni Luur Fox, Chairperson of the Hahndorf Branch of the National Trust of South Australia, was written in January 2005 and subsequently published in 'Heritage Living'. It celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the first National Trust Walk, from Hahndorf to Beaumont House.
25th Anniversary of the first National Trust Walk from Hahndorf to Beaumont House
by Anni Luur Fox, Chairperson, Hahndorf Branch, National Trust of SA - January 2005
If life truly is “a pudding full of plums” as Sir W.S. Gilbert once opined, the saga of the Hahndorf Pioneer Women’s Trail fits into both plum and pudding categories as the following overview of our efforts will reveal. On the 20 April 1980 when the first public National Trust re-enactment took place, the Hahndorf Branch was almost four years old and overloaded with seemingly endless battles with developers, lawyers and government authorities. Gordon Young’s Hahndorf Survey (1979-81) was gathering information that later substantiated our claims for the town as a heritage site. We had played a major role in stopping demolition of a group of three 19th Century buildings a developer wanted to replace with a shopping centre and we were trying to ensure that conservation principles were upheld in Neill Wallman’s new Supplementary Development Plan for Hahndorf …….. as well as trying to fix the windmill.
Mrs Elizabeth Simpson’s enthusiasm to develop a re-enactment along an early supply trail from the Mt. Barker region to Adelaide resulted in the Beaumont House committee’s invitation to join them in organising this event to mark the Silver Jubilee of the S.A. National Trust in 1980. It seemed like fun! They even supplied us with a copy of Frederick Nixon’s map of 1841 showing trails in the region which would help us determine the route from Hahndorf to Crafers while they would work on the shorter section via Eagle on the Hill to Beaumont.
Our Chairman John Storey, a veteran of the Kokoda Trail during World War 2, declared it “a cinch”. He rushed off to the Woodside Army camp where he and Major Ian Ferguson converted the map to the same scale as a recent one from the Department of Lands for comparison. They found that the Onkaparinga and Old Mt Barker roads were part of the original rough track but at least the route also traversed bushland where it could be possible to imagine the first group of women setting off for Adelaide at midnight with their eggs and radishes for sale soon after Hahndorf was settled in March 1839. It must have been a frightening prospect for them, given the awful tales of fierce Tiersmen, some of them outlaws living rough along the way at Crafers.
The Hahndorf Pioneer Women’s Trail commemorates these first efforts to supply Adelaide with fresh farm produce from the Mt Barker region which later became the “breadbasket” of the colony. In 1839 Hahndorf had been the first village established east of Mt Lofty. Its impoverished settlers immediately cleared ground and planted seed and like their countrymen at Klemzig, were quick to take advantage of the lack of fresh food in Adelaide. Because Colonel Light’s rural surveys had stalled, most immigrants had been stuck in the city speculating on town acres and patronising the many pubs. The little food grown locally had to be supplemented through importation. According to an early newspaper report flour was often contaminated with seawater and other undesirables such as whiting, bonemeal or Plaster of Paris added to the casks by unscrupulous merchants. No wonder Mrs Watts complained in her diary about bread being as hard as bricks. Fresh produce from Hahndorf’s rich soil in those very early days of the colony must have been a special treat.
The women and older girls feature in early accounts of transportation of Hahndorf’s produce to market, probably because the men were away working for landholders clearing the bush and fencing. The women tended the animals and the gardens, made the butter and cheese and other items they carried on their backs for sale in Adelaide to pay off their ship and land debts. Some of them are recorded as carrying 35 kilograms of farm produce before works on the Great Eastern Road had improved conditions for wheeled traffic by 1854. As more villages were developed at Grunthal (now Verdun), Mt Barker, Lobethal, Echunga and Balhannah more people joined Hahndorf’s women on the produce trail to Adelaide.
To check the route which may also have been a means of communication between the Peramangk Aboriginal people of the hills region and the Kaurna on the plain, I joined John Storey, Clare Ferguson, Lyndell Davidge and Rodney Allen on 29 March 1980 for the first hike to Beaumont House. After six hours we stumbled scratched, footsore and weary despite our “You Beaut” modern sneakers and lightweight backpacks, into the gorgeous dining room where the Committee had prepared afternoon tea for us in elagant style. A creek near the Beaumont House site had been the place where pioneer women, barefoot to save shoe leather, had stopped to rest and tidy themselves before the last stretch to Adelaide’s markets. What a contrast! For us, a sumptuous spread of cucumber sandwiches and Queen Mother’s Cake awaited, as well as motor cars to transport us up the hills to Hahndorf in comfort where a hot bath filled by turning a tap would ease the effects of such unaccustomed exertions. They didn’t remain unaccustomed for long!
Fully expecting no more than three men and a dog to turn up at the Pioneer Park on 20 April to register and actually pay money for the privilege of following members of the Hahndorf Branch along the Trail to Beaumont, we had marked the route on the previous day but had organised few drink stops. How embarrassing! About 150 adventurous souls made the journey including a seventy year old woman and C.Warren Bonython with a huge marrow on his back in honour of the travails of the pioneers. Along the way two walkers had somehow ended up on the South Eastern Freeway median strip where a passing police patrol insisted they climb back over the high cyclone fence, which they did. Having waited a while they scaled the fence again, dashed over four lanes of traffic and jumped another high fence in search of the Old Mt. Barker Road they knew had to be there somewhere.
On reaching the “Eagle” our numbers were swelled again for the descent to Beaumont but at least the pub had a good supply of drinks. Historian Reg Butler flanked by other direct descendents of the Hahndorf women in period dress, led the throng with a flag sent him by citizens of Westerland, the birthplace of Captain Hahn who had been so influential in the founding of Hahndorf. St Michael’s Lutheran Church choir entertained us with Paul Gerhardt’s hymn which the first settlers had managed to sing at the top of the Beaumont spur after two days of lugging their belongings up its steep slope on the way to establish Hahndorf in the heat of summer 1839, “O sun where art thou vanished?” And we soon vanished too, for the comforts of home after gladly abandoning plans to search for two missing walkers whose encounter with the police had made them late for afternoon tea in the lush gardens of Beaumont House.
Like giving birth, the pain of it all soon passed in the euphoria of a successful event. Our Branch repeated the scenario, minus police, in 1983, 1985 and 1986 in partnership with the Beaumont House Committee. The success of these events had spawned increasing requests for more. Each time, John Storey and I virtually had to walk the route thrice to hammer in the markers, lead the walk/ensure no-one got lost, remove the markers. The Branch began supplying maps. Lyndell Davidge led the biennial walks by Hahndorf Primary School. Our persistent requests for official marking by the SA Department of Sport and Recreation came to naught until the Centenary of Women’s Suffrage in 1994 when Terry Lavendar must have got sick of my nagging while following him along the Trail during WomenTrek. This marvellous event had seen women walking thousands of kilometres along the trails of South Australia, culminating in the Hahndorf Pioneer Women’s Trail. It was the first time we had to walk back up the hills again (some took a bus), to take part in the closing ceremony in Mt. Lofty Gardens. “Whew!
These were definitely “plum” events followed by what I prefer to term a “pudding” whose public dissection won’t do our cause any good at all. The project to officially mark the Trail has lurched on since 1994. Various project officers have worked on it, including planner Rod Worthington who had the unenviable task of ensuring our Trail fitted departmental Trails Policy. As expected, the section from the Eagle to Hahndorf is proving difficult and the official Trail will have to stop at the road bridge over the Onkaparinga River at South Verdun where increasing pressure for more commercial development on the floodplain has sent us to the Environment Court yet again.
The road bridge, in these litigious times marked by insurance industry catastrophes, has been officially deemed too dangerous for foot traffic. We did try to improve matters by forming a partnership with the Hahndorf Community Association, Business and Tourism Association and Country Arts SA. We were successful in gaining funds for a Concept Plan for the Hahndorf Entranceway and Pioneer Women’s Trail and were even shortlisted for funds by the Regional Tourism Progam. Until the financial and political problems of building a footbridge over the Onkaparinga River are solved, we remain thankful for the plums that have befallen us and, as the poet W.H. Auden once put it, “stagger on rejoicing” just as Hahndorf’s pioneer women first did in 1839.
2010 - History Week Walk and Run on the Pioneer Women’s Trail
Heavy showers of rain, mud and slippery slopes did not deter 250 runners and 60 walkers on Sunday 30 May. They were taking part in a History Week event, organized jointly by enthusiastic volunteers from the Hahndorf Branch of the National Trust and the SA Road Runners Club. The event commemorated the re-enactment thirty years ago of the walk that Hahndorf’s pioneer women regularly made to the city to sell their produce.
Participants who came up from Adelaide by bus had an early start in order to register at the Hahndorf Academy at 7.30am. Hills people had a bit longer to lie in! Most participants set off from Hahndorf, with some choosing shorter distances by starting in Bridgewater, Stirling or Eagle on the Hill. The National Trust organizers were delighted to note that the Stirling starters included Ted and Dianna Wilson, who took part in the walk thirty years ago. The Hahndorf group set off at 8.30am, and was seen safely across the Onkaparinga traffic bridge by the police, who closed one lane of traffic for about twenty minutes.
The first runners made it to Beaumont House in an hour and a half, while the last walkers checked in at 4pm. They were welcomed by a sausage sizzle laid on by the Hahndorf Lions Club, and tea, coffee and cake provided by the Burnside Branch of the National Trust. They also received a ‘goody’ bag, containing, among other things, an advance printing of Early Hahndorf and the Pioneer Women’s Trail, a new book by Anni Luur Fox, the Chairperson of the Hahndorf Branch of the National Trust.
The runners and walkers thoroughly enjoyed themselves, even the ones who went astray and had to be retrieved from the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens and others who took the path to Waterfall Gully instead of Beaumont. Indeed, many participants asked eagerly, ‘can we do it again next year?’ And this is exactly what organisers Terry Cleary of the SARRC and Lyndell Davidge of the NT are already planning for.
An Overview of its History and Official Marking.
by Anni Luur Fox, Chairperson, Hahndorf Branch, National Trust of SA (December 2013)
- 1838 - The Prince George, Bengalee and Zebra bring Lutheran refugees from Prussia to South Australia. The village of Klemzig is established as a “strassendorf” by passengers from the first two ships on land owned by their benefactor, George Fife Angas. Zebra passengers camp in the sandhills at Pt. Adelaide. Because the rural surveys have been slow in progress due to lack of adequate staff, immigrant farmers are unable to move to the country to begin farming. Most foodstuffs have to be imported.
- 1839 - In January, Messrs Dutton, Finnis and MacFarlane purchase the First Special Survey of 4000 acres in the Mt. Barker district. Needing a ready supply of labourers and servants for the future township of Mt. Barker they are planning, the partners agree to allow the Zebra passengers to establish the village of Hahndorf on 150 acres rent free for a year. The acreage is increased to 240 when a number of families from Klemzig decide to join them in the hills. Hahndorf is founded by 54 Lutheran families. The surveyor Hermann Kook lays out the village as a “hufendorf” or “farmlet village” based on a plan used in Eastern Europe since the 10th Century.
The villagers clear land and build shelters out of packing cases and tarpaulins. They plant vegetables and hire themselves out as washerwomen, shearers and labourers to pay off their ship and provisions debts. While the men are drafted out in gangs to clear bushland for British landholders, the women and teenage girls become the packhorses of the village. At midnight they set off for Adelaide’s market with baskets of farm produce on their backs or suspended from yokes across the shoulders. Some women carry 22 kg of produce. On their return journey with proceeds from sales plus two bricks each for the church building, they carry big sticks to defend themselves from the outlaws who live in the hills around Crafers. The trail they use via the Beaumont spur is the major route to and from Adelaide. Frederick Nixon surveys the hills trails and produces a map. (These trails are thought to have been made before European settlement by the Peramangk Aboriginal people.)
- 1842 - Klemzig villagers establish Bethany and Langmeil, Barossa Valley.
- 1854 - With increasing prosperity, the need to carry Hills produce to Adelaide on foot is declining. The main road via Glen Osmond has been established and has reached Hahndorf. Although farmers are able to use their distinctive German wagons to transport produce, there are still some people who continue to carry their produce on their backs down the Beaumont spur to Adelaide.
- 1880 - Klemzig village has been demolished. Hahndorf becomes the oldest permanent Germanic village in Australia.
- 1975 - Anni Luur Fox acts as history consultant to the Peach’s Australia ABC-TV team and invites Ian Harmstorf, Senior Lecturer in History at Adelaide College of Arts and Education, to meet the crew. Ian is featured in the documentary showing a section of the Hahndorf Pioneer Women’s Trail near Eagle on the Hill. The Hahndorf documentary is seen worldwide.
- 1976 - The Hahndorf Branch, National Trust of S.A. is established to research and lobby for planning controls to conserve the village. John Storey is chairman.
- 1979 - The National Trust Beaumont House Committee asks the Hahndorf Branch to use Frederick Nixon’s map of 1841 to determine the route used by the Hahndorf Women. Lady Mary Downer, Elizabeth Simpson (nee Cleland) and Warren Bonython determine the section from Eagle on the Hill to Beaumont House. Major Ferguson (Australian Army Intelligence) and John Storey (Branch Chairperson ) transfer Nixon’s map to a modern map. John Storey, Anni Luur Fox, Lyndell Davidge, Clare Ferguson and Rodney Allen discover and walk the Trail to Beaumont House in 6 hours.
Following actions taken by the Hahndorf Branch, the School of Architecture (S.A. Institute of Technology) and Adelaide College of Arts and Education undertake a joint survey of Hahndorf funded by the Australian Heritage Commission.
- 1980 - First public guided walk along the Trail followed by the pioneer women of Hahndorf in 1839. We expect ten people. 150 people arrive and pay $5 for the privilege of walking to Adelaide. Elizabeth Simpson’s “The Hahndorf Walkers” is launched.
- 1981 - The Hahndorf Survey Report is released. It establishes Hahndorf as Australia’s oldest non-British migrant town. Its hufendorf plan dates from 10th Century eastern Europe settled by Germanic people. Hahndorf is listed on the National Estate Register.
- 1983 - We organise a public walk with Beaumont House Committee
- 1986 - We organise another public walk with Beaumont House Committee and decide to begin issuing maps rather than marking the Trail and leading the walkers.
- 1988 - Hahndorf becomes a State Heritage Area.
- 1989 - Hahndorf celebrates its 150 Anniversary of European settlement with an exhibition and a short walk along the Hahndorf Pioneer Women’s Trail.
- 1994 - Centenary of Women’s Suffrage. WomenTrek organisers asked the Hahndorf Branch to guide them along the route on the final day of celebrations. Terry Lavendar agrees to mark the Trail officially.
- 1996 - Deutsche Welle Radio and TV International produce a half hour documentary on Hahndorf featuring the Pioneer Women’s Trail. It is seen world-wide.
1999 - Adam Trottman, Project Officer for S.A. Office for Recreation and Sport contacts Hahndorf Branch Chairperson asking for assistance in determining the route, sites for interpretive signage and relevant historical data. The Trail is a high priority because it is the only Trail connecting Adelaide with country regions. The Office has budgeted to mark the route and build a crossing over the Onkaparinga River. The Chairperson calls a meeting with representatives from two other community groups and Country Arts S.A. ....
- Hahndorf Community Assoc. Inc. - Chair: Ralph Palesy (Deputy Mayor, Mt Barker).
- Hahndorf Business and Tourism Assoc. Inc. - John Storey (coordinator of the Adelaide Hills Information Centre with Peter Hine).
- Country Arts S.A - Rob Johnston (Arts Officer, Adelaide hills and Murraylands).
- National Trust of S.A., Hahndorf Branch - Chair: Anni Luur Fox (member, Country Arts S.A. Central Board); Secretary: Lyndell Davidge ( project administrator.)
- 2000 - Representatives of three community groups and Country Arts S.A. continue to attend all meetings called by Peter Lawrence from the Office for Recreation and Sport to determine the route. The National Trust collates historical data. The group decides it would like a local aesthetic component in bridge and signage design. To institute community consultation processes, the group formulates a grant application to the Country Arts S.A. Regional Arts Fund supported by funds from Mt. Barker Council, Hahndorf Business and Tourism Assoc. Inc, The Lions Club, Hahndorf Resort, the Office for Recreation and Sport and Hahndorf National Trust Branch. This successful application is made in the name of Hahndorf Community Assoc. Inc.
Conservation Architect Lothar Brasse and Visual Artist Gavin Malone are contracted to conduct the consultations and produce a Design and Concept Plan for bridge design and interpretive public artwork. Representatives of the group meet with Australia Council project officer to discuss the project.
Hahndorf National Trust Branch sends a proposal regarding the Trail to the Regional Tourism Program ( Department of Industry, Science, Resources). The proposal is short listed and the Branch is invited to send in an application for funds.
2001 - Hahndorf National Trust Branch representatives in consultation with John Storey, Ralph Palesy, Ann Haines and Rob Johnston formulate a grant application for $105,000 to the Regional Tourism Program. Mt Barker District Council allocates $20,000 towards a path and small bridge on the Amblesi
The Hon Diana Laidlaw MLC calls a meeting to discuss the Trail.
The Deutsche Welle documentary is shown on Channel 6 in April.
*Transport SA officials tell the Branch that the roadbridge is for redevelopment in 5 years.de Road loop to the Cedars. Letters of support are sent by The Premier, The Hon. John Olsen MP, The Hon Iain Evans MP, The Hon Joan Hall MP, David Wotton MP, The Hon. Alexander Downer MP, Bob Rattray, Andrew Gottsheim (District Council of Mt. Barker), Bruce Harry (Hahndorf Heritage Adviser), Michael Edgecombe (Adelaide Hills Regional Development Board), Jeff Mincham (Hahndorf Academy Foundation Inc), Rainer Jozeps (National Trust Director), Ann Haines (Hahndorf Community Assoc. Inc), Madeleine Marin (Hahndorf Business and Tourism Assoc Inc), Peter A. Hine (Adelaide Hills Visitor Information Centre), Raymond and Madeleine Marin (Mawson Ridge Wine and Produce), Bruce Crowhurst (Glenhurst Wines).
- The Hon Diana Laidlaw MLC calls a meeting to discuss the Trail.
- The Deutsche Welle documentary is shown on Channel 6 in April.
- *Transport SA officials tell the Branch that the roadbridge is for redevelopment in 5 years.
The project has stalled over the Onkaparinga River pedestrian crossing issue. Hahndorf Branch wants a bridge so that all members of the community including parents with infants in pushers and elderly people, can cross in safety. Mothers walking the Trail with Hahndorf Primary School every two years have often brought their small children requiring perambulation. Walking SA wants a ford to deter cyclists from using the Trail. Lyndell Davidge and Anni Luur Fox meet with Simon Forrest, Executive Director of the Office for Rec. and Sport and Bronte Leake to discuss solutions. Anni prepares an overview of the Trail’s history and importance for Simon, to add to existing data sent to the Office in previous years.
We also have discussions with Jennifer Hughes, Director of Policy and Special Projects at the Office and project officers Jenny Reiners and Richard Fox.
- 2002 - Flinders University of S.A. Faculty of Education, Humanities, Law and Theology sends a letter of support. The Trail is considered to be part of the university’s Adelaide Hills Face Zone Cultural Heritage Project. Our application to the Regional Tourism Program is unsuccessful because someone has removed the Trail from the budget at the Office, which failed to inform us. We receive a letter of apology from the CEO.
We continue working on the Trail with Jenny Reiners, Project Officer, Economic and Industry Development for the Office. Jenny, who is the eighth officer we have worked with on the project since 1999, tells us that Transport SA says NO to a clip-on pedestrian bridge as suggested by the Hon. Diana Laidlaw MLC. The Office cannot confirm the Trail until the bridge issue is resolved. It cannot undertake the Ambleside Road loop and bridge to the Cedars for which Mt Barker District Council allocated $20,000, until the main crossing over the Onkaparinga River is resolved. The crossing has become a Bike and Walkers issue. Jenny suggests that the Trail be completed to Verdun. We agree. Enough time and effort by volunteers has been wasted on the bridge issue which we cannot see being resolved soon. Thousands of people have walked the Trail since 1980 and we believe it warrants official recognition and attention from government. If the Verdun option means that the marking of the Trail will proceed, the pedestrian bridge can be shelved, temporarily.
- 2003 - With the appointment of Rod Worthington as Project Officer, Policy and Special Projects, the rerouting of sections of the Trail to lessen the need for people to walk along sealed roads, proceeds with our cooperation. We could provide information about the original route if necessary. We walk sections of the Trail with him, point out important historical features and provide maps and an overview of history for the brochure.
In November David Marcroft from Walking SA arranges a meeting with our Branch and Thelma Anderson (Walking SA) aiming for a unified effort regarding the crossing of the river. Our Branch wants to retain the original crossing near the road bridge. Thelma wants a ford at Sandow Road which is well off the original pioneer women’s trail. Rod Worthington and the Office are no longer involved at this point. There is no funding for either option. Lyndell and Anni meet with David Marcroft, Fran Lucas and Thelma Anderson from Walking SA. Peter McGinn from Mt Barker District Council is present. There is no consensus on the issue of a crossing. The pioneer women of Hahndorf laden with 22 kg of produce at midnight would hardly have taken a leisurely amble up the hill on Ambleside Road to Sandow Road to cross the ford. They walked on flat terrain leading to where the road bridge is situated, according to the map of 1841. While we have agreed to compromise on rerouting other sections of the Trail to ensure its official marking, we believe that the Hahndorf section of the Trail must retain its authentic route and its true meaning. It was a supply trail walked by the women due to economic necessity.
- 2004 - Anni meets with Andrew Gotzheim and Councillor Haines to determine the siting of 54 trees Andrew has purchased for Mt. Barker District Council’s commemoration of the the 54 founding families of Hahndorf and the women walkers. The Branch continues collaborating with Walking SA regarding the maps, brochure text and marker designs. A petrol station on the riverbank at South Verdun is due to expand. In our examination of the area to determine a suitable site for a pedestrian crossing we have noted pollution from adjacent industry. We continue to assist a group of local residents opposing the development on environmental grounds.
- 2005 - Mt Barker District Council plants its 54 Trees in an avenue leading to the river. We continue collaborating with Walking SA regarding design and text. The Branch continues to assist local residents at South Verdun who have joined with Planning SA in a matter before the SA Environment, Development and Resources Court. We visit the SA Minister for Planning to present our case.
- 2006 - Interpretive markers are positioned at the avenue of trees by Hahndorf Community Association in collaboration with our Branch. The Minister for Planning announces a $1.5 million buyback of the petrol station and adjacent indusry to return the site to a natural floodplain to prevent pollution of the river which flows into Mt Bold Resevoir which provides 60% of Adelaide’s watersupply. We continue adjusting text in the Pioneer Women’s Trail brochure.
- 2007 - The Pioneer Women’s Trail is officially launched at Beaumont House SARRC collaborates with Hahndorf National Trust Branch and Beaumont House Committee in May.by the Mayor of Burnside on Sunday, 15 April at 1.00pm. Mayor of Mt Barker district, Ann Ferguson and three members of Hahndorf Branch are in attendance, Anni Luur Fox (Chair), Lyndell Davidge (Secretary) and Annette Oien (Treasurer). Lia Fox, a direct descendent of the women walkers, is also present. Branch Chairperson makes a short speech about the Branch finding the Trail 28 years ago. She thanks the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing and Walking SA volunteers and all involved for the successful marking of the Trail to Verdun. The next stage of the project is to build a footbridge over the Onkaparinga River so that walkers can begin the Trail at its true home in Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest permanent Germanic settlement. Its women were the first to supply Adelaide with fresh farm produce from the Mt. Barker district, butter, eggs, cheese, smoked bacon, ham, vegetables.
- 2009 - 10 May the SA Road Runners Club undertake their first run along the Pioneer Women’s Trail.
- 2010 - 30 Anniversary of National Trust first public walk along the Trail.
SARRC collaborates with Hahndorf National Trust Branch and Beaumont House Committee in May.
- 2011 - SARRC and National Trust collaborate on the PWT event.
- 2012 - SARRC and National Trust collaborate on the PWT event.
- 2013 - SARRC and National Trust collaborate on the PWT event.
- 2014 - 175 Anniversary of the establishment of Hahndorf and its women beginning their years of walking along the rough track to sell their farm produce in Adelaide. SARRC has agreed to collaborate with the National Trust to organise this historic event.