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Auburn, SA

Charming historic gateway to the vineyards of the Clare Valley

Auburn is the southern gateway to the rich vineyards of the Clare Valley. It was once an important town where bullock teams and miners stopped on their way from the copper mines around Burra to the coast at Port Wakefield. Today, largely as a result of the tireless building of the stonemason, Joseph Muller, the town is both charming and quaint. It has a number of impressive stone houses and the combination of this charm with the surrounding vineyards have made it an attractive destination where good food and wine, combined with pleasant walks and interesting cellar doors, are the main attractions.


Auburn is located 115 km north of Adelaide. It is recognised as the southern gateway to the Clare Valley vineyards being 24 km from Clare.


Origin of Name

Auburn was originally named Tateham's Waterhole but in 1849 the land was granted to Thomas Henry Williams and he divided it up into lots and called it Auburn after a small town near Limerick in the west of Ireland.


Things to See and Do

Historic Buildings
There is an excellent brochure titled Walk With History at Auburn which provides a map and lists 28 places of historic interest in the town. It can be downloaded at https://www.walkingsa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Walk.pdf. The most interesting places include:

1. Rising Sun Hotel
Located on the corner of St Vincent Street and Main North Road, the Rising Sun Hotel dates from 1851 and was the first commercial building in the town. The present hotel dates from 1907 but the stables and part of the hotel were built in 1851. The loft is known as the first place where a telegraph message was received on 3 June, 1862.

3. Site of Auburn Hotel
The Auburn Hotel was originally located on the corner of North Street and Main North Road. Although it was demolished in 1969 it is an important part of Australian literary history. It was here that James Dennis, a retired Irish sea captain, ran the pub from 1865-77 and it was here that his son C.J. Dennis (one of Australia's most beloved vernacular poets) was born in 1876. There is an unique memorial to Dennis on the location - a metal model of the old Auburn Hotel. 

4. Auburn Institute & Town Hall
Located next to Cogwebs Hub Cafe on the Main North Road, the Auburn Institute and Town Hall was built in 1866 by a group of private individuals. The southern facade was completed in 1884. It is a fine example of Joseph Meller's stonemasonry skills.

7. Lutheran Church
Located on the corner of Curling Street and Arthur Street, this wonderfully simple stone church was built by Joseph Meller in 1869. It was originally a Primitive Methodist Church and became a Lutheran Church in 1926. The porch at the front was added to the original church.

9. Auburn Railway Station
The Auburn Railway Station is located in Curling Street and is now the cellar door for Mount Horrocks Wines. It was opened in 1918 and closed in 1983. Not only is it a cellar door but it is a very convenient stop on the Reisling Trail.

10. Castine & Goss Store
Located near the River Wakefield, the Castine & Goss Store was built in 1862. At the time it was on the main road to Burra. It closed as a shop in the 1940s and has since been used as a private residence and Bed and Breakfast.

11. Corn Mart
Located in the main street and very prominently marked "Auburn CWA Clubrooms", the Corn Mart was built by Joseph Meller in 1878 using the distinctive Auburn bluestone.

12. Boot Factory
Located on the corner of the Main North Road and Church Street, and currently occupied by the town's pharmacy, the Boot Factory was built in 1879 for Daniel Smith who did a solid trade in boots for people of the district and travellers coming from Burra.

13. English Style Shop
Located on the corner of the Main North Road and Church Street, this single storey shop was built by Joseph Meller for Robert Wylie who lived in a section and used the other part of the building for his saddlery business.

16 & 17. Apothecary and Mounting Stone
Located on Main North Road, the great interest here is the "mounting stone" outside the Apothecary's building which was constructed in 1876 by Joseph Meller. The mounting stone is a reminder of the primacy of horse travel. It was designed so that riders could get on and off their horses with ease.

18. Catholic Church
Located on the corner of Elder and Ford Streets, this Gothic Revival church was built by Joseph Meller in 1866-1867. It was originally a Wesleyan Methodist Church but when the Wesleyans and Methodists merged it was sold, in 1916, to the Catholic Church.

19. Uniting Church
Located on the corner of Main North Road and Henry Street, this very simple church was built by Joseph Meller in 1861 and was, for a time, the Bible Christian Church. Inside the building, the cedar gallery, which was added in 1866, is particularly impressive.

20. Former Corn Store
Located on the corner of the Main North Road and Port Road, the former Corn Store was built in the early 1860s and was, for many years, a general store and a wheat and flour store. Between 1882 and 1980 it was a butcher's shop.

21. Llaneast
In 1855 the Welsh stonemason, Joseph Jones, built this house which was typical of the modest cottages built in South Australia at the time. It is located on the corner of Port Road and King William Street.

23. St John's Anglican Church
Located in St Vincent Street, St John's Anglican Church, which was built in 1862, features some of Joseph Meller's stonework above the altar. Meller considered this work his finest. 

24. Court House & Police Station Museum
Built in (1859) by Joseph Meller and located in St Vincent Street, both the Court House and the Police Station are National Trust buildings. They have been used to house a historic record of the local area. The National Trust website notes: "A variety of stone was used in the construction of the buildings, as well as handsawn Redgum and three different types of paving; flat slate paving, pitch paving and cobble work." For more information tel: (08) 8849 2262 and check https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/auburn-old-police-station-and-courthouse-museum.

25. Post Office
Located next door to the Court House and Police Station, this impressive bluestone building was completed in 1862 by Joseph Jones.

26. Library
Located in St Vincent Street, and formerly the local council chambers, this building was completed in 1879 by Robert Whitehead.

28. Glover's
Located on the corner of St Vincent Street and the main street, this single storey historic dwelling was built in 1855 by Henry Wylie, whose initials are still evident on the foundation stone. Over the years it has been owned by carpenters, bakers and bookmakers. In 1915 it was purchased by Isaac Meller (son of Joseph Meller) who operated  it as a greengrocery until 1993.

Wakefield River Walk
There is a pleasant 300 metre (it takes around 10 minutes) walk along the banks of the Wakefield River which starts at King Street and finishes at Daly Street. It is quiet and tranquil.

Auburn Lookout
Located at the end of Dennis Road, which is a continuation of West Street, the lookout offers a panoramic view over the town and the surrounding vineyards.


Other Attractions in the Area

Riesling Trail
If you believe that no one should drink and drive, then drinking and cycling is a wonderful and much safer alternative. The historic railway line between Auburn and Clare (it was built in 1860) has been covered with easy-to-walk-on gravel and opened up as the Riesling Trail. The Riesling Trail allows wine enthusiasts the opportunity to walk or cycle up the Clare Valley removed from the dangers of the main road. They can experience the quiet beauty of the area and there are numerous sideways off the main Trail which will encourage visitors to divert to 35 wineries and craft shops. It is just a very charming and pleasant walkway/cycleway which passes such famous wineries as Sevenhill, Grosset, Knappstein and Mt Horrocks. Bicycles can be hired in Clare and at Cogwebs Hub Cafe in Auburn. Check out https://www.facebook.com/CogwebsBicycleHireandHubCafe for details. There is an excellent, downloadable map of the entire route. Check out https://www.clarevalley.com.au/assets/maps/Riesling-Trail-Map.pdf.

Wineries in the Area
In areas like the Clare Valley, where there are 35 cellar doors, it is best to refer to the specific knowledge provided by the local tourist information sites. The Clare Valley Cellar Door site (https://www.clarevalley.com.au/wine/cellar-doors) provides a map and all the details of opening hours, phone numbers and contact points.
Here are three notable wineries in Auburn: 

Grosset Wines
Located at 1 Manoora Road, this small, high quality winery was established in 1981 and specialises in red and white table wines derived from cabernet sauvignon, riesling, cabernet franc and Merlot grapes grown in both the Adelaide Hills and the Clare Valley. It is open only during the selling season after September and from Wednesday to Sunday from 10.00 am - 5.00 pm until the annual supply sells out. For more details tel: 1800 088 223 and https://www.grosset.com.au.

Mt Horrocks Wines
Located in the Old Railway Station, Curling Street, Auburn it specialises in riesling, semillon, rose, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and nero d'avola. The cellar door is open from 10.00 am - 5.00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. For more details tel: (08) 8849 2243 and http://www.mounthorrocks.com.

Taylors Wines
Located on Taylors Road to the north of Auburn this is the largest winery in the Clare valley and was established in 1972. It specialises in red and white table wines derived from cabernet sauvignon, riesling, crouchen, pinot noir, shiraz and chardonnay grapes grown on the estate's 500 hectare vineyard. It is open seven days a week for tastings and sales. For more details contact (08) 8849 1117 and https://www.taylorswines.com.au.

Joseph Mellers’ Quarry
Located north-east of Auburn (it can be viewed from the Riesling Trail), Joseph Mellers' quarry was vital to the construction of many of Auburn's, and South Australia's, most impressive buildings. Geologically the quarry comprised well-banded, blue grey and khaki siltstone known as Auburn bluestone. It was characterised by being cut into large regular blocks that could be easily cut to smaller shapes. The bluestone was used in Auburn from 1855 to 1960 and in Adelaide it can be seen in at least five buildings as rock-faced stonework on base or plinth courses. The best example is Brookman Building (1900), Art Gallery of SA (1936), SA Museum (1908-14), former Adelaide Mail Exchange (1898) and the Glenelg Post Office



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to Ngadjuri First Nations people.

* The first European into the area was the explorer Edward John Eyre in 1839.

* By late 1839 farmers were grazing sheep and cattle in the district.

* Auburn was originally known as Tateham's Waterhole after a local settler, William 'Billy' Tateham. 

* Copper was discovered at Burra in 1845.

* The land upon which Auburn grew was granted to Thomas Henry Williams in 1849.

* By 1856 Williams had divided his land into lots and called it Auburn after a town in Ireland. 

* By the 1850s copper from Burra was being transported by the bullock drays to the coast and it passed through Auburn.  

* In 1857 the town's function as a stopover point for the bullock drays ceased when the railway connected Burra to Gawler. 

* Surprisingly Auburn continued to grow through the 1860s and 1870s. 

* In the 1860s Joseph Meller, a stonemason, moved into the area. 

* The poet, C.J. Dennis, was born in the town in 1876.


Visitor Information

There is no specific Visitor Centre in Auburn. The closest is the Clare Valley Wine, Food and Tourism Centre on the corner of Spring Gully Road and Horrocks Highway, Clare, tel: 1800 242 131, (08) 8842 2131. Open 9.00 am - 5.00 pm Monday to Friday.


Useful Websites

There is a useful local website. Check out http://auburn.sa.au.

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