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Tanunda, SA

Historic centre of the Barossa Valley

Tanunda lies at the heart of the Barossa Valley. It is a large, attractive and historic rural settlement with leafy streets and it is totally surrounded by vineyards. No matter which way you look there is a vineyard at the end of the street. It is the main centre for such famous Barossa locations as Nuriootpa, Angaston, Seppeltsfield, Bethany, Rowland Flat, Krondorf, and Jacobs Creek.


Tanunda is located 77 km north-east of Adelaide via Gawler. It is 72 km via the Adelaide Hills and Williamstown.


Origin of Name

Tanunda is an Aboriginal word which possibly means either 'watering hole' or 'many birds on a creek'.


Things to See and Do

A Town Walk of Tanunda
There is a pleasant 2.5 km walk around Tanunda which passes 21 places of historic interest. There are six markers along the way which have photos and text telling stories of the town and its surrounds in the early years of European settlement. For more information check out the Visitor Centre and https://www.barossa.com/visit/see-do/walking-trails/tanunda-heritage-trail.

The brochure A Town Walk of Tanunda, which can be downloaded at https://www.barossa.sa.gov.au/Media/Default/Community%20and%20Cultural%20Services/Libraries/Barossa%20Heritage%20Trail/Tanunda%20Heritage%20Town%20Walk.pdf, lists 21 places of historic interest around the town of which the following are of most interest:

1. Barossa Visitor Centre
The Barossa Visitor Centre is located on the corner of John Street and the Barossa Valley Highway. It was built in the 1880s as a general store and residence and updated in the 1970s.

2. Tabor Lutheran Church
This impressive church, located at 77 Murray Street, was named Tabor after Mount Tabor in Palestine. It was built in 1849  and was completely renovated in 1871. The tower and choir gallery were added in 1910. The belfry has three bells which were imported from Apolda, Germany: Gloria (glory), Concordia (harmony) and Laetitia (joy). The largest bell weighs over 300 kg. The church is characterised by an orb on the top of the 26 metre spire. In the orb are some old church records. For more information check out their website https://www.churchhistories.net.au/church-catalog/tanunda-sa-tabor-lutheran.

4. Tanunda Hotel
Located at 51 Murray Street the handsome Tanunda Hotel, which was built in 1845-1846, was originally built of local stone but substantially rebuilt and a second storey added following a fire, in 1905-1910. In 1945 it was more than doubled in size. Today it is an impressive Angaston marble building with a long veranda supported by wrought iron columns and lacework which was imported from England.

5. Barossa Museum (former Post Office)
Located at 47 Murray Street this stone building was originally the town’s post and telegraph office and the postmaster’s residence. It was purchased in 1972 by the Barossa Valley Archives and Historical Trust which now operates it as a folk museum. The Museum contains information on “the social, economic and domestic life of the Barossa settlers and their descendants” and is open 10.00 am – 5.00 pm Friday to Tuesday. Tel: (08) 8563 2108 or check out https://www.barossamuseum.com/.

6. The Old Mill
Located on the corner of Murray Street and Jane Street, with a sign which still says “Roller Mills F. Schultz”, the building has been altered over the years. The main structure dates from 1848. It was built for Daniel Schlinke who earlier operated a water-powered mill in Bethany. Part of the mill was destroyed in 1921 and additions have been made over the years.

7. Offices (former Tanunda Institute)
Located opposite the used car yard, these offices were built of local stone in 1879 as a Town Hall with meeting rooms,  reading and common rooms. In 1910 it was purchased and used as the office of the Barossa News and later the Barossa & Light Herald until 1987. In recent times the building has been used for office accommodation.

8. Fietz House
Located at 24 Murray St this long house, once two separate houses, was built for a Mr. Daebler in 1856 and classified by the National Trust in 1975.

9. Wine Cellar (formerly Auricht’s Printing Office)
Located at 14 Murray St and built in the 1880’s, this National Trust and State Heritage-listed building was originally Auricht’s Printing Office. It was established by Gottlieb Auricht in 1884 and printed the Lutheran church newsletter which was edited by his father Rev. J.C. Auricht. It closed down during World War I when publishing in German was prohibited. It reopened after the war but was closed again during World War II. In 1988 it opened as a wine cellar.

10. Cottage
Located at 12 Murray Street, this blue stone cottage is characterised by wide verandas which run around the front and sides of the house. Built in the 1880’s, the cottage was constructed directly on rocks laid in trenches. A large iron bar runs through the base of each external wall which locks the ‘foundation’ together. It was sold in March, 2017 for $570,000.

11. Houses - Paranook
Located at 4 and 6 Murray Street, these two houses were built by local builder Johannes Basedow. Paranook was built in the late 1880’s for Dr Franz Juttner. The stables and groomsman’s living quarters can be seen at the back of the two houses. They are private residences.

12. Langmeil Lutheran Church
Located at 7 Maria Street, the Langmeil Lutheran Church was built in 1888. The history of the church explains: "a new Dankes Kirche (Thanksgiving Church) was built to mark the 50th Jubilee of the establishment of the Lutheran Church in Australia. The dedication of the new church took place on November 25th, 1888. Members of the Angas family financially supported the building of the new church. A hall was built in 1960, and it is now incorporated in the Langmeil Centre." (see https://www.langmeilchurch.com.au/im-new/our-history for more details). The church is notable for its entrance through an avenue of cypress trees and its impressive cemetery where Pastor Augustus Kavel, the man responsible for the German emigration to South Australia, is buried. The church history is particularly proud of the windows noting "The first memorial window in the northern wall depicts three aspects of the life of the Lutheran Church in Australia – its faith, its missions outreach and the Christian education of the young. The face of Pastor Kavel (centre), the founder of the Church, recalls that our pioneer fathers migrated for faith and conscience sake. The on-going mission of the Church – “to preach the gospel to all people” is represented by the portrait of Dr. John Flierl (left) who was commissioned in Langmeil in 1885 to serve as the first missionary ever to set foot in New Guinea. On the right is Pastor G.F. Leidig, the founder of Immanuel College. The second stained window in the northern wall portrays the pilgrimage of every Christian as they journey towards their heavenly home. In the “pulpit window” we see Christ who constantly knocks at the door of each heart through the preaching of the Word of God, which is the “Light of Life”. The absence of an outer door handle reminds us that each heart must be opened from within. The altar window was placed in the Church in 1938 to mark the centenary of the Lutheran Church in Australia."

13. Tanunda Lutheran School
Located on the corner of Jane and Maria Street, and part of the larger school complex, the original Lutheran School was built in 1865. It was another victim of anti-German sentiment. After 1916 all Lutheran schools were closed and German lessons forbidden. The school was closed between 1917 and 1938.

14. St. John's Lutheran Church
St John's Lutheran Church, located at 11 Jane Place and dating to 1868, is notable for the five life-sized statues - Peter and Paul, Moses and Jeremiah and Christ - made from wood and painted white to give the impression of being made out of marble. They were donated to the church in 1892. It distinguishes itself from the other churches by being a breakaway - "Due to a rift in Pastor Kavel's congregation, fifty-four members of the Langmeil Church formed their own congregation in 1860." The Church Histories website (see https://www.churchhistories.net.au/church-catalog/tanunda-sa-st-johns-lutheran for greater detail) notes that: "Exterior typical in form of many South Australian Lutheran Churches of the nineteenth century, with symmetrical layout, central tower and simple Gothic style. Spire has unusual form which hints at its European origins and the stark interior suggests the simple nature of early Lutheran life. The principal facade to Jane Place, facing south, is dominated by the tower with blocked surrounds to openings of stucco. Unbuttressed walls constructed of random line pointed ironstone rubble are relieved by quoins, strings and surrounds to openings of simple stucco bands."

16. Goat Square
Goat Square, also known as “Der Zeigenmarkt', was laid out on the corner of John and Maria Streets by Charles Flaxman. He had been granted the land on 30 May, 1842. Tanunda was central to the villages of Bethanien (Bethany) 1842 and Langmeil (1843) which were established by Prussian Lutherans (who came to South Australia seeking religious freedom) on land claimed by Flaxman and George Fife Angas after the explorations of Johann Menge in 1838. The square, which just looks like crossroads, was used by the early pioneers as a meeting place and for the bartering of goods. It is recognisable as a small square with three tiny, and distinctively German, single storey cottages on each side of the square. There is a detailed sign in the square which records the local history as well as pointing out that it was the starting point for the establishment of a Lutheran mission to Aborigines. "Here at Langmeil on 9 October 1866 Pastors J.F. Gossling and E. Homann and lay missionaries J.E. Jacob and H.H. Vogelsang set out to establish a Lutheran Mission among the Dieri tribe of Aboriginals. On 31 January 1867 they established Bethesda Mission Station at Lake Killalpaninna, Coopers Creek.' The cottages are available for rental.

17. Baird House
Located on the south west corner of Goat Square this cottage is classically Germanic. It was built on the edge of the footpath.

18. Rieschiek House
Located on the north west corner of Goat Square, this cottage was built for Johann Gottlob Rieschiek, a shoemaker, and was used for church services in 1860 by the Lutheran congregation that built St John’s church.

19. Tanunda Recreation Park and Oval
Located at the end of Maria Street and adjoining Elizabeth Street, the Recreation Park is the centre of Tanunda’s festive life with the Liedertafel (men’s choral group) performing regularly and the annual brass band competitions being held on the oval. Nearby is the Tanunda Kegelbahn (skittle alley). This elongated galvanised building is the only example of a nine pin German skittle alley in the southern hemisphere.

21. E. Schrapel & Sons Department Store (former coach factory)
Located at 90 Murray Street, opposite the impressive band rotunda, the Schrapel premises was originally a coach and implement factory, before becoming a department store. Schrapels also provided the first electricity generating plant in 1925.

Chateau Tanunda winery
Located next to the Tanunda railway station, Chateau Tanunda was established in 1889 by John Basedow who combined with investors Sir Samuel Davenport, Mrs Cleland and others to raise over £37,000 to build the chateau. It was completed in 1890 and, at that time, it was the largest winery building in Australia. The bluestone used in its construction was quarried at Bethany. Although the first vines were planted  in the late 1840s there was no commercial production of wine until around 1890. From 1916 until 1998 Chateau Tanunda was owned and run by the Seppelt family.


Other Attractions in the Area

Wineries in the Area
In areas like the Barossa Valley, where there are over 150 cellar doors, it is best to refer to the specific knowledge provided by the local tourist information sites. The Barossa Winery Search site (https://www.barossa.com/wine/wineries-search) provides a map and all the details of opening hours, phone numbers and contact points.

Mengler's Hill Lookout
Mengler's Hill Road, the road that connects Tanunda and Angaston and crosses the Barossa Valley, offers seemingly endless views of the vineyards and the richness of the Barossa Valley. The hill was named after an early local vine grower, Mr Mengler.

Barossa Sculpture Park
Located on Mengler's Hill Road 6 km from Tanunda, the Barossa Sculpture Park is an impressive collection of sculptures positioned overlooking the Barossa Valley between Tanunda and Angaston. The Sculpture Park started in 1988 when the Barossa International Sculpture Symposium invited nine sculptors to carve super-sized works from granite and marble. Twenty years later, in 2008, a second Symposium was held and another eight works, all in black or brown granite, were added. For more information check out https://www.barossasculpturepark.com.



* Prior to European settlement the area was home to the Kaurna Aboriginal people.

* In December 1837 European explorers reached Lyndoch.

* By 1838 other explorers had reached the Murray River passing through the Barossa Valley. The valley was named by Colonel Light after Barrosa (Hill of Roses) in Spain where he had fought against the French in 1811 in the Peninsula War. The spelling mistake was never corrected.

* By 1839 Colonel Light, the Surveyor General of South Australia, started selling off large tracts of land in the valley.

* German settlers arrived in Langmeil (it changed its name to Tanunda) in 1843 as a result of the work of Pastor Augustus Kavel who had contracted for the land on 30 June, 1839.

* A Lutheran School was opened in 1845. It was the first building in Tanunda.

* In 1846 a Lutheran church made from timber, thatch and calico was built.

* A flour mill started operating in 1850.

* By 1855 there was a German newspaper, a number of Lutheran churches,  a German 9 pin bowling alley and a local liedertafel (choir)

* In 1857 the Tanunda Town Band (known as the Oom-pah Band) was formed

* In 1859 a local paper, The Register, published the note: 'Tanunda is not, as many suppose, German, but a native appellation of the ancient lords of the soil, and has reference to the waters that skirt the place the year round.'

* In 1866 a Post Office and Telegraph Station was opened. That same year saw the opening of the local Court House.

* A state government school was opened in 1877.

* Chateau Tanunda was opened in 1889 by John Basedow.

* The railway reached the town in 1911.

* In 1913 a railway station was opened.

* In 1917, due to anti-German sentiment during World War I, the Lutheran School was closed.

* In 1951 the first edition of the Barossa and Light Herald was published.

* Today the town has a distinctly German feel with sausage shops, German bread shops, German-style restaurants and vineyards.


Visitor Information

Barossa Visitor Information Centre, 66-68 Murray Street, tel: 1300 852 982. Open: Monday to Friday 9.00 am - 5.00 pm; Saturday 9.00 am - 4.00 pm; Sunday and Public Holidays 10.00 am - 4.00 pm.


Useful Websites

There is a useful official website. Check out https://www.barossa.com.

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