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Eudunda’s past empowers its future

The mid-north town of Eudunda draws from its rich farming heritage to shape the future. It’s this, along with the ability to diversify in adversity, that makes the town a finalist for the 2023 Agricultural Town of the Year Awards.

Nov 01, 2023, updated Jan 31, 2024
Photo: Jordan Agutter

Photo: Jordan Agutter

In the 1860s when Eudunda was first established as a township, it was seen as a land of opportunity, earning its moniker “the land of hidden treasures”.

Eudunda is just over 100km from Adelaide in the mid-north, where farmers were being encouraged to buy land for a pound an acre.

The establishment of a railway in 1878 marked a turning point, and people flocked to the town.

“Eudunda was basically a boom town from the end of the 19th century onwards, and farming played into that as well,” explains Samuel Doering, a volunteer at Eudunda Family Heritage Gallery.

“Eudunda today has grown from this really strong group of farmers coming out to Eudunda, finding opportunity, having a go, having a ‘fair shake at the sauce bottle’, I suppose.

“And then from there, Eudunda has grown to what we see today with engineering, manufacturing and agriculture.”

Now with a population of just over 800, Eudunda’s farming community takes pride in its mixed-cereal and livestock operations rooted in wisdom passed down through the generations.

Eudunda Family Heritage Gallery stands as a testament to the town’s rich history, encapsulating the narratives of farming and the indomitable spirit of pioneers.

This devotion for the past extends beyond the gallery, visible in the silo mural dedicated to the Ngadjuri storybook, as well as mosaic art that decorates many free walls in the town.

Eudunda draws strength from its history as it propels itself into the future. The town is home to four ag-manufacturing businesses that actively collaborate with the local industry, promoting innovation and jobs.

Stuart Reimann is managing director of Reimann Manufacturing, a fourth-generation enterprise specialising in pipe work and welding which supplies all the pipework for SA Water in South Australia.

“It’s really always passing the baton on to the next generation of skill sets,” Stuart says.

Reimann Manufacturing specialises in pressure vessels, pipe work, fabrication, and welding, and is one of the ag-manufacturing businesses in Eudunda. All photos: Lara Pacillo

Over 60 people are employed across the four ag-manufacturing businesses; rather than fostering competition, Stuart says the businesses thrive through prioritising collaboration.

“They don’t step on each other’s toes, but they also help each other a lot too,” he says.

Positioned along Goyder’s Line, Eudunda has been confronted with the challenges of lower rainfall, yet the community stands united in the face of adversity.

During a particularly challenging period in 2020, the Eastern Districts Drought Community Action Group, comprising local farmers and business owners, held a drought relief event with a free barbecue, beer and live music.

The event earned recognition with an Australia Day Award and was awarded South Australian Community Event of the Year.

Henry Schutz invested in a reefinator as a form of drought proofing and external income

The community’s commitment to learning from past generations and their ability to adapt empowers the farming community to thrive, supporting sustainable economic growth and regional development.

Henry Schutz has diversified his mixed farm by investing in a reefinator – a machine designed to rip through rocky reefs and transform them into fertile soil.

“Now instead of the paddocks having bare patches the size of your ute, it’s as even as a blanket across the paddock,” he says.

“So, we’ve used this tool as a way to improve our own and others’ farms, and drought proof ourselves as a way of external income.”

Linda and Peter Hoffman also proved innovation in the face of hardship, transforming their traditional farm into an Australian native food enterprise.

“Through the 1990s we were really poor, we couldn’t pay our bills and didn’t see a way that it was going to get any better,” Linda says.

“I thought ‘I enjoy gardening. I enjoy growing. I enjoy cooking. How about native foods?’”

Very minimal water is required for Linda and Peter’s plants to grow, overcoming the challenges of low rainfall; their business Footeside Farm bloomed to where it now cultivates four plant varieties and supplies to distributors and wholesalers across the country.

Linda and Peter maintain strong local connections, with the popular Eudunda Bakery incorporating Footeside Farm Wattle Seed in their bread.

Additionally, Linda actively supports native Indigenous food education at Eudunda High School, which is one element of its extensive agriculture program.

The school provides widespread farming education spanning viticulture, aquaculture, horticulture, and sustainable and regenerative farming, with practical learning occurring at its Agriculture Block.

The community acknowledges the vital role the next generation plays in shaping Eudunda’s future.

“Young people are going to form the community, and the future here – what they’re doing is they’re building on history and taking that forward,” Samuel says.

“They’re going to be the ones living in our houses, raising kids, sending those kids to school, using our services and being part of our organisations. The town is flourishing today because that tradition has carried on into the future.”

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