Heritage tracking the state’s oldest buildings

A groundswell of new nominations for a pub, crumbling huts and a gold rush cottage are being investigated for South Australian heritage listing.

May 07, 2020, updated May 07, 2020
Montacute cottage: Photo Melissa Ballantyne

Montacute cottage: Photo Melissa Ballantyne

Researchers are primed to start work on investigating 64 old South Australian buildings or ruins for listing after a deluge of suggestions arrived via a special heritage project last year.

Crumbling shepherd’s huts, a Wellington pub claiming to be among the state’s oldest and a church in Port Lincoln are on the assessment list to see if they should be nominated for the South Australian Heritage Register.

Tips from across the state arrived via Heritage South Australia’s “Oldest Buildings Project” targeting the years between 1836 and 1850.

“We’ve received a fabulous response, people who live in their local community know what’s there better than we do,” senior heritage assessment officer Dr Louise Bird said.

“We’re looking forward to investigating the other suggested places to determine if they do indeed date from that period and may be suitable for listing.”

Qualified volunteers ranging from history graduates and those undertaking PhDs will begin trawling through documents and plans once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

There are currently 216 places built between 1837 and 1855 on the South Australian Heritage Register, such as Holy Trinity Church on North Terrace in Adelaide which is acknowledged as one of the oldest buildings in the state.

As a result of the project, St Thomas’ Anglican Church in Port Lincoln, built in 1850 and the oldest church on Eyre Peninsula, is now on the assessment list with the heritage council likely to consider a report later this year.

A foundation stone for the limestone building was laid by the state governor of the day Sir Henry Edward Fox Young in 1850, and the church has five stained glass windows in the form of memorials.

St Thomas’ Anglican Church in Port Lincoln, South Australia was built in 1850.

Other sites on the list for investigation include ruins of shepherd’s huts near the old Pekina Station in the state’s north and the existing Wellington Hotel near Murray Bridge.

The hotel is based 105km east of Adelaide at the junction of the River Murray and Lake Alexandrina, it was licensed in 1848 with panoramic views overlooking the waterway.

In front of the hotel is one of the state’s oldest and widest river crossings that is serviced by a ferry seven days a week.

“We also have some information about a site in Kensington (in Adelaide), behind the house is an old station dairy that outdates the house, we do find things like that hiding behind people’s homes that you wouldn’t see walking down the street,” Dr Bird said.

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“This project was about finding hidden gems which had previously gone under the radar that can tell us more about life in our state during those formative years.”

There is also a farm complex in Happy Valley that dates back to the 1840s on the investigation list and a cottage in the Adelaide Hills.

“California Cottage” at Montacute is believed to have been built by miners who arrived in the state from the California Gold Rush between 1848 and 1855, Dr Bird said.

Dr Bird said a research student from the University of Adelaide helped launch the project late last year by initially working through previous heritage surveys and cross checking to see if sites had been listed.

The public had then been asked to contribute, with the first task now to check whether the sites still existed.

“We now have this wonderful list of places we need to do some more work on locating, some information is a bit vague: ‘it’s 20km south of this place on such and such a road’,” Dr Bird said.

“The list includes a diverse range of buildings from houses, cottages and other dwellings to churches, barns, shepherd’s huts, mine sites and hotels.”

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