Countdown: Blog 137: James Hook’s McLaren Vale history 101 (cont)

DR AC Kelly

The first two townships in the McLaren Vale were the two villages; Gloucester, a triangle between the Salopean Inn and Kangarilla road, established in 1851, and Bellevue, where The Barn and Limeburners Cottage remain, established in 1854.

Gloucester, was a triangle of houses between the Salopian Inn and Kangarilla road, established in 1851 and Bellevue, was located where The Barn and Limeburners stand, established in 1854.

Gloucester was settled first. In 1841, the same year as the Olivers came, two of their fellow settlers were Devonshire farmers, William Colton and Charles Hewitt. The farmers bought workmen with them and established neighbouring farms, Daringa and Oxenberry Farm.

Daringa was named for the Kaurna name, meaning swampy place. Oxenberry reminded the Hewitt’s of their homeland. These farms were the nucleus for Gloucester which was proclaimed a town ten years after the first farms.

They were joined by other pioneers.

As land was cleared and sliced out on survey maps, small hamlets sprang up as short ride from the main towns – Landcross Farm, Tatachilla often written as Tortachilla, Bethany, McLaren Flat, Hillside, Beltunga and Seaview. These housed settlers, farmers, smiths, school teachers, preachers and the odd winemaker.

Further north Richard Bell had played at housing development. He built pug cottages with thatched roofs. His town he named Bellevue after himself. The feature buildings of his town were the Barn and Limeburners Cottage. He built a hotel in 1857 and named it the Clifton in honour of his wife, Ellen Bell nee Clift.  He named a street after her, Ellen Street.

Further to the south was Willunga, the districts thriving centre, with its rich slate mining industry. The plains grew wheat, shipped out from Port Willunga. Fortunes were won and lost.

The Oliver’s settled and farmed. 

1875. The Big Crash.

Sixty years before the train came to town.

Vine Exports fell. South Australia was in its first Depression, fuelled by a loss of labour as settlers left the colony for the riches of the goldfields.

The regions highest profile winemaker and viticulturalist was about to go bankrupt.

The second generation of Oliver’s ran sheep and cattle and tended orchards and vineyards.

The fledgling wine industry was lead by names like Manning, Kelly, Reynell, and some young punk Hardy having finished his apprenticeship in the Reynella cellar twenty years before, and mined for gold in Victoria had set up his own dream vineyard on the banks of the River Torrens. (final part coming soon)