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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Barossa Valley, South Australia

A premier wine region of Australia

This week the Barossa hosts the Vintage Festival, so I thought it would be a good time to post about the area. The Barossa Valley was listed on European maps by Colonel William Light he was the surveyor who planned Adelaide. (Unlike other Australian cities, Adelaide's claim to fame was that it was a planned city created for paying immigrants, no convicts to be seen!)
William Light fought in the 'Battle of Barrossa' and named the ranges and valley after that battle, there was a mistake in the cartographer's office and the name was misspelt as Barossa, and the valley has been known by that name ever since.



European settlement came with people from Prussia seeking religious freedom. The King of Prussia at the time tried to force Lutherans to unite with the Reformed Church, anyone who was caught attending a Lutheran service was fined or imprisoned. A Lutheran minister called Pastor Kaval, organised for his congregation to move to a country where they could practise their religion freely. After a few false starts he met with George Fife Angas of The South Australia Company and with his financial support was able to bring his people to South Australia. Their first stop was what's now the Adelaide suburb of Klemzig (named after the town they were from) then Hahndorf (today still known as the German village in the Adelaide Hills) and finally the area know as the Barossa 
Valley. Which they named New Silesia as they were from Silesia, now part of Germany and also a section in Poland. (Had to actually look this up!)

As freedom of religion was the main reason to move across the world from all that was familiar to them, the Barossa has various historic Lutheran churches. (It's not just all wineries and vineyards!)



The first settlement was established at what's now known as Bethany, originally known as Bethanien. The village was established in 1842, with a schoolhouse established the following year and the church in 1845. The 'New Church' is what's there now, was built in 1883. Bethany was overtaken by Tanunda as the main town and currently it's a sleepy little village with a church, some homes and a winery.


The next settlement was Langmeil (now just outside Tanunda) and this is the Langmeil Church and pioneer cemetery. Langmeil was established in 1843, so the year after Bethany, a school and church were built and progressively the numbers of Lutheran settlers increased as those who were already there encouraged others to migrate. The current church was built in 1888.



The main street of Tanunda has the Tabor Lutheran Church. The original church was built in 1850, then rebuilt in 1870 and the tower is relatively new, it was added in 1910. 

All 3 churches are within 2 or 3 kilometres of each other, yet each had its own congregation and community around it.

My favourite church to see has to be Gnadenfrei Church as it can be seen over the vineyards.



It still has that country church feel and look to me, the church is actually called St. Michael's, Gnadenfrei is the name of the area before the anti-German feeling of World War I had German place names changed. Gnadenfrei become Greenock, although the church is just outside the village of Maranaga. The current church (again the new church!) replaced an older one in 1867, there is a pioneer cemetery behind the church.



The highest point in the valley is Mengele's Hill and there's a lookout over the valley and a sculpture park, just below the lookout.



The original Lutherans who settled in the area planted what they knew and that included grapes to create wine. That was the foundation of the wine industry that can be found in the Barossa today. The Seppelt family were one of these pioneers and the winery that they established is still one of the best known in the Barossa.





Seppeltfields Road with the palms, the owner of Seppeltfields had the palms planted during the Depression as a work project for unemployed locals. They are now one of the most photographed parts of the Barossa.



The path leading up to the Seppelt family mausoleum, with palms!



Location sign at the Jacob's Creek winery with vineyards beyond.

The Week of April 19th to 23rd, the Barossa is hosting its Vintage Festival with various activities in the local towns and wineries. 

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