Located 110 km from Adelaide, Auburn is the southern gateway to the rich vineyards of the Clare Valley and a once important town where bullock teams and miners stopped on their way from Port Wakefield to the copper mines around Burra.
By the late 1830s farmers were grazing sheep and cattle in the district after it had been explored by John Eyre. It was originally known as Tateham's Waterhole after a local settler, William 'Billy' Tateham. The land upon which the town grew was granted to Thomas Henry Williams in 1849.By 1856 he had cut it into land lots and called it Auburn after a town in Ireland. The timing was perfect. Copper had been discovered at Burra and the bullock drays bringing the copper to the coast all passed through Auburn. At its peak there were as many as 100 bullock drays a day passing through the town which meant it grew quickly although in 1857 the town's function as a stopover point ceased when the railway connected Burra to Gawler. Surprisingly this had little effect on the town which continued to grow through the 1860s and 1870s. It was around this time that Joseph Meller, a stonemason, moved into the area. His work characterises much of the historic charm of the town which today is regarded as a fine example of an historic town with well preserved stone buildings - both public and private.
Things to see
There is an excellent National Trust brochure titled 'Walk With History at Auburn' which provides a map and lists 24 places of historic interest in the town. The most interesting include:
Auburn Institute & Town Hall
Located on the Main North Road at the northern end of town, the Auburn Institute and Town Hall was built in 1866 by a group of private individuals. The southern facade was completed in 1884. It is a fine example of Joseph Meller's stonemasonry skills.
Site of Auburn Hotel
The Auburn Hotel, originally located on the north side of the North Street and Main North Road corner, has gone but it is an important part of Australian folk history. It was here that James Dennis, a retired sea captain, ran the pub from 1865-77 and it was here that his son C.J. Dennis (one of Australia's most beloved vernacular poets - he created the character of 'the sentimental bloke' a quintessential Australian innocent) was born. There is a delightful and unusual memorial to Dennis outside the Senior Citizens Club. It is a metal model of the old Auburn Hotel. The real hotel was demolished in 1969.
Court House & Police Station Museum
Built in (1859) and located in St Vincent Street, both the Court House and the Police Station are National Trust buildings. They have been used to house a history of the local area. They can be opened on request Tel: (08) 8849 2075.
Rising Sun Hotel
Located on the corner of St Vincent Street and Main North Road, the Rising Sun Hotel dates from 1851 and was the first commercial building in the town. The present hotel dates from the early 1900s but the stables and part of the hotel were built in 1850. The loft is famous as the first place where a telegraph message was received on 3 June, 1862.
Joseph Meller's Historic Buildings
Located at the eastern end of King Street (in Curling Street) this stone Lutheran church was built by Joseph Meller in 1869; Meller also built the former Corn Mart (on the Main North Road) in 1878. It was purchased by the CWA in 1949; he was also responsible for the Catholic Church at the southern end of Elder Street which was built for the Methodists in 1866 and sold to the Catholics in 1915; the Uniting Church which was built by Meller in 1861 and stands at the southern end of the town; and St John's Anglican Church (1862) features some of Meller's stonework above the altar.
This is a truly fascinating recent tourist attraction. The old railway line between Auburn and Clare has been carefully covered over with easy-to-walk-on gravel and opened up as the Riesling Trail. The idea is that people can walk or cycle up the Clare Valley away from the main road. They can experience the quiet beauty of the area and, eventually, there will be numerous sideways off the main Trail which will encourage visitors to divert to wineries and craft shops. At the moment it is just a very charming and pleasant walkway/cycleway. Bicycles can be hired in Clare.
Wineries in the Area
Located in King Street, Auburn this small, high quality winery was established in 1981 and specialises in red and white table wines derived from cabernet sauvignon, riesling, cabernet franc and Merlot grapes grown in both the Adelaide Hills and the Clare Valley. It is open only during the selling season after September. For more details contact (08) 8849 2175.
Located on Mintaro Road at the southern entrance to the Clare Valley this is the largest winery in the valley and was established in 1972. It specialises in red and white table wines derived from cabernet sauvignon, riesling, crouchen, pinot noir, shiraz and chardonnay grapes grown on the estate's 500 hectare vineyard. It is open seven days a week for tastings and sales. For more details contact (08) 8849 2008.
Tourist Information Centre
The Post Office St Vincent St
Auburn SA 5451
Telephone: (08) 8849 2020