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Tanunda. Schrapels established in 1884 was a hardware drapery and shoe shop. This store was built around 1910.  Schrapels provided the first electricity for the town of Tanunda from 1920. | by denisbin
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Tanunda. Schrapels established in 1884 was a hardware drapery and shoe shop. This store was built around 1910. Schrapels provided the first electricity for the town of Tanunda from 1920.

Tanunda. The German Heart of the Barossa.

The two early settlements of Langmeil and Tanunda were situated on lands leased in the early days from George Fife Angas in the case of Langmeil and land owned by Charles Flaxman for Tanunda. But from 1844 the government was selling other surveyed land just to the north of Flaxman’s private town. The original village of Langmeil which was settled in 1843 eventually became part of Tanunda. It was based along the banks of the North Para River. The settlement soon had a Lutheran school and church. The first Dankes Lutheran Church of timber and thatch opened in 1846.It was demolished in 1888 when the new Langmeil Lutheran church opened. Pastor Augustus Kavel who was responsible for bringing German migrants to SA for George Fife Angas is buried in the Langmeil churchyard. But Langmeil was not the first Lutheran Church as the Tabor Lutheran church was built in brick in 1850. Now located in the Main Street of Tanunda it was demolished and the bricks were used to erect the 1871 Tanunda Tabor Lutheran Church. Tabor Church marks the emergence of Tanunda (an Aboriginal word for moving waters) as a very German settlement. A German language newspaper the Sud Australische Zeitung began operations in 1855; in later years a German bowling alley was built and the male liedertafel choir began performances in 1861; a brass band (1857) and a later band stand and hall were established in the late 19th century along with the Tanunda Club in 1891. In the main street and surrounds the German butches, bakers and retail stores all began operations from the 1850s. One early structure in Tanunda which was set up by an English man was Edmund Davey’s flour mill of 1850. Davey went on to established flourmills across SA before he died in 1885. The flourmill which still stands indicates that the early settlers were wheat growers rather than vineyard operators. That came later in the 19th century and into the 20th century. The very German heart of Tanunda and Langmeil was the Der Zeigenhart or Goat Square which was used as an early market square. As the second generation of German settlers emerged places like Tanunda become more like a typical rural South Australia town with government facilities. Frist came the Post Office and Telegraph station which opened in 1866 and the classically designed Courthouse which began sentencing in 1866, then came old state government school which opened in 1877 and the railway line which opened in 1911 with its fine stone railway station being completed in 1913. The first agricultural show was held in 1857 and show grounds were developed from 1862. On the outskirts of the town, near the later railway station, Chateau Tanunda was established in 1889 by John Basedow as locally produced wine and spirts became accepted by South Australians and even found a small English market. Basedow joined forces with investors Sir Samuel Davenport, Mrs Cleland and others to raise over £37,000 to build the chateau. When completed in 1890 it was the largest winery building in Australia. The bluestone used in its construction was quarried at Bethany. Although the first vines were planted on the Chateau Tanunda grounds in the late 1840s there was no commercial production of wine until around 1890. From 1916 until 1998 Chateau Tanunda was owned and run by the Seppelt family. In its heyday it was known for its Chateau Tanunda brandy.


Some of the fine historical buildings of Tanunda include:

1. Langmeil Lutheran Church. This 1888 church replaced an earlier 1846 church. The congregation here started as the German heart of the Barossa. By 1857 the greater Langmeil area contained 777 people with 113 families and it included 243 children born in SA. At that time “greater Langmeil” covered almost all of the Barossa Valley. Pastor Kavel was the resident pastor of Langmeil and in 1854 a manse was built for him near the church. Pastor Kavel died in 1860 and was buried in Langmeil cemetery. As the founder of the Lutheran Church in Australia in 1838 a large memorial was erected over his grave in 1938.

2. The old Langmeil Lutheran School. Operations began in 1846. The oldest building is the Kavel Room on the corner of Jane Place which was built in 1865. The school is now the Faith Lutheran College.

3. St Johns Lutheran Church. It was erected in 1868 and the tower and spire was added in 1887. This congregation was formed from a breakaway group from the Langmeil Church in 1860.

4. The Post Office and Telegraph station. Work started in 1865 and it opened in 1866. It is now the town museum. But the first postal service to Tanunda began in the late 1840s.

5. Edmund Davey’s flourmill with the advertisements for Laurel Kerosene on it. The oldest part was built in stone in 1850.

6. The classical style Courthouse built in 1866. It closed many years ago and is now a residence. Court session were held by magistrates in Tanunda from around 1850.

7. The original timber framed St Aiden’s Anglican Church erected in 1912. It closed when the new Anglican Church opened in Murray Street in 1962. It then became a Catholic Church but it is now a Christian Charismatic Church.

8. The Tanunda Club. Established in 1891 and still operating. The local men who pushed for its establishment included John Basedow of Chateau Tanunda and Schrapel a local retailer. They hoped to promote the consumption of Barossa wines and spirts. The old railway station is more or less just behind the Tanunda Club. The railway service closed in 1980 and the restored building is used by the local radio station.

9. St Paul’s Lutheran Church. This relatively recent church was built in 1928 but the congregation began worshipping in 1904 and they used a wood and iron church from 1911 to 1928.

10. Schrapel’s and Sons store. Established in 1884 but the current building so marked dates from around 1900. The family purchased land from the SA government in 1845. They began as general importers of products but ended up being electrical suppliers and electricians. They sold everything from tractors, shoes and furniture to radios (in the 1920s), glassware and drapery etc. They provided the first electricity for Tanunda District Council in 1920. By the 1950s they were primarily a hardware store.


North West- Rieschiek Cottage.North east – the Shoe maker’s House.

11. The cottages of Goat Square. The important little square was laid out in the private town of Charles Flaxman who was the agent of George Fife Angas. For the work he did for Angas he was given several sections of land. This was the centre of Flaxman’s private town and the streets have English names after the children of Charles Flaxman- John, Maria, Charles, Elizabeth, Jane, Samuel and Ellen. Goats were probably sold in the market square hence the name. Around the edges are some of Tanunda’s oldest cottages. They include on the North West corner the impressive red roofed German style shoemaker’s house named Rieschiek; opposite was the saddler’s house. Nearly all of the 1840s cottages are now operated as bed and breakfast establishments with unrelated names such as Flaxman, Kavel and Menge. There is now a modern goat sculpture in the middle of Goat Square.

12. In the Main Street is Tabor Lutheran Church. The first church here was built in brick in 1850. Bricks from this church were used in the construction of the current church in 1871. The tower and bells were added in 1910. The bells were imported from Germany.

13. In the Main Street you will also see the Tanunda Hotel which dates from 1846. The upper floor was added much later. It has been modernised since.


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Taken on March 11, 2018