Gawler is a prosperous commercial and residential town located 44km north of Adelaide, adjacent to the Barossa Valley. Historically it was the state's first and one of its largest country towns, but urban sprawl has now linked it to the greater Adelaide area. Gawler is named after the second Governor (British Vice-Regal representative) of the colony of South Australia, George Gawler. It is about 40 44 km north of the centre of Adelaide, and the gateway from Adelaide to the major wine producing district of the Barossa Valley. Topographically, Gawler lies at the confluence of two tributaries of the Gawler River, the North and South Para rivers, where they emerge from a range of low hills.

Gawler is a commercial centre for the Mid-North districts of South Australia and, increasingly, a dormitory town for Adelaide. The hit Australian television program about the McLeod sisters, McLeod's Daughters, was shot at "Kingsford", a working property outside Gawler's northeastern fringe.

The township of Gawler was established through an application for a Special Survey by Henry Dundas Murray and John Reid as part of a syndicate. The site was recommended for a town by Colonel William Light to David McLaren (the manager of the South Australian Company) when they passed through the district while returning from the Barossa in January 1839. Light foresaw the area at the junction of the North and South Para rivers as a key point for future journeys to the north and the Murray River.

There was little progress until the discovery of copper at Kapunda in late 1842. A bridge had been built over the North Para in 1842, the South Para still being crossed at the ford at Dead Man's Pass (formerly Para Pass). By 1848, the population had grown to 300 with about 60 buildings and early fencing associated with these were of post and rail with wooden post uprights.

Gawler Heritage Walls
The erection of many walls in Gawler is part of the story of the development of the township. Many of the earliest stone walls were not stone, and were constructed in post and rail often with rough wood uprights. Very few of these early fences survive. The more robust stone, brick, and cast iron walls were constructed with the growing prosperity of Gawler. Local limestone and bluestone, together with locally made bricks were used in these early walls. In addition, local iron lacework is used in many domestic front walls, cast at local foundries, with lime from local lime kilns and local sands used in the mortar mixes. Of note throughout the town is the use of stone retaining walls, and walls that follow the slope of the ground, often stepping down the hill with carefully designed tops to accommodate the fall. The collection of early walls in Gawler is important on a state wide basis, and it is one of the best collection of walls within residential and commercial neighbourhoods within a South Australian country town.

Gawler Church Hill state heritage area
Gawler Church Hill retains the characteristics and design of Colonel William Light's original plan for Gawler - South Australia's first country town. Established in 1839, Gawler is recognised for its contribution to the economic, social and cultural history of the state and the Church Hill state heritage area represents the town's early settlement.

Colonel Light designed Church Hill as a residential area with a wide central street, flanked by three parks intended for the Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian churches. Although the original plan has been slightly altered over time, Church Hill's distinctive design, land use and building scale remain relatively intact. Church Hill, on a natural rise to the west of Gawler's main commercial street, was a focus of Colonel William Light's original plan for the settlement. The area's main thoroughfare is Cowan Street, which historically linked Light, Orleana and Parnell Squares.

Barossa Valley

Barossa Valley
The Barossa Valley is one of Australia's premier and most famous wine regions. Though Australia's first wineries were located on the outskirts of Sydney, NSW, it was the wineries started by 19th Century German settlers in the Barossa Valley that put Australia on the world map as a producer of fine table wines. All the big name brands have wineries there - Seppelts, Penfolds (producers of the iconic Jacobs Creek wines), Orlando, Yalumba, Wolf Blass and Peter Lehmann - among lesser known brands, offering winery tours, tastings and cellar door sales. A bi-annual week-long Vintage Festival draws visitors from all over the world and has entertainment for all tastes including a huge street parade, concerts and gourmet dining.

Location: 70 km north-east of Adelaide. How to get there: by road, either Main North Road (A20) to Sturt Highway via Gawler and the Barossa Valley Way, or via Lower North East Road (A10) through Chain of Ponds in the Adelaide Hills to Williamstown in the southern Barossa.
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  • Classic Jets Fighter Museum

    Classic Jets Fighter Museum
    The Classic Jets Fighter Museum houses an impressive array of jet flighters and historic aviation artefacts. The people who run this place are all aircraft enthusiasts, and it shows in the friendly care and attention given to visitors. Here you can get up close and personal with all kinds of aircraft in various states of repair and restoration. Well worth a visit if you have any interest in things mechanical. Entry fes apply.

    Contact: (08) 8258 2277. Location: Hangar 52, Anderson Dve, Parafield Airport. How to get there: proceed to and along Main North Rd, left into Kings Rd at Parafield Airport, left into Anderson Dr. The museum is housed in 4th hangar on left.