Auburn, S.A.

The historic town of Auburn is the southern gateway to the rich vineyards of the Clare Valley in South Australia's mid north. Every major building in the town has been classified by the National Trust, and there are numerous mellow heritage stone cottages available for accommodation for travellers and sojourners.

Where is it?: South Australia: Mid North. Auburn is 148 km north west of Adelaide; 24 km east of Maitland; 23 metres above sea level.

Tourist Information Centre: The Post Office St Vincent St, Auburn. Ph: (08) 8849 2020

As the gateway to the Clare Valley wine region, Auburn has wineries, restaurants, galleries, tearooms and a variety of shops. The village was the birthplace of one of Australia's great authors - CJ Dennis, best known for the immensely popular 'The Songs of the Sentimental Bloke'.

Auburn is home to and the starting point for numerous walking trails. The river walk meanders along the River Wakefield within the town. The Auburn Heritage Walk showcases the very special heritage buildings that are such a feature of Auburn.

Riding Sun Hotel

Auburn has many heritage buildings, including Post Office (1861-74); Auburn Institute & Town Hall (1866); Court House & Police Station Museum (1859); Rising Sun Hotel (1851); Lutheran church (1869); former Corn Mart (1878); Catholic Church (built for the Methodists, 1866); Uniting Church (1861-6); St John's Anglican Church (1862). 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.

Built in (1859) and located in St Vincent Street, both the Court House and the Police Station are National Trust buildings. The buildingds house a history of the local area and can be opened on request Tel: (08) 8849 2075. 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.

Quite number of people who left their mark on Australia's cultural history had associations with Auburn. Poet CJ Dennis, was born at the now demolished Auburn Hotel, his father was the publican. The town honours its most famous son with a birdbath and drinking fountain. The home where Australian cricketer of the 1890s, Ernest Jones, was born still stands on Pond Road. Jones, who spearheaded Australia's fast bowling attack, is unfortunately remembered for being the first ever cricketer to be called for throwing in a test match. Charles Todd, who built the Australia's first overland telergraph, from Adelaide to Darwin, used the stable loft of the Ridsing Sun Hotel to test the network before setting out to complete the task in 1862.

Surrounding area

The Rattler Rail Trail (19 km between Riverton and Auburn) and the Riesling Trail, for cyclists and walkers, start in Auburn. 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.


The small rural town of Undalya on the southern edge of the Clare Valley is located on Main North Road approximately halfway between the towns of Auburn and Rhynie, at the junction of the River Wakefield and Pine Creek. To the east lies the town of Saddleworth and to the south-west lies the town of Balaklava. The name Undalya was given by the local Aborigines and means "water holes", while the surrounding district was known as Kercoonda meaning "camp near water". In the early years of the village, Aborigines were in great numbers in the district.

The most notable feature of Undalya is the local bridge over the River Wakefield. Built in 1855, with various alterations, additions and repairs, the bridge is known locally by three names: Basket Bridge, Cradle Bridge or Coathanger Bridge. It has taken the full force of many floods and at one time was the biggest one-span bridge in South Australia. The bridge was bypassed with a new bridge slightly to the east of it in the 1950s and today only serves the local residents.

In the mid-19th century to the early 20th century, according to the newspapers of the time, Undalya was a thriving rural village with reports of ploughing matches, horse racing and even a shooting at the local hotel, where the owner shot a customer who, on being refused service, had jumped the counter to serve himself. Today the village is nothing more than a collection of a few houses around its rarely used bridge.

The now demolished Roman Catholic Church of St. Patrick had a graveyard attached to it. People buried there include Patrick Michael Ryan, who discovered copper at Tiparra in 1861, which was the start of the famous Moonta mine, and the first wife of the father of Auburn poet C.J. Dennis.

Brief History

Originally known as Tateham's Waterhole, a name which recalled a local settler, William 'Billy' Tateham. The named Auburn was coined by settler Thomas Henry Williams in 1856 when he subdivided his land to create the town. It is named after his birthplace, a locality in County Westmeath, Ireland.

Though the area had been occupied by pastoralists since the 1830s, Auburn began to develop as a town around 1850. 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.

Riesling Trail

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