Learn about peninsula's past at SA History Festival

Locals and visitors alike are encouraged to learn about the peninsula's past during this month's SA History Festival.

A program of 25 events are taking place across the Fleurieu Peninsula, particularly in Strathalbyn.

For more information about the festival, visit www.festival.history.sa.gov.au.

Here is a guide to what you can find across the region during May.

Cape Jervis

May 8, 10am. Lands End Road then Cape Jervis Community Club.

Unveiling of a plaque by local historian Lillian Cole of the original site of the Cape Jervis School built in 1867.

Currency Creek

May 12, 2pm. Currency Creek Cemetery.

Alexandrina Council and the Friends of Currency Creek Cemetery will once again be hosting an event at the Currency Creek Cemetery. 'The Stories Behind the Headstones' guided tour by local volunteers will delve into the history and stories behind some interesting characters that are interred within the historic Currency Creek Cemetery. Bookings required.

May 18, 2pm-3pm. Currency Creek Community Hall.

Join Russell Westmoreland as he discusses his debut novel, The Grave at the Top of the Hill. Russell will focus on how the local people, places and events of Goolwa's golden period in the 1850s inspired his novel and provided the basis for a modern-day murder mystery. Bookings essential.


May 6, 2pm-2.30pm. Delamere Store.

The unveiling of an important piece of Delamere Community History, a lovingly restored flagpole, originally commissioned and installed on the grounds of Delamere School in 1936 to celebrate the centenary of the first landing of Light's party on mainland South Australia at Rapid Bay in 1836. The new booklet Old Delamere: A tour of the old townships of Delamere and Bullaparinga, which was meant to have been launched in the 2020 History Festival, will now be officially launched and will be available for purchase, as will the updated edition of Schools of the Western Fleurieu Peninsula.


Goolwa History Room staff can help with research. Photo: SA History Festival.

Goolwa History Room staff can help with research. Photo: SA History Festival.

May 12, 10am-11am and May 25, 2pm-3pm. Goolwa Library.

Are you looking to start a family tree but don't know where to begin? Would you like to find out more about our local townships, buildings or family members who have lived in the Alexandrina area? Discover how we can help you to open up a door to the past. Bookings essential.

May 12, 1pm-4pm. Goolwa Church of Christ Chapel.

This event features five chronological and thematic presentations: the Ngarrindjeri people, Sturt and early European settlement, the river trade and shipbuilding, participation in WWI and WWII and a service and tourist hub. Presentations will include digital displays, Q&A sessions and summary pamphlets. A complimentary tour of the neighbouring Goolwa History Museum is available from 4pm. Bookings required.

May 1-30. Signal Point Gallery.

Unnamed women convicts aboard the ship Rajah travelling from England to Van Diemen's Land in 1841 made the Rajah Quilt, said to be one of the world's most significant textiles. At an unknown point after its arrival in Tasmania, the quilt was returned to England and gifted to Elizabeth Fry who formed the Quaker group, The British Ladies Society for the Reformation of Female Prisoners in 1816. Rediscovered in 1987, where the quilt had been in the previous 147 years remains unknown. The Rajah Quilt has been an inspiration for South Australian collectives including this Fleurieu based group.

May 16, 2pm. Signal Point Gallery.

Jean Crowther presents the history of chocolate and the Quaker families of England. The history of chocolate from South America all the way to Yorkshire, and to South Australia, involves many stories - very serious colonial issues, social problems relating to religion and poverty; beginning with a small brown, bitter bean and ending with the delicious product that we all love.


May 15, 10am-4pm and May 16, 10am-2pm. Port Milang Museum.

See displays depicting Milang's early fishing and boat building industry, and the role agriculture played in the town before and after the South Australian Railways came to Milang in 1884. There will be displays of early tractors, a steam traction engine dating from 1908 and a range of other machines used in agriculture. It will be a family-friendly event where children can learn about machinery developed over the years.

May 30, 2pm. Milang Weighbridge.

In 1856 a jetty was constructed at Milang together with a horse tramway which transported goods (and royalty) to and from the town. For many years a horse, named Nuggett, provided the motive power. That tramway is long gone but now a walking trail has been constructed along the 350m route from the Milang station to the jetty. Ten signs have been erected to tell the story of the tramway and Milang's history.


May 15-16, 10am-3pm. Myponga Hall.

From farmers and flour millers to preachers and nurses, discover how the lives led by some early residents impacted the district. This display at historic Myponga Hall showcases some of these lives and also reveals how the Yankalilla Regional News has preserved stories of the past and reported on history in the making. Take this opportunity to examine the Historical Society's records as well as back copies of the Yankalilla Regional News, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020.

May 16, 1pm. Myponga Hall.

A commemorative storyboard, at the base of the Cypress Pine tree that was planted in memory of Sister Amy Dorrington in 1935, will be unveiled, with a brief history of her contribution to the community.


May 21, 10.30am. Apex Park.

Moreton Bay figs were planted along the main road in 1915 to recognise the World War I volunteers from the area, the first such avenue in Australia. Hear about these and Normanville's other significant trees including those at Banksia Park.

May 30, 10.30am. Garnet Kelly Reserve.

Take an easy 2 km walk beside the river following the historic bullock track to the old ruins and the 'beautiful little valley'. Join us for an introductory talk on some of the history of the Gorge, then journey through time following a series of interpretive signs that will let you follow Colonel William Light's footsteps. Enjoy local flora, fauna and magnificent old trees.

Port Elliot

May 16, 2pm. Port Elliot and Middleton Cemetery.

A walking tour of the Port Elliot and Middleton Cemetery, exploring the stories of some of the permanent residents, including notable pioneers of the district and prominent locals.


May 1-2 and 8-9, 2pm-4pm. St Andrews Uniting Church.

History with hilarity! Be summoned by bagpipes to St Andrew's Uniting Church! Be greeted by a Peramangk custodian, the Alexandrina Singers, historians, church verger and cemetery worker Duggy Graves and Mrs Enid Baumgirdle-Smythe-McNitty, Women's Guild President. Delight in tantalising tales, dramatic re-enactments and jubilant song. Walk from the oldest Scottish-Gothic Presbyterian building in SA (1848) still serving as a church to early pubs and businesses, beautiful Peninsula gardens with shield trees, rotunda and soldiers memorial. Finally, marvel at the glorious interior of St Andrew's Church before retiring to country-style refreshments and heritage display in St Andrew's Hall. Bookings required by phone or email.

May 1-2 and 5-9, 10am-4pm. St Andrews Uniting Church Hall.

Discover the story of St Andrews Church (the Kirk), now the oldest Scottish-Gothic Presbyterian building (1848) in South Australia still serving as a church. Possibly the most photographed church in the state! Discover stories of 'Kirk and Town' through paintings, photographs, vintage social fashions, memorabilia, heritage crafts, early children's games, home baking and produce, and more. Enjoy country-style refreshments. Proceeds to St Andrews Uniting Church Restoration Fund.

May 4, 2pm-3pm. Strathalbyn Library.

A free and informative presentation about the history of the Strathalbyn School, followed by a guided tour through the historical bluestone building. Learn how the school has been transformed into a state of the art library. Feel free to bring along memories and photos to share. Bookings essential.

May 5-9 and 19-23, 11am-4pm. Glenbarr Camp and Conference Centre.

Take a guided tour around the historic homestead of Glenbarr and its grounds. A virtual tour is also available. Devonshire teas and refreshments for purchase within the Stable Inn. Bookings essential.

May 6, 7pm-9.30pm. Strathalbyn Community Centre.

Guest Speaker Brian Simpson, a well-known local author and historian, has published a number of books about Strathalbyn history, including Strathalbyn 1839-2006 and Strathalbyn Tales from the Past. Brian was deputy principal of Strathalbyn High School from 1974 to 1995 and author of 100 Years of Secondary Education in Strathalbyn. The focus of his presentation will be the Aboriginal canoe trees found around Strathalbyn and also general Strathalbyn history.

May 29, 10am-4pm. Strath Neighbourhood Centre.

Members of the local Strathalbyn Aboriginal Reference Group host a day-long display for National Reconciliation Week at the Strath Neighbourhood Centre. Visitors will see a colourful, diverse show illustrating reconciliation in the local community. Children, students and adults from Strathalbyn's culturally diverse community bring together artworks, photographs, textiles, crafts, stories and bush tucker foods that illustrate the theme of this year's National Reconciliation Week: More than a word. Reconciliation takes action.


May 27, 6.30pm. Tooperang Hall.

The 2021 Alexandrina Council Heritage Awards recognise excellence in heritage conservation, research and works undertaken within the district. Categories include Heritage Tourism, Conservation Practice, Adaptive Reuse, Heritage Gardens and Fencing and Historical Research. The award evening includes special guest speaker Peter Cahalan, Acting Manager of Fleurieu Tourism. Spend an evening at the Tooperang War Memorial Hall to celebrate the Alexandrina Council region's rich cultural heritage and the work being undertaken to preserve it. Bookings essential.

Victor Harbor

May 3, 10am. Victor Harbor Public Library.

The Encounter Bay Family History Group, in conjunction with the Victor Harbor Public Library, has compiled a Local History Companion Index. The index is a work in progress and will eventually list all names recorded in Victor Harbor library's collection of local history publications. From the 3rd May 2021, the index will be permanently available in print form, as well as on a searchable electronic database.

May 1-30. Coral Street Art Space.

The South Coast Choral and Arts Society (SCCAS) was formed in 1950 as a choral group. Six years later, the group embarked on their first full-scale musical production, The Pirates of Penzance. Since then they have staged over 100 productions including musicals, dramas, farces and self-written shows. Today, the Society remains the standard for community theatre in Victor Harbor, with productions thrilling audiences from around the region. Dive into their history in this exhibition, featuring a carefully curated display of costumes, props and set pieces, as well as photos and stories.


May 16, 2.30pm-4pm. Club Fleurieu.

'There is a Season' concert by the Festival Fleurieu Choir emphasises the theme of time in our lives. Past, present and future, seasons, memories, birth and death, waking and sleeping all receive a mention in the variety of songs presented. Interesting narrations relating to the songs will be included. The overarching History Festival theme of 'change' will permeate this concert. A beautiful cake and coffee/tea after the concert is included in the price. Bookings essential.


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