Search South Australia x

Naracoorte Caves, Limestone Coast

Learn about South Australia’s history and heritage

South Australia has been a leader in change. Our rich history showcases the amazing foresight of key political, social and community activists.

Rich in history

Barossa Valley heritage goes well beyond tasting a splash of 100-year-old fortified wine. A heritage seam runs through the Barossa as rich as any wine-producing soil.

Ever since the German and English settlers began building a life here in the 1840s, great efforts have gone into preserving the region’s heritage. Some people still live on the land their ancestors settled all those years ago.

Travel around the Barossa and you’ll see 160-year-old villages, chateaus and churches in beautiful condition. You might even hear some “Barossa Deutsch”, which is a form of German that is still spoken around the region. 

The beautiful, historic town of Tanunda

Bordered by beautiful rolling hills, Tanunda is a picturesque Barossa town filled with history and heritage.

See the sights

If you want to see the best bits of Barossa heritage, just follow the Living Heritage Trail. You’ll see museums, historic and natural sites around the region.

Tanunda is the Barossa's heritage town. There’s so much history here, it has its own heritage trail to follow. The trail takes in the old goat market and many significant buildings.

Bethany was the first Lutheran settlement in the Barossa Valley. Take a look around and you’ll find cottages just like the ones settlers left behind in Germany in the 1840s. 

Historic chateaus

Three historic wine chateaus are classic examples of Barossa Valley heritage.

Walk through the doors at the stately Seppeltsfield chateau and taste 100-year-old Para Vintage Tawny. Chateau Tanunda dates back to 1890 while some of the buildings at the Yalumba winery were built in 1849. Barossa Chateau sits in one of Australia’s most important rose gardens boasting more than 30,000 roses.

Herbig’s history

In Springton, Friedreich Herbig set up a German school, which is now a museum with original furniture and teaching tools.

His old home still stands. The Herbig family tree, a hollow red gum, is between 300 and 500 years old. Not only did Herbig live in it, two of his 16 children were born there! 

Sir Sidney Kidman

Based in Kapunda, Kidman was regarded as one of the most famous Australians of his day. Self-made, his private land was larger than the United Kingdom. He was also a generous man, providing for widows of the First World War, and other donations totalling in hundreds of thousands of dollars. He held the record for the largest public birthday party of a citizen in Australia which was attended by near 50,000 people.

Though much time has passed since his death, his influence on Kapunda is still strong. The Kidman Trail is an example of this. It is a multi-use horse riding, cycling and walking trail that traverses nearly 270 kilometres of roadsides, forest tracks, private land and reserves and passes through the Fleurieu Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, Murraylands and Barossa tourism regions.

If you're looking for something shorter, the Kidman Connection is a good option. The self-directed walking or driving tour of Kapunda highlights places connected with Sidney Kidman across 15 different sites. Call into the Kapunda Visitor Information Centre to collect the Kidman Connection brochure.

Celebrate with music and art

For something different, go along to the Kapunda Music & Arts Festival: a new event that has evolved from the long-running Kapunda Celtic Festival.

Kapunda is also home to Map the Miner. It's an eight-metre statue which stands as a permanent reminder to the town's copper mining days, which began in 1838.

Clare Valley heritage
One of the great features of the Clare Valley is its large number of intact heritage buildings. 
A significant effort has gone into preserving the region’s history.

Heritage trails guide you from town to town. The Clareville Museum and Old Police Station Museum capture the history of a region named after County Clare in Ireland. Historic buildings are scattered around the Clare Valley.

A colourful history

The Clare Valley is also known for its copper and farming history. Copper deposits were found in Burra in 1845, and the world's largest mine evolved. Migrants came in their thousands, from Wales, Scotland, central England and Cornwall.

Jesuit priests fleeing religious persecution in Silesia (now part of Poland) found refuge in the Clare Valley and planted the first grape vines in 1851. There’s now a full range of wines to taste and the church, hand excavated cellar and atmospheric crypt are open for tours.

Unlock Burra's mining past

Burra was once Australia’s seventh largest city and had the world’s biggest copper mine. Buy the Burra Heritage Passport Key from the Burra Visitor Centre. It gives you access to eight historic sites, including the Monster Mine, Redruth Gaol, Unicorn Brewery Cellars and the Dugouts.

You will also receive a guidebook detailing 49 historic sites over an 11 kilometre driving trail.

Grand homesteads

Bungaree Station was one of Clare Valley’s first pastoral stations and is still in use today. Its historic cottages form a secluded village and make an ideal place to stay.

Martindale Hall is Georgian architecture at its best and dates back to 1879. Explore this living museum, surrounded by nineteenth century art, furniture and hunting relics. There is also a 400-year-old ceremonial Samurai suit on display. 

Time stands still in Mintaro. Drystone walls and Moreton Bay fig trees line the main street of this intimate 160-year-old village. You’ll find boutique accommodation, wineries and restaurants inside its historic buildings.

Prehistoric wonder

See spectacular gorges in Red Banks Conservation Park. Take a walk through time and see why palaeontologists described Red Banks as one of richest mega fauna sites in Australia.

In 2001, one of the nation's most important Diprotodon (giant wombat) discoveries was made, dating back 50,000 years. Fossilised remains of a Marsupial Lion have also been found there.

Fleurieu Peninsula Heritage
Fleurieu Peninsula history goes back many, many thousands of years to the people of the Kaurna, Peramangk and Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal groups.

The story of hero Ngurunderi tells of how the Murray River was formed. Ngurunderi chased a giant Murray cod, named Ponde, from New South Wales. As Pondi tried to escape, he created the river we now know as the Murray River.

Cultural centres

The Ngarrindjeri maintain two Aboriginal cultural centres, both adjacent to the waters of the Coorong, near Meningie. Camp Coorong is an interesting place to learn about the Ngarrindjeri culture through information sessions and displays.

The Warriparinga Wetlands and Living Kaurna Cultural Centre is at Bedford Park, south of Adelaide city. Here you can learn about Tjilbruki, the Ibis Man, whose story maps the landscape from the springs at Warriparinga to the bottom of the peninsula.

‘Warriparinga’ means a windy place by the river. It is an important and sacred place for the Kaurna people, who are the Aboriginal custodians of the Adelaide Plains.

An ancient track

The Tjilbruke Dreaming Track follows the coastline to Cape Jervis. It is a peaceful reserve and wetland with an abundance of bird and wildlife. Along the pathways, the land tells a story about indigenous and non-indigenous people, the bush, animals, plant foods and the river.

At the Warriparinga Wetlands and Living Kaurna Cultural Centre, the Kaurna culture and Dreamtime story of the land is shared. The centre offers group tours and information on Kaurna culture and the wetlands environment.

Early settlers

In 1802, the English navigator, Matthew Flinders and French explorer, Nicholas Baudin mapped the southern coast of Australia. Matthew Flinders surveyed the area from the west; Nicholas Baudin from the east.

They met at a point just past the mouth of the Murray River. Nicholas Baudin named this region “Fleurieu Peninsula”, after the eminent French wanderer, Charles Pierre Claret, Comte de Fleurieu. Matthew Flinders named the bay where they met “Encounter Bay”.

A colony was born

In 1836, Colonel William Light made his first South Australian sighting of the Fleurieu Peninsula. He named his landing place Rapid Bay, in honour of his ship. The colony of South Australia was established soon after and today, a boulder at the southern end of Rapid Bay inscribed by Colonel Light, commemorates the landing.

Learn more about this part of history at the Encounter Coast Discovery Centre and the Old Customs and Station Master’s House. See remnants from those early days and hear stories from early settlers and visitors.

See a list of history and heritage attractions below.

From $14.50
From $32.5

Explore South Australia on the trails less travelled

Explore winding trails, ancient ranges and be consumed by a land of flavour. Dive with predators of the deep or rise above Adelaide Oval.

Ecotourism in South Australia: for nature lovers

Kangaroo Island and the Flinders Ranges are rich ecotourism destinations. There are lots of attractions closer to Adelaide you'll love as well.