Recently I was driving along one of the main roads in Adelaide and I began to have a curiosity arise in me about what this road would have been like 150 years ago. How would it have been different?
I had never had thoughts like this before but a day or two later I found out that South Australian History Month was about to begin and I realized that there would be many opportunities to explore my growing interest in South Australia's past.
Learning about history is fascinating. There is so much that we can learn that gives insight in to the world and helps explain why things are the way they are today.
History helps us to see the bigger picture and can give us a sense of historical continuity and connection with where we have come from that helps to take us out of the narrow confines of our modern individual focus and enhance our awareness of the greatness of the world.
I have always been interested in history and often of parts of the world far away like America, Europe and Asia for example. But having the opportunity to learn about my own state has been kind of special because this is my home. It is where I have lived my whole life. So I have a connection to this place like nowhere else in the world. It only makes sense to want to understand the history of this place where I was born and lived my whole life.
Over the course of SA History Month I went to quite a few events that had been advertised. I learnt about Queen Adelaide, the history of many of the buildings in the city, Beaumont House, The Freemasons Grand Lodge, Gawler history and Hahndorf history.
Out of all of the events of History Month it was learning about the beginnings of Hahndorf that I found most interesting. Hahndorf is a small town in the Adelaide Hills that was founded by German Lutheran refugees.
I went on a great tour of Hahndorf on a Friday night that went into great depth about the history of the town and its beginnings. As part of the tour we visited Hahndorf's Lutheran churches and other significant historical sites.
I found the stories of more humble and challenging times inspiring. We often take our prosperous society for granted without ever stopping to think about or honour those who worked hard to build it in the first place. We are so used to material abundance that we forget that it wasn't always like this and a history of resilience and struggle to survive and overcome the odds can be found right in our own local history.
The German Lutherans who founded Hahndorf left Prussia because of religious persecution. Given some land in the Adelaide Hills they worked hard to build up from poverty to a successful thriving community. They worked hard to pay off their debts for the ship that brought them over here and bought the land that they were renting.
The pioneer women of Hahndorf played an important role in this.
As the town's farms began to produce a surplus of goods they had something to sell to people in Adelaide. In the early Adelaide colony a lot of the food was imported and so often very average quality. Fresh produce from the Adelaide Hills was very welcome, which created a great market for Hahndorf producers.
While the men were working on the land the women walked into Adelaide to sell the produce and then came back home again several times a week.
Today going from Adelaide to Hahndorf is a half an hour or so drive up the freeway. But in those early days when the only way to get between the two towns was by foot the journey was no small feat.
These women left for Adelaide from Hahndorf at midnight and walked throughout the night arriving in the morning after day break. They were carrying heavy loads, sometimes as much as 35 kg and often they walked barefoot to preserve their leather shoes! They carried sticks with them to protect themselves from outlaws and bush rangers.
Once they had sold their produce in Adelaide they would walk back to Hahndorf again carrying bricks for the construction of the church building in Hahndorf. They made this trip several times a week for over a decade until roads and transportation began to be established.
People were tough in those days. The German settlers had a determined entrepreneurial spirit and sacrificed and worked hard to create a future for their community together.
And their Lutheran faith was right at the centre of it. No doubt their faith in Christ gave them the strength to prevail.
May we capture something of this Christ-centred community again today.
Conor is from Adelaide, South Australia. He has a history degree from Tabor College and has a gardening business. Conor has played in Christian heavy metal band Synnove. He is involved in Operation Canaan, a ministry that prays and intercedes for the music scene. He loves God, music, reading, travelling and thinking deeply about philosophy and current events in the world.
Conor Ryan’s previous articles may be viewed at: www.pressserviceinternational.org/conor-ryan.html
Conor is from Adelaide, South Australia. He has a history degree from Tabor College and has a gardening business. Conor has played in Christian heavy metal band Synnove. He is involved in Operation Canaan, a ministry that prays and intercedes for the music scene. He loves God, music, reading, traveling and thinking deeply about philosophy and current events in the world.
Conor Ryan’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/conor-ryan.html