Feb 27 2011
Tanunda, South Australia, is in the heart of Australia’s leading wine growing region – the Barossa. Look in any direction, from any street in town and you will see vineyards. In fact, the town of Tanunda is almost at the cellar door of at least eight wineries. If that is not enough for you, hop in your car and while exploring the scenic hills and valleys of the Barossa ranges, you will stumble across dozens more.
Tanunda’s roots go back to the aboriginal dreamtime. Tanunda is an aboriginal word whose original meaning is so old it has been all but forgotten, but is variously interpreted as “watering hole” or “many birds on a creek.” Whatever its literal translation may be, the name alludes to the availability of water in the region – as precious a commodity to the ancient aboriginals as wine is to today’s tourists to the town.
Initially named “Langmeil,” Tanunda was one of the initial settlements after the Barossa Valley was first discovered by explorers in 1836. Captain Light, who had fought on the Spanish “Barrosa” or “Hill of Roses” gave the valley its name and its mispelling, which is retained to the current day. The earliest settlers were German migrants who had been forced to escape their homeland as a result of religious persecution. For many years, it was thought that Tanunda must be a German name. An 1859 article in the Register, the most respected newspaper in the region, corrected the mistake, stating that Tanunda was actually an aboriginal word meaning “the waters that skirt the place the year ’round.”
While it has an aboriginal name, Tanunda still has a very German aspect. Lots of the town’s most famous landmarks harken back to the early settlers. Tabor Lutheran Church and St. John’s Lutheran Church, both on Murray Street, the town’s main road, date back to 1849 and 1868 respectively. Tabor Lutheran Church is distinguished by its towering 85 foot (26 meter) spire topped with an orb that contains old church records. St. John’s features 5 timber statues of Jesus, Moses, Peter, Paul and Jeremiah. Nearby, along a leafy street lined with Cypress trees is Langmeil Lutheran Church. The grounds outside this beautiful church shelter the remains of Pastor Augustus Kavel, who was the man who brought the early German settlers to the region.
One of the great things about Tanunda is that, while its major tourist drawcard is the surrounding vineyards, tourists can find many other fascinating things to do and see in the town and its surroundings. This makes it a great holiday place for the whole family. While the children might not appreciate sitting around watching their parents sample fine wines, they will certainly enjoy the Story Book Cottage and Whacky Wood and the chance to watch sheep dogs exhibit their skills at Norm’s Coolie Sheep Dogs.
Thanks to the abundance of great camping grounds, hotels, B&B’s inns and even historic homes that are available in Tanunda, you should have no difficulty finding the perfect Tanunda accommodation or more general Barossa accommodation, no matter what your budget or preference may be. The town’s permanent population is just three thousand, but you will find enough superb places to stay, it can probably accommodate double that number. If you prefer sleeping in the outdoors, what could possibly be better than pitching a tent beneath a huge tree on the bank of Jacob’s Creek? If you are looking to feel like a local, why not rent a 2 bedroom cottage made of stone just about a century ago? Whatever you would like, it’s there for you in Tanunda.