It's lambing time in the Eden Valley - and here at the Eden Valley Lookout, the kids are running in their scores, happy and contented. And who wouldn't be with a view like that!
As Australians, we all revere ANZAC Day (as well we should), but remembering those South Australians who fought in the Boer War (perhaps the ‘dress rehearsal’ for the Great War to come 14 years later?) has sadly faded in our memories.
One of the loneliest (and perhaps most poignant) memorials in South Australia to our fallen heroes of that conflict stands defiantly alongside the Williamstown Memorial Hall, Williamstown being the south-eastern gateway to the Barossa.
It records the loss of one PRIVATE WILLIAM EDWIN SMITH, who lost his life at Arundel, South Africa, on February 21, 1902.
So what do we know about William Smith? Not much, sadly. He was not a ‘permanent’ resident of Williamstown before he left for war, as the memorial notes that he was “...once a resident of Williamstown...”
This is confirmed in a report in The Advertiser of 2 March 1900, when his death was reported. ”Quite a gloom was cast over this neighbourhood on Monday last when the news was received of the death of Private W. E. Smith, who was a member of the first contingent, and was killed at Arundel in South Africa. Private Smith lived here for several years, and was highly respected by all who knew him. He was a strong, well built young man, a good bicycle rider, and horseman, and just the sort of man to uphold the honour of Australia in the country where he met his death....”
William Smith must have made his mark on the town and the region - to the extent that his bravery was commemorated in “... Italian marble, and, with the base, stands 10 feet high, .... the work of Mr. G. E. Morgan, of the Victoria Square, W. Monumental Works, and in execution and design is a real work of art.” (Petersburg Times, SA, 10 August 1900). The Memorial was erected at a cost of £38 - a small fortune in its day.
As a mark of respect with which the Williamstown community held him, they turned out in large numbers for the unveiling of the Memorial on Monday 30 July, 1900. The Advertiser reported 3 days later...”The ceremony of unveiling took place at 4 o'clock. Showers of rain fell during the day and made the ground wet and muddy, but it kept fine overhead during the ceremony. The monument, which was covered with the Union Jack, was unveiled by Mrs. J. Warren in the presence of a large concourse of people. While the flag was being drawn up the school children, under the leadership of Mr. Miller, the head teacher, sang the National Anthem, after which Mr. R. Ross, chairman of the District Council of Mount Crawford, gave an appropriate address.”
The Boer War was fought over British aspirations to gain control over South African mineral wealth, and we South Australians sent our best young men to fight for the ‘motherland’. Private Smith was one of 127 South Australians who formed the very first contingent to travel to South Africa.
Around 16,000 Australians volunteered to fight against the Dutch-Afrikaner (or Boers) from 1899 to 1902: It remains Australia's third-worst conflict in terms of casualties. In the end, the war was reported to be a ‘guerrilla action’ fought in ways similar to that of the Vietnam war. A total of 606 Australians died in the two-and-a-half years in South Africa, more than the number of casualties in Vietnam over 10 years.
Private Smith died at Arundel in South Africa, where British General Clements drew his forces back, after severe fighting at Naauwpoort in the last three weeks of February 1900. During the movement, which commenced at midnight, 13/14 February, the South Australians formed the rearguard, a position of honour and great responsibility, seeing that General Clements' men had been without rest or sleep for nearly forty-eight hours. Notwithstanding these great exertions, Captain Lascelles, of the South Australians, on arriving in the neighbourhood of Arundel, went back with a mixed body of volunteers, mostly Australians, to endeavour to bring in or assist some infantry who had been left behind. It was in this action we assume, Private Smith on his mount took that fatal bullet which took his life in a far-off land, defending British interests. Competent judges have said that the withdrawal of the force to Arundel was one of the best-managed operations undertaken during the campaign.
And so, when you cyclists next visit Williamstown, forego your latté and take a moment to visit William Smith’s memorial - a permanent reminder of a good Williamstown citizen, ‘a good bicycle rider’... a warrior and a hero.
The Barossa is bursting with autumn colour as Mother Nature throws her pre-winter rug over the vines and towns of the Valley after the hard work of Vintage 2014. Now, this magnificent 'Indian Summer' we're enjoying looks like extending through the coming weekend. So why not plan a visit to the Barossa this weekend - and to make the most of it, get our audio CDs to refresh your brain as your eyes take in the luscious colours of the Barossa in full autumn spendour!
There's something about the wursts of the Barossa Valley to fire up the mouth (...and the other end!) when you're looking for something to liven up your Ploughman's Lunch or picnic baskets as you enjoy South Australia's lingering 'Indian Summer'.
Team them up with a bottle of Barossa red, and you're in heaven!
Here's an idea for next weekend! Pack a lunch of dry biscuits and French sticks and get up to the Barossa. Call in at Jacobs Creek or Langmeil Wines and buy a bottle of Barossa shiraz, then grab a paté at Maggie Beers (not far off the Seppeltsfield Road), then on to Linke's Butchers In Nuriootpa to pick a stick of the best Wursts you'll find in Australia. Make your way to Menglers Hill, spread the blanket - and take in the vista of the Barossa in its late autumn light which inspired the early German settlers. Get our History and Provenance audio CD and take in the stories (including those of Linke's Butchery and Langmeil Wines) which make the Barossa Australia's premier tourist region. Great wine and food - and great memories which you'll remember forever. Bliss!
Barossa Talking Tours featured in the Gawler Bunyip newspaper this week - a good yarn, and photo with 'Nipper' Fechner of Tanunda's iconic Apex Bakery, who features on our History and Provenance audio CD disc, talking about the delights which come out of his 100 year old wood-fired 'Scotch' oven. To read the story, go to the on-line version by clicking on this link - http://www.bunyippress.com.au/audio-tours-for-barossa/ Enjoy!
And Langmeil is now stocking our Barossa talking Tour discs - the Barossa History and Provenance disc, and our Wine Appreciation for Cellar Door Visitors disc. Langmeil Winery is a 'must visit' if you're touring the Valley - and beyond the superb wines, you can now buy our discs there too!
As work proceeds, the cellar door has been moved a few metres east of the old cellar door - and offers a new experience, established as it is in the old Seppeltsfield Stables. With this 'Indian Summer' we are experiencing mid-May, with temperatures in the low 20's and fine sunny days, this is a perfect time to visit the Barossa - and to visit the new Seppeltsfield Cellar Door. Apart from location, nothing else as changed, with Seppeltsfield's fine 100 year old Tawnies still available. To learn more about Seppeltsfield and its history, complement your visit by getting our Talking Tour History and Provenance audio CD tour - and if you're into Seppeltsfield's wine offerings (including its lip-smacking tawnies!) hear from Seppeltsfield's 2012 Winemaker of the Year, Fiona Donald, on our Wine Appreciation for Cellar Door Visitors audio CD. Buy them on-line - or if you're coming up through Williamstown, get our discs at Winestains, or the Baker St Bakery (see posts below). Seppeltsfield will be stocking them too in the near future as they work through the logistics of their new cellar door.
Despite the weather, good numbers were reported and Barossa participants did their best in trying conditions, promoting the Barossa and their wines.
Was it a success? Well the compliant mainstream media reported it was, but many visitors have reported it did not quite reach the same heights as earlier events run under food guru Ian Parmenter who fell out of favour with the event's organisers after the last Tasting Australia event on the banks of the River Torrens two years ago.
Our view? Well yes, we have to agree. Move the event to a bigger venue next time - and the food and wine experiences (more restaurants next time please!) should be separated, as they used to be. Nevertheless, any exposure is good exposure, as they say!
If you're coming up to the Barossa for Mothers Day, call in to the Baker St Bakery in Williamstown (the prettiest drive to the Barossa from Adelaide) for a coffee or cake - and to buy our Barossa Talking Tours discs!
Yep, our Tours are now available at Baker St Bakery - or if you prefer, at Winestains Gallery and micro-cellar door, about 50 metres down the road from the Bakery, toward Lyndoch.
Hell! Why not visit both? A coffee at Baker St, then call in on Kristal at Winestains and take in the delights of her Galley - and your first wine tasting in the Barossa! A great start to your Mothers Day in the Barossa!
Barossa Talking Tours provides an entertaining and informative look at the Barossa Valley as an audio tour - perfect for car or caravan!