Barossa German History

South Australia’s History Festival – Trades and Skills of German Settlers in South Australia: Local Stories

Trades and Skills of German Settlers in South Australia: Local Stories

History Festival Seminar, Saturday 21 May, 2022: 10am – 4 pm

Langmeil Lutheran Church, Tanunda, South Australia.

The German Heritage Research Group, Barossa German Language Association, Lutheran Archives and Friends of the Lutheran Archives have organised this History Month seminar.

Of the first 304 Germans naturalised under the 1847 Naturalisation Act, 170 were farmers, 12 were professionals – pastors, teachers, doctors – while 90 were artisans: 27 carpenters, 18 smiths, 11 masons/bricklayers, with smaller numbers in the clothing and food trades. The first wave of Harz miners had arrived by then, soon to be joined by fellow Harz emigrant Carl Kornhardt with his portable press, to print Australia’s first foreign-language paper. But beyond the first settlements around Adelaide, the Hills and the Barossa, the landscape was still dominated by vast and remote pastoral runs: 14 shepherds, mostly from Hills families, were naturalised that day, but the teamsters or bullockies, who supplied the crucial freight transport for decades to come, are not on the list. Nor do we find the equally essential shearers there: in the early years it was the German girls who did the shearing, and the only women on the list are the Widows Käthner and Nehrlich. As farms spread out through the colony, country stores developed hawkers rounds to sell their wares to isolated families in exchange for farm produce, replacing the market treks of the Klemzig and Hahndorf women. 

Following our 2021 introduction to the German tradition of guilds and apprenticeships, this seminar continues the brief presentations on individual tradesmen – from builder to blacksmith, chemist to barber-dentist or optician – and other unsung settlers demonstrating their skills, resilience and enterprise as they adapted to changed circumstances and community needs. Advertising in local German secular and church papers illustrates the full spectrum of commercial activity, and as pastors follow their congregations to new settlements or establish mission stations in the interior, we find among them former artisans who can forge a new axle for their wagon on the trek north or make the coffins for the burial services they conduct. 

This year GHRG is once more hosted by the Barossa German Language Association at the Langmeil Church complex in Tanunda. Registration is essential by 13 May, and the cost $50 includes lunch and morning/afternoon tea. 

  • Registration and payment: registrationcloses 13th May, 2022
  • Enquiries: Christine Leske (BGLA)  0428 337 132
  • Date: Saturday, 21st May 2022 (10am-4pm) in Langmeil Church complex, Tanunda
  • Cost: $50.00 includes lunch and morning and afternoon tea