The Gumeracha & District
History Centre Inc.

Gumeracha Civic Centre, Albert Street, Gumeracha South Australia





The Gumeracha History centre has a large collection of local history publications for sale. These include Gumeracha 1839 – 1939,

Forreston Changing Valley also some out of print publications and the Torrens Valley Journals numbering 69, these journals are packed full of local information and are fully indexed.

Other historical publications are also available.


Contact Us

Updated contact details pending


The Gumeracha and District History Centre

The collection comprises archival material covering the Torrens Valley Ward of the Adelaide Hills Council. Townships included in the collection are:


                    and surrounding areas




You Can Help

Providing any historical information, photographs, family histories, minute books etc... from this area will be of a great value to us. We would be pleased to accept any information on a donation, or loan for copying basis.




"Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future

And time future contained in time past"


T. S. Eliot



For over thirty years Gumeracha & District History Centre volunteers have been collecting and filing information about the people and places of the Torrens Valley.


Some of the material is unique to the Centre and unavailable from any other source.


There are Council records from Talunga, Highercombe and Para Wirra dating back to early settlement and church records, including births, marriages and deaths.


Other material of interest to the "Family Historian" or "District researcher" includes many biographies, school admissions, Gumeracha and Birdwood Police Journals, various minute books of clubs and associations, Lodge records and detailed histories of all the towns of the district.


The large filing system contains many maps and plans of the area, newspaper articles, war records and thousands of photographs of residents and developments past and present, dating back to 1860.


Many family history books, published and unpublished are in the centreís library, and there is now a good collection of data CDís (B.M.D. South Australia etc.)


Local sport is also well catered for with a good collection of press cuttings and photographs held in the vast filing system.


Torrens Valley Historical Journal

The "Torrens Valley Historical Journal" has now reached Number 67. This journal contains a wealth of information dating back to first settlement.



Birdwood - Old Blumberg


The township of Birdwood began with the settlement of the land west of the present site in January 1848 by Lutherans from East Germany. They farmed small areas of land leased from the South Australian Company, Wheat was their main crop. A Flourmill was established in 1855. Subdivision of the land followed, creating the core of the township.


Wheat crop failure due to disease caused a decline in the population by the late 1860's. In 1870 Gold was discovered in the area bringing new people to the township.


Anti German feelings during the first World War saw German names disappear from the South Australian map and in 1917 BLUMBERG was renamed BIRDWOOD.


Shannon Street Birdwood 1937


Education: A Lutheran Day School was conducted from 1848 - 1917 when all Lutheran Schools were closed by the Government decree. In 1909 a High School was established but closed in W.W.1. A primary School began to operate in 1924 and the High School was returned in 1931.


Religion: The Lutheran Church was established from 1848 followed by the Catholic Church in 1867. The "Peace Church" (now United) was established in 1929 and the Seventh Day Adventist Church in 1955.



With the establishment of the National Motor Museum in Birdwood tourism is now a prominent industry.




Cudlee Creek


The name Cudlee Creek was derived from Kadlipari - "Native Dog River" and settled in 1838. The first Church (Union Chapel) & Cemetery was established in 1857. The present Church was built in 1882.


The first bridge over the River Torrens, "Ledgard's Bridge", built in 1871 was replaced by the Union Bridge in 1914.


A 'provisional' school opened in 1913, continued in various forms until closed in 1970. The 'Old Creamery' Butter factory was built in 1890.


To cater for significant export markets of apples & pears a Co-operative Cold Store & packing shed was built in 1922.

Cudlee Creek Cold Store

Cudlee Creek Cold Store


  • The Gorge Picnic Grounds, have been a focal point since 1924.
  • The swimming pool, severely damaged by floodwaters in 1992 was never re-opened.
  • The soldiers Memorial Hall built in 1956.
  • The Wildlife Park opened in 1965 has the largest privately owned collection of Native animals & birds in South Australia.




Forreston Township


The township of Forreston came into being in 1858 when Alexander Forrest offered section 6026 for sale by auction as subdivided allotments.

Forreston Map








Circa 1900

1. Milking Shed

2. Original Post Office & Store

3. Blacksmith

4. Wheelwright & Shop,
    now Forreston Hall

5. Butcher Shop

6. Blacksmith

7. Boot Shop

8. Shoe Shop

9. Wine Shop

10:11 & 18 Sheds

12. Hall 1901

13. Tennis Courts

14. Wine Cellar

15. Cellar Bridge

16. House

17. Early Sunday School

19:20:21:22:23 Houses














Gumeracha was settled in 1839. The name was derived from an aboriginal word meaning 'fine waterhole'. Gumeracha is the home of the late Captain W.R. Randell, pioneer of the Murray River boat trade. The earliest paddle steamer, the Maryann, was partly built at Gumeracha. Some of the remaining buildings are the Baptist & Uniting Churches, Police Station, the first hospital and courthouse, the second hospital, Post Office and several stores.


The Torrens Valley Historical Society was established in 1976. The name was changed to the Gumeracha & District History Centre and it was opened to the Public in November 1992. It was situated in the former dentist's rooms in the Gumeracha Council Chambers. The Centre move to its present purpose built location in April 2000.


Former Gumeracha Council Chambers, demolished @1960

Former Gumeracha Council Chambers, demolished in 1960


Gumeracha Hall 1993

Gumeracha Hall 1993 before restoration






The township was laid out as Maidstone in the Hundred of Parra Wirra in 1858 by William Carmen after his birthplace in Kent, England.

John Bowden, built a house on section 6085 in 1841, and named it Kersbrook after a farm in Cornwall where he was born.

In 1868, the Parra Wirra Council Chambers were built in Maidstone. The Township of Kersbrook was proclaimed in 1917.

The Kersbrook Hall         1921 - 1923


Early settlers stripped wattlebark, grew wheat, oats and potatoes. There was also sheep grazing and dairying, from which butter and cream were made and sold. Later the potential of apple and pear growing was realised. More recent developments include cherry growing and vineyards. Most households dug wells for fresh water.


Originally there was a shop, cobbler, school blacksmith and the Wheatsheaf Inn. In 2001, there is the Kersbrook Cooperative Hardware store, Church of Christ, hall, Uniting Church, oval and sports complex, General Store and CFS.




Mount Torrens


"A town proud of its architecture and history"


The first settlement in Mount Torrens district began with English and German migrants in the early 1840's. George Dunn founded the township of Mount Torrens in 1853. During the 1850's and 1860's the town prospered because of its location. The town was a stopover point for wagons and travellers on route to the Reedy Creek Copper Mines and the River Murray Port of Mannum.


The first major buildings in the town were the Inn and the Flour Mill, followed by substantial public buildings, shops and houses.


Postcard from Mount Torrens

Post Card from Mt Torrens


Gold was discovered near the town in the 1860's and 1870's. Crushing began at the Mount Torrens Battery & Cyanide works in 1894.


Early industries included Flour Mill, Lime Kilns and Wattle Bark Mill. With the opening of the railway line, Milk & Cheese Factory, Bakery and associated Rural Services were developed for the whole area.