Town History of Mt Barker

 


Mount Barker was named after the Mount Barker Summit (Click Here for more info) which lies about 2 km's east of the township. This mountain was first sighted by Captain Charles Sturt during his Murray River voyage in 1830, where he mistook the mountain for Mt Lofty. It was named in honour of Captain Collet Barker in 1831, after he lost his life at Lake Alexandrina, and then officially recognised in 1834 by King William making it existent before the colony of South Australia had even started (Colonisation of "SA" began in 1836).

The Mountain itself was first ascended in about 1837 when a party of five men rode their horses to the top while on a trip to check out parts of the newly set up colony. The land in the same area was used over the next few years by the "Overlanders" - parties of men droving cattle and sheep across the country to Adelaide from Melbourne and Sydney.

The area was surveyed in 1839 by the pastoralist Duncan McFarlane with the expectation that it would be opened up to wheat and grain farming. Lots of 80 acres were to be sold but there was a problem as few farmers were willing to produce wheat unless their was a flour mill nearby. When John Dunn arrived in the area he was offered free land to establish a flour mill and by 1844, when the mill was completed, Dunn had established the first steam flour mill outside of Adelaide. The mill operated successfully for the next 50 years and it was on the basis of its operations that the town developed.

The town's major buildings were completed over the next three decades with the Post Office being built in 1860 and the Police Station with its stables being completed in 1878. The area's future was ensured with the arrival of the railway in 1883.

 

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