How better to introduce the nature and the history of our district than to quote these edited selections from Robert Martin’s comprehensive history of the Stirling district, “Under Mount Lofty”, originally published in 1987 and updated in 1996.
…..From the city of Adelaide in South Australia a few kilometres of tree laden suburbs rise gently east to the foothills, which in their turn soon give way to the peaks of a range of moderately high hills of which the tallest is Mount Lofty, carrying on its summit a shining white obelisk, a tower for firespotting and three gigantic television masts reaching heavenward.
Happily the beauty of the hills is still largely undiminished by the mistakes of the last 160 (now nearly 180) years. The Ranges offer a promise of peace and beauty and recreation at a conveniently short distance from the noise of the city, tempting city dwellers to a day or an hour of escape. There are many who contrive to live and work in the Hills or to combine the pleasures of a home life in the countryside with work in Adelaide.
The Mount Lofty Districts Historical Society counts amongst its area of interest only a small region of the Adelaide Hills – about 11,000 hectares formerly covered by the Stirling district council (now part of the Adelaide Hills Council).
This area has the distinction, or the misfortune, to be a hilly region close to a city on a plain. Factors of geology, topography, soils, climate, water supply and vegetation have made the Stirling district particularly attractive to the city, which has sent timber cutters, gardeners, quarrymen, house builders and dam builders to wreak changes in the Hills. Road builders and railway builders provided transport corridors through and beyond for trade with the east.
Houses, from very old to very new, some quite large in size, dot the upper slopes and to the keen sighted it is evident that some have been devastated by fire. The South Eastern Freeway goes over the top, crossing the ridge running northward to the Mount Lofty Summit, then sloping into a valley lined with beautiful trees, many of them exotic. Hills town centres share many of the characteristics of other suburban centres but what makes them unusual are the undulating sites and the density of the vegetation.
Our history includes that of transport and communications, commuting, urban and rural living, agriculture, quarrying and mining, timbergetting, bushfires, conservation, recreation, art and fine old buildings, beginning in a time when there were no roads at all. Now ancient cottages sit cheek by jowl with hexadomes, remnants of orchards with crowded suburban buildings, tracts of native bushland with elaborate Victorian gardens……
• Copies of the revised and enlarged edition (1996) of Under Mount Lofty are available from the Mt Lofty Districts Historical Society. Publications