Early History, 1800s

early history barn_currentLyndoch Valley, Barossa’s earliest settlement, was surveyed in 1840 for the South Australian Company. Section 541, currently the Barossa Shiraz Estate, remained in the ownership of SA Company and leased until its sale in 1921 (Table 1).

Table 1 Record of ownership of section 541














J. Chesson G. Semmler , J. Whiteman

W. Geue

Mrs deMole

D. Kennedy

S. Sage

J. Denholm

J. Denholm


T Coxall

Barossa Shiraz Estate (BSE)

S.A. Co

S.A. Co

S.A. Co

S.A. Co

S.A. Co

S.A. Co





The buildings consisted of the barn-stable and the homestead that originally formed the main section of the Willows today. The house and the stable were built in the 1850 or before, on the same principles, with stone walls 50 cm thick,. The house was extended with the same construction material, reportedly by Dr Fooks prior to 1906. J. C. Denholm added the verandah and bay window to The Residence in 1921. Heritage features include hand made glass, pressed metal, ornate or mini-orb ceilings and 12 ft height construction.

barn_stableThe stable/barn served the Royal Mail run and had the same design (photo) as the others on the route. At the front is the stable, including the long mangers (photo) that still remain. Behind the
dividing stone wall, at the back, was men’s quarters including a bedroom and a kitchen. The back section was used by the drivers to stay overnight, repair vehicles, swap coaches, and to change, paddock, groom and shed horses. Stairs at the western end of the barn gave access to the loft,
where hay was stored for the horses. Good quality drinking water came from a 30 feet deep well, situated midway between the barn and the homestead, which exists today with brickwork in the top section remaining. An outdoor cellar is situated close to the homestead.

The Royal Mail [Appendix 1] served the area for many years. Travel time from Adelaide to Tanunda via Lyndoch was eight hours. The mail run was contracted to private operators, amongst them the well known Cobb & Co, Rounsevell and Hill & Co. The coaches were drawn by two or four horses (photo). The four-horse coaches carried eight passengers, six inside and three on top, including the drunks and the driver (Memories of R. Denholm). The coaches came from the Riverland, as far back as Renmark connecting to Waikerie, Blanchtown, Truro, Angaston, Tanunda and Lyndoch with staging posts every 20-30 mile intervals. The route from Lyndoch to Adelaide was via Gawler and Dry Creek. The coaches came daily except for Sundays, one in either direction. Spare horses were kept in the stable for daily exchange. The next stagecoach from Lyndoch was in Smithfield where the stable was very similar to the one at the Barossa Shiraz Estate.

Road conditions either side of Lyndoch were hazardous. To the west, near where is now known as Sandy Creek, were loose, deep sand trough. Towards the east, one of the worst spots was Jacob’s Creek, which had to be forded. Here is a newspaper account of 15 August 1862:

“The Jacob Creek has often been an insurmountable object to our postman and his horse. There is fortunately a dead tree lying across the creek, on which on several occasions, the mail driver crept across with Her Majesty’s mail on his back, not I believe without danger to himself and his important burden.”

The use of the stable in the latter part of 1800 was separate from the house and the surrounding land. In 1892, the property was used as a dairy by Mrs deMole and managed by her son Francis. Francis was engaged in an interesting court case on 15 October 1894 at the Gawler Magistrate Court for unlawfully selling diluted milk, a charge that was eventually dismissed [Appendix 2]. Between 1897 and 1906, the house was reportedly used as medical consulting rooms by Dr Fooks under the name Vermont House. Another doctor may have used the homestead prior to Dr Fooks.

The Denholm era, early 1900s

Denholm EraIn 1906 Joseph C. Denholm transferred his carrying business under, Denholm Bros, from Truro to the property in Lyndoch. Their operation was independent of the stables used by the Royal Mail Coach and Joseph built his own horse stable (non-existing). He kept 15-18 horses and transported wine from Chateau Tanunda to the Gawler Railway. There was one daily trip from Lyndoch to either direction by the two brothers.

In 1912 Lyndoch was connected to Gawler by railway. Consequently, coach transport and Denholms’ transport business came to a halt. Denholms planted vines, fruit trees and used the remaining land for farming. The vineyard was described in a feature article in 1929 as “the choicest portions of the Lyndoch Valley. Probably the most suitable in the area”. Shiraz and Zante Currents were trellised (photo) but others were bush grown.

Late 1900s

late 1900sFollowing Joseph Denholm, his son Ronald and grandson Robert continued to use the property mainly for farming purposes until 1970. About 80 years after deMole, the property was once again used as a dairy, under Rao Milk Round. The homestead was extended on the Willows side in1970s by the Weeks. The subsequent owner, C. & T. Coxall, established a Mechanical Music Museum ( photo), exhibiting a fascinating collection of instruments in operation. The Barossa Shiraz Estate, established in 1998, planted the land to Shiraz and Cabernet, undertook a meticulous restoration of the homestead and maintenance of the barn-stable which is intended for future development.


We thank Anne Hausler and the Lyndoch Historical Society for the generous assistance and the supply of valuable records, Robert Denholm for providing his memories of the family on the property, and Mark and Mandy Creed for their expert advice and generous input to the restoration of the property to its original condition.


Bunyip (Gawler newspaper), 17 May 1875, Gawler, South Australia.

Bunyip (Gawler newspaper), 15 Jan 1969, Gawler, South Australia.

Denholm, Robert, 1 Nov 1998 [personal account], Barossa Shiraz Estate, Lyndoch, South Australia.

Denholm, Ronald, 30 Oct 1989 [personal account], Lyndoch Historical Society, Lyndoch, South Australia.

Hunt-Cooke, T. A. (ed.), 1951 A History of Lyndoch Valley [Lyndoch Historical Society, Lyndoch, South Australia].

Lyndoch the First Barossa Settlement: A Brief History and Heritage Walk, 2000. Munchenberg R. S. [et al.], 1992 The Barossa A Vision Realised,Lutheran Publishing House and District Historical Society, [Lyndoch, South Australia]

Appendix 1

The Mail Run Connecting with Lyndoch

An overview

The Royal Mail Coaches had served the district for many years. The mail run from Adelaide to Truro, went through Gawler Town, Sandy Creek, Lyndoch, Jacobs Creek, Tanunda, and Angaston. Travel time from Adelaide to Gawler was five hours, and Gawler Town to Tanunda three hours. In 1854, the mail contractor, James Rossiter, received 45 pound per annum for a thrice weekly mail service from Gawler to Truro. The mail was contracted to private persons or companies, amongst the well known of these were Cobb & Co, Rounsevell, and Hill & Co, who contracted mail runs all over South Australia (1&2). Staging post and livery stables were established where horses were changed, paddocked, groomed, shod, and vehicles repaired. A journey from Adelaide to the Barossa was a memorable experience:

Early journeys from Adelaide to the Barossa went through rough, untracked and forested plain. The Enfield and Prospect area was covered in huge pine forests, which thinned into undulating, tree covered plains, and the expanses were covered by waist high kangaroo grass. Those were the days when the bullock drays were a slow, tortuous form of transport: Adelaide to Gawler was a long uncomfortable journey – it took 1 ½ hot, thirsty days simply to reach the little Para River! However, 25 years later, progress had been made. Christmas shopping and New Year sales involved a five-hour journey in a mail coach. The fair was 10/- each way, and did not include insurance against injury suffered during the trip. The coach left Gawler at 5 a.m. and was supposed to reach “Morcom’s Temperance Hotel” in Adelaide at 10 a.m. The driver was fined for every minute over that time, and if anything happened to the coach he had to ride on ahead with the mail, leaving the passengers to wait until his return (3).

Road Hazards

It was fairly common for the early settlers to see a bullock team bogged almost axle deep in a mud patch, and it usually took a long time before the bogged team could be pulled out. A traveler who visited the Barossa in 1851 described the road in the following terms:

“The road from Lyndoch Valley to Tanunda is in many parts of a very indifferent description from the frequent occurrence of ravines and hollows across the highway, forming one of the exceptions to the generality of the roads in the north. These ravines seem to have remained pretty much in their original state, notwithstanding the traffic … The road next to Mr. Jacob’s is very bad: further on it appeared to us not simply bad, but exceedingly dangerous. Our vehicle was piloted over two execrable ravines with difficulty; while a bullock driver with his team and dray, going on the same way, declared his intention not to pass without more help at the risk of breaking his beasts’ neck. Just at this time two other teams were descending the gully from the opposite side. All attempts to control the first proved vain, a bullock in the rush down got his leg over the chains, and the dray, bullocks, and driver, finished their career at the top of the next rise in a muddle and a mess, of which we had not time to see the result.”

Coach journey were full of hazards as the road went through sandy patches and down into creek beds at fords, which during wet periods, ran with torrents of water (2). The mailman of necessity knew his fords extremely well and at the one nearest Lyndoch he kept a wary eye on one particular post nearby (2). If the water had risen to a certain mark, he new it was not safe to cross, and many times passengers and coachman have sat and waited, sometimes for hours, for the water to recede. One particular bridge some distance out of the town was built after the mail coach have attempted to ford the creek in flood, and the horses were swept off their feet. Fortunately there were no passengers on board, for the coach was wrecked and the horses lost, and the driver saved his life by clinging to wire fence until help reached him. On the other side of the town, near what is now known as Sandy Creek, the difficulties arose from the loose, deep sand through which it was necessary to drive. Horses were set at a gallop, passengers screamed, and through they went if their luck held. But often the wheels sank too deeply and the men would push and turn the wheels with their hands while horses pulled. (2).

One of the worst places on the Gawler to Tanunda road was Jacob’s Creek, which had to be forded. Often this creek had a very strong current and great care had to be taken. Newspaper reports give graphic illustrations of how the road in the road had to be crossed at times.

“The Jacob Creek has often been an insurmountable object to our postman and his horse. There is fortunately a dead tree lying across the creek, on which on several occasions, the mail deliver crept across with Her Majesty’s mail on his back, not I believe without danger to himself and his important burden.” A newspaper report of 15 August 1862 (1)

“A bugle is much needed for the mail driver, as he leaves here at 4.40 a.m. and sometimes meets many teams along the road, which might result in an accident through collision on one of these dark winter mornings. A horn would answer the purpose of warning teamsters and relieve driver and passengers of much anxiety .” An1864 newspaper report of the Truro mailman (1).

“After such a long drought the rain has now commenced in real earnest. During the last few days the rainfall has been exceptionally heavy, and the river is higher than it has been for several seasons at this early period of the year. Jacob’s Creek near Lyndoch, was so swollen on Wednesday morning that the Tanunda mail coach could not get past, and had to return to Gawler; and we are informed that a portion of the road in the neighbourhood of Lyndoch is several feet under water.” [Extract from The Bunyip (Gawler newspaper) 17.5.1875]

As the main road to the River Murray and New South Wales went through the Barossa, the conveyance of mail and passengers became very important to the town en route, and efforts to improve the road conditions began by the early settlers:

There was good reason for T.R. Jones of the Lord Lyndoch Hotel, Lyndoch Valley, as reported in the Deutsche Post in 1849, to offer board and lodging to all who were willing to assist in the improvement of the road ‘zwischen den Fenzen’ (as the English-German phrase ran, i.e. between the fences). [Extract from Bethany, A Dwelling Place by H.F.W. Lutheran Publishing House. Page 25]

Appendix 2

Milk and Water – An Unlawful Mixture

Proceeding of a court case reported in The Bunyip 16 November. 1894

Courtesy of the Lyndoch Historical Society

At the Gawler magistrates Court on Tuesday last Messrs W. Cox and D. McMillan, JPs, were engaged for nearly three hours investigating a charge laid by one Lyndoch resident against another Francis deMole, of near Lyndoch, dairyman, was charged on the information of John Thomas Innes that he did on October 15, at Lyndoch, unlawfully sell diluted milk contrary to by-law No 20 of the District Council of Barossa, made and adopted under and by virtue of the District Councils Act of 1887. In opening the case Mr Harris stated that the informant [Innes] had lately started a creamery at Lyndoch, an was in the habit of receiving milk from defendant [de Mole]. John Thomas Innes, the informant, stated that he received ten gallons of milk in two separate cans from defendants from the latter’s employee, Charles Edmunds, on the day in question. Did not like the appearance of the milk, and tested it in the presence of Edmunds. The instrument showed that water had been added. Said, “There’s water in the milk young fellow. I want to know how it got there.” He said, “There is not more than a quart in it. I was told to put in a quart to keep it right.”… In opening the case for the defense Mr Rudall said that defendant neither had anything to do with the milk nor was the employer of Edmunds. He also pointed out that this was not a case in which milk was being retailed, the most that would be received was 2 ½ d a gallon.

The fact that informant had continuously received milk from defendant’s mother’s establishment since was inconsistent with his belief that the milk had been wilfully diluted. Francis deMole, the defendant, said that he was the manager for his mother, who was a vigneron and kept cows near Lyndoch. Did not see the milk complained of, as he was not at home hat morning till after the milk had been sent away. Went to see Mr Innes on the Wednesday morning about the milk having been refused the previous morning. Informant stated that It was on account of the can being greasy – that it was not clean. The cows belonged to his mother. …

Mr Harris – Did you tell Mr Innes that you would supply him with milk?”

Witness [deMole] – I did not.

Mr Harris – Did you say, “We will supply you?”

Witness- Yes.

Mr Harris – Who did you mean by we?

Witness – I meant the family, the farm.

Mr Harris – And this letter was signed by you.

Witness Yes.

Mr Harris – You have had the whole management of the concern.

Witness – Yes I suppose I have. Edmund was in his mother’s employ. Could not account for Monday’s milk being diluted. Never had a message from the informant about the milk being diluted. Did not know about it till the following day. …

Charles Edmund, a lad, said he was working for Mrs deMole until a few days ago. Was paid by Mrs deMole. Used to put the milk in the cans and take it to the factory. Sometimes got his instructions from Mrs and sometimes from Mr deMole. On the morning of October 15 Mr told him to do it. Did not always do it, only when the weather was sultry. Did not put a gallon in. Had not put any water in since, but stood the can in water instead. Did not tell Mr Springbett that he watered the milk when he took it to Jacob’s. Told Mr deMole on Thursday morning that Mr Innes has said there was water in the milk.

Charles Belham, of Lyndoch, farm labourer, in the employ of Mrs deMole, had had four years experience with milk in Victoria. There were from 70 to 100 cows on the place he worked at. It was the practice to put a little water in milk when it had to be travelled.

After retiring, the Bench considered there was a doubt whether defendant had any interest in the business and dismissed the information, each party to pay his own cost.