Williamstown, South Australia
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Queen Street, the main street of Williamstown
|Population||2,755 (2016 census)|
|Established||1857 (private sub-division)|
15 March 2003 (locality)
|Elevation||310 m (1,017 ft)|
Williamstown is a small South Australian town on the southern fringe of the Barossa Valley wine-growing region. It is 51 km north east of Adelaide and 16 km south-east of Gawler. Williamstown was originally known as Victoria Creek. The township was laid out in 1858 by Lewis Johnston, or Johnstone, on land he purchased in 1857, and named for his son.
Williamstown has an elevation of 310 m and an average rainfall of 680 mm. It has a summer average temperature of 31 °C with temperatures often reaching the mid 40s, and a winter average temperature of 15 °C, with nights dropping below freezing, which makes the region excellent for the cultivation of fruits, especially grapes in the lower riverine alluvial deposits.
Williamstown was essentially a farming area with sheep and cattle in the early days with fruit orchards, mixed farms and vines. Williamstown also sustained a forestry and lumber industry from the earliest days with three sawmills. Today only a small family-owned timber sawmill and Cooperage remains with the closure of the two larger mills by 1990. Many local residents work in the wine / viticulture industry throughout the Barossa Valley.
In the Australian Federation Year (1901) a local hay barn found along Yettie Road (formerly Yatta Creek Road) inhabited only by ducks and pigeons was discovered to be the remains of the alleged oldest slab and stone homestead in South Australia (circa 1841) which has been carefully restored to its former glory.
Springfield Homestead, along Springton Road, was originally the home of local land baron pastoralist, BJ MacLachlan, who was a contemporary of the more famous Australian pastoral entrepreneurs and cattle barons such as Kidman. His great-great grandchildren still live at the historic Homestead. They operate one of the largest stations in Australia at Commonwealth Hill.
The nearby South Para Reservoir was built in the early 1950s to help supply Adelaide with its demanding domestic water supplies, supplementing the earlier Warren Reservoir and Barossa Reservoir. The curved dam retaining wall at the Barossa Reservoir, known as the Whispering Wall because of its acoustic properties, is a tourist attraction. The Barossa Goldfields, scene of a gold rush in 1868 (as well as some smaller rushes later), lie to the west of the Barossa Reservoir. A handful of 'boutique' tourist gold mining operation were started around 1985 near Sandy Creek and the Barossa Goldfields.
Williamstown is considered to be a 'Southern gateway' town into the Barossa Valley. It has one of the oldest public house hotels in South Australia dating from 1841 and several original farm homesteads built by the first homesteaders from rough-cut slab timber. One excellent example of this can be found along Warren Road towards Kersbrook.
In the late summer of 1956 Williamstown was struck by a 3.6 magnitude earthquake that lasted for almost eight minutes and caused structural damaged to many of the stone structures and brick buildings in the area. Domestic wells and sweetwater springs in the area dried up for several weeks thereafter due to the many landslips and seismic movements below the surrounding Gawler Ranges.
In 1970 Williamstown hosted one of the last performances of the Barnum & Baily, Ringling Brothers Circus in the original Big Top at the Oval where their performing elephants were enjoyed along with 'the world's smallest horse' at just over five hands high.
In the springtime, Williamstown is seen at its best, with a carpet of green grass and wildflowers along the many creeks and thick woodlands covering the low-rolling hills around the town, dotted with large dairy pastures and vineyards. To the East and South, Williamstown is skirted with Forestry Commission plantations open for public access, in certain areas, large swathes of National Park and the Hale Conservation Park for walkers and hikers.
The Williamstown Oval is set in the welcome summer-shade of a large wooded hill in a small valley fed by crystal clear cold-water springs that feed the Victoria Creek stream that passes through the town centre. At the Oval there is a picnic area and small caravan park, serving visitors and transient workers, overlooking the local Football Clubhouse and 1950s-era public swimming pool.
- "Search results for 'Williamstown, LOCB' with the following datasets being selected – 'NPW and Conservation Properties', 'Suburbs and Localities', 'Counties', 'Local Government Areas', 'SA Government Regions', 'Gazetteer' and 'Roads'". Location SA Map Viewer. Government of South Australia. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Williamstown (SA) (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
- "Manning index of South Australian placenames". State Library of South Australia. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- Weatherill, Jay (15 May 2003). "GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES ACT 1991 Notice to Assign Names and Boundaries to Places (in the Barossa Council)" (PDF). The South Australian Government Gazette. South Australian Government. p. 1947. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
- Rodney Cockburn, Stewart Cockburn South Australia — What's in a Name? Axiom Publishing 1990 ISBN 0 9592519 1 X
- "THE BAROSSA GOLD DISCOVERY". The Express and Telegraph. V, (1, 462). South Australia. 5 October 1868. p. 3 (LATE EDITION.). Retrieved 5 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- "SIM'S RUSH". The Express and Telegraph. XXIV, (6, 931). South Australia. 28 January 1887. p. 3. Retrieved 5 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
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