The Lutherans of Hahndorf

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 08/28/2017

Reading time: 3 mins

Hahndorf offers a slice of German history in the arms of the Adelaide Hills. Here, history meets quaint design in the numerous traditional pubs, eateries, and buildings that line the streets.

The town itself sits pretty in the heart of the Adelaide Hills, just 28 kilometres from the hustle and bustle of Adelaide’s city centre. Before the German settlers came and made it their own, it belonged to the {era,amgk People. They named the area Bukartilla over 2400 years ago, after the nearby swimming hole that flowed into the Onkaparinga River.

When the European settlers arrived in the 1800s, the numbers of Peramangk people declined, and the area started to take on a German look and feel.

There are numerous German settlements that have become important tourist hotspots around Adelaide, and Hahndorf is perhaps the most popular. It was named a state heritage area in 1988, and it boasts a fascinating history that dates back to 1838. At this time, an Australian company director ventured to London to promote colonisation.

Lutheran History

During his time in London, he met Pastor Kavel who, at the time, was on a mission to help German Lutherans who were being persecuted by the King of Prussia. He was helping them immigrate to safer places. The company director persuaded the pastor that South Australia was the perfect place for resettlement.

Later that year, on the 28th December, a ship carrying around 187 German Lutheran immigrants docked in Port Adelaide. The ships Danish captain, Dirk Hahn, wanted to help the families he had travelled over with reach their goals of settling down and starting a farming community together. The town got its name from the captain, and thus Hahndorf was born!

After negotiating a small segment of land in the Adelaide Hills, the town of Hahndorf was beginning to take shape. Over the years, the Lutheran families thrived in their farming roles and brought many German nuances to the area. Soon, more and more German settlements for escaping Lutherans were being set up, and a whole community was created in the lush landscape of the Adelaide Hills.

Today, Hahndorf is not only a popular tourist attraction, but it is also an important part of Australia’s lengthy history. While in the region, you can tuck into delicious traditional German beer and food. Wander the streets lined with impressive European architecture, and learn more about the plight of the Lutherans as they escaped Prussia. Learn how they set up home in the safe arms of the Adelaide Hills.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.