About Balhannah

Discover Balhannah

Located only 20 minutes from Adelaide, Balhannah is a pleasant Adelaide Hills village, situated between Verdun and Oakbank on the banks of the Onkaparinga River.

The Adelaide Hills is famous for beautiful scenic drives, nature walks, boutique wineries, country markets, art galleries and charming
villages. It’s also an ideal place for romantic weekends away.

The Balhannah Hotel is perfectly situated for your midday or evening meal as you explore the area.

Tour Down-Under

When the Tour Down-Under comes to The Adelaide, there is no better place to to watch the action that the verandah of the Balhannah Hotel.

As you can see from the video on the right, the Balhannah Hotel is really jumping on Tour Down-Under day!

Amy Gillett Bikeway

If you are a keen bike rider, explore the newly completed Amy Gillett Bikeway and stop for lunch at the Hotel Balhannah.

See the Bike SA website for information and maps or railtrails for more information.

Onkaparinga Scenic Drive

The Onkaparinga Scenic Drive starts at the Verdun interchange, just off the Hahndorf exit of the South Eastern Freeway.

The drive follows the beautiful Onkaparinga Valley road pass vineyards, farmland and through historic towns like Balhannah, Oakbank and Woodside, where there are some good antique shops. It then travels to the historic town of Mount Torrens, before arriving in Birdwood, home to the National Motor Museum.

History of Balhannah

The township of Balhannah was founded by James Turnbull Thomson at the end of 1839. There has long been controversy about the name he gave the village, since it has sometimes been recorded as Belhannah or Balhanna. His mother’s name was Belle and his sister was Hannah, and Bel is Gaelic for village.

By the end of 1840 Thomson was running an establishment on his land comprising an Inn, hotel and stock-yards.

The Balhannah Inn as it was known was situated east of the present day hotel.

In 1843, when Thompson could not get beer for the pub, this enterprising man decided to make his own! So, with some help from W. Miller and W. Johnston he began making beer. Later these two started the Oakbank Brewery.

The Balhannah Inn was granted a licence in 1857.

Another establishment existed opposite the garage called the Golden Cross Inn. Then, around 1883. when the railway line came to Balhannah, a new hotel opened up on the present site – also called the Golden Cross Inn, which must surely have been a bit confusing!

The Golden Cross Inn became the Golden Cross Hotel and in 1939 the name was changed to the Hotel Balhannah.

The township of Balhannah had the first District Public Library in the colony.
Money for the project was raised by settlers in the surrounding district.
The library was seen as a “… rational recreation for many whose spare time is now, to use the mildest term, idly thrown away”.(The South Australian of Dec. 16th 1842).

In the early years of the colony, the Balhannah district was producing potatoes, maize, wheat, corn, as well as timber and sheep and cattle.

At his Balhannah farm John Wrathall Bull employed aborigines to pick up and bag potatoes.
John Bull kept a small hut on the property for King John and Queen Monarta of the local tribe which Bull called the Wall tribe. Mr. Bull had an annual handout of blankets and supplies for the remnants of King John’s people who by 1842 to 43 had been decimated by white setter’s diseases.

By 1866 the population of Balhannah was 160 and the town boasted a church, a hotel, a post office, a school and two stores.

In 1883 a new section of railway line was built from Aldgate to Nairne and from Mt. Barker Junction to Mt. Barker.

A railway station was built at Balhannah, turning the area into a bustling centre. Local produce was carted to the new station and then sent down to Adelaide. At Easter the race crowds would disembark at the Balhannah station to be met by coaches or walk to the Oakbank Racetrack.

The Balhannah district was widely regarded as one of the best fruit -growing areas in South Australia. Apples, pears, quinces, plums, peaches , apricots and grapes were all grown there and by the 1880’s this area was producing more fruit than was needed by the population of Adelaide.

Orchardists planted varieties of apples that would ripen in staggered periods from January to May. Longer lasting varieties of apples would be kept in rooms built underground or built into the sides of hills.

In 1914 A. Filsell built the first cold–room in Australia and in 1920 the Balhannah Cold Store Company was formed and this significant breakthrough would ensure that Balhannah would continue to flourish.

(History information gathered from “ Balhannah” by Carol Brockoff)