Jack Bobridge Track – Sign 1 St Hallett’s
This locality, three kilometres south of Tanunda, was settled by Germans in the late 1840s and named Schreiberau. The area is also known as Hallett Valley, named after John Hallett, a merchant, pioneer occupier and pastoralist from England. Along with his wife, John Hallett purchased 500 acres of land in the district in 1842. The Government in 1918 changed Schreiberau to Warre, but the name was never accepted locally. This area was then known only as Hallett Valley.[i]
John Hallett came to Australia in 1836 with his wife Maria (nee King) and their three children on the boat Africaine of which he was part owner with Captain JF Duff and Thomas Finlay. He bought stock with him on the Africaine and imported more from Tasmania. He and Captain Duff are credited with having exported the first wool out of South Australia. John Hallett also built the first two-story house in South Australia on South Terrace in Adelaide. He was a member for Sturt of the first SA Parliament, and of the first Adelaide City Council. Hallett Cove was discovered by John Hallett in 1837 when searching for missing stock in company with Daniel Cox. In 1841 he purchased land in the Cockatoo Valley area of the Barossa Valley and established a property called “Arno Vale” for cattle and sheep, and also made cheese. In 1842 John Hallett and his brother Alfred took up land in the mid-north of South Australia around the township of Hallett – which was named after them. By 1845 John Hallett held 160 square miles of pastoral land in the area, and his brother owned the nearby Wandilla station. John Hallett died in 1868 and is buried in St Georges Cemetery, Magill.[i]
Large River Red Gums along the banks of the North Para River provide the perfect nesting site for the fastest living creature on the planet, the Peregrine Falcon. A powerful apex predator of the sky, it can achieve speeds of up to 389km/h when hunting. The local prey species such as Feral Rock Doves, Starlings and Galahs barely stand a chance!
Having plenty of sky to hunt in is mandatory for this type of bird of prey and the local pair has a territory which virtually covers all the Barossa Valley and a little way beyond.
The ultimate environmentally friendly pest controllers, vineyard owners across the Valley always welcome the sight of these birds cruising over their crops keeping the grape stealing introduced species at bay.[i]
Peregrine Falcons are a powerful bird of prey, and although widespread throughout the world, they are not a common species. They are native to Australia but rare across all states. [ii]
North Para River
The North Para River begins in the Barossa Ranges and at a length of just over 80 kilometres flows north and then south-west through a varied landscape into the heart of the Barossa Valley, then winds down to merge with the South Para River in Gawler forming the Gawler River.
During dry summer months the North Para River stops flowing, resulting in isolated pools along the river. These pools provide an essential refuge for fish and other water dependent life in the dry phase.
The North Para River also provides an important natural corridor for wildlife through the Barossa Region. With only small, isolated patches of original native vegetation remaining due to clearing and grazing post-settlement, it is important to conserve and restore what is left.
In 2009, along with the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Natural Resource Management Board, St Hallett initiated a restoration project on the section of the North Para River which runs along the western boundary of the winery’s Ducks Flat Vineyard. The aim of the project being to restore native habitat, control the invasive woody weeds and release the remnant vegetation. [i]
Images: Heavy rains during 2010 and 2011 caused flooding of the North Para River on a number of occasions[ii]
Hitch Hiker of Jacob’s Creek – Ghost Story
Approximately four kilometres south of this signage site sits a creek steeped in Urban Legend. Jacob’s Creek has been the site of many mysterious sightings over the decades, which have captivated locals and visitors alike. The ghost stories surrounding the ‘Hitch Hiker of Jacob’s Creek’, also known as Steve, has documented sightings dating back to the 1950s.
Excerpt taken from True Barossa Ghosts, Valerie J. Laughton; 1991; ISBN 0 7223 2567-3
“Jacob’s Creek is on a section of scenic highway within the Barossa Valley. It is a pretty pace tourists admire when approaching Tanunda. However, during heavy rains that same creek becomes a raging torrent, which has claimed several lives.
According to independent reports there were happenings enough to declare the creek a haunting ground.
In July 1958 a motorist drove home fearfully, when his lights failed due to an electrical problem. With his wife’s assistance a torch was shone directly through the windscreen to light up the road ahead, while warning motorists. In this way they travelled considerable distance to locate a garage to help them. The beam scanned out into misty rain, and slowly fog closed in.
Rounding a corner the couple viewed a figure waving for them to stop.
‘Want a ride? ‘ Alan Nagle leaned out of the window to inquire.
‘You picked a lousy night to be out – like us!’
His wife Elizabeth pulled at his sleeve whispering, ‘Be careful! You don’t know who that man is – or what he’s doing here. There doesn’t seem to be houses around?’
Alan laughed good naturedly, when the young man came up to apologise.
‘It’s kind of you to stop for a comparative strange, I’ve been walking in the rain for ages, and I’m sopping wet. No one was game enough to give me a lift, nut I’m a harmless Uni student! Is it all right to get in the back seat like this?’ He shook the excess water from his clothes, and pressed his jacket smooth; while a pleasant smile showed boyish features.
‘Hop in!’ Alan responded. “We’re lucky to have torchlight, while the batteries last. You’re not the only one in trouble. My car lights won’t work, and I’m in danger on this foggy road.’
As the fellow opened the door to enter; the vehicle’s lights came on, to light up the road ahead.
‘Must have been a short?’ Alan scratched his head. ‘Funny, I’ve never had trouble like it before. My car’s not that old! At least we’re back in business?’
‘I’m Steve’ came a clear voice from the back. ‘I’m anxious to return home, but you are the first people to take pity on a hiker.’
Elizabeth had been sitting quietly, and felt guilty at her previous premonition.
‘Where does your family live?’ she enquired in a friendly manner.
There was no reply.
Liz turned, and the seat behind her appeared to be empty of a passenger.
Alan Nagle pulled the car over to the side of the road, then the couple stared behind them in disbelief. The interior light showed the car to be empty.
The seat proved to be wet with muddy water, as it the young man’s clothes had been very dirty, but a strong smell of river weeds was noticeable inside the car for many months afterwards.” [i]
* * *
“Once more Steve returned in 1961. Three years later, but also during the month of July. The hitch hiker carried a pack on his back, and waved frantically to a car from guard rails at Jacob’s Creek.
Jason Wright, and his mate Tom were leaving the Barossa Valley to find work further afield. It was right on dusk that Steve climbed aboard to join them in a ride, this time towards Adelaide.
The fellows introduced each other, and Steve laughed over his odd guise.
‘I was leaning back against the rail, and it broke, and I fell into the stinking creek!’
Laughing uproariously over such a dangerous situation, as young men will do; Jason stopped the car, and pulled his towel from the luggage.
‘You look like a drowned rat old son. Take this to rub yourself down before you catch pneumonia.’
Tom removed a blanket out of his haversack, saying between chuckles, ‘Have a loan of this Steve. You smell like a chook house!’
Steve seemed grateful, and commenced to rub himself whilst making a shivery response.
‘Heck, it was freezing. If you blokes hadn’t come along I’d have turned purple eh?’
Their conversation gradually turned to work.
‘Want to come with us, and find a decent job?’ Jason asked. Steve quickly answered how he as at University doing studies. His voice trailed off quieter, suddenly adding, ‘I’m in a hurry to get back home. Mum will be missing me after all this time away’.
The two in the front seat took over further speech for some minutes, as they drove to the edge of Steve’s forbidden territory. The talk consisted of past bosses who worked them hard, and paid little.
It was a shock for Tom and Jason to realise Steve had disappeared. He did not fall out on the road; although Jason turned the vehicle around; searing back to find their friendly comrade.
Steve had taken Tom’s blanket, which was wrapped around him, but the wet foul-smelling towel lay upon the seat, with the mark from a muddy haversack alongside.
No one would believe the young men’s story; although Tom and Jason swear it was the truth to this day in their 48th years, yet people laugh at their earnest faces, to ask how much they drank that particular time.” [ii]
* * *
“Minna Le Brun returned to Tanunda with her father Les. They had visited Adelaide to purchase a reliable caravan, ready for the family’s coming holiday. Mrs Le Brun stayed at home that day, because of the cold weather.
The year they deducted to be 1967, after a lengthy discussion on when they made their journey to Western Australia.
It happened that Les grew seriously ill whilst driving his utility, which pulled the new van. By the time they reached Jacob’s Creek, Les almost doubled up with pain, and Minna, then only sixteen went around to the driver’s side, to take over at the wheel.
At the moment Steve turned up dripping wet; with his same tale told to others, about falling in the creek.
Minna located two blankets. One for her father, and the other to wrap around Steve. The three sat up in the utility, as Minna carefully drove the unit along the highway in a darkening Barossa Valley.
Mister Le Brun recalls Steve suddenly placing his hand to the back of his neck, and pinching the skin firmly.
‘You’ll be all right sir!’ the hitch-hiker said confidently.
The pain seemed to move upwards out of his stomach, further up the pain went, and it moved right out at te back of Mister Le Brun’s neck; where Steve placed his hand.
Then Steve simply vanished.
Both father and daughter swear there was river water over the seat, and over the floor of their utility. These people declare they met a ghostly miracle worker, who saved Mister Le Brun from dying. The river water was unexplainable until the three persons heard about Steve meeting other motorists.” [iii]
* * *
“There were matching stories of Steve, which correspond to this strange hitch-hiker of Jacob’s Creek. Always Steve wants a ride back home, in either direction, but never seems to travel far before he is whisked away from friends. The murky depths seem to call a supernatural being back, to become a prisoner in his drowning world.
I would be interested to meet anyone who has further reports to add. The jigsaw puzzle is far from complete.
Many might feel achamed or afraid to tell of their encounter with Steve. However, I wonder does he only back now and again, or is it a regular visitation during the month of July?
If Steve could tell someone where his body lies; there might be a chance to exorcize and put to rest this haunted soul, through adjurations of a wholesome nature.
Until this form of relief is tended, you might also find an unwelcome person dripping water in your newly-carpeted car.”[iv]
[ii] Aeuckens Bishop et al, 1988, Vineyard of the Empire; Muchenberg et al, 1992, The Barossa a Vision Realised; http://www.southaustralianhistory.com.au/hallett.htm;
[iii] content provided by Chris Steeles
Further details provided by St Halletts Winery
[v] Images provided by Chris Steeles Photography
[vi] Content provided by St Hallett Wines
[vii] Image provided by St Hallett Wines
[viii] True Barossa Ghosts, Valerie J. Laughton; 1991; ISBN 0 7223 2567-3
[ix] True Barossa Ghosts, Valerie J. Laughton; 1991; ISBN 0 7223 2567-3
[x] True Barossa Ghosts, Valerie J. Laughton; 1991; ISBN 0 7223 2567-3[xi] True Barossa Ghosts, Valerie J. Laughton; 1991; ISBN 0 7223 2567-3