HISTORY OF STRATHALBYN
A Delightful and attractive town on the River Angas.
Located only 57 km south of Adelaide, Strathalbyn is one of the most attractive towns in South Australia. It is not surprising that it is a classified Heritage Town. Its appeal lies primarily in the way the centre of the town runs along the Angas River and is characterised by a large area of parkland, known as the Soldiers Memorial Gardens, which is ideal for walking and picnics. A feature of the park is the delightful Childrens Bridge which was completed in 1919.
Prior to European settlement the area around Strathalbyn was part of the larger Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal world. The Angas River district, at the southern end of the Mount Lofty Ranges, was settled in the late 1830s when Dr John Rankine from Ayrshire, one of a 105 Scottish immigrants who had arrived at Holdfast Bay near Adelaide, took up land which he called 'Fairfield'. Two years later William Rankine (Dr Rankine's brother) and Colonel James Dawson took up land in the district. This land would eventually become the site of the township.
The town, for a while called Strath Albyn comes from two Gaelic words - 'strath' meaning 'broad valley' and 'Albion' meaning 'hilly land'. Some sources suggest that 'Albion', which was also a term used to describe Great Britain, happened, rather unromantically, to be the name of a steel mill which Dr Rankine had a large shareholding in.
It is a compliment to the town's founders that they decided, once the town site had been chosen, to ensure that the banks of the river remain parkland thus creating the town's delightful centre.
The Corporation of Strathalbyn was founded in 1868. The following year a tramway was constructed between Goolwa and Strathalbyn. It was at the tramway terminus that the Terminus Hotel was built to provide refreshments for passengers. A railway from Adelaide arrived in 1884 and by 1889 the town had its own cheese factory.
Today Strathalbyn, apart from enjoying the benefits of tourism, is a rural service centre in an area dominated by mixed farming which ranges from vineyards at Langhorne Creek to cereal crops, cattle, sheep, orchards and alpacas.