Before white settlement in Eden Valley the area was inhabited by the Peramangk people and evidence of this can still be found close to the present town. However the Peramangk had largely moved on by the time to town was established.
The Eden Valley township has its beginnings in the 1850s on land owned by William Lillecrapp, a wealthy Gumeracha farmer who had emigrated from England in 1837. In 1862 he sold land for £15 for the building of a church and school to a group of Prussian Lutherans who had left their homeland to avoid religious persecution. They had arrived in 1838, having received monetary assistance for the voyage from George Fife Angas, and English businessman who later bought large tracts of land in the Barossa and Flaxmans Valley
St Petri Church, Eden Valley Town
In 1864, two years after the church had been built, the rest of the land was surveyed and subdivided. It is believed the word ‘Eden’ was found carved into a tree and thus Eden Valley got its name. Within a few years the town had boasted a general store, a hotel, a blacksmith, two churches, two schools, a post office and a flour mill. The land sold quickly but shortly after this failures due to rust in the previously profitable wheat crops caused land prices to drop dramatically and it was many years before the town recovered and expanded.
The English and German settlers continued to farm the area. The large holdings were mostly owned by the English farmers who engaged in cropping, dairying and sheep grazing. The German families had small mixed farms, and introduced grape growing into the region. They brought with them many traditions and customs, some of which still survive.
Surrounded by rolling hills and stands of ancient red gums, Eden Valley is known as the ‘Garden of Grapes and Gums’.
Celebrating 150 years.
During the two world wars life became very difficult for the folk with German background. They were regarded with suspicion and even hostility although most of them had been born in Australia. Some changed their names to sound more English, and some place names were also changed.
The Lutheran School was forced to close in 1916 and the children then attended the public school which had been built in 1877 on a site adjacent to the hotel. Overcrowding meant that a new school was needed, so a school and headmasters residence were built on Matthews Road in 1918.
At its most prosperous Eden Valley had two general stores, two blacksmiths, a butcher shop, a butter factory, a bootmaker and visiting doctors