Balhannah is a town in the Adelaide Hills about 30 km southeast of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. It was established in 1839 as a farming community. The fruit cold store built in 1914 was one of the first in Australia and is still in use. It is on the main interstate railway between Adelaide and Melbourne. In the past it was the junction for a branch line that ran up the Onkaparinga Valley and beyond to Birdwood and Mount Pleasant.
From its start in 1839, Balhannah was an important centre for the Valley country. It possessed a butter and cheese factory by the mid-1890s and by the start of World War I it had one of Australia’s first fruit cold stores, which is still operational.Balhannah didn’t make a fuss about such things, though – it just quietly went about its productive life.
A boost in 1883 was the arrival of the railway. Being thus connected with Adelaide provided a bonus which gave it an edge over the other valley townships. The station structures remain relatively unaltered.
Its dairy factory closed in the 1920s – the house built for the complex is now privately occupied, while the adjacent factory buildings serve as a garage.
Of much earlier origin, though extended over the years, is the Golden Cross Hotel of 1850, which was the town’s second hotel. The Anglican church of St Thomas, dating from the 1860s, occupies an attractive setting.
The Balhannah Co-operative Society’s cold store started in 1914 at the hands of nurseryman H N Wicks and August Filsell. The original store built of wood and insulated with sawdust, was powered by a gas producer, a system better remembered as a World War II alternative fuel for motor vehicles.