Lobethal is a town in the Adelaide Hills area of South Australia. It is located in the Adelaide Hills Council local government area, and is nestled on the banks of a creek between the hills and up the sides of the valley. It used to have a large wool processing mill, but that has now closed. The mill buildings are now used by a number of cottage industry and handcraft businesses.
Lobethal is German for “valley of praise”. On the day of the division of the land, according to Reverend I. Ey’s account, ‘it received the name Lobethal, taken from the II Book of Chronicles, chapter 20, verse 26 (EN) (DE), which, according to Luther’s translation, means Lobethal or ‘Valley of praise’.
Lobethal was settled in 1841 by Prussian immigrants, who came out with Pastor Gotthard Fritzsche aboard the sailing vessel Skjold, who initially went to Hahndorf but were alerted to good land in the upper Onkaparinga. Many of their traditions remain to this day, although the town is not as overtly Germanic as Hahndorf or Tanunda. In 1845, St John’s Lutheran Church was built, which is still in use and is now the oldest Lutheran church building in Australia.
The town, as with many German towns in South Australia, was built in typical Silesian Hufendorf style, with the cottages arranged in a line along the main street, and each family having a long, narrow strip of land (used for growing crops) stretching from the main street back to the village common, where all families could allow their animals to graze. The advantages of this layout were that everyone had access to both fresh water and the main road, and a relatively even distribution of fertile and infertile land. While the town developed out of recognition (the main street was Mill Road, now the western boundary of the town), elements of the hufendorf layout remain.
Lobethal is located between Gumeracha and Woodside along the north-south road, and east of Adelaide via Magill and Norton Summit. At the ABS 2001 census, Lobethal had a population of 1,653 people living in 707 dwellings, making it the largest town in the northern Adelaide Hills region. There are over 450 Lutherans in Lobethal, making it the dominant affiliation.