The Tanunda Club is an iconic venue in the Barossa Valley because its history is a story of people, the spirit of community, and triumph over adversity.
A host of dedicated individuals have worked tirelessly over many years to ensure this proud club survives and prospers, because they have believed in the value of a community club to its members and to the locality it serves. The sustained contributions of these people – from all walks of life and from many backgrounds across the Barossa community – has created a fascinating past and a proud legacy for future generations.
Tanunda township – an early background
Tanunda was formed by people bound together by ties of religion, language and the determination to succeed. After arriving in the Barossa Valley in the early 1840’s, they settled the villages of Bethany and Langmeil and formed narrow, strip farmlets along the watercourses.
Within a few years, the two settlements had spread until their borders met at the town of ‘Tanunda proper’ and a new settlement began in what the settlers termed as a ‘blessed country’.
By the 1850′s, Tanunda was recognised as an important town.
Like any town of the period that was situated near fine agricultural land, it boasted a flour mill that was described to be ‘ceaseless in noise all day… and night’. Then there were hotels and three Lutheran chapels at which hymns were ‘harmoniously sung’. At the heart of this expanding area was an active community, full of future hope.
In 1869, the Tanunda Institute was launched and ten years later a grand building, now offices, was erected in Murray Street. Many of those who founded the Institute believed that the provision of both physical and intellectual recreation was important for the townspeople. They recognised that in order for their community to grow and prosper people also needed meeting places that would help foster a community spirit. At this time, the Institute was the focal point for those who cared about Tanunda, its society and amenities. While the community began to enjoy itself in new ways, the grape growing and wine industry that surrounded the town began to flourish. Initially, the rise and fall of grape prices created unstable conditions, but later the rise of grower-operated wineries helped to ease these fluctuations.
Prominent local Tanunda growers, including John Basedow made approaches to wealthy businessmen, G. F. Cleland and Sir Samuel Davenport, who responded by forming the massive Chateau Tanunda winery. Tanunda appeared to be on the verge of an exciting new era, where not only the society of the town but also its industry could expand.
In addition to his assistance in helping to establish wineries for Tanunda, John Basedow was to play an important role in the social and community development of the township. As a noted builder and a Justice of the Peace, he was respected for his strength of character. He was acutely aware of the needs of local people, and he was concerned that the delicate state of the local grape growing and wine producing activities should be encouraged to reach maturity.
John Basedow felt that the local people should know how good the quality of the product being produced by local vignerons was, by being readily able to access and drink the wines on social occasions. Basedow was not alone in these sentiments.
In the last months of 1891, there was a move to initiate discussion on how the local townspeople could best achieve convivial society as well as promote the products of the region.
The result of these discussions would be a surprise to many. The fact that Basedow’s proposed solution was to become an institution that would continue to serve the township for many generations to come was not even contemplated.
With acknowledgement to Rob Linn, author of ‘The Tanunda Club – A Centenary History’ released in 1991 and published by Historical Consultants Pty Ltd., for his extensive research on the Club’s early history and organisation.