Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: G is for Gumeracha

We’re up to G, and right from the beginning of the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge, I knew I wanted to write about my home town ‘Gumeracha’.


The tiny little country town of Gumeracha (pronounced Gum-e-rac-ka), is in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills was where I grew up. It was where I went to school, where I played sport, where I rode my bike to friends places, played in the creeks and the paddocks, and it was a town where everyone knew everyone.

Nowdays the world’s Biggest Rocking Horse is what brings people to the town, and while it is worth going to see if you get the chance, it is not what I want to talk about here. Rather, I want to go to write a little about the Randell’s, the history of the town and the connection between them.

It starts with William Beavis Randell, who is my great great grandpa. And just to be clear as there are several generations of William Beavis Randell’s, I’m talking about the one born in 1799 in Kenton, Devon, England. He together with his wife Mary Ann Bear, and their family emigrated from England to South Australia on the ‘Hartley’ arriving in 1837, and chose to settle in the picturesque hills of Gumeracha in 1839.

While there were some aborigines in the area, the Randell family were the first white people to settle there. Can you imagine what it would be like moving to an area the has no houses, no roads, no shops? That’s what it would have been like for the family. But obviously they loved the area, as the family stayed, and for that I’m very thankful.

W.B. Randell (as he was known) built his house “Kenton Park” (or should I say estate), which was in the Randell family until only a few years ago. In 1839 he donated land and money to build the Salem Baptist Church which is one of two churches in Gumeracha. And it is not only the oldest Baptist church that is still in use in South Australia, but also it was the church that my grandparents, parents and brother got married in.

You could say that W.B. Randell largely MADE the town of Gumeracha, and as a tribute to him and his family the many new streets that have been created due to subdivision, are named after the Randell’s: Ivan Drive, Ebenezer Place, Beavis Court, Salem Court, Kenton Terrace, Randell Terrace, Kenton Hill Road – there’s even a Kenton Creek that runs through the town.

So my connection to Gumeracha goes all the way back to it’s roots, and to my emigrating ancestors – which is why I’ll always feel a very strong bond to this tiny country town.

Here’s just a few wonderful old photos of the town from it’s history …

earliest known photo of Gumeracha

Gumeracha Hotel

Salem Baptist Church at Gumeracha

Gumeracha Post Office

Gumeracha Flour Mill, and later Butter Factory – also known as Randell’s Mill

Gumeracha Blacksmith Shop

Gumeracha Soldier’s Memorial Hospital

You can read more about the history of the town of Gumeracha on their Wikipedia page, or on the town’s own website, and you can follow the Historical Trail thanks to a wonderful map put by the Local History Centre. And if you are wanting to know ANYTHING about the history and people in not only this town, but the region, you must get in contact with the wonderful people at the Gumeracha & District History Centre.

13 Responses to “Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: G is for Gumeracha”

  1. How timely for me, Alona. Your Dad was telling me about Gumeracha at The Family History Fair last week but I didn’t get a history lesson. Thank you for telling me about your connection to your home town – no wonder you (and your Dad) have such strong feelings for the place.

    I’ll make sure I go for a drive there when I am next in Adelaide.

  2. Catherine says:

    Lovely photos Alona. The hospital used to be my favourite place to watch the Bay to Birdwood run… my youngest brother & sister-in-law live at “Kenton Valley” (Lee Road, turnoff). Amazing to think that the “Kenton” comes from your great great grandparent’s home in Devon, England. Thanks for sharing.

  3. karen says:

    I am so happy to find this blog, my family also come to Gumeracha/Kenton Valley. My gg grandparents William Crowhurst and Emily McAuley were married in the Kenton Valley Baptist Chapel in 1858. They lived in the town site of Gumeracha long enough to have 12 children. they eventually moved to Adelaide. My Dad, Aunt and I visited in 2010. I was generously given permission to take some photos of the Chapel, (now a private home). The History centre was a great find for me too, the people there were very helpfull.
    I live interstate so am dying to go back again to have another look around, now i know so much more.
    all the best K

    • Alona says:

      Hi Karen, thanks for stopping by, and I’m so glad you enjoyed my blog. Gumeracha is gorgeous, though I must say even now it wasn’t what it was 20 years ago, as a lot of the beautiful paddocks have been subdivided. But it is still a beautiful town – just busier.

      Anyway I do tend to blog about my family history (a lot of which relates to Gumeracha), and other genealogy stuff, so there’s likely to be more posts on Gumeracha in the future. But I’ve also just decided to start a Gumeracha & District History Facebook page (it’s not yet started, so stay tuned for that as I have lots of pics).

  4. My gr. gr grandfather John S Osborn ran the Robert Burns Inn at North Gumeracha for a short while in 1855/6. He emigrated with his wife Caroline from England on the Africa sailing ship, arriving initially in Melbourne and then on to Adelaide. His story is fascinating in that he was one of those who struck misfortune in Australia and never saw his children again, having left them in England. His full story including the voyage diary is filed in the Gumeracha History Centre titled “The Tragic Adventure”. I would love to get in touch with anyone who had links with him. Have a look at my web page to see what my ancestors got up to!

  5. carol96 says:

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  6. Peter shields says:

    My grandparents graham and barbara shields were the publicans of the Gumeracha hotel from 1976 to 1986,my mother and i also lived at the hotel with my grandparents. I went to the gumeracha primary school in the 80s when Bob brooksby was principal and then in 1984 my mother and i moved to kenton valley in 1987 i went to Birdwood high school. I still have very fond memories of Gumeracha to me it is my childhood, bike riding, exploreing, catching yabbies in the creek, sliding down the large grass hill (behind the football oval) on a sheet if tin and playing hide and seek on the big rocking horse. A place that is truly a tiny slice of paradise 🙂

    • Alona says:

      Hi Peter … thanks for your comments. You’re not wrong about Gum being a little piece of paradise. It was certainly a magical place to grow up, it was a place you could play and roam without any worries. And I reckon I was in the grade above you in Primary School. 😉

  7. cora1324 says:

    Good entry. The most impressive I’ve come across.

  8. Dennis Hiern says:

    Hi just a little bit from the hierns Hannah corner was named after Hannah Hiern who married mcturk Gibson who done readings at the inn so how it become Hannah’s corner regards Dennis hiern

  9. Hello Dear Alona,
    I grew up at “The Willows” on the Forreston Road.
    I made the biggest mistake of my life by leaving Australia in 1967 and never returned … until last month.
    I now live in California … but I was home recently … and so disappointed to see “The Willows” all split up and irreparably changed. It was hard to see.
    Everyone is correct … growing up in that small town was idyllic. An experience very few today can even begin to understand. What a pity that the town has changed so much ! I look forward to connecting with anyone who remembers the way we were.

  10. Vanessa Comley says:

    Hello Alona, I just came across this blog in my search for photos of our home – the Mill Cottages which are behind Randells Mill and across the Kenton Creek. We have lived here for 5 years and before that my partners parents lived here for about 20 years. We often have people drop in who have lived here in the past and we are constantly amazed by the stories they share. One man told us about the snell that used to waft down from Kenton Hill when they tipped out the waste dairy from the butter mill. Then a lady who was 90 years old told us how she was one of 12 children who lived here, and her Dad carved his initials in the stone at the end of the building (which we found to her joy). I have not yet been to the town hall to have a look at the books there but wondering if you have any early photos of the mill cottages.
    Our goal is to fully restore the cottages and turn them into B&B.
    Thanks for the blog – it is great to learn more of the history of Gumeracha.

    • Alona says:

      Hi Vanessa, firstly apologies for the delayed reply. I hadn’t been able to get into my blog. Anyway all good now. Great to have someone else who’s interested in Gumeracha’s history around. I also have a Gumeracha Past & Present Facebook page, though I have been a little quiet on the recently, but there’s a bunch of photos there. So feel free to follow and browse. And hopefully I’ll get more time to blog again soon.

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