A favourite rest stop for a lot of travellers driving from Adelaide to Melbourne is the park in Bordertown with a tranquil creek flowing through and a terrific bakery to visit. Just a short detour off the main Dukes Highway takes you to this pleasant little oasis where you can stretch the legs, have a toilet break, then refuel on something tasty while taking in the peaceful outdoor surroundings.
If you are a regular traveller along this highway you are probably familiar with this park, known as Tolmer Park, but maybe not the history of it. In the mid-1800s it was a paddock for police horses and the site of a camp used during gold escort trips organised by South Australia’s first Police Commissioner, Alexander Tolmer. He was the instigator to providing gold escorts from the Victorian Goldfields to Adelaide in these gold rush days. This provided a safe way to get the gold to South Australia and away from the hands of bushrangers and at the same time saved South Australia from the brink of bankruptcy, due to losing a lot of men to working in the goldfields in Victoria. A total of 18 escorts were conducted between February 1852 and December 1853, all of it arriving safely to South Australia. (The historic photo and Tolmer Highway map are courtesy of the book “Colonial Blue, A history of the South Australian Police Force 1836-1916” by Robert Clyne).
Today this spot is a peaceful park full of old red gums, and lawns that edge the Tatiara Creek. There are good outdoor tables and benches to use while you take a break here and somewhere to let the children run free for a while. The prison barred toilet block were once the police cells and give a little insight into the area’s history.
Next to the park is the Morning Loaf Bakery which is always busy and their food attests to why. It pays to spend a bit of time inside the bakery as there is more to it than first appears. It was actually built around the old police station (which then became a police residence) which stands inside and you can see photos scrolling on a screen in the café that show how the building came about.
There is also a huge amount of interesting antique paraphernalia to look at in every corner of the building and a really attractive gift shop attached to browse in and buy.
So many interesting pockets of history in Australia.