Willunga racing driver, Jim Goldfinch, in a black-and-white 1959 photo driving a white racing car with the number 9 on it in front of crowds of spectators.

Published on 26 April 2024

Powerful stories

There’s the record-breaking race car driver, a well-known woman preacher, a decorated war hero – oh, and that winemaker who dreamt of building a medieval catapult to hurl watermelons at neighbouring wineries.

Those are just some of the characters you can learn about at an historical tour in Onkaparinga during South Australia’s History Festival (1–31 May).

A faithful flock: the Strout and Bethany Methodists is a free tour taking place in McLaren Vale between 10am and 12pm on Tuesday and Wednesday 14 and 15 May, taking participants to the Strout Place Cemetery and the former Bethany Chapel and its graveyard, now home to Samson Tall Wines.

The Strout Place and Bethany chapels grew among the early Methodist communities of the McLaren Vale area, with worshippers gathering there for more than a century. Though small, the remnants of their settlements are rich and history, and you’ll hear their stories from Onkaparinga Libraries’ local history team.

Register your free spot via Eventbrite but be quick – spots are filling up fast.

The tour is just one of several events happening in the City of Onkaparinga during South Australia’s annual state-wide festival exploring the state’s history.

At the Aldinga Washpool, you can join Naomi and Maureen, First Nations “Caretakers of our Mother Earth”, for an empowering and enriching morning sharing in storytelling, creative expression and Traditional Knowledge, with the guided walk taking place on Saturday 11 May (tickets $10).

At Woodcroft Community Centre, a free photography exhibition will be on display for the month of May, with the historical photos exploring the power of people and the local community. Bookings aren’t required for this celebration of resilience, unity and the unique identify of the neighbourhood.

At Seaford Library, you can enjoy a free talk from enthusiast Neil Gale on Thursday 23 May about the history of the Willunga Railway Line, including notable accidents, unusual activities and how the line supported the commerce and livelihoods of the local communities. Book your free spot online – few tickets remain.

In Morphett Vale (States Road, between Richards Rive and Wheatsheaf Road) and Moana (Esplanade North, between Robertson Road and Third Avenue), keep an eye out for a range of portrait photographs aligning with the South Australia’s History Festival 2024 theme of ‘power’.

Presented in partnership between the festival and SA Power Networks, the project features 100 “Portraits of Power”. The portraits also offer unique and individual perspectives on power from 100 South Australians in this free outdoor exhibition across selected Stobie poles throughout the state to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Stobie pole. Onkaparinga is one of the selected participating council areas where you can see some of the works.

Finally, two other Onkaparinga events for the history festival have now sold out – historic walking tours of Old Reynella and Coromandel Valley.

Be quick if you want to reserve your place for one of the above events before tickets sell out!


Willunga race car driver, Jim Goldfinch, in 1959. Learn more about Jim - and a range of other local characters - at the the free McLaren Vale tour, A faithful flock: the Strout and Bethany Methodists, on 14 or 15 May.