Nairne is a picturesque town in the Adelaide Hills, a few kilometres north of Mount Barker on the Princes Highway between Littlehampton and Kanmantoo. The town was one of the first settlements in the hills and there are a significant number of heritage buildings.
Several cafes, restaurants and two historic character pubs in the main street offer a choice of dining and snacks. Nairne has a number of interesting and diverse shops that stock that “special something”. As well there is a supermarket and other businesses. It is a short drive to Mount Barker Summit – continue along the main street and turn off at the signpost.
The town was founded In 1839, by Matthew Smillie, a Scottish lawyer. who purchased 4000 acres of land jin the district. It was just three years after South Australia’s beginnings., He built his homestead, set aside land for a village and invited settlers to take up tenant farming. He named the village “Nairne” – his wife’s maiden name.
The town prospered with wheat and John Dunn built the landmark Albert Mill, one of 10 steam driven mills he established around the state. The copper mines at Kanmantoo and Callington also played a part in boosting Nairne's economy when the miners came to town.
The Chapmans Smallgoods Factory,.started production in Nairne in 1899 and provided employment for the town for over 100 years until it relocated in 2002.
On the road to Mount Barker there is a monument to William Amos Howard who is credited with discovering a species of subterranean clover growing in the area. He promotied and supplied it to improve pastures in South Australia.
Each year “Settlers Day” is celebrated with a step back into Nairne’s past with great fun for all.
An Historical Walking Tour brochure that takes in sites of interest is available from businesses locally.