Ring a ding ding – Tanunda SA

Ring a ding ding
Tanunda, Australia

Tanunda, Australia


How often do you find your life directed by bells and whistles? Take yesterday afternoon. We’ve opted for a quick look at the cathedral before we start home from the Adelaide oval. An old hand woven banner catches my attention. “The St Peter’s Bell Ringer Association.” Since the actual bell is only rung about once a week, I speculate what this auspicious group talks about at their monthly gatherings. “Remember that time in 1963 when old Clarence played dong ding instead of ding dong?” Peals of laughter all round (boom boom).

Then again this morning. It’s Saturday and the weak South Australian sun has not yet fully breasted the horizon. Ding! I shake Nanette awake. “Quick, there must be an emergency!” “Mmmpf. It’ll just be a text from one of the shops I looked at yesterday. Go back to sleep.” Sure, like that’s going to happen.

In due course the sun rises and one by one our travelling group emerges to face the day. We plan to head to the Barossa Valley today, but that definitely ain’t gonna happen until the kettle and coffee machine have worked their magic restorative powers.

Right. All done? Out of the apartment and call the lift. Ding dong – lift’s here. What do you mean you forgot your jacket? Hurry up! All aboard and off we go. Bing! Bong! “Ok, who’s undone their seatbelt?” Silence. “We know it’s you (unnamed person in the back seat).”Sorry, I just needed to …..

The trip is quite short but we still manage to sing our full repertoire of travelling songs as the dry dusty landscape rolls by. We’ve just completed a splendid rendition of Ten Green Bottles when we reach the famous Chateau Yaldara. Quick photo stop then on to the bakery at the nearby town of Lyndoch to replenish our failing energy levels. Ok, where now?

There are signs everywhere extolling the virtues of this or that winery. Our trip was more inspired by the need to say we’ve seen the iconic valley than to actually visit the wineries, so we opt for places we’ve heard of. There’s that place beside a Creek, and then the folding pen place, and of course, being of a certain age, we remember the “No wonder, no wonder” jingle. At last, we roll into the town of Tanunda. Friends A and D back in Toowoomba have recommended a visit to the local art gallery to see the pipe organ. Art gallery? Pipe organ?

Tanunda isn’t very big, so it’s a cinch to find the place. There’s a sign at the door that the volunteer who mans the gallery shop is away today, but please go inside. This doesn’t bode well! We walk through the little room festooned with about twenty paintings of grape vines done by local artists and their children. Then – we look through the next door. Yep, that’s a great big pipe organ sitting at the back of the rather typical looking country hall. There’s a little group of elderly organ enthusiasts listening to a younger guy. He has them enthralled with his talk about pipes and bellows. We are about to tactfully retreat when another local collars us. “Do you want to see the workings?”

What follows is an amazing revelation. The organ is in fact a refugee from Adelaide Town Hall and is the oldest concert pipe organ in Australia. A local wealthy benefactor won the right for the organ to be relocated to this unassuming little hall, where it occupies the stage, the basement and the high roof space. The guy on stage is telling the audience the organ has more than two thousand pipes. Ok, essentially, it’s just a big set of whistles bolted together. Then – he started to play ….

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