Good Country: Mylor, an unruffled village

Some SA towns feel like Adelaide suburbs plonked into the country. Not Mylor.

There’s some irony in this, as Mylor was designed with park lands around it, just like Adelaide. Nevertheless, this Adelaide Hills village, although only 25 minutes from the ’burbs, has preserved an authentic country feel, community spirit and pristine natural environment.

Mylor, founded in 1891, has also preserved a strip of buildings from the 1890s on its main street, making it easy to picture the village of old. The Coopers sign painted on the façade of one building looks to be an old advert for the famous SA beer. But it’s actually the name of a rural and hardware supplies store. No, the sleepy village of Mylor isn’t sleepy from too many tipples, as the influence of Methodist early residents meant that Mylor was built without a pub. And there’s never been one in the village.

June Searle, who runs the Mylor General Store and the Stringybark Hills Retreat, believes that the absence of a pub licence gives Mylor its distinctly placid character. “Because it doesn’t have a pub, there’s not that yahoo behaviour. In the seven years I’ve been here, there’ve been only two instances of graffiti, and they both had the community in a flutter.”

Coopers at Mylor (Photo: Michael X Savvas)
Don’t let the Coopers name fool you, there’s no pub in town (Photo: Michael X Savvas)

Searle knows all the local kids by name. Many of these kids visit the General Store to buy a bag of mixed lollies – another flashback to a simpler time in Australia. This is also reflected in the safe feeling Mylor folk have. Says Searle, “It still has that small town or village feel about it. The kids can go to the park and ride their bikes. People look out for each other.”

That Mylor serenity has resonated with many diverse people. Apart from the early Methodists (who held their first church services under a gum tree), there’s now a Buddhist temple deep in the forest, along with a pagan event, The English Ale, where people burn the wicker man.

Mylor even attracted its most famous resident, George Goyder, the Surveyor- General famous for the Goyder Line (an estimate of the northernmost point of SA in which crop-growing could succeed). Goyder was also one of the chief planners of Darwin and was hugely influential in shaping many SA country towns. In 1864, Goyder sent a diagram and instructions to his surveyors about his ideal town. As a result, 144 out of 166 towns surveyed in Goyder’s time echo his instructions. One such place that closely conforms to Goyder’s ideal town location and layout is Mylor. Goyder moved to just outside Mylor in 1879 and l ived in a manor house he named ‘Warrakilla’. He would have had the immense satisfaction of living near a village that he’d largely planned and imagined into being.

Mylor General Store (Photo: Michael X Savvas)
Mylor General Store (Photo: Michael X Savvas)

From the 1930s to 1950s, Mylor was a very popular spot for holidaymakers from the city. Even Goyder’s former home became a guesthouse, adored by honeymooners. So, Searle’s Stringybark bed and breakfast continues a fine tradition of rural accommodation in Mylor. She explains what makes the area so appealing: “It’s very peaceful and there’s a great love of nature here. There’s that connectedness to the land.”

Indeed, the land in and around Mylor is lush and interesting in its own right. The forests and conservation parks in the region reveal copious ant hills and many koalas. Says Searle, “Koalas are actually quite fussy about what they eat, and they like certain leaves. They love the leaves of the local stringybark trees. And male koalas are territorial: they patrol an area about a kilometre square. We’ve seen two males scrapping on our driveway. The big male is known as Kevin the Horny Koala. They’re quite rabid in mating season.”

While the koalas jostle for supremacy and wrestle for intimacy, you may prefer to simply enjoy the splendid walking trails on offer. A nearby conservation park even allows you to explore a historic gold diggings site (Jupiter Creek). And although gold rushes in SA ended aeons ago, you’ll still encounter people searching for gold (with metal detectors) – just another way that the Mylor region displays remembrance of things past.

Mylor Conservation Park (Photo: Michael X Savvas)
Mylor Conservation Park (Photo: Michael X Savvas)

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