The Nairne community in the Adelaide Hills is working to retain a piece of history; a street sign at the exact halfway point between Murray Bridge and Adelaide along the Old Princes Highway.
Local resident Chris Farrington took the photo featured in this article of Michael Gladigau and Rory Liebelt when he spotted them taking the old sign down.
He spoke to them to ask what was happening as he was concerned it may be thrown out and the history lost forever.
“I used to travel that road in the early 1970s, fifty years ago, and at times I’d stop at that service station, get a can of coke and a pie, so to see part of history maybe disappearing was a concern for me. It’s a lovely historic town, Nairne,” Farrington said.
The men, who are volunteers and members of the Nairne & District Residents Association, assured him the sign would be salvaged but the decision to resurrect it would be made by the local history group and the townspeople.
The old service station on the Old Princes Highway is undergoing a major change this year, with the old building making way for a new one. This has led to the removal of the old sign.
After posting about it on the local Nairne Community chat page on Facebook, Farrington had a huge reaction with hundreds of people expressing enthusiasm about seeing the sign preserved.
Kimberley Franklin, President of the Nairne & District Residents Association, said members had gotten in touch with the people working on the site and arranged for Gladigau and Liebelt to take possession of it and take it to the Museum at the Nairne Institute for safe-keeping.
She says she would love to hear from community members about the next steps.
“We’ve had some suggestions already from keeping it inside the museum or in the local pub or even putting it in a perspex box so it can be seen but preserved,” Franklin said.
Back before the freeway was built, the old Princes Highway was the main road that led east from Adelaide.
Franklin said Nairne was a hub of activity, and a great place to stop if you were on a road trip.
“The town had car dealerships and service stations, an active police station, and places where travellers could stop to grab a meal or a snack,” Franklin said.
“It just so happened that Nairne was exactly halfway between Adelaide and Murray Bridge. 42km in each direction along the old roads. The sign which has stood for many years in the main street proudly let everyone know all about it. It’s long been a favourite of locals and visitors, and it’s one of the most photographed points in Nairne. Before this sign was installed, an earlier one announced that the distance was 26 miles in each direction.
“With progress things have changed. The freeway is now the main road east. The police station and car dealerships have gone. But we still have some great cafes, and Nairne is still a great town to visit.”
Hear more from Chris Farrington speaking with ARN journalist Jennie Lenman about the sign in the audio play window below:
Hear more from Kimberley Franklin, President of the Nairne & District Residents Association in the audio play window below: