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"Dear National Trust members of the Auburn, Burra and Clare branches

As you know the State Government has embarked on a plan to remove protections for Martindale Hall to facilitate its transfer to private operators, against the intention of the gift of the Hall to the people of South Australia."

"The National Trust is opposing legislation put forward by the Government to achieve this end.

I attach our recent news release for your information and our petition to Parliament.


Dr Darren Peacock, Chief Executive Officer, National Trust of South Australia
Beaumont House, 631 Glynburn Road Beaumont  SA  5066

Phone: 08 8202 9214 Mobile: 0409 494 014

What’s the future hold for historic Martindale Hall? Tensions flare between National Trust and state government

It’s one of SA’s grandest country manors but a brawl is brewing over its future. Could it become a $10m history-themed tourist attraction like Sovereign Hill?

The Advertiser: Jason Katsaras  July 13, 2021 - 6:27PM The Barossa, Clare & Gawler News


A historic South Australian mansion would become a $10m Sovereign Hill-style tourist attraction under a proposal from the National Trust.

Martindale Hall is currently run by local couple Mike and Sharon Morris but its future management is the subject of dispute between the National Trust and the state government.

Both bodies want to see the Mintaro site activated, but have different ideas about what the future of the 141-year-old Georgian mansion would look like.

Martindale Hall was built in 1880 by Edmund Bowman – but the National Trust sees its future as a history-themed tourist attraction. Picture: Tom Huntley

At a meeting on Monday night at Mintaro, National Trust of South Australia chief executive Darren Peacock said the Martindale Hall (Management and Protection) Bill, which is currently before parliament, would allow for development on the site and could see it privatised.

  • Previously there have been community fears the site would be turned into a private club, spa or hotel, making it unavailable to the public.

  • Mr Peacock unveiled a $10m plan that would see the National Trust build a Sovereign Hill-style visitor experience, complete with horse-drawn carts, period dress and immersive experiences.

  • “This proposal would be something like a seventh of the size of Sovereign Hill, but the government have been dismissive of our ideas for years, it’s been a closed shop,” he said.

  • “(The bill) is trying to remove the impediments to privatisation – a 99-year lease is effectively private ownership.

“The idea that this legislation has to pass for any change to occur is nonsense. We’re starting a petition for an endowment fund, new legislation to ensure the hall is available to the public forever, and to let the parliament approve a masterplan.”

Read more at the Advertiser

Battle continues over "beautiful but dull" Martindale Hall

On ABC Radio Mornings with David Bevan (14 July 2021)

ABC Dave Bevan 'Beautiful but dull'.png

Picnic At Hanging Rock's Martindale Hall dubbed "beautiful but dull"

(Download discussion 3.41 MB)

Martindale Hall garnered international attention when it featured in Peter Weir's adaptation of Picnic At Hanging Rock.

The historic mansion has been a consistent tourism drawcard for the Clare Valley region, however both the South Australian government and the National Trust agree it's under-utilised.

However they remain strongly at odds over the best way to activate the 141-year-old building.

Environment Minister David Spiers and National Trust of SA chief executive Darren Peacock told David Bevan their competing visions for the Hall...
Click the links above to hear the latest discussion...

and to discover the role of Attorney General Vickie Chapman

1. So-called Martindale Protection Act is Bill to privatise by Stealth

"The government have had control of Martindale for over 20 years
and have spent all its funds, and have never done anything there."

Read the whole Martindale Protection Act recently passed by SA Govt.

UPDATED: South Australia’s National Trust is “stunned” by a State Government decision to “evict” it from historic Ayers House with a month’s notice, shortly before announcing the property was getting a $6m upgrade and would become the new home of the government-funded History Trust.


National Trust SA CEO Dr Darren Peacock told InDaily that the not-for-profit organisation learned of its “eviction notice” yesterday, just hours before Environment Minister David Speirs announced that the History Trust would move into Ayers House from its existing base at the Torrens Parade Ground.

The move will coincide with a $6.6 million government-funded makeover of the heritage-listed manor, which was built in 1846.

The National Trust has been the caretaker of Ayers House since 1972, after the building was transformed from a nurses’ quarters into a public museum, restaurant and function centre.

The Government has given the National Trust, which operates the museum, 31 days to pack up what Peacock said were “thousands and thousands” of pieces before the History Trust of SA moves into Ayers House in mid-2022.

“I’m quite stunned,” Peacock said.

“It’s quite extraordinary that the National Trust would be given a 30-day eviction notice after 50 years of dedicated service to the people of South Australia as (former Premier) Don Dunstan asked us to do in 1972.

“We’ve been doing that faithfully since then with no government funding and now the Minister seems to have decided to kick us out.”

Speirs told InDaily that the Government was not evicting the National Trust, rather its one-month reoccurring lease had come to an end.

He said he made the Trust aware about six months ago that the Government “wanted to look at the future of Ayers House”.

He said two months ago, he “made it clear” that he would not renew the lease for another month.

The Minister said the Trust would be given “several months” to vacate Ayers House, despite the termination of lease letter citing only 31 days.

“The idea that this is some sort of bolt from the blue is really not the case,” he said.

In a letter to National Trust SA president Deborah Morgan yesterday, seen by InDaily, Speirs wrote that he had asked his department to “formalise the matter of the National Trust’s departure from Ayers House to ensure that you have certainty and clarity going forward”.

“I remain committed to supporting the National Trust to ensure a smooth transition from Ayers House and I encourage you to continue to have proactive dialogue with government,” he wrote.

“I believe we can do some great things together at various heritage sites across the state.”


But in her reply to Speirs, Morgan wrote that the notice came as a “great shock to our organisation after more than 50 years at Ayers House”.

She wrote that the notice did not reflect her understanding of the government’s intention to keep Ayers House in the stewardship of the National Trust.

This sounds to me like the Minister’s prioritising a government History Trust, which is of course never going to publicly criticise them

Prior to the 2018 state election, the Liberal Party promised to provide $500,000 to the National Trust to develop and implement a masterplan for the building.


Read more:

  1. Ayers warfare: National Trust takes government to court over eviction - SA Weekend

  2. Full Story: SA Govt boots National Trust from Ayers House, moves Govt tenant in at

  3. Battle rages over the future of the Clare Valley's famous Martindale Hall

On ABC 891 Breakfast with Ali Clarke (radio broadcast recording, Darren Peacock vs Speirs)

  4. Ayers House to get $6.6m makeover, History Trust moving in - The Advertiser

(Elizabeth Henson less than 2 min read) June 10, 2021

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