The property of Mt. Bera was founded around 1851 when Frederick Hannaford and his brother John purhased it. Mt. Bera was named after a place in Devonshire, England.
The first dwelling at Mt. Bera was ‘a rough slab hut of most breezy construction, and possessing one rather outstanding characteristic, for in the centre of the kitchen could be dipped from a hole in the floor all the water required for culinary purposes’.
Mt. Bera homestead is surely a monument to the vision, ingenuity and tenacity of Frederick Hannaford. A lesser man would have been daunted by the prospect of building his home on such a commanding site or perhaps chosen a more accessible one. Steam was installed and used for cutting red gum and stringy bark used for flooring, rafters and outbuildings, still in perfect condition. Stone was quarried on the property, lime burned and as the track was too steep for any kind of vehicle, pack horses were used to bring the sand from the Torrens below for use in the mortar.
The household water was first lifted from an hydraulic ram from an nearby spring. A dam was constructed and a water wheel installed. This was one of the first overshot water wheels in South Australia.
Previous to Frederick’s return to Mt. Bera a man named Sambells laid the foundation of one of the state’s first commercial orchards. He was paid one shilling for every tree he planted or grafted. Frederick grew wheat on the hilly slopes using bullock teams for the purpose; harvesting was done by means of a sickle.
Reference: Rhonda Hannaford – ‘Susannah Hannaford and Her Family (1998)