Spend a night in a Georgian-style mansion … perfect for the "host a murder" weekend away.
Mintaro was settled in 1849 as a resting place for bullockies and their beasts carting copper from Burra to Adelaide. It was a very desirable place as it had an abundance of feed and water. Unlike many towns, railway connections didn't mean the demise of Mintaro. Farming and the discovery of Australia's finest slate kept it going.
Slate has given the town a unique and charming appearance as it has been used in every possible way. Fencing, paving, tiles, floors, hearths, tables, benches, footpaths and of course, billiard tables.
An important part of the town is Martindale Hall, which was designed by British architect, Ebenezer Gregg and built in 1879. The project was supervised by a local architect with most tradesmen coming from England to ply their various crafts. Moulded and carved stonework is a reminder of their skills. Most furniture came by sea from England in the 1880s.
The Georgian-style mansion with its metre thick walls and five metre high ceilings was built for Edmund Bowman and stands on a gentle rise commanding wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. The wealthy bachelor had a private training track and stable, a pack of foxhounds and loved to entertain visiting English cricket teams.
The last owner was John Mortlock, a wealthy grazier passionate about reading and travelling. He died without heirs and bequeathed the property to the South Australian people.
During the day Martindale Hall is a museum with around 25,000 visitors each year. It is believed that they keep the building alive and interesting.
At night, it becomes grand accommodation with the elegance of silver service dining with butler and maid service. Up to 16 guests can stay, and their first impressions of our colonial past are from a kilometre long driveway.
The black and white marble entrance hall was where guests had their coats and hats taken by uniformed staff. This leads to the vast main hall where you are faced with a most impressive carved, T-shaped staircase.
To the left is the drawing room where guests were and still are welcomed with a refreshment suitable to the time of day. The oak panelled walls are lined with late Renaissance Venetian paintings.
The wonderful dining room is the focal point for Incident at Martindale Hall murder mystery nights, where guests dress up and act out roles and try to guess "whodunit". These nights are extremely popular and bookings need to be made well in advance.
After dinner, gentlemen used to congregate for cigars, Cognac and secret men's business in the Smoking Room. The room contains swords, daggers, guns, clubs, a very rare 16th century Samurai suit of armour and an eccentric and eclectic collection of primitive tribal art from Oceania. It was basically frozen in time at the death of JT Mortlock.
The old kitchen is now a guest breakfast room and the old pantry and scullery have been turned into a modern kitchen.
The Billiard Room and Library was also a male domain women were allowed to enter if they wanted to borrow a book. The long process of cataloguing over 2000 books has been completed.
An amazing seven rooms under the hall is the cellar complex. It has vaulted ceilings and, of course, slate floors.
There are six double bedrooms, one twin share and two singles, but management prefers to keep overnight visitors to around 10.
Even though the actual incident took place hundreds of kilometres away in Victoria, Martindale Hall was used as a location for the successful Australian film, Picnic at Hanging Rock.