One of Australia’s oldest companies, Onkaparinga started in Hahndorf, South Australia in 1869 when two German brothers migrated to Australia, bringing machinery for a plant with them. Both weavers, Heinrich and Edward Kramm established themselves in a mud hut in Hahndorf.
Their original plant consisted of just one carding machine, one horse driven spinning mule of 30 spools and 2 hand looms.
The beginning was not so successful for the brothers and in 1873, Mr F.W Kelinschmidt bought the machinery and the brother’s expertise, and relocated to his disused brewery at its present location in Lobethal, situated on the banks of the western arm of the Onkaparinga River. The wool was washed by hand and dried in the sun then teased by hand.
Through the years, despite government contracts to supply 10,000 yards of cloth the new venture could not survive. A syndicate was formed and extensive upgrading and building programs were undertaken, in 1877 the Lobethal Woollen and Tweed Company was opened for business. Through severe drought in South Australia in 1878 and the trade depression, the temporary closure of the business was necessary. Operations in ‘Tweedvale’ as it was known, were shut down.
1883 saw the efforts of Mr. David Murphy come to fruition with a new company name ‘The South Australian Woollen Factory’ which was formed with US $20,000. More buildings were erected to house 16 new looms and under the management of Mr J.W McGregor, the business continued on to become one of Australia’s largest wool brokers. Thirty employees on a payroll expense of US $50 were off and running. This continued successfully into the next century.
The brand Onkaparinga was officially born in 1928 when the mill was renamed Onkaparinga Woollen Company.
Now over 150 years later the brand Onkaparinga, is known all over the world for its Australian wool products. Onkaparinga products today reflect the experience, passion and ingenuity of over a century’s tradition of providing luxurious home wares. Today Onkaparinga not only manufactures a superior Australian made collection from Australian wool but also imports luxurious ranges from around the world.