The Barossa Valley derives its name from the Barossa Ranges, which were named by Colonel William Light in 1837. Light chose the name in memory of the British victory over the French in the Battle of Barrosa, in which he fought in 1811. The name “Barossa” was registered in error, due to a clerical error in transcribing the name “Barrosa”. The area is approximately 13 by 14 kilometres (8.1 by 8.7 mi).
The three major towns of the Barossa all have distinctive personalities. Tanunda is generally recognised as the most German of the three with long-standing traditions dating back to the 1840s when the first Germansettlers arrived in the area. Because many of them came from Prussian Silesia, they called the Barossa Neu-Schlesien, or “New Silesia“. The German influence survives to this day (see Barossa German). Angaston, in contrast, is considered the English town as it was settled predominantly by Cornish miners and others from Britain. The third (and largest) town, Nuriootpa, was influenced by both the German and British settlers, and today is the commercial hub of the Barossa where most of the larger stores are located. Tanunda and Angaston are considered ‘tourist towns’ in comparison to Nuriootpa because they have many more facilities to cater for tourists.
In February 2011, South Australian Premier Mike Rann announced that special legislation would be introduced to protect the unique heritage of the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Premier Rann said: “Barossa and McLaren Vale food and wine are key icons of South Australia. We must never allow the Barossa or McLaren Vale to become suburbs of Adelaide.” The Character Preservation (Barossa Valley) Act 2012 was subsequently passed by the South Australian Parliament.
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