A new town with a new future

Forty years ago Mt Barker was a very different place.
There were days when the air across town was anything but pure, with the Jacobs smallgoods factory and livestock pens where the Adelaide Hills Homemaker Centre now stands, a cheese factory next door, a foundry near the recreation centre and tannery roughly on the site of the Mt Barker Central Shopping Centre.
Cows and sheep were a far more common sight than latte sippers, and every local would have known the importance to the district of subterranean clover.
The Mt Barker of 2015 is a world away from that agriculture-dominated 1970s country town.
While its rural heritage is a vital part of its identity, there are many newer residents who know little of that past and fewer who identify with it.
The Mt Barker Council’s old logo accurately reflects the Mt Barker of its time, but it does not represent the region’s current reality or future potential.
The extensive research shows that view of Mt Barker is outdated and irrelevant to the region it is today.
While its farming heritage and natural environment are still upheld as ideals, Mt Barker is becoming increasingly urbanised and moving towards new industries and opportunities.
Local agriculture has moved on to value-added premium products such as skincare by Jurlique and jams and sauces by Beerenberg, boutique beers and wines.
If it wants to continue to attract similar businesses and create jobs to meet the needs of its growing community, the region needs to stand out against dozens of other high-growth areas in SA and interstate competing for the investment dollar.
The new logo, above, is a positive first step in a large-scale branding push that will bring a new vision of Mt Barker to the fore.
It won’t please everyone – no public art does – but it is a lot better than the old logo and may play a role in changing current  negative perceptions about the town when backed by the strategic marketing push.