By Georgina Connery
South Australia is associated with being the largest state contributor of wine to the national economy. With tens-of-thousands of hectares under vine, the state holds 48% of Australia’s vineyards.
Countless barrels of wine are produced here, however the small South Australian township of Snowtown has it’s own distinctively macabre reputation for the use of barrels – one it is trying its hardest to kill off.
In 1999 the remains of eight dismembered bodies were found in barrels of acid inside a discharged bank on the main street. This serial murder was widely reported and has become infamously known as one of the most gruesome serial killings in Australia’s history.
15 years on, Snowtown is tarred with the “bodies in barrels” story, and since the release of the 2011 crime horror film of the same name the town has been vividly associated with an image of crime and horror.
As murmurings of re-branding the town grow louder it raises the question of whether the grisly image of Snowtown can really be buried.
Snowtown will soon be home to a large scale wind farm worth over $700 million dollars, but will this attempt to be viewed as a green energy hub really blow over?
Mrs Rosemary Josephs is an antique store owner and retailer of murder memorabilia. One of her top sellers is a fridge magnet with limbs hanging over the top of a barrel and others carrying the caption “Snowtown SA – you’ll have a barrel of laughs”.
Ms Jospehs told ABC Online that visitors to the town buy into the macabre and visit to experience the eerie history of the town. She believes there is merit in cashing in on the high-profile murder history of the town and the tourism dollars that come with it.
But have we tired of the tale? Or have locals tired of the outside fascination with its dark history?
Although intrigue has been whipped up about the ability of this small rural town to overcome its horrific past, it seems to me the realities lie in that murder-spook tourism dollars only stretch so far.
200 local jobs have been created in the town of just over 2000 people to support the build for the wind farm. The characterisation of this town as plagued with unemployment and criminality are no longer true.
Many might say a local Snowtown resident would give their right arm for others to see what is happening in their town, rather than what did.