Thursday, October 24, 2013


We know someone whose first name is Onka. Whenever I hear his name I say "Paringa" because the Onkaparinga brand of woollen goods springs to mind.

This morning as we were going through our piles of linen to gather some for the Sydney bushfire appeal Mr Geniaus pulled out the Onkaparinga blankets I had as a child. My grandmother gave these to me around 1958 when I got a grownup bed and they kept me warm and cosy until I left home to be married. They moved with me and have been used on occasion for overnight guests.  When our first two children were born they were also bought a pair of Onkaparingas but in the vibrant colours of the seventies. By the time our last children were born doonas were in vogue so they didn't score a pair of blankets.

My blankets
My Onkaparinga Label
"Do you really need them?" said Mr Geniaus. I agreed that I didn't need them but insisted on taking a couple of photos before I said goodbye. These blankets are still thick and warm, hopefully they will keep another child warm for years to come.

We still use Mr Geniaus' childhood pair of Onkaparinga blankets on the beds in one of our spare rooms. These blankets were made to last.

I wondered about this traditional Australian brand so asked Mr Google about it.  I found that the mill closed in 1993 and that there is now an Onkaparinga Woollen Mill Museum in Lobethal, South Australia.

Onkaparinga Woollen Mill c 1900 from State Library of South Australia Collection
A search on Trove netted quite a few articles about the firm but I found the advertisements more interesting.
1952 'Advertising.', The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), 26 November, p. 38, viewed 24 October, 2013,
1948 'Advertising.', Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954), 6 July, p. 8, viewed 24 October, 2013,
1934 'Advertising.', The Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW : 1894 - 1939), 26 May, p. 9, viewed 24 October, 2013,

Onkaparinga didn't just make blankets, they manufactured picnic rugs (we still have one), dressing gowns (I remember my Dad in them) but I didn't know about the overcoats.

Do you have an Onkaparinga story?


Alona Tester said...

I know the Onkaparinga brand very well, as Lobethal is the neighbouring town to Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills. And you're right they were most certainly made to last. And to sound very cliche, modern blankets just "aren't made like the used to".

Crissouli said...

I also received Onkaparinga blankets for a wedding present and they are still going strong, some 44 years later. Our grandchildren love using the blankets when they come to stay, rather than the doonas they grew up with. They insist they are 'snugglier'.

My Dad still uses his set that he and Mum bought in 1961... can't complain about the value.

GeniAus said...

I'm sure there are many Onkaparingas in houses around Australia. Alona - have you visited the Museum?

Alona Tester said...

Sadly, no I haven't visited the Museum. One of those cases where you live so close you don't do it. But yes, I must!


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