family way

For a family that has achieved so much in so many different areas, the Hickinbothams have maintained a remarkably low profile.

"We have always tried to live and work by a strong set of values - the principles of service and excellence have been the backbone of everything we do", said Chairman and Founder, Alan David Hickinbotham.

The seed for the building company was sown when Alan David and his late father Alan Robb Hickinbotham bought a block of land in Linden Park. They built a house on the block to cater to the post war demands which was quickly sold. This first Hickinbotham home still stands today and is in immaculate condition. Since father and son formed their company in 1954 the Hickinbotham group has built more than 20,000 homes and developed over 50 community estates.

Hickinbotham's awareness for the need to improve building and development methods, protect the environment and preserve the precious resource of water has seen them introduce many radical innovations to their community estates. It was the first developer to put telephone and power lines underground and have restrictive covenants on the felling of trees. Hickinbotham's Athelstone estate was the first estate ever to win a Civic Trust award. The concept of storing run-off stormwater into the aquifer for later re-use was pioneered by Hickinbotham in partnership with the CSIRO, being put into practice at the company's Andrews Farm estate. This project set a precedent for the rest of Australia and from it the national standards were developed.

Another Hickinbotham water project was the Renmark Water Reclamation Plant, a state-of-the-art facility to purify and filter Renmark's wastewater so that it can be re-used for irrigation rather than polluting the River Murray.

Hickinbotham was instrumental in bringing into being Australia's first joint ecumenical Anglican/Catholic school at Andrews Farm, St Columba College. It was one of the first of its kind in the world. Another innovative school project was Woodend Primary. When the cash-strapped government of the day was unable to provide a much needed primary school for the people living on the Woodend Estate, Hickinbotham built one and leased it back to the government creating the first privately owned public school.

While most South Australians would associate the name Hickinbotham with the building industry, it might come as a surprise to learn that the Hickinbotham family has been involved in the wine industry much longer than they have been in housing; seventy years in fact. In 1936 Alan Robb Hickinbotham helped establish the nation's first winemaking course at Roseworthy College, now part of the University of Adelaide and a world leader. He went on to become a wine consultant and wine writer of note. Two of Alan Robb's sons, Alan David and Ian, continued with their father's passion for wine. Ian established a winery in Victoria. That branch of the Hickinbotham family is now famous for their bag-in-the-box invention and the Cab Mac (carbonic maceration) process that produces a light, early drinking red wine. Alan David's interests stayed in South Australia. He established his first vineyard at Clarendon in Adelaide's foothills in 1970. Today, Hickinbotham Wines owns three vineyards in South Australia, making it one of the largest family vignerons in Australia. These vineyards are producing internationally awarded premium wines. The Clarendon vineyard, arguably one of the most beautiful in Australia, supplies fruit for such icon wines as Grange and Eileen Hardy, while their own labels, Clarendon and Paringa, have wine critics raving. In 2002 Paringa was voted best value wine in the world by NewsWeek and one of the best 100 wines in the world by The Wine Spectator. Like their houses, Hickinbotham's wines are known for their excellence and value for money.

To commemorate the contribution Alan Robb Hickinbotham and Ian's late son, Stephen Hickinbotham, made to the Australian wine industry, the family helped fund the establishment of the Hickinbotham Roseworthy Wine Science Laboratory at the Waite campus of the University of Adelaide.

There is also a very long family association with football dating back to the late 1800s, starting with David Hickinbotham ('Old Dave') who played for Geelong. He was one of the legends of the game, winning a premiership for the club in 1885. His grandson is Hickinbotham's present Chairman (Alan), who also has a passion for football, having played for South Adelaide, South Australia and Geelong whilst pursuing a career, as a science teacher at Geelong Grammar. He eventually moved to coaching after a chronic injury took its toll. Alan was President/Chairman of South Adelaide for 14 years and since 2001 has been the club's patron and number one ticket holder.

Alan David and his wife Margaret have five children, and Alan will readily tell you his wife is the 'power behind the throne' having provided a strong and loving foundation for the family. First-born David became involved in the Hickinbotham building and development business at just 20 years of age while finishing an Economics degree. After 25 years, he swapped bricks for wine taking over Hickinbotham's vineyard development and wine sales.

Ten years ago, younger son Michael left the Melbourne office of law firm Blake Dawson Waldron, where he was practicing corporate law, to join the family business. He is now Managing Director of the company.

Daughters Jane, Julie and Ruth each chose their own direction. Jane lives with her actor husband, Les Grantham, in the United Kingdom and has put her own promising acting career on hold to devote her time to bringing up the couple's three children. Julie started her career as a photographer working for the Sunday Times in London and Belle in Australia, switching to interior design for international hotels. Her love of the Australian outback has her currently documenting the lives of Australia's indigenous people. Ruth, a journalist, also has a keen interest in interior design and has the responsibility for decorating the award-winning Hickinbotham display villages.

Fittingly, in the 1998 New Year Honours lists brothers Alan David and Ian were each recognised; Alan receiving an AM for services to housing and urban development and to the community and Ian an OAM for services to the wine industry.

A family of low profile high achievers.