Saturday, July 11, 2020

Visiting Gawler, SA

Gawler Main Street 1928

In the early days, settlements were often named after governors and their relatives and South Australia was particularly punctilious in this practice; Gawler honoured George Gawler who led the colony from 1838–41. The town began in 1839 and is bounded by the South and North Para rivers and backed by hills. It was on the miners' route to the Yorke Peninsula, Burra and Kapunda, and bullock waggons and coaches rested there overnight.

ANZ Bank The Bank of Adelaide first opened a Gawler branch in 1866 and was responsible for the erection of this building in 1873. The cost of over 4,000 pounds made it one of the most expensive in Gawler. Writing in 1880 George Loyau described it as “one of the chief ornaments of Murray Street". The solid construction, spacious rooms and tall ceilings matched the image of a successful financial institution of the time. The effect of the 1890s depression on financial institutions can be gauged from the decision in to close the bank's Gawler branch and the building was sold to the Freemasons for 1125 pounds. The building was later repurchased by the Bank of Adelaide and when the bank was sold because of financial difficulties in 198? it became the premises of the ANZ Bank (check this). A well designed rear extension was opened in 19?? featuring an interesting glass feature wall. The magnificent cast iron fence and gates were made at the Phoenix Foundry of James Martin, the largest of the Gawler foundries which at its peak employed over 700 workers. The bluestone for this and many other major Gawler buildings was quarried from the Gawler South hills. State Heritage Register
Former Bank of Adelaide (now ANZ) Bank Building (R Eime 2017)

Graced by many fine Victorian buildings, plentiful park space and three town squares, Gawler was planned by Colonel William Light with his characteristic vision. Later Gawler came to be known as the 'colonial Athens'. When British Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman, visited in the 1970s, he said it was one of the most delightful country towns he had seen anywhere'.

The McKinley Memorial in Gawler honours 'Big John' McKinley who lived there after his marriage to Jeannie Pile in 1863. He led an expedition in 1861 to look for Burke and Wills and died in 1872 in Gawler.

Gawler Flower Gallery and the National Trust Museum (R Eime 2017)
The Old Telegraph Station is the oldest public building in Gawler, built of local stone soon after the Gawler-Adelaide railway link went through. The original gaslight still hangs over the front entrance. The building is owned by the National Trust and houses a telecommunications museum and rooms furnished in the style of bygone days.

The railway connection between Gawler and Adelaide was completed in 1857 and the present station, built to replace the original limestone building in 1879, retains its tracery of the best quality Staffordshire iron'.

Adelaide Metro train approaching Gawler. (R Eime 2017)

Gawler became a prosperous industrial centre and a collection point for wheat and wool going to Port Adelaide. There were hundreds of jobs in the flour mills, foundries, brickworks and breweries.

Present-day Gawler serves a rich agricultural district and has become something of a dormitory town for many daily commuters to Adelaide.

Primary produce includes fat lambs, wheat, wool, poultry and dairy products.

Text source: Readers Digest Guide
to Australian Places 1995

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