Port Adelaide Things to Do

  • Port Adelaide Lighthouse
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Most Recent Things to Do in Port Adelaide

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    Walk the Port

    by wabat Written Jan 3, 2014

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    Sailmakers Building, 1864
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    In addition to being the best way to get around “Walk the Port” is the title of an excellent walking guide for the historic area of Port Adelaide. The guide can be picked up at the tourist office/ visitors centre on the intersection of Commercial Road and St Vincent’s Street (from which the walk starts).

    The guide highlights 38 points of interest along a very pleasant, level route of a few kilometres. As I have indicated on my introduction page that the majority of my tips relate to attractions identified along this walk.

    The majority of what I have not prepared separate tips on are individual heritage buildings. This does not mean they are not worth seeing. Far from it, they set the scene and provide atmosphere for the whole area and the walk. The pictures attached are of some of the buildings I have not written separate tips on. They are in order you will come across them if you complete the walk in the sequence suggested by the guide.

    The buildings along this walk are some of the finest 19th and early 20th century buildings in Australia and while I question the local council’s restrictive planning policy I do have to admit that it has help protect some great building from the developers sledge hammer – even if it has left the town a bit of a ghost town.

    Unlike the much more famous seaside resort of Glenelg down the coast a bit (separate page), Port Adelaide’s history can be seen and is alive while in Glenelg almost everything is now left to the imagination and written descriptions on interpretative boards. For this reason I do not recommend people take the corresponding heritage walk in Glenelg. People rightly visit “overdeveloped” Glenelg for different reasons.

    You may want to consider combing this walk with the pub walk I refer to in my separate tip - Heritage Pub Trail as there is a major overlap between the two walks.

    You can cover all the sights with no entry to museums in one and a half hours but why hurry spend most of a day in Port Adelaide.

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    South Australian Maritime Museum

    by wabat Written Jan 2, 2014

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    Maritime Museum - Entrance
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    While physically not a large museum, the collection is contained on three small floors, there is quite a bit of content to cover. Overall it is informative and worth an hour or two depending on your level of interest in things nautical. Your ticket allows multiple visits on the same day should you really get into it and wish to go out for a break (or to eat as there is no on-site eatery though there is a reasonable café just outside the museum’s entrance).

    The museum is located on Lipson Street in an old bond store and warehouse built in 1856 for Elders & Co. Prior to entering the museum and then while you walk around inside do take time to look at the beautifully restored building. For some interesting information why the bottom row of windows barely appear above the ground (picture one attached) have a look at my separate tip ”Have the buildings really sunk?”. Inside, and in particular, in what is now the basement – formerly the ground floor – and the top floor have a look at the original floor boards, the roof and support columns.

    In terms of the museum itself, which houses the oldest nautical collection in Australia (commenced in 1872), there are quite a few interesting displays including the following which I especially enjoyed:

    -Fourteen – 3 more in store - (largest collection in southern hemisphere) ships figureheads - carved wooden sculptures which ornamented the bow of a sailing vessel from across the world including one from Londonderry, North Ireland. (My regular readers will know that if there is an Irish connection anywhere I will sniff it out!) - picture two.
    -a well structured and detailed exhibition on migration (by sea) into South Australia from the UK
    -a display on the history development of Port Adelaide since its first settlement in the 1830s
    -nautical instruments, bathing costumes, shipwreck artifacts, paintings, photographs, models, etc.
    -a full sized replica of a ketch - Active II. (sailing vessel) – great for the kids. The original ketch – Active was built in 1873 and continued in operation until 1959 - picture three.

    A couple of more obscure items to look out for (both on top floor) are :

    -Smoking pipes hand carved by idle seamen from albatross leg bones - picture four
    -Iron cathead - Catheads were beams protruding from ships’ bows to support anchors. Seafarers believed black cats brought good luck at sea -picture five.

    For visitors interested in tracing details, there is a computer register of early migrants available for use.

    When I visited there was also a most hideous and tacky pirate display in the temporary exhibition area. It’s only redeeming feature was that I didn’t have to pay extra to see it. I truly hope it has “moved on” to a recycling bin before your visit.

    The Port Adelaide Lighthouse – the red lighthouse at the wharf end of Commercial Road is part of the Maritime Museum's collection and entry to it is included in your museum ticket so hold on to it. The lighthouse can be visited separately from the museum in which case an entrance fee of $1 (50cents kids) is payable. Please refer to my separate tip Port Adelaide Lighthouse for further details on the lighthouse.

    The museum has a reasonable gift shop and toilet facilities but, as noted above, no eatery.

    Opening hours

    Museum 10am-5pm daily, lighthouse 10am-2pm Sun-Fri. Both closed Christmas Day.

    Entry fee

    Adult/child/family A$10/5/25.

    If arriving by car, there is free parking on the streets surrounding the museum – some of it is time limited so read the signs.

    See my general transport tip for other transport options.

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    The Churches but no entry!

    by wabat Written Dec 31, 2013

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    St Paul's Anglican Church
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    When I visit somewhere I like to drop into the local churches, synagogues, temples, cemeteries and such like. I do this not because I am terribly religious but rather because I find such sojourns peaceful and such places tend to hold a wealth of historical information and give you an insight into an area that you might not otherwise get.

    In Port Adelaide three churches were on my list for a look:
    St Paul’s Anglican Church
    St Mary’s Catholic Church
    Port Adelaide Uniting Church

    Alas when I visited, the first two were closed so I didn’t track out to the Uniting Church as I had seen it many times before passing by. The reason for the closure, when not in use for church activity, is alas, a fear of vandalism. Given the small number of visitors wishing to visit these churches none of them can afford to man the churches such that a few people per day can have a look. This is regrettable but perfectly understandable.

    Anyway this does not prevent you having a look at the exterior of the churches and in terms of the two that I did stop by for a closer look at the exteriors I offer the following in the hope that it may be of interest:

    St Paul’s Anglican

    This is the third church on this site and was built in 1905 with its stained glass windows supplied by Percy Bacon Brothers of London. The first Anglican Church here was St Pauls-on-the-Piles (a very English name!) - a wooden structure built wooden on piles in 1841. Prior to this religious services were held in the Customs House sheds.

    The new church didnt get of to a great start. A parishioner of St Pauls-on-the-Piles noted thus in a letter some time later:

    "Unfortunately the first Sunday service was held in stormy weather and the water had risen to the floor so we had to go home in boats. The next day the church was found to be leaning to one side and strange to say the next gale made it right and we had services there for years."

    The church was, off course, constructed in the mosquito infested swamp land to which I have referred in various other reviews on this page and this explains the need for the piles.

    The second St Paul’s replaced the one on piles in 1852. David Bower who provided the roof of the second church agreed to "take the old church in lieu of thirty pounds to be deducted from the amount of the contract". Removal and indeed financial problems of building a new church were thus solved. Mr Bower presumably didn’t get the church on piles in that “…soon after the second building was opened for services; St Paul's-on-the piles was washed away in a swollen tide and wrecked...” or perhaps the rubble sufficed as he would have had to dismantle it anyway.

    By the turn of the century repair bills on the second church, this time of stone, were becoming very high and the church was too small anyway. A third, the present, church was built in 1905. The WWI memorial/shrine in memory of the parish fallen at the front of the building was added in 1919.

    St Mary’s Catholic

    The Church of the Immaculate Conception - popularly know as St Mary's was officially opened on August 15th 1858, although the building had been used as a place of worship for some time beforehand.

    The Sisters of St Joseph ran a school in the then old stone cottage (now church hall) next door to the Church in addition to providing medical services to the poor. Mable McCutchen, being a trained nurse, purchased a small £17 ray machine and went into the homes of the sick.

    When the now saint (Australia’s first) Mary Mackillop visited Adelaide in 1867 she stopped at St Mary’s en route into the city.

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    Port Admiral Hotel and Coach House

    by wabat Written Dec 31, 2013

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    Port Adrmiral Hotel
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    The hotels and drinking establishments covered in my heritage pub trail (crawl) tip all have one thing in common. They are in operation and await your business.

    Alas, the subject of this tip, the Port Admiral Hotel, closed in 2006 and was still boarded up on my most recent trip in December 2013. Should any of my readers wish to acquire this distinctive property it is for sale – replete with all its liquor and gaming licences!

    I draw special attention to the Port Admiral Hotel as it is the oldest surviving building in Port Adelaide. It was built in 1849 – and originally called the Railway Hotel (even though there was no railway in Port Adelaide until 1856). Its name changed to the Port Admiral Hotel in 1851, five years prior to the existing Railway Hotel opening in 1856 on St Vincent Street across the road from the original Port Adelaide Railway Station. The former railway station is now the police station and to complete the picture what was formerly the police station is now the tourist office. Hope you got that!

    If you have read my tip - Have the buildings really sunk? you will be aware that the ground level in Port Adelaide was raised over the years so the Hotel’s original ground floor now forms part of its basement. Basically the streets and vacant ground was filled in in the 1870s to raise Port Adelaide out of a mosquito infected swamp.

    The Hotel’s most recent claim to fame, apart from shutting down, was as a setting in the 2001 Australian movie Black and White, starring Robert Carlyle.

    Around the corner from the Hotel in Carlton Street is the hotel's former coach house (picture three) where one would have parked ones horse! As noted in my heritage pub trail (crawl) tip, the capacity to accommodate horses was a requirement of the 1839 South Australian liquor licencing laws one of which stated that a publican was required to provide for:

    "..a traveller and his horse, or a traveller without a horse, the horse of a traveller not becoming a guest of the house …or any corpse which may be brought to his public house for the purpose of a Coroner's inquest."

    Any publican not providing such a service was committing an offence and liable to be fined up to 20 pounds.

    In terms of accommodating corpses, I cannot say if the Coroner’s inquest on a Mr Taylor was or was not undertaken at the hotel. I can certainly confirm he died there-in in December 1868 of suspected self inflicted poisoning though the Coroner was unable to confirm the cause of death. In addition to leaving some poetry he had written especially for the occasion the thoughtful Mr Taylor sought to ensure that the hotel (and its owner Mr Yeo) was not financially inconvenienced by his demise. He left a note:

    “Mr. Yeo—Telegraph to N. Sowton, auctioneer, Auburn. He is my agent, and will defray expenses. Richard H. Taylor."

    The former coach house has been very tastefully renovated and now houses an art gallery/shop which was closed when I visited. You might notice a circular metal wheel like thing on the sidewall of the old coach house. This is the cap of a tie rod installed some time after the building was constructed to keep the structure intact. Many of these old buildings were built on poor foundations – the whole area was a swamp after all.

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    Heritage Pub Trail (Crawl)

    by wabat Written Dec 31, 2013

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    Railway Hotel
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    If all your wandering around Port Adelaide leaves you feeling a little dehydrated, fear not there are ample establishments which can come to the rescue and you won’t have far to walk. Being a port town and having catered for the needs of seafarers for 150 years plus there is almost literally a pub on every corner (and in fact there used to be!).

    The tourist authority has thoughtfully put together a Heritage Pub Trail guide. While the intent is to introduce you the history of pubs there is no reason not to use the guide as the basis of a good old pub crawl – noting that I do not condone the irresponsible consumption of alcohol! When picking up the guide from the tourist office do ask for the Heritage Pub Trail guide and not the Heritage Pub Crawl guide!

    The guide lists and provides good detail on ten pubs (within easy walking distance of each other and all of significant historical interest). This is less than half the current pubs in the port area and around a quarter of what used to operate here. By the turn of the 20th century there were more than 40 drinking establishments within walking distance of the docks.

    Not everyone was happy about the ready flow of alcohol. The Reverend Joseph Kirby led an abstinence campaign against the port area’s drunken excesses, leading to a 1909 vote which closed a third of Port Adelaide’s pubs. The Dock Hotel (which reputedly also hosted a “brothel of repute” and a smugglers tunnel to the wharf (one of many pubs which did!)) was one of the pubs closed by the good Reverend’s actions. It reopened in 1986 as the Port Dock Brewery Hotel - picture two attached -and named its strongest dark ale Old Preacher, in honour of its old foe, Kirby.

    Not happy with getting rid of a significant number of pubs in 1915, during WWI severe restrictions on opening hours were imposed and pubs throughout Australia were required to close at 6pm. This actually had less impact on the pubs than one might have thought as it gave rise to the “six o’clock swill” where patrons drank up big time just prior to six and staggered out of the pubs at six as they might have done at a later hour. It was not until 1976 (much later than in other states) that South Australia eased this restriction and extended pub hours until 10pm.

    You will note that most if not all of these pubs also provide, or certainly formerly did provide, accommodation. While accommodation may indeed have been a profitable business it was also a requirement of the 1839 South Australian liquor licensing laws one of which stated that a publican was required to provide for:

    "…a traveller and his horse, or a traveller without a horse, the horse of a traveller not becoming a guest of the house …or any corpse which may be brought to his public house for the purpose of a Coroner's inquest."

    Any publican not providing such a service was committing an offence and liable to be fined up to 20 pounds.

    In addition to serving drinks of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties these pubs all serve pub grub (food) the quality of which I suspect varies from pub to pub as it does in other Australian pubs. I have not yet, myself, partaken of solids in any of these establishments.

    In the event that you over imbibe, the good Port authorities have that covered too. Make your way to the facility in picture five.

    Lastly a word of warning as you make your way around the pubs – most of them have at least one resident ghost!

    The Heritage Pub Trail guide can be picked up from the tourist office or downloaded from http://www.portenf.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=2093. This trail can be covered in conjunction with the main Heritage Walking Trail - Walk the Port ( Refer to my introductory page comments and separate tip).

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    Professional Fishermen’s Memorial

    by wabat Written Dec 31, 2013

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    Professional Fishermen's Memorial
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    In addition to being a commercial port for the import and export of goods and indeed people, Port Adelaide has had a long history in commercial fishing – an oft dangerous activity for the unprepared in dangerous seas.

    If you saw my Seafarer’s Memorials review you will be aware that more than 340 ships were wrecked along South Australia's coast with the loss of many merchant seamen. In addition to these losses, since 1884 176 professional fishermen have also lost their lives in South Australian waters. I wonder how many amateurs have also perished.

    This memorial, to lost professional fishermen, is a three sided black marble obelisk on two steps and lists the names of those who lost their lives.

    The memorial, dedicated on 30 April 1998 by His Excellency Sir Eric Neal, Governor of South Australia, is a testament to the perils of the ocean and a reminder of the need for adequate training for the industry.

    Fittingly, the memorial is associated with and located next to the Australian Maritime & Fisheries Academy which was established in 1997 as an industry managed, practically focused, education centre for the maritime, fishing and seafood industries.

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    Poverty Corner

    by wabat Written Dec 31, 2013

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    Poverty Corner Soundpost
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    Come back with me 100 years, if you will.

    As you may have picked up from my other tips, Port Adelaide was, by the end of the 19 century and into the 20th century a thriving Port and many people were making lots of money – but not everyone.

    Work at sea and within the port was hard, the hours were long, working conditions were seldom good and the pay was poor. This was especially so for unskilled labourers. Trade unions were only in their infancy in the late 1800s and social security payments were unheard of.

    If you wanted work you had to go out and look for it. Workers and those with work on offer would congregate here at the intersection of Lipson and Divett Street (beside what is now the South Australian Maritime Museum) in search of work and workers respectively. Invariably, and even in the Port’s heyday, there were more looking for work than offering it. This corner became known as Poverty Corner.

    Men who sought work on the ketches and other sea vessels gathered on the northeast pavement of Poverty Corner. The shipping owners would select those they wanted and off they would go on a trip which would often last days. They were paid basic wages and typically had to provide their own food. On completion of the trip they would return to Poverty Corner seeking their next engagement.

    Lumpers gathered on the opposite side of the pavement. Lumpers were land working men seeking work with shippers or truckers. It was very heavy work such as “lumpimg” (carrying - hence the term) 80kg sacks of grain on their shoulders all day. This was hard work and took a heavy toll on those so employed.

    Those not selected for work on a particular day went home to return again the next day hoping they would have better luck.

    This pick-up system often referred to as the bull system or bull run (where the strongest and least troublesome men were chosen for work) remained in place for recruiting wharfies until WWII when unions in general, and the maritime unions in Australia in particular, consolidated their strength with the shortage of labour caused by the war.

    On the corner you will see a “soundpost" ( picture 1). Press the button on it to hear a bit more on the story of Poverty Corner. As you do so, imagine the hectic scenes of hustle and bustle for work that would have occurred here 100 years ago.

    Incidentally, the voice you will hear is that of long time Port Adelaide maritime worker (wharfie) and unionist, Rex Munn, who passed away November 2012. Rex’s name is the most recent addition,in 2013) to the Workers Memorial outside the Tourist Office about which I have written a separate tip.

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    Not really a Boer War Memorial

    by wabat Written Dec 28, 2013

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    While classified as a Boer War Memorial by the tourist authorities this is not actually a memorial. It is, in fact, a plaque on the wharf adjacent to the Port Adelaide Lighthouse, donating the point from which the first contingent of South Australian Infantry boarded the PS Yatala for transfer to, and embarkation on, the troopship Medic as they set out for South Africa on 31 October 1899. The plaque was placed here in 1999 to commemorate the commencement of the Boer War one hundred years earlier in 1899.

    In all nine contingents, comprising some 1531 South Australians served in the second South African War (more commonly referred to as the Boer War) between Dutch-Afrikaner (Boer) settlers and Britain and her colonies, (11 October 1899 to 31 May 1902). Six of these contingents sailed from Port Adelaide. An almost equal number of horses accompanied the infantry soldiers to South Africa. While at least 59 South Australians lost their lives in the War no horses returned to Australia and only a handful went on to live their lives in post Boer War South Africa.

    The South African War Memorial (Boer War Memorial) on North Terrace in Adelaide (picture 2), unveiled on 6 June 1904, commemorates South Australians who fought in the Boer War, It was the first war in which South Australians fought overseas. I have prepared a separate review on the North Terrace Boer War Memorial which you can find on my Adelaide page.

    The Yatala, an iron paddle steamer, was built by Blackwood & Gordon in Castle Yard , Glasgow in 1877 for the Adelaide Steam Tug Company and operated out of Port Adelaide until it was sold in 1911 to a Melbourne organisation which converted it into a three masted topsail schooner. It was renamed the Thurka and continued operations until it was wrecked off Tasmania on 8 June 1919. Its full crew was rescued with no loss of life.

    Pictures 3 and 4 attached are Copyright © The Clyde Maritime Research Trust

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    Have the buildings really sunk?

    by wabat Written Dec 28, 2013

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    Maritime Msueum - Sinking ?
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    As you wander around Port Adelaide and in particular the area around the National Maritime Museum you could be forgiven for asking yourself if the buildings have at some stage sunk into the ground as you see tops of windows jutting out just above the current street level.

    In fact the buildings (the Port's oldest) have not sunk but rather the street has risen. Rising street levels as opposed to rising sea levels!

    Let me explain, noting that the best place to see the impact of what has happened is within and without the National Maritime Museum, formally a bond store. I have a separate tip on the museum itself.

    As you wander around the basement level of the museum, the floor you will walk on was at street level (picture 2) when the building was built in 1856. When outside the building look at the lower layer of “windows” (Picture 1). These were once full windows. You will how the street level has risen like this on many of the older buildings in this area.

    If you have read my Water for the Port review you will recall that this whole area was mosquito infected mangrove swamps and was regularly flooded during high than normal high tides. This problem was addressed, around the 1870s, by dredging the Port River to increase its ability to carry away water and enhance its navigability and the dredged material was used to raise the land area. As a consequence of this work many ground floors were turned into basements or had to have steps build down into them. As the tidal mangrove swamps were reclaimed, the ground level was raised by up to 3 metres in some parts. The ground floor of the, now sadly derelict, Port Admiral Hotel, was fully subsumed below ground and became its basement. While not noticeable from outside (picture 3) you can certainly see the top of what was originally the ground floor window in the adjoining building.

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    Seafarers’ Memorials

    by wabat Written Dec 27, 2013

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    The Navigator / SS Admella Memorial
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    Located on Timpson Street just in from the Port River are two memorials to seafarers which were formerly located elsewhere in Port Adelaide – the older Merchant Navy Memorial and the more recent SS Admella Memorial – The Navigator.

    Ships made a vital contribution to the development of South Australia as an early colony through the shipment of both cargo and passengers. Prior to the availability and introduction of modern navigational aids more than 340 ships were wrecked along the state’s coast. These memorials are dedicated to the seafarers who lost their lives in the these ships.

    The Navigator - in granite, lyten steel, breakwater rocks and timber - is the work of local sculptor Karen Genoff and was first unveiled in 1992, It specifically commemorates the loss of the SS Admella (so named for her circuit Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston). It was rededicated/ unveiled at its new and current riverside location in a candle light vigil at 5.30am on 5th August 2009 marking the time the ship departed from Port Adelaide on her ill fated voyage 150 years previously.

    Loaded with copper bars from nearby Kapunda, a team of racehorses heading to what is now the Melbourne Cup races and 113 passengers and crew the SS Admella left Port Adelaide bound for Port Melbourne on 5th August 1859. On the 6th August it came to grief at Carpenter’s Rocks with the loss of 89 lives making it one of the worst maritime disasters in Australian history.

    The Navigator Memorial, I think very well, depicts the disaster. Great and easily understood symbolism here; the ships wheel sticking out of the sea; the smashed compass pieces and the offending Carpenter’s Rocks half exposed - all of which allude to the loss and tragedy. The GPS co-ordinates cited by the black granite slab of the memorial give the precise location at with the Admella was lost.

    Behind (landside off) the Navigator Memorial is a simple slab of rock moved from the former Seafarers’ Centre in Nelson Street. This is a merchant navy memorial (picture 3).

    The plaque on the memorial simply states:

    “This memorial is dedicated to the merchant seamen who served Australia in times of war and peace.”

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    Workers Memorial

    by wabat Written Dec 27, 2013

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    Workers Memorial
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    Port Adelaide has, since the 1830s when Colonel William Light, the first Surveyor-General of the Colony of South Australia and designer of Adelaide, decided that it and Adelaide should be distinct separate entities, always been a blue collar or working class area. The gentry resided in Adelaide. This division, by and large, remains to this day.

    Outside socialist countries one rarely comes across grand or tasteful monuments or memorials to the working classes. It was thus somewhat of a surprise when I came across this memorial and determined that it was to the working man (and indeed woman).

    Originally intended to honour labour veteran, H Garland Senior, it was actually decided to add the names of, and honour, deceased labour leaders in general who had made a significant contribution in promoting the cause of Port Adelaide workers of enhancing local community life. Twenty four local trade unions came up with the original names to be remembered – 41 men and one woman – eight of who had lost their lives in World War I. The names of a further 65 people who have made an outstanding contribution to the working class people of Port Adelaide have been added since (to 2013) and, as you might expect, many maritime workers have been honoured.

    The 12ft high granite plinth (on which the names of those honoured are recorded) of the memorial, actually the first piece of public statuary in Port Adelaide, was constructed in 1918 though insufficient funds had been collected to complete the memorial at that time. The very beautiful 6ft Italian marble “Justice” figure, paid for by Mr & Mrs B. Winter, was added in September 1921. The scales of Justice represent equality for all while the sword is there to ensure its enforcement.

    Some, especially given its timing, have construed this as an anti-war memorial. The memorial is rather unique, in Australia at least, in the way it honours those who worked unceasingly in an everyday way,’ sacrificing much that their fellows might enjoy a little more of the better things’.

    In 2011 at a May Day rally attendees were reminded via words voiced in 1916 by a Hobart labourer, Samuel Champ, that the promotion of workers rights was not always easy:

    Our liberties were not won by mining magnates or stock-exchange jobbers, but by genuine men of the working-class movement who had died on the gallows and rotted in dungeons and were buried in nameless graves. These were the men to whom we owed the liberties we enjoyed today. Eight hours and other privileges in Australia had been won by men who suffered gaol and persecution.

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    Does anyone know Mildred?

    by wabat Written Dec 27, 2013

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    Mildred and the Humbug Mystery
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    I really hate it when I come across something of interest and am unable to find out any information about it.

    The picture and proclamation attached is affixed to the front of now vacant shop in the Bower Buildings, 150-166 St. Vincent Street, a couple of hundred metres from the visitors information centre. Try as I might, I have been unable to find out anything about Mildred, her liking for humbugs (a brand of hard boiled sweet/lolly – picture 4) or James Brothers Store.

    Did Mildred eat this quantity of humbugs or was she a humbug dealer? Her apparent lack of teeth may suggest the former!

    A couple of other VT members have likewise drawn a blank on this one.

    If any reader can enlighten me and others I would be delighted to hear from you.

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    A grand entrance for a car park

    by wabat Written Dec 27, 2013

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    Jervois Bridge Gantry
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    Now the rather grand entrance arch for a municipal car park, this majestic structure was formally the bridge-keeper's gantry on the 1875-1966 version of the Jevois Bridge, a bridge which bridged the swampy estuary between Port Adelaide and Semaphore on the Lefevre Peninsula - the point where overseas mail was by then being discharged.

    The Jervois Bridge, opened by and named after His Excellency Sir William Jervois, Governor of South Australia on 6 February 1875, replaced a wooden bridge across the Port River which had opened in 1859 and which had fallen into disrepair. The new iron bridge had a central swinging section, built in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, permitting the passage of shipping through a 47 wide feet channel. The bridge itself was 56 feet wide with two footpaths, and room for road and rail transport. The latter permitted the railway line to be extended from Port Adelaide, its former terminus, to Semaphore.

    The bridge-keeper's gantry (from which the bridge was opened and closed) straddled the centre of the bridge, providing a clearance of 16 feet for the traffic below. The wooden octagonal control box was added to the gantry in 1880.

    While the turntable style swing bridge was to remain in operation until 1966 it presented several practical problems during its life not least the fact that for many years each time the bridge was opened the water and gas supply was cut for the inhabitants of Lefevre Peninsula as the bridge carried the water pipeline and the gas lines. Also, as there was no electricity supply on the swing section of the bridge, electric tram drivers had the gain enough speed to cross the 50 metres swing section before the electric supply resumed again on the other side. If these problems were not enough, on 23 February 1880 the bridge suffered a fire when planking on the roadway caught light. The fire is believed to have been caused by horse dung on the bridge being ignited in some way. From this date measures were taken to ensure that the bridge was swept twice a week!

    In 1966 the bridge was replaced with a fixed bridge as by then there was no need for river traffic to pass this point and in any event the river had been deepened. The old bridge was demolished in 1969 at which time the gantry was salvaged, restored and placed in the car park at the Port Dock Markets, Nile Street where you see it to-day.

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    The Port’s Silent Cop

    by wabat Written Dec 26, 2013

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    The Port's Silent Cop
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    When I came across the attached object its general shape and demeanour - an oversized traffic cone in the local football team’s (the Port Adelaide Magpies) colours of black and white - lead me to suspect that it was some form of traffic control device.

    As Port Adelaide developed so too did traffic congestion. This was particularly so between and after the World Wars.

    One of the busiest intersections was that of Commercial Road and St Vincents Street – more commonly referred to as Black Diamond Corner, so named because the offices of the Black Diamond Line was located on the corner. Captain Henry Simpson's Black Diamond Line coal-carrying ships carried a black diamond on the smoke stack.

    In 1939 the installation of this traffic control device, referred to as a "silent cop", at the centre of the intersection to direct traffic around it was the solution for Port Adelaide. Earlier and simpler versions of the “silent cop” had been in use since 1924 though, for a short time in 1929, it took the form of an advertising hoarding.

    Shock horror, one night in 1946 someone had the audacity to repaint the “silent cop” in the opposing colours of a long-time opponent of the Port Adelaide Football Club, the Magpies. Order was quickly restored and the silent cop was repainted black and white again.

    This 'silent policeman' remained on duty until it was replaced with traffic lights on 4 December 1968 at which point it was moved to its present location at intersection of Commercial Road and North Parade for posterity.

    The second photo showing the "silent cop" at work in 1964 was taken by Port Adelaide Historical Society member, Bob Thorjussen.

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    Port Adelaide Lighthouse

    by wabat Written Dec 26, 2013

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    Port Adelaide Lighthouse
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    Standing prominently at the end of Commercial Road by the Port River, and visible for quite some distance if you enter the Port via this road, is the Port Adelaide lighthouse which has now become an icon for the Port Area.

    The Port Adelaide lighthouse, prefabricated in England and shipped to Australia in pieces, was first lit on January 1st 1869 (though the first light was replaced in 1874 by a much stronger one) and originally stood at the entrance to the Port River where it replaced a former lightship - the Fitzjames.

    The British architects intended keepers to live in the iron structure around the base of the tower (picture two). The heat of the South Australian summers made this impossible and alternative living quarters were erected between decks of the stayings – these no longer exist.

    In 1901 the lighthouse was relocated – in two parts. Its light was installed in an existing lighthouse on Wonga Shoal off Semaphore Jetty (a bit further along the coast). This lighthouse was destroyed on 17 November 1912 when it was hit by the sailing ship "Dimsdale" killing the two lighthouse keepers on duty. The iron structure was re-erected on South Nepture Island in the Spencer Gulf where it remained in use until 1985 when it was replaced with an electric self-operating lighthouse. While on South Neptune Island keepers and their families lived in a cottage on the island. Interesting for those interested in “firsts”, the 1 November 1901 lighting of the lighthouse on South Neptune Island was the first lighthouse lighting in the new Commonwealth of Australia which had just come into being in January 1901.

    In 1985 the lighthouse was acquired by the South Australian Maritime Museum, restored and reassembled at its present location and officially opened to the public by Queen Elizabeth II on 13 March 1986.

    When the tower was moved back to Adelaide a time capsule was found. Inside was this poem written by one of the construction workers, bottles and coins.

    Our Lighthouse

    When the sun doth gild the southern skies
    Above these lonely isles
    There is no need for this our lighthouse
    Nor can't be seen for many miles
    But when the storm and wind doth howl
    Upon the ocean wild
    The mariner will see this light
    Which will beam out so mild
    That fancy paints the lights of home
    That cottage by the sea
    Where dwell his loved ones all secure
    From wind and wave while he
    Doth work and toil to earn their bread
    and die if needs must be
    He then will bless this kindly light
    And think mayhaps of us
    Who built this light that such as he
    Might rest secure while it flashed
    Its rays across the sea

    Within the lighthouse, on the ground floor – originally designed as living quarters - there are a few small exhibits the most interesting of which is a signal flag locker containing a set of international marine signal flags used by ships at sea to relay messages.

    To reach the viewing platform on the top you must climb the rather cramped spiral stairs (74 or 75 steps). At the top and before you make your way out onto the viewing platform have a look at the grandfather clock principle apparatus used to rotate the light beam mechanism. This required rewinding every 90 minutes.

    From the platform there is a decent, if unspectacular, view back toward Port Adelaide and out towards to port area. For a dollar, why wouldn’t you go up!

    Entrance Fee
    If you visit the nearby South Australian Maritime Museum ( and I recommend you do) hold onto your ticket as it includes entrance to the lighthouse. In the event that you don’t wish to visit the museum, entry to the lighthouse is a very modest $1 (50 cents for children).

    Opening times
    Weekdays 10am - 2pm. Closed Saturday. Open Sunday 10am to 4pm.

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