The pie floater is a South Australian oddity that has been elevated to a state icon.

fuel creativity
and contradictions that breed state's oddities

BEER WITH A BIBLE SOCIETY LOGO is only an oddity for the rest of the world; in South Australia, it symbolises the duality in Adelaide’s colonial heritage, such as having many churches but even more pubs. 

A special batch of light beer featuring the Bible Society Australia’s logo on its cans and Bible verses on its cases was produced by Coopers Brewery in 2017 to mark the 200th anniversary of the society.

Oddities were intrinsic to South Australia’s European history as a place settled with a strong push from outsiders: the Protestant Dissenters and nonconformists. A Methodist lay preacher Thomas Cooper, founder of Coopers brewery in 1862, was one of those Dissenters.

Outsider is an apt term for Adelaide’s founder William Light. Born in Malaysia with a childhood in Penang, Light carried the social burden of being regarded as a half caste: “Light by name, William is ‘Mr Brown’ in looks”.

Light ended his dying days in Adelaide generally shunned by society, not least because he was living with his mistress Maria Gandy. In 1926, Theberton, the cottage that Light built for himself, was demolished. Replacing it was a brewery producing light beer.

South Australia never fulfilled the vision of founders such as Edward Gibbon Wakefield for a colony of middle class bourgeois respectability. (Not as though Wakefield or his brothers were role models.) Prostitution was soon rife and the first convict-free Australian colony was also the first have a police force.

South Australia attracted educators who were creatively different such as John Lorenzo Young and his school or creatively suspect such as the Elder Conservatorium’s Joshua Ives. The creativity and contractions added to the state’s many oddities.

But some oddities came out of the state’s better ideas such as leading Australia (and much of the world) in its drink container deposit laws. This spawned the cohort of small entrepreneurs checking bins along streets for empty cans – possibly even light beer cans with Bible Society logos.


and other beyond-novel aspects of South Australian settlement 

First governor John Hindmarsh joins South Australia's early land sales profiteering

John Hindmarsh’s (1836-38) time as South Australia’s first governor was characterised by disputes with supporters of the resident commissioner. Hindmarsh’s main compensation was his financial gain. Hindmarsh, like others, saw possibilities in land speculating. He made his move even before the City of Adelaide and large sections were surveyed by William Light. With credit from George Fife Angas, Hindmarsh bought five preliminary land orders for £80 each and, when town acres were allotted by ballot, he chose four in Adelaide and one at Port Adelaide. When other Adelaide acres were auctioned, he bought 14, mostly in North Adelaide, for £74 10s. A high-priority draw secured him a 134-acre section at Walkerville that sold for £1500. Section 353 – 34 acres bounded by Port Road, the River Torrens and what’s now South Road – was bought by Hindmarsh in 1838 for £73. He sold it to a group for £1,000 to begin Hindmarsh suburb. A section at Rosetta Cove gave him a crude wharf and rent from whalers. Hindmarsh removed critics, such as colonial secretary Robert Gouger and emigration agent John Brown, from the governing council. Both were replaced by suitors of the governor's daughters. Third to go was advocate-general Charles Mann, replaced by George Milner Stephen, who knew no law but joined the suitors and married Hindmarsh’s daughter Mary. Hindmarsh’s wife Susannah managed the sale of her husband’s land, with her £12,000 account by far the largest in the Bank of Australasia's Adelaide branch when she left to rejoin her husband in England in 1841.

Legal system begins with Edward Wakefield, an abductor, and John Jeffcott, killer in a duel

Key figures in founding South Australia’s justice system, Edward Gibbon Wakefield and John Jeffcott, both experienced the English system as defendants. South Australia’s early legal system was decided before the colony was settled, based on Wakefield’s ideas formed while in London’s Newgate prison from 1827 for abducting a 15-year-old heiress. The prison time led to his study of emigration and his solution: systematic colonisation. His also produced ideas on the justice system by investigating fellow prisoners: their punishments and prospects. This led to his Facts Relating to the Punishment of Death in the Metropolis (1831), and The Hangman and the Judge (1833). His Sketch of a Proposal for Colonizing Australasia was printed in 1829. John Jeffcott was appointed chief justice of Sierra Leone and the Gambia in 1830. He returned to England in 1832 on leave, extended on medical grounds. The next year, he was knighted and about to return to Africa when, in a duel at Exeter, he shot and killed Peter Hennis, a young doctor. Jeffcott sailed for Africa before he could be caught. A warrant was issued for Jeffcott's arrest. No one wanted to press the murder charge and it was arranged that, if he returned to England for trial, no evidence would be put. He surrendered at Exeter Assizes in 1834, was arraigned on the murder charge and acquitted. He was unemployed 1834-36 before being appointed to South Australia.

Divide over names 
for Adelaide CBD 
streets descends 
into an acrimonious farce

Aside from all east-west main streets having different names either side of King William Street, debate over street names for Colonel William Light’s 1837 Adelaide CBD grid plan became farcical. Both the governor John Hindmarsh and the resident commissioner James Hurtle Fisher claimed the exclusive right to name the streets. Emigration agent John Brown proposed a naming committee as a compromise. Hindmarsh, a naval captain, didn't attend the committee's meeting but his supporter Judge John Jeffcott brought his “pocket full of royal and naval heroes”. The names of British admirals Duncan and Howe were among Hindmarsh's suggestions, rejected in favour of Grote and Wakefield. But Hindmarsh partly got his way later. Strangways Terrace was named after Thomas Bewes Strangways, Hindmarsh's prospective son-in-law, and Pulteney Street after Admiral Pulteney Malcolm, who'd recommended Hindmarsh as governor. Archer Street originally was to be named after British MP Henry Willoughby. It was changed to Archer, after a landowner who’d given Hindmarsh some sheep. O'Connell Street and Kermode Street were named after Jeffcott's friends Daniel O’Connell (who defended the judge over his infamous duel) and Robert Kermode, brother of Jeffcott's fiancée.

John Jeffcott only lasts a few months: first to two South Australian judges to be drowned in the sea

South Australia's first judge, Justice John Jeffcott, only had a few months as head of the colony's fledgling judiciary. He drowned at the River Murray mouth on November 19, 1837. (South Australia lost another supreme court judge, William Wearing, to the sea in 1875, when the Gothenberg, bringing him back from the circuit court in Palmerston, later Darwin, was wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef.) Jeffcott was appointed the colony’s first judge in England in 1836 but, settling his affairs (he'd been acquitted of a murder charge in 1834), meant he didn’t arrive in Adelaide until April 1837. Jeffcott “admitted three Englishmen to practise in the roles of barrister, solicitor and proctor” to start the South Australian justice structure. At the first criminal courts sitting, he congratulated the colony for, unlike others, allowing trial by jury. William Light was jury foreman. The court admitted the public prosecutor as a practitioner. Seven prisoners were presented on charges of burglary, break and enter, and rioting. Dismayed at the “dreadful dissensions” between governor John Hindmarsh (supported by Jeffcott) and his opponents, Jeffcott soon was looking for a position elsewhere. He was given leave to go to Hobart Town to consult with judges there on South Australian legal legal difficulties. On November 19, Jeffcott was waiting to board his ship in Encounter Bay when the whaleboat he was in capsized.

Adelaide's Wakefield Street honours Daniel, doer of dubious deeds just like his brothers

Wakefield Street, Adelaide, is not named after Edward Gibbon Wakefield, often credited for South Australia’s colonial model, but his brother Daniel. A solicitor, Daniel was involved in the pre-colony South Australia Association in London and he drafted the founding South Australia Act. Daniel was poorly regarded within his family. In 1824, Daniel eloped with Selina Elizabeth de Burgh. His brother Edward Gibbon Wakefield in 1816 had run off with 17-year-old heiress Eliza Pattle and later abducted 15-year-old Ellen Turner. This led to him and brother William spending three years in Newgate prison. Daniel Wakefield studied law and entered Lincoln's Inn in 1827. Edward involved Daniel in the South Australia project but he missed out on becoming the colony’s first judge. In 1835, Daniel married Angela Attwood but in 1843 he left in disgrace after infecting her with a social disease and running up gambling debts. Edward helped Daniel escape to New Zealand under the name “Bowler” and join his brother William in legal work for the New Zealand Company. In 1847, Daniel became attorney general for New Munster Province. Brother Edward arrived in Wellington in 1853 and began a campaign against governor George Grey (previously governor of South Australia) in a dispute where Daniel resigned as attorney general. But Daniel came back as the first local judge in New Zealand – and first to have entered the country under a false name.

Sunday corroborees by Aboriginals in 1840s become a part of early Adelaide social life

A quirk of Adelaide social life in the 1840s were the Aboriginal-organised Sunday corroborees. The corroborees became so popular with settlers that Aboriginals used them as a source of cash and advertised through the newspapers. Regular corroborees in Adelaide in the 1840s originated from the Kaurna tribe hosting visits by Murray Lakes and Murray River Aboriginals to see the European settlement. The corroborees persisted, despite noise complaints from North Adelaide residents. The colonial secretary told Aboriginals protector Matthew Moorhouse to tell “Natives encamped near Adelaide” that “this is now a Christian country” and the Sabbath must be kept holy without noise. But corroborees became peace, command or gala performances for well-to-do colonists and visitors. Painter W. A. Cawthorne, deeply interested in Aboriginal culture, had a 1848 Mechanics’ Institute debate with crown solicitor Charles Mann, arguing that nurture not nature decided civilised and uncivilised. To highight the debate, a parklands corroboree was promoted, attracting a big crowd and raising £4. This was the first of more entrepreneurial and commercial corroborees that lost authenticity. Aboriginals began organising corroborees to raise cash and advertised through the newspapers. Corroboree performances raised an average of £2, a valuable alternative after the Aboriginals lost another source of revenue when cutting and sale of tree timber was banned. They ended with the 1850s Victorian gold rushes but Aboriginal corroborees at Adelaide Oval in the 1880s attracted 20,000 on the first night.


of class pretensions/pious churchgoing in 19th Century colony

Slavery compensation money slushes through into the founding of South Australian colony

Edward Stirling, whose name is carried by the Adelaide Hills town, was the son of a slave or her daughter, fathered by slave owner Archibald Stirling on a Jamaican sugar plantation. Edward and his brother William, along with Charles and John (illegitimate sons of Archibald’s younger brother), were educated in Scotland and then funded by Archibald to establish themselves in South Australia. Money from slavery earnings slushed into the founding of South Australia. The colony’s start in 1836 coincided with £20 million compensation given by the British parliament to those who'd suffered loss of “property” after the freeing of slaves. Prominent  names among early South Australians are revealed in University of London’s look into the data on recipients. George Fife Angas acted as an agent for slavers, collecting a total of £6942 compensation, and used slaves in his own mahogany business in Honduras. Curries & Co., the family bank of Raikes Currie  Currie Street, Adelaide), received £15,400. Currie was a big donor to colony and, in particular, the Church of England in Adelaide. Influential in that diocese, the Rev. Charles Marryat Jnr, belonged to a family that received £34,000 for 900 slaves. Jacob Montefiore (Montefiore Hill/Road) was the son of the holder of 211 slaves in the British West Indies. Edward Stirling’s father Archibald received £10,000 in 1835 for his 460 slaves. He gave Edward £1000 in 1838 when he left for South Australia. Edward contributed by helping write the colony's constitution and as a Legislative Council member. His sons Edward and John, continued that contribution.

George Milner Stephen's amazing rise in South Australia until land and perjury scandals hit

George Milner Stephen was an extraordinary product of the feud between South Australia’s first governor John Hindmarsh and resident commissioner James Hurtle Fisher. A brilliant student born into a well-connected English family (he was related to British Colonial Office under secretary James Stephen), George Stephen arrived in 1829 in Hobart Town where his brother Alfred was crown solicitor. George Stephen became a supreme court clerk. During 1837 in South Australia, advocate general and crown solicitor Charles Mann resigned after siding with James Hurtle Fisher in the dispute with Hindmarsh. Hindmarsh, who heard from judge John Jeffcott that Alfred Stephen had resigned in Hobart as crown solicitor, wrote to Van Diemen’s Land governor John Franklin inviting “Mr Stephen” to accept the vacancy in Adelaide. Franklin was surprised to get a request from George Stephen, for leave to visit Adelaide to consider the offer to him as crown solicitor, and an advance of £100 for law books. In 1838, George Stephen left amazed people in Hobart to become South Australia’s advocate-general. Since resident commissioner Fisher wasn't attending council of government meetings, when Hindmarsh was recalled to England in 1838, Stephen was senior council member and thus acting governor. Stephen became involved in land speculation, also involving Hindmarsh and his wife, with accusations of forgery and perjury. Stephen was later acquitted of these charges but he resigned his public offices, sold more land for himself and Mrs Hindmarsh – and married one of her daughters, Mary, before sailing off to England.


An unholy tangle leads to Mary MacKillop being excommunicated by the bishop in Adelaide, 1871

Mary MacKillop became Australia’s first Roman Catholic saint after being excommunicated from the church in 1871 out of a unholy background tangle of factors involving accusations of sexual abuse and alcoholism, as well as conflict over issues ranging from education, class and power. Ironically, MacKillop, forbidden to contact anyone in the church while excommunicated, lived with a Jewish family, was sheltered by Jesuit priests and supported by close (Presbyterian) friend Joanna Barr Smith. In early 1870, members of Mackillop’s order, the Sisters of St Joseph reported, via their co founder Father Tenison Woods, that a priest Patrick Keating had sexually abused many children in the confessional at the mining town Kapunda. This angered Charles Horan, another priest from Keating's order, who became acting vicar general and campaigned against MacKillop's order (with personal claims of alcoholism) that led Bishop Laurence Shiel to excommunicate her. The animosity of Irish priests towards the Josephites had a class element. The Josephites were generally from poor families and dedicated to looking after and educating the poor. Nuns in the Irish clergy were well educated and from the middle and upper classes. On his deathbed, Sheil instructed Horan to lift the excommunication on MacKillop.

Samuel Way's mistress/ family a secret before an Adelaide high-society life with wife Katherine

Samuel Way, South Australia’s chief justice (1876-1916) and staunch Methodist, had a secret life and family. Susannah Gooding was Way’s mistress for two decades and he fathered at least five of her children. From a convict family background, Gooding was an unmarried mother, with two young children from different fathers, and a domestic servant in a Tasmanian town when she met Way who was on holiday. He maintained a covert relationship with her in Tasmania and later Melbourne. Way helped Gooding set up a millinery business and the family with housing and education expenses. After Gooding's death in 1888, he kept some contact with the surviving children: Alfred White and Edward White, who became prominent Melbourne physicians, noted for war service and philanthropy. Alfred was knighted as Sir Rowden White. Ten years after Gooding’s death, Way married 44-year-old Katherine, widow of Strathalbyn doctor and mayor William Blue, who’d died in 1896 after 24 years marriage. Time and venue of her wedding to Way, of major public interest, were kept secret until well after the event. As Lady Way, Katherine ("Kitty") became prominent in Adelaide society and highly regarded for her community service. She was with Way for 16 years until her death when crowds lined the streets for her funeral. Way and Kitty had no children but she had four from her first marriage. Her daughter Shylie Rymill was prominent in sport and then Adelaide society, and state commissioner of Girl Guides.


Alexander Crooks, who
 caught W.G. Grace at Adelaide Oval,
 caught in bank collapse in 1886

From hero to zero. Alexander Crooks, famous for catching out W.G. Grace, became the aptly named culprit blamed for the 1880s collapse of a major Adelaide bank. The spread of railways had fuelled the colony’s 1880s land boom and speculation. In February 1886, the shock came when the Commercial Bank of South Australia closed its doors at 74 King William Street. Shareholders meeting at Adelaide Town Hall were told the bank had lost money in mining speculation and the blame was sheeted home to its manager: Crooks. It also embarrassed the bank directors, including members of Adelaide’s social elite such as Richard Tarlton and Henry Ayers. Ironically, Crooks, a bank clerk, had come to the notice of that elite in 1874 in a moment of cricketing fame when, representing South Australia against an All England XI at Adelaide Oval, he took a spectacular boundary catch to dismiss the legendary W. G. Grace (for six runs). Crooks was soon treasurer of the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) and, by 1885, he became its chairman. A large part of the bank’s cash deficiency turned out to be money misappropriated by Crooks as SACA treasurer. The bank shareholders’ meeting called for Crooks’ lynching. He avoided that but served eight years in Yatala prison. The bank went into liquidation.The South Australian Cricket Association avoided that, helped by a secret loan from the brewer Edwin Smith.


From South Australian start, Alexander Dowie builds shaky theocratic Chicago empire in 1900

A forerunner of Pentecostalism, (John) Alexander Dowie, who built Zion city near Chicago in 1900 with thousands of faith-healing followers, started his murky theocratic career in Adelaide. Dowie arrived in South Australia with his parents from Edinburgh in 1860 and worked at his uncle Alexander’s Adelaide shoe shop. With his preacher father, Dowie was active in South Australia's Total Abstinence Society. In 1868, Dowie went to Edinburgh to study theology and returned to Adelaide to be ordained Congregational pastor of a church at Alma in 1872. He moved to pastorates in New South Wales but became an independent evangelist, claiming faith-healing powers. In 1880s Melbourne, he attracted many followers. When his church burnt down suspiciously (enabling him to pay off debts), he moved to the United States in 1888. From San Francisco, he built a following with his International Divine Healing Association. Members had to tithe for Dowie to heal their ills. Dowie sold securities of bankrupt companies to members. After two women sued him for this, Dowie moved to Chicago where he gained fame using a property, next to 1893 world’s fair, for divine healings. After starting Zion Tabernacle services for big crowds, Dowie formed Christian Catholic (Apostolic) Church in Zion in 1896. With 6,000 followers, Dowie founded Zion city, where he owned all property. Followers, world wide, were forced to deposit their wealth in his Zion Bank. The structure crashed. Dowie revisited Adelaide in 1904 but attempts to conduct services met hostility. In 1905, Dowie was deposed by his chief lieutenant. 


gold escort, telegraph line, half-hour time zone, Paraguay venture

South Australian state borders caught in the middle of historical quirks back to 1494

South Australia’s state borders are an historical oddity. The South Australian Colonisation Act 1834 defined the boundaries on the west at 132 meridian and on the east at 141 median. The reason for choosing the 132 meridian west boundary is obscure but may be linked to it running through Eyre Peninsula’s Fowler’s Bay, mentioned by Matthew Flinders as the first accessible point after the Great Australian Bight. The 132 meridian west border left South Australia surrounded by New South Wales (NSW) in 1836. The NSW western border, at 129 degrees, was shared with the new Western Australia from 1831. This left a no man’s land on South Australia’s west between its border and the WA/NSW border until 1861. (The reason for the original NSW border being at the 129 median goes back to the 1494 Treaty of Toedesillas, dividing the New World between Spain and Portugal.) The unmarked eastern border between NSW and South Australia became a concern. After considering alternative borders, the two colonies agreed to have surveyors Wade and White mark out a Glenelg River section of boundary, proclaimed by 1849. A Wade-White Line was continued to the River Murray in 1850 and it became South Australia's border with Victoria. More accurate technology in 1868 showed the Wade-White Line was two miles and 19 chains west of the 141 meridian. South Australia failed in appeals all the way to the Privy Council in Britain to have the boundary moved east and the issue remains unresolved with the border between the states running down the middle of the River Murray for 11km. 

Alexander Tolmer takes gold found by South Australian diggers for assay in 1850s Adelaide

South Australia responded with novel solutions to the financial crisis created by the exodus by 1852 of more than a third of the colony’s male population to the Victorian goldfields, taking most ready cash and causing a run on the banks for coin. The South Australian government introduced the Bullion Act in 1852, transferring gold into legal tender and enabling uncoined gold to be assayed. This gold came from the South Australian diggers in Victoria. A fixed price of £3/11/- an ounce was authorised to be offered for all uncoined gold brought back to South Australia. An assay office opened in Adelaide to receive the successful South Australian prospectors’ gold and to melt and purify the parcel of each depositor into a separate ingot stamped only with its weight. To further attract safe and guaranteed deliveries of gold to Adelaide, a monthly armed escort under the control of police inspector Alexander Tolmer was set up to bring the gold back from Victoria. The first escort arrived at the Treasury Building in Flinders Street in March, 1852, and offloaded 5,000 ounces. The total gold assayed in 1852 was worth £1,449,873. In 1852-54, gold brought into South Australia was valued at £1,820,369. Twenty-two and a half ounces of gold could buy 80 acres  and diggers were keen to embrace this. Sale of rural crown land reached £400,000 in 1854, with diggers returning from the gold rush using their ingots. This fuelled a rural boom, with a flurry of railways built.

Alice Springs a reminder of South Australia's great go-it-alone feat: the 1870s telegraph line

The name Alice Springs is among reminders of the Northern Territory of South Australia as it was called from 1863 to 1911 when it was administered from Adelaide. But it also recalls one of South Australia’s great go-it-alone feats. In 1870, the South Australian government, with the help and influence of its postmaster general and astronomer/scientist Charles Todd agreed to build a 3,200-kilometre telegraph line from Darwin to Port Augusta, already linked to Adelaide, if the British-Australian Telegraph Company would lay a submarine cable from Java to Darwin. When the telegraph line was completed in 1872, Australia, via Adelaide, could communicate directly with the rest of the world. Alice Todd, wife of Charles Todd (as in Alice Springs’ Todd River), inspired the name for Alice Springs chosen in 1871 by William Whitfield Mills, sub overseer of the C Section sub section C party of the survey team for the telegraph line project. Another project surveyor Gilbert Rotherdale McMinn named the spectacular Simpson’s Gap near Alice Springs after A. A. Simpson, president of the South Australian branch of the Royal Geographical Society. (Simpson Desert also acknowledges him.) Ayers Rock was named after seven-times 19th Century South Australia premier Henry Ayers. It became Ayers Rock/Uluru in 1993 and reversed to Uluru/Ayers Rock in 2002.

Half-hour time zone, with other anomalies, makes South Australia an international oddity

South Australia’s time zone is an international oddity. By having a half-hour interval from adjacent time zones and by having its time meridian outside its boundaries, South Australia departs from the international norms. The standardising of Australian time started in 1892 when surveyors from the six dominions met in Melbourne and accepted Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) as the basis for three zones: western, central and eastern. From 1895, Western Australia would set its clocks eight hours ahead of GMT, South Australia (and the Northern Territory which South Australia then governed) by eight hours, and Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania by 10 hours. But, in 1899, as a compromise especially to rural interests, South Australia advanced central standard time by 30 minutes. Attempts to correct this half-hour oddity have been raised in 1986, 1994 and 2015. Broken Hill in far west New South Wales also adopted central standard time, since it had a rail link to Adelaide, but not Sydney, at the time. Another small anomaly is the unofficial central western standard time, used in an area of the south eastern Western Australia and one South Australian roadhouse. Towns east of Caiguna on the Eyre Highway and Border Village, just over the border into South Australia, follow central western standard time. This zone exists for about 340 kilometres and takes in the tiny roadhouse communities of Cocklebiddy, Madura, Eucla and Border Village.

Adelaide's Birks family members sail off to Paraguay in 1894 to settle in 'New Australia'

One of South Australia’s most distinctively extraordinary historical incidents was the departure in 1894 of George Birks and his wife Helen (nee Thomas) – from two of the province’s most prominent settlement names – and other members of their family to join William Lane’s New Australia project in Paraguay. The Birks family left Port Adelaide on the Royal Tar in January 1894 as a second contingent to the become part of a religious socialist utopian society in Paraguay. That vision soon collapsed. George Birks died there and some descendants are still in Paraguay but most of the Birks, including Helen, returned to Australia. The New Australia Movement was founded 1892 by William Lane, a prominent figure in the Australia labour movement that, after a split, formed the Labor party. Lane chose Paraguay to build a society based on a common-hold (not common wealth), a brotherhood of English-speaking whites, life marriage, preserving the white “colour line”, teetotalism and communism. Others in the Birks family – brothers John Napier Birks and Walter Richard Birks – were among settlers at another socialist colony, at Murtho near Renmark, in the 1890s. The Murtho experiment ended by 1899, mainly due to the difficulty of irrigating crops at its cliff-top site. The Paraguary colony collapsed under disagreements and Lane’s despotic rule.

Adelaide Observatory's George Dodwell uses comet to explain Biblical date of Noah's flood

George Dodwell, South Australian government astronomer 1909-1952, is most widely known for his hypothesis that the Earth’s tilt was changed around 2345BC, possibly by a comet’s impact, leading to Noah’s flood of the Bible. The nephew of astronomer royal Frank Dyson, the UK-born Dodwell was educated at Prince Alfred College and Adelaide University, graduating in mathematics. In 1899, Dodwell became junior computer (calculator) at Adelaide Observatory on West Terrace and succeeded Charles Todd as government astronomer in 1909. Among Dodwell’s work as astronomer was a magnetic survey of South Australia. This led to study of latitude variations and the tilt of Earth’s axis. This started in 1934, after be obtained a copy of an ancient manuscript of medieval Belgian astronomer Godefroid Wendelin on the Earth’s tilt. Dodwell's own Adelaide data from experiments with sundials didn’t match those used by ancients to measure the Earth’s tilt. But Dodwell concluded there was consistent evidence that the Earth's tilt was altered by a catastrophe around 2345BC. This catastrophe claim won pockets of belief including those who attributed it to destroying legendary Atlantis. Dodwell wrote the 400-page “The truth of the Bible” (1959) on his hypothesis, although an earlier version had been rejected by the Royal Astronomical Society. Dodwell was a fundamentalist Christian. He was trying to align the comet hit and Noah’s flood, according to chronology calculated by bishop James Ussher (1581-1656), based on the Bible, and concluding that Earth was created at 6pm on October 22 4004BC.


Common Cause a very South Australian social campaign by eclectic group in World War II

Common Cause is a peculiarly South Australian campaign that grew and faded during the World War II years. After Australian prime minister John Curtin’s call for a unified national war effort, Tom Garland, secretary of the Gasworkers Union and a communist, backed the need for “patriotism and self sacrifice” but with evidence of “a far better deal for the great masses of the people in the post-war days”. Garland received his most prominent support from the Rev. Guy Pentreath, headmaster of Adelaide’s St Peter’s College. This started the Common Cause, launched at an overflow meeting at Adelaide Town Hall in 1943. Other meetings dwelt on issues such as poverty, bad housing, malnutrition, lack of educational opportunities and rampant individualism. A postwar town planning, public housing, public health and community development were discussed. The campaign put ideas into practice with a nursery at Brighton and kindergartens at Brighton, Nuriootpa, Stirling and Keith. Nuriootpa became a wider Common Cause experiment in community development. Mainly a middle-class movement, Common Cause petered out after 1944 but it brought together figures such as Adelaide University economist Keith Isles and historian G.V. Portus and progressive businessman Sidney Crawford. Also involved were J.W. Wainwright, the architect of South Australia’s transforming industrialisation strategy, and Alex Ramsay, future general manager of the South Australian Housing Trust – a prime agent in the Playford era’s own version of a common cause to improve the state.


adding colour and controversy to the South Australian culture 

Edward Wright escapes Bedlam disgrace to face manslaughter notoriety in South Australia, 1845

Edward Wright was one of South Australia’s first flawed geniuses. A graduate in medicine from Edinburgh University in 1813 and experienced in public hospitals, Wright, a member of many learned societies, became apothecary, surgeon and superintendent at Bethlem Royal Hospital (Bedlam) in London in 1818. He was dismissed in 1830 for drunkenness, neglect of duties and undue familiarities. He tried to clear his name and then went to Syria. He returned to London but failed to find a suitable practice. Interested in the settlement of South Australia , Wright joined the managing committee of the South Australian Literary Association. In 1835, the South Australian colonisation commissioners rejected Wright’s bid to be medical officer but he and his family were allowed free passage to the colony.  Wright bought land in Franklin Street, Adelaide, and his medical patients included prominent settlers. Wright didn’t bother to enrol in the colony’s medical register yet he appears to have been a good practitioner in the days of cupping and leeches. But, at 18 stone, he was reckless, overindulgent and always poor. In 1845, Wright, seemingly intoxicated, prescribed large doses of morphia for a Thebarton hotel landlord imprisoned as a mental case at Adelaide Gaol. Tried for manslaughter (and discharged on a technical point), Wright claimed in defence that the victim had “taken only the quantity becoming a gentleman after dinner”. 

Adam Lindsay Gordon takes a poetic leap into starting a new life in South Australia in 1853

The poet Adam Lindsay Gordon, aged 20, arrived in Adelaide in 1853 with a letter of introduction to the South Australian governor from his military father who’d sent his son out from England as a fresh start from his wild and aimless life. Gordon immediately joined the South Australian mounted police and was the groom to senior officer Alexander Tolmer before being stationed at Mount Gambier and Penola. He left the police force in 1855 and took up horse breaking in the south-east district. In 1857, he met Julian Tenison-Woods, Catholic priest, geologist and educationist, who, with Mary MacKillop, founded the Congregation of Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart at Penola in 1866. Woods lent books to Gordon and talked poetry with him. Gordon resumed his interest in horse racing and won or was placed in several local hurdle and steeplechases.  In 1862, he married Margaret Park, aged 17, and two years later bought a cottage, Dingley Dell, near Port MacDonnell. In that year, inspired by six engravings after Noel Paton illustrating "The Dowie Dens O' Yarrow", Gordon wrote a poem “The Feud”, with 30 copies printed at Mount Gambier. In 1864, he performed the daring riding feat known as Gordon's Leap on the edge of Mount Gambier’s Blue Lake. Gordon was elected to the South Australian House of Assembly  in 1865. His semi-classical speeches were colourful and entertaining but largely irrelevant, and he resigned in 1866. In 1868, Gordon moved to Ballarat. After financial troubles and serious falls in horse races, Gordon shot himself in 1870.

Brilliant Paris Nesbit 
leads Adelaide law 
in between sex scandal
s, lunatic asylum spells

Brilliant Paris Nesbit had 30 years sharing the leadership of South Australian law. A Queen’s Counsel from 1893, he drafted many parliamentary bills and had a forensic ability and courtroom-cabaret style that won him admirers and detractors. His fame became notorious for time in lunatic asylums and as the “absinthe drinking, woman loving, tobacco-enslaved…Prince of Bohemia”. Born in 1852 at Angaston, Nesbit mastered German, French, Latin and Shakespeare at 10. In 1884, Nesbit lost an election for the seat of East Adelaide. In Melbourne in 1885, he was arrested after harassing a woman he was pursuing. He was in Melbourne Gaol for a weekend and sent to Kew Lunatic Asylum. Put on a steamer for Adelaide, Nesbit jumped overboard, swam back to Melbourne and the woman, and was again committed. In 1896, he left the Adelaide Lunatic Asylum, determined to enter parliament and change the lunacy laws. Again certified in 1898, his efforts to get out of the lunatic asylum were blocked by Charles Kingston's government. In 1900, Nesbit launched Morning, a popular weekly that defamed Kingston and publicised Nesbit's views on divorce law reform, legal aid for the poor, decriminalising drunkenness and equal employment. In 1902, a successor, Morning Star, featured erotic verses by anonymous poetesses, addressed “to Paris”. After more tries to enter parliament, Nesbit was certified at 63, after offending public sexual decency.

Concrete 'castle' as a sour sequel to 
Herschel Babbage’s
 contribution to South Australia

Babbage’s Castle, a huge concrete structure in fantastic baroque at St Marys, is a lost South Australian 19th Century oddity from Herschel Babbage’s life in Adelaide. Babbage, an engineer, was eldest son of renowned Cambridge mathematician Charles Babbage. In 1851, British colonial secretary Earl Grey sent Babbage to make a geological and mineralogical survey of South Australia. Babbage worked on government projects, setting up the gold assay office in Victoria Square and later as chief engineer for the company building the city-to-Port Adelaide railway. In 1853, Babbage was first chairman of Mitcham District Council and he served as president of the Adelaide Philosophical Society. Babbage was elected to the House of Assembly in 1857, representing Encounter Bay. He resigned to lead an expedition to explore the north between Lake Torrens and Lake Gairdner. When the government grew tired of his slow methodical pace, the crown lands commissioner Francis Dutton replaced Babbage with Peter Warburton in 1858. Babbage complained of this treatment and withdrew from public life except as a 1877 Legislative Council elections candidate who refused to be part of any public meetings. Babbage spent his last years building a mansion near South Road he called The Rosary, although locals referred to it as Babbage's Castle. The building developed defects and was deserted from 1905 to 1935, when it was demolished.

Duel challenge part of notorious life of South Australian premier Charles Kingston

Charles Cameron Kingston was a notorious giant among politicians in the 1890s when he led the South Australian government for a then-record six years and a leading member of federal parliament after 1901. He was a radical South Australian premier who introduced votes for women and a state bank plus many social and industrial reforms. The most colourful episode in Kingston's political career came in 1892. Richard Baker, a prominent conservative in the Legislative Council, denounced Kingston as a coward, a bully and a disgrace to the legal profession. Kingston sent a pistol to Baker with by a letter appointing the time for a duel in Victoria Square, Adelaide, on December 23, 1892.  Baker informed the police who arrested Kingston when he arrived holding a loaded revolver. Kingston he was tried and bound over to keep the peace for 12 months. This was in force when he became premier in 1893. Victoria Square was the scene of another incident in 1895, when the South Australian Company manager, provoked by Kingston, thrashed him with a riding whip and drew blood. Kingston wrested the weapon away. Kingston's preoccupation with politics may be linked to his tragic family life. His wife Lucy took in a child that Kingston had fathered with another woman. (Kingston’s body was exhumed in 2008 because two people thought they might be descendants of one of at least six illegitimate children he is believed to have fathered.)

Political chapter of King O'Malley legend born in the South Australian parliament in 1890s

The legend is that King O'Malley arrived in Adelaide in 1893, having walked 2,100km from Emu Park on the Queensland coast. He’d come from the USA two years earlier, and was widely believed in Adelaide as having contracted tuberculosis from Rosy Wilmot, described by him as a beautiful young acolyte of the Texas church O’Malley founded (to take advantage of a government land grant). The church experience had converted him to the temperance cause and he became a hater of “stagger juice”.  In South Australia, O’Malley resumed his American occupation as an itinerant insurance salesman but also preaching evangelical Christianity. In 1895, he settled in Gawler and the next year he was elected as a member for Encounter Bay in the House of Assembly as a radical democrat, opposed to the wealthy landowners who dominated politics. His most popular platform among conservatives was to rid hotels of barmaids “hired for their physical attributes". O’Malley attracted a female following and his “oratorial buffoonery” was the popular topic. O’Malley had met the need to be a British citizen to stand for parliament by claiming he was born in Canada. He sued for libel over a statement he was born in the USA and had fled after embezzling funds. In the 1899 election, he was narrowly defeated in a bitter campaign. He left for Tasmania where he was elected to federal parliament and made his mark by choosing the site and planner Walter Burley Griffin for Canberra and, during his time with the Labor party, Americansing its name without the U.

Vaiben Louis Solomon a 7-day wonder
 as South Australian premier representing

Vaiben Louis Solomon had the briefest term as South Australian premier – seven days – in 1899 while representing the Northern Territory (then part of South Australia). Solomon was born in Adelaide, the son of Judah Moss Solomon, a member of the Legislative Council and Adelaide mayor 1869-70. Educated at John Lorenzo Young’s Adelaide Educational Institution and Scotch College, Melbourne, he returned to Adelaide and joined the firm of Donaldson, Andrews and Sharland, who sent him to Kapunda where he developed a taste for amateur theatricals. Solomon’s wish to marry Mary Ann Wigzell, a gentile, against his father's wishes, was a possible factor in his move to the Northern Territory in 1873 where he became “Mr Everything” because of business pursuits. He was nicknamed “Black Solomon” from the time, on a dare, he painted himself black and walked naked through Palmerston (now Darwin). He chaired Palmerston’s first municipal council and, in 1890, was elected with J. Langdon Parsons as the territory’s first representatives in the South Australia parliament. Their campaign advocated a White Australia Policy. A big personality, Solomon served as government whip before becoming opposition leader in 1899, when he brought down Charles Kingston's government over moves to extend Legislative Council suffrage to all householders and their wives. "Sudden Solomon” was premier and treasurer for one week.

Benjamin Mendes da Costa's bequest to St Peter's College sets off Catholic conspiracy

An Adelaide myth, verging on conspiracy, was that the Anglican Church had deprived the Roman Catholic Church of the large bequest from businessman Benjamin Mendes da Costa. The myth is rooted in da Costa’s Portuguese name, suggesting he was Catholic. But da Costa had Jewish lineage and, with his sister Louisa, was bought up in the Church of England as children of their father’s second marriage. (The first-marriage children were brought up Jewish.) Benjamin and Louisa arrived in South Australia on 1840. He set up as a merchant and bought property across Adelaide and South Australia, including 11 blocks on Hindley, Rundle, Grenfell, Currie, Gilbert and Pulteney streets. The da Costas only stayed in South Australia for seven years but, when Benjamin died in 1869, he left land for the site of St Peter’s Cathedral and his £20,000 Adelaide property estate to the Collegiate School of St Peter. The dispute over wording of his will was whether he'd left money to the Anglican bishop of Adelaide (Augustus Short), whom he knew, or the Catholic bishop. It's also a myth that the Anglicans won a legal case on this point. Da Costa had become friendly with Augustus Short, who founded Collegiate School of St Peter that started in 1847 at Trinity Church on North Terrace. Da Costa left his South Australian real estate to the Council of the Collegiate School of St Peter, subject to the life interests of 10 relatives. The last relative and last life tenant of the properties died in 1910 and the estate was vested in St Peter's. Its unimproved value was about £80,000 and, in 1910-15, it provided between one and two thirds of the college’s revenue. St Peter’s College sold Da Costa Arcade in 2005 but much of the estate remains as prominent city-centre locations. 


Bert Edwards the great controversial early 20th Century enigma of west end of Adelaide city

Bert Edwards, one of Adelaide's most complex, combatant and controversial 20th Century figures, fitted the rumour that he was an illegitimate son of complex, combatant and controversial premier Charles Cameron Kingston. Jobs as a stall keeper, marine store dealer and hotel keeper led Edwards to holding licences for the Brunswick Hotel, the Newmarket Hotel on North Terrace, Adelaide; Victor Harbor’s Hotel Victor and British Lion Hotel in Hindmarsh. He also ran a tea room in Sturt Street in Adelaide's west end. In 1917, he was elected to the House of Assembly as Labor member for Adelaide and became a prominent Adelaide city councillor for the west end's Grey Ward. In 1921, West Adelaide Football Club nominated Edwards, a long-time follower, as its delegate to the South Australian National Football League's governing board. But Edwards was rejected on the grounds that he’d once used intemperate language at a junior meeting. Edwards refused to apologise, starting a standoff that came close to having that league disbanded and reformed without West Adelaide. Edwards served in House of Assembly until 1931 when he was been convicted of “an unnatural offence” with John Gaunt “Jack” Mundy, 16, a “sexually perverted boy”, and sentenced to five years jail. In 1961, Edwards endowed a men's refuge in Whitmore Square, Adelaide, and in 1963 he bought the property next door as a rehabilitation centre for prisoners. He contributed generously to a meals centre run by the Daughters of Charity in Hutt Street, Adelaide. 


as the colony/state accumulates its distinctive idioms and tastes

Barossa and Thebarton are spelling mistakes in the fertile flux of South Australian place names

“Barossa Valley” and “Thebarton” are spelling mistakes. Both are clerical errors in registering the names given by Colonel William Light to those places. “Barrosa” was the name given by Light to an area of ranges he surveyed in 1837. This was in memory of the British victory over the French in Spain during 1811. Light had taken part in that battle. “Barrosa” became “Barossa” in a clerical error. The same for Thebarton. Light had named his allotments to the west of the city as Theberton after Theberton Hall in Suffolk. This is where Light, who spent his infant years in Penang, had been sent at six to be educated by his father’s friend Charles Doughty. A typographical error in the publication of Light’s Brief Journal and assorted conveyancing documents of allotments had it spelt both as “Theberton’ and “The barton” from 1839. Other South Australian place names are burdened with obscure origins, such as Mount Compass: where governor George Gawler lost his compass in 1840. Many original names have been overthrown. Kilburn residents used to live in Little Chicago, Morphett Vale was once Emu Downs, Rosewater was Paddington, and Burnside used to be Slapes Gully. German names – such as Blumberg to Birdwood, Peterburg to Peterborough – were changed during World War I. Origin of Pinky Flat, beside the River Torrens, is uncertain but could be from pingku (bilby) in the Aboriginal Kauna language.

Beer glass sizes/names in
 South Australia 
stand alone
 with theories about origins unfulfilled

South Australia’s beer glass sizes and names – pint, schooner, butcher and pony – remain oddities with their origins clouded. Elsewhere in Australia, a pint of beer is 570 millilitres. In South Australia, it’s 452 millilitres. A South Australian schooner is 285 millilitres (slightly smaller than the interstate counterpart), a butcher is 200 millilitres and a pony is 140 millilitres. The story behind the smaller pint glass in South Australia provokes several theories. One is that the strong Temperance movement, which forced pubs to close at 6pm for most of the early 20th Century, also lobbied for smaller glass sizes. Or it may have been a product of World War I or 1930s Depression austerity. Various breweries offering imprecise bottle sizes began the practice of referring to “reputed” quarts or pints. The name “butcher” is  uniquely South Australian. The most common theory about the name of the butcher glass refers to Adelaide’s Newmarket Hotel, on the corner of North and West terraces, near a 19th Century abattoir. The smaller butcher glass was said to be a favourite with abattoir workers, possibly because it wouldn’t slip through their bloodied fingers. Another theory is that the name is from the German “becher” for a drinking vessel.

Pie floaters, fritz, frog cakes, Fruchocs, Yo Yos, Kitchener buns all to South Australian tastes

The pie floater, fritz, frog cakes, Fruchocs, Yo Yo biscuits and the Kitchener bun are among South Australia's food oddities. The pie floater, honoured as a South Australian heritage icon, is a meat pie floating in a bowl of thick pea soup. The floater was originally served from mobile pie carts on the streets of Adelaide. Fritz or bung fritz is claimed as uniquely South Australian but there are versions in other states. The frog cake, in the shape of a frog’s head, is sponge and cream covered with fondant. After a trip to France, Gordon Balfour, nephew of John Balfour, a founder of Balfours Bakery, introduced the frog cake in 1922 when tea rooms were popular in Adelaide. Originally green, the frogs later had brown and pink added. Also declared a state icon in 2005 are FruChocs, chocolate-covered apricot balls, made by South Australian company Robern Menz that can trace its South Australian origins back to the Menz family from Germany in 1850. Also from the Menz family, Yo Yos became a standard South Australian biscuit favourite but, after Arnotts took over the company in 1962, they removed Yo Yos from their family assorted packets in 1997 because they weren’t popular enough in other Australian states. Kitchener buns are another distinctly South Australian treat called the Berliner before anti-German sentiment in World War I prompted its new name to honour of British field marshal Lord Horatio Kitchener.

Douglas MacArthur, J.P. McGowan and oddity of three rail gauges still echo through Terowie

US General Douglas MacArthur made his famous"I shall return" speech regarding the Battle of the Philippines while changing trains on March 20, 1942, at the now-railway-ghost-town Terowie. MacArthur, coming south from the Philippines, via Alice Springs to Adelaide, had to change, like all travellers, from narrow to broad gauge at then-busy Terowie. The general was surprised on his “secret” journey to be greeted by Terowie locals and the press as he changed trains. The town also was the childhood home of J.P. McGowan whose father worked for the then-bustling railways. McGowan became a prolific pioneer Hollywood film director specialising in serials with a railways theme, including directing a young John Wayne in 12 episodes of The Hurricane express in 1932. McGowan who over four decades acted in 232 films, wrote 26 screenplays and directed 242 productions, is the only Australian life member of the Screen Directors Guild (now Directors Guild of America). Terowie boomed from 1880 as a railways changeover point – part of another South Australian oddity: having three railway gauges. Different choices between the Australian colonies in the 19th Century had left the continent with the narrow, standard and broad gauges. South Australia was caught in the middle with all three gauges. when the railway lines going through it were converted to broad gauge, Terowie declined to a near ghost town.

Cyril Stobie's poles idea in 1924 grows to 725,000 taking power to South Australia's streets

Stobie poles – more than 725,000 of them – are a useful oddity only widely used in South Australia. They’re also, oddly, state icons despite being widely regarded as ugly and a traffic hazard. The Stobie, a powerline pole made of two steel joists held apart by a slab of concrete, was invented in the 1920s by Adelaide Electric Supply Company engineer Cyril Stobie. His idea overcame two South Australian problems: scarce timber and abundant termites. Adelaide Electric Supply paid him £500 for the patent rights. The Stobie pole was central to the rapidly expanding Adelaide Electricity Supply’s network. In 1936, Stobie converted a Sterling coal truck so it could install 21-metre long concrete-steel poles weighing 7.7 tonnes. The Electricity Trust of South Australia took over from Adelaide Electric Supply in 1946 and Stobie became chief design engineer. Stobie and Frederick Wheadon, with John Ragless Brookman, formed The Stobie Pole Syndicate to patent the Stobie pole design and then sell it or the manufacturing rights. Hume Pipe Company became their first agents but, despite many international inquiries, South Australia has remained the only place where the the poles are widely used. SA Power Networks (formerly Electricity Trust of South Australia) continues to make Stobie poles at Angle Vale. The rot-, fire- and termite-proof poles carry from 240 to 275,000 volts over an expected service life of more than 80 years.

Man in blue, chop picnic, early minute, secret women's business South Australianisms fading

The Man in Blue, behind his window under the big arrivals and departures board, was central to the Adelaide Railway Station in its busiest days before 1978. The man in blue, now gone, is one of the South Australianisms fading away. Other fading South Australian idioms include “taking an early minute”, “the chop picnic” and “secret women’s business”. The man in blue went with Adelaide Railway Station’s diminishing central role after the state’s country railway services were closed and the interstate rail services – the Ghan and the Overland – were transferred to the Keswick station when the hotel, government offices and convention centre were built over the station platforms. The German Lutheran influence, as part of the Protestant work ethic, has been credited as behind another South Australian idiom: “taking an early minute”. The “chop picnic” was a mobile form of a barbecue – an American expression imported in the 1970s. But the chop picnic usually involved a utility vehicle to carry an improvised cooking rack, plate or oven to a picnic spot. Chop picnic food was predominantly chops, sausages, meat patties, onions, bread and “dead horse” (sauce). "Secret women’s business” became part of the South Australian lexicon from the 1990s Hindmarsh Island bridge controversy. In 1994, Ngarrindjeri women elders claimed the site was sacred for reasons that couldn’t be revealed. “Secret women's business” became the core of intense legal battles.


Big legacies left by premier Don Dunstan, collector David Roche

David Roche leaves an intensely rich collection of world treasures at his home in North Adelaide

A private and shy man, David Roche expressed himself in a lasting flamboyant overwhelmingly rich and stylish gift to South Australia. Roche’s gift is concentrated in Fermoy House, his home in Melbourne Street, North Adelaide, for nearly 60 years from 1954. With “no room in my house for minimalism”, Roche, a benefactor of his father’s Adelaide Development Company, roamed the world carefully gathering about 3,500 items from some of the finest European makers and designers of the 18th/19th centuries, with a particular love of English Regency and French and Russian empire works. Besides being intensely concentrated in his home, Roche’s collection now spills over into an adjoining museum wing, completed in 2016, as part of The David Roche Foundation and his legacy vision to open his collection to the public for small tours. Another major aspect of Roche was his love of pedigree dogs. Next to the Australian Federation villa in North Adelaide, he built the Fermoy Kennels for up to 40 dogs in airconditioned comfort. Roche became most successful dog show exhibitor in Australia and, as an international dog show judge, the youngest, at 39 in 1969, and first non-British official judge for best in show at Crufts in England. Roche’s homosexuality was private but aligned with his taste and ventures such as The Cock’s Feathers menswear shop he set up off Gawler Place, Adelaide, in the 1960s. Roche's ashes are at the house in the large Russian Lidded vase (1890) in malachite veneers. It also has his death mask and a pillow, a gift from his mother, with the message: “It’s hard being a queen”.

South Australian novel premier Don Dunstan a regular at David Roche's Cock's Feathers shop

South Australian premier Don Dunstan was the most well-known client of The Cock’s Feathers, a menswear shop opened in 1965 by David Roche, better known as prolific collector of antique furniture, porcelain, pottery, sculpture, lighting and paintings globally for Fermoy House, his home in Melbourne Street, North Adelaide. His other deep interest, as prize-winning exhibitor and judge for dog shows, also took him overseas. During a trip in 1963 around England and Europe, Roche spent time looking at menswear and shoes and did some coat modelling for London Saville Row tailors. Back in Adelaide, Roche remodelled the back area of North Terrace’s Gawler Chambers, owned by the family’s Adelaide Development Company. This became The Cock’s Feathers, a menswear shop off Gawler Place. It sold luxury English clothes from DAKS and Aquascutum of London, Burberry’s Irish tweed overcoats, and Italian and Bally shoes. Its shirts, shorts and ties were made in Adelaide, with shirts and most stock carrying the Cock’s Feathers label. Don Dunstan, a regular client until the shop closed around 1970, radicalised Adelaide dress norms with choices such as florals, safari suits and polo necks but most notably making headlines by wearing pink shorts to work at South Australian Parliament House in 1972. Dunstan made South Australia the first to decriminalise homosexuality in Australia, earning him hero status in Adelaide's gay community. Dunstan’s partner Stephen Cheng gave the shorts to Adelaide's Centre for Democracy in the North Terrace Institute building, opposite Gawler Chambers.

Don Dunstan's shorts at the South Australian parliament a symbol of decade of reform 1967-79

Premier Don Dunstan made international and national headlines by wearing pink shorts to work at South Australian Parliament House on November 22, 1972. Dunstan was aware the shorts would attract attention and was keen to be seen, despite the efforts of his minders who'd been trying to shield the premier from press photographers. But, around 4pm, Dunstan slipped out and posed for them. The gesture fitted the whole social revolution that Dunstan had brought to South Australia in the wake of conservative Tom Playford's era. Dunstan had always been flamboyant in florals and safaris suits but, as a white middle-aged man – and premier – wearing pink shorts (with white T-shirt, long socks, brown shoes) to work was his ultimate salute to diversity – signficant even in the black-and-white news footage of the time. Dunstan made South Australia the first to decriminalise homosexuality in Australia, earning him hero status in Adelaide's gay community. The pink shorts represent Dunstan's wide radical political legacy and were bequeathed to his partner Stephen Cheng, who donated them in 2017 for display in Adelaide's new Centre for Democracy in the Institute building on North Terrace. Dunstan, premier for two terms 1967-79, was a staunch social reformist and one of the most progressive politicians Australia has ever seen. Born in Fiji and having later practised law there, he was deeply committed to social justice, cultural diversity, democracy, human rights and respect for Indigenous people. He legislated reforms on land rights, anti-discrimination laws and environmental protection.

Johnny Haysman raised to Adelaide icon as an unashamed individual in undress and dance

Adelaide’s Johnny Haysman has been ranked among the world’s best-known local characters, and elevated to South Australian icon status, for his fearless individualism and defiance of convention. The tall Aboriginal Clare-born wineries worker was a traffic stopper for many years in Adelaide city from the late 20th Century with his displays of unashamed expression. These most notably included daily promenades up and down the city’s main retail strip, Rundle Mall, in a white leotard or mankini and koala-shaped backpack. His extensive secondhand opshop fashion sense also was famous for mismatched plains and stripes or a white jacket with black bicycle pants or football shorts. In summer, Haysman, with his sparse-but-bushy hair, would strip down to Speedo bathers and white gumboots in warm weather. This was often his choice for parading, without flinching under a shower of plastic beer cups, in front of a packed rowdy crowd on the scoreboard hill at an Adelaide Test cricket match. His walks also were spiced by spontaneous outbreaks of dance: “I love to dance. It connects body and soul”. In 2015, Haysman appeared on a national Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Australians on Porn program, dancing in a pink mankini in front of his computer webcam. He described, as a self-confessed 46-year-old virgin, how he spent up to $300 a week webcamming with a porn star to express his sexuality. Haysman also was featured on ABC television The Mix enterntainment arts program. A Johnny Haysman Appreciation Society was also formed through Facebook. 

Hans let loosen from Adelaide's Weimar Room to wow America's Got Talent show in 2018

Adelaide's fake-German trailblazing cabaret star Hans reached the finals of America's Got Talent in 2018. Hans, as a camp German accordion player, has been the mega reality TV show's most successful Australian entrant. Hans is the outrageous alter ego of Matt Gilbertson, entertainment writer and act at the Adelaide Fringe festival, with his show Like A German also taken to Edinburgh Fringe festival. Hans –"international superstar, sex symbol, accordionist, home wrecker, Madonna fan"– began an America’s Got Talent performance with an accordion as he descended from the ceiling of Hollywood's Dolby Theatre, amid fake snow. He quickly launched into a typically kitsch “Spice Up Your Life” in front of the judgies including former Spice Girl Mel B. Busking at age 19 in Adelaide’s Rundle Mall with pop songs accompanied by accordian, Gilberton was “discovered” by Catherine Campbell, who played Greta in the Berlin Cabaret in the Weimar Room in Hindley Street. Gilberton play traditional German tunes that fitted into the show and he was happy to became Hans in leidenhosen. Like Campell, Gilberton was a South of Music and Spice Girls-obsessed child of the 90s who wanted to be living in sleazy 1920s Germany – behind ridiculous makeup and fishnet stockings. Gilberton’s equal recall of pop culture and songs from past eras added to shaping the Hans character that he continued after the Weimar Room closed in 2005. Among Hans’s biggest fans has been Adelaide TV entertainer Anne “Willsy” Wills, buying him birthday eye shadow and eye lashes – and all his fishnet stockings.


of doing things a bit differently and drawing on international link

Tanunda Kegel Club rolls out South Australian German tradition from 1858 in Barossa Valley

Tanunda Kegel Club, claiming to be the southern hemisphere’s oldest sporting club, has its origins with a kegelbahn or skittles alley built in 1858 in Paul Fischer's Tanunda tea gardens in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. A precursor to tenpin bowling — kegel or kegeln (German for “skittle”) – was played by the valley’s early Silesian settlers. Tanunda’s is the only surviving kegelbahn of other Australian towns with German population. The kegeln scoring system is complex. Based on traditional German nine-pin bowling and closely related to skittles and tenpin bowling, the game’s object is to knock down nine pins. Leaving only the front pin (kegel) of the nine pins standing scores 60 points. In 1931, Tanunda kegelbahn was dismantled and reassembled at the showgrounds in wooden kegel barn style, with its narrow 38-metre alley that can be affected by soil dampness underneath, adding to its challenges. Some of original pins and wooden balls. Unlike modern kegel clubs in Germany, a pinsetter is still required to reset pins after each roll and send the balls back down. Tanunda kegel competitions were social events, mostly on Sunday afternoons, with coffee and German cakes. League competitions now are on Thursday and Friday with the venue available for hire on weekends. Women weren’t allowed to play until the 1970s but now have their own competition. Tenpin bowling is a much more recent in Australia. The first tenpin alley in Sydney in 1937 didn’t take off and it wasn't until 1960 that tenpin became popular, when an eight-lane manually-operated centre was built at the Adelaide suburb of Glenelg.

27th/10th battalions' football match on WWI battlefield starts a South Australian tradition

South Australia’s 27th Battalion in April 1917 played in what has been described as “the most unique game of football ever contested”. The Australian football match between the 27th and the 28th Battalion from Western Australia was decided on a battlefield of the World War I western front in France. The playing area was among the heavy trench system of the German front line before the Somme offensive in 1916. The 27th defeated the 28th Battalion; another victory on its way to becoming the champions of the Australian army’s 2nd Division. Their 27th's brother South Australian Battalion, the 10th, became champions of 1st Division. The South Australian 27th and 10th teams would meet just once on the western front. The troops had to route march 12km to get to the site. The football teams were transported in wagons to save them for the game. When the troops met, one soldier reported that it was “like a miniature South Australia”. The 27th won the day by two points in a high-standard match. In 1919, the first post-war football match in Adelaide between the 27th and 10th battalions' ex Diggers was played within a Peace Day event. Afterwards, it became a traditional Anzac Day event at Adelaide Oval. A businessman, Mr Heylen, donated a trophy, and for 10 years the 10th, 27th, 43rd and an artillery unit, played double-header matches. The Anzac Day match tradition is continued by the South Australian National Football League.

Royal Adelaide a top 100 golf club 
bisected by a train line; with Nobel Prize
 winner in its past

A train line (to Grange) bisecting the Royal Adelaide golf course at Seaton hasn’t stopped it being rated among the top 100 in the world. The train line predates the opening of the golf course in 1906. Among those choosing the Seaton site was the future 1915 Nobel Prize physics prize winner William Bragg, a long-time club member who won its senior medal in 1906/07. Adelaide Golf Club had previous lives, briefly at North Adelaide in the 1870s and from 1892 near Glenelg Golf Club.
The train line on the chosen Seaton site initially became a plus for members who used to travel to the original bungalow-style clubhouse. William Bragg joined the Adelaide Golf Club in 1893 and showed what The Critic weekly magazine called “an infinite capacity for taking pains, as during all his golfing career he has set himself to master individual shots by constant practice”. In 1894, William was elected the club’s secretary/treasurer and oversaw preparing the greens. He reduced his golf handicap from 13 to 1–  for the Browne Trophy competition. In 1900, Bragg and wife Gwen and played in the mixed pairs handicap stroke competition at the Australian championships. Son Lawrence, who would share the Nobel Prize with his father in 1915, recalled: “I used to caddy for [my father] as a boy, and I remember going around with him when he was planning a new course at Seaton.” Bragg provided a club trophy in 1905 before he left Adelaide.

Adelaide's own electric light cricket burns bright from Depression years to the 2000s

Adelaide invented its own one-off sporting experiment –  electric light cricket ­– in a western suburban Cowandilla back garden during the 1930s Depression years. The game was the idea of returned serviceman and tram dispatcher Alf Stone in 1930. He’d rollout a cricket pitch on his large back lawn and involved local youths – mostly unemployed ­– for a hit with the bat at night. Soon 50 youths were coming in every night and Stone rigged up a house light globes. He shared the game with friends at the Hilton branch of the Returned Soldiers' League and it spread as the Diggers Game. Stone patented the game that had its first official match in 1933. Electric light cricket was played in an enclosed area about three quarters the size of a tennis court. A tennis ball was used and bowling was underarm. A ring of up to 18 fielders surrounded the batsman and shots that got through it to the fence were awarded two, four or six.  By the mid 1930s, many business houses, factories, workshops and sport clubs had formed teams for men’s and women’s competitions. A clubhouse and six courts were built in Adelaide’s southern parklands on Peacock Road, between King William Road and King William Street, with a string of lights above each court. After World War II, electric light cricket grew, with 7,000 players by 1949. It also spread to Test cricketers: Sir Garfield Sobers, Ian Chappell, Gil Langley, Barry Jarman and Wayne Phillips. The game waned in the 1980s with the rise of indoor cricket. A 1990s mini revival in the 1990s couldn’t stop its demise in the 2000s.

Kamahl the singing cricketer fostered in Adelaide by Bradman and Rupert Murdoch

Kamahl became one of Australia’s best-known singers through the Adelaide phenomenon of small-city social links bringing him contact with famous benefactors  Don Bradman and Rupert Murdoch in the 1950s. From a Tamil background, Kamahl arrived in Adelaide as Kandiah Kamalesvaran from Malaysia in 1953 for secondary education at King’s College (now Pembroke School) in Kensington Park. He took up cricket again at King’s College and was picked to play for the district cricket club Kensington. He took a hat-trick with his first three off-spin balls and finished with 7/55. Later that day he met Don Bradman, who also had played for Kensington club and lived in Kensington Park. This was start of Kamahl’s friendship with Bradman. As Kamahl’s university studies floundered, immigration authorities attempted to deport him. He enjoyed singing and decided to try it as a career as “Kamahl”. Just before Christmas 1958, Rupert Murdoch, the young proprietor of Adelaide’s afternoon newspaper The News, went to a party at the Lido nightclub. The singer did four Nat King Cole songs and some carols. Murdoch ask Kamalhl asked if he would sing at his staff Christmas party. The next year, Murdoch put Adelaide’s first television channel, Nine, to air with Kamahl booked for the opening night variety show. Murdoch protected and promoted Kamahl in a move to Sydney where he gained permanent residency in 1966.

Coober Pedy golf club only one in the world with reciprocal rights to St Andrew's in Scotland

Coober Pedy Opal Fields Golf Club is the only one in the world with reciprocal rights for its members to play at The Royal and Ancient Golf of St Andrews – home to the British Open in Scotland. This came from a 2003 satellite-link exchange, arranged by a film maker doing a documentary at Coober Pedy, between St Andrew’s general manager Alan McGregor and opal fields club president Kim Kelly. The humourous McGregor offered rights to St Andrew’s in exchange for an opal mine. Kelly promptly staked a mine claim near the course and sent off a few opals and a how-to mining brochure. While the reciprocal rights are actually for the nine-hole Balgove Course, a Coober Pedy member who tested the privilege “with a few mates” was given the OK by McGregor to play on the revered Old Course. Coober Pedy's golf course – mostly used at night to avoid daytime heat – is strewn with rocks. Golfers, who take a piece of turf for teeing off, can keep any opals they find. It's hardly an oddity in the context of Coober Pedy, 846km north of Adelaide, renowned for its life below ground that extends beyond “dugout” homes to churches (the Serbian Orthodox and Catholic) and motels plus the 250,000 small opal mines. The name “Coober Pedy” comes from the local Aboriginal term: kupa-piti (boys’ waterhole). The town didn’t start until 1915, when opal was discovered by Wille Hutchison. Miners first moved in about 1916. 

Ceduna tee off for South Australian start to world's longest golf course on the Nullarbor

The world’s longest golf course starts (from the South Australian end) in Ceduna and continues for 18 holes spaced along the 1,365 kilometres of the Eyre Highway to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia (WA). The Nullarbor Link course, opened in 2009, was the idea of Alf Caputo and Bob Bongiorno, both active in the Eyre Highway Operators Association, over a bottle of red wine at Balladonia roadhouse, WA. Some holes already existed at golf course at Ceduna, Eucla, Norseman, Kambalda and Kalgoorlie. Another 11 holes were built from scratch at roadhouses, roadstops, on working sheep stations, wheat farms and alongside gold mines. These include Penong, Nundroo, Border Village, Mundrabilla, Cocklebiddy, Balladonia and Fraser Range. Their tees and greens are synthetic grass, amid the Nullabor Plains arid terrain . The Don Harrington Tee at Border Village in South Australia is named after a major shareholder of five roadhouses along the highway. The 72-par course was designed with help from professional golfer Robert Stocker. The longest hole is Dingo’s Den at 53m metres and shortest is Brumby’s Run at 125 metres. Wombat Hole commemorates the nearby colony of southern hairy-nosed wombats. A Skylab hole is near where pieces of the spacecraft Skylab fell. The longest distance between holes is 200 kilometres. Thousands of people, many from overseas, have taken on the course challenge. Players (travellers) use a scorecard bought in Ceduna or Kalgoorlie. On presenting the completed card, they can claim a certificate for playing "the world’s longest golf course".

A whiff of underarm on the brilliant legacy of Victor Richardson's Chappell grandsons

Two members of a South Australian sporting dynasty – honoured on Adelaide Oval grandstands – provoked one of cricket’s great controversies when Australian captain Greg Chappell told his brother Trevor to bowl underarm for the final ball of World Series Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against New Zealand in 1981, to prevent the chance of a winning six being hit. The Chappells were grandsons of great Test and state cricket allrounder Victor Richardson and brothers of another Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell. The underarm bowling incident was in the final of the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. New Zealand reached their final over needing to score 14 runs to tie and 15 to win the match. As the final Australian bowler, Trevor Chappell surrendered only eight runs in the first five balls while getting two wickets. With one ball remaining, Trevor was told by captain Greg to bowl underarm.. As the ball was being bowled, Ian, commentating for Channel 9, called out: “No, Greg, no, you can't do that!”  Bowling underarm was within the laws of cricket but seen as against the spirit of fair play. New Zealand prime minister Robert Muldoon described it as “the most disgusting incident I can recall in the history of cricket". Next year, when the Australians toured New Zealand, a crown green bowls wood was rolled from the crowd of 43,000 at Eden Park, as Greg Chappell came out to bat. 

Barmy Army born at Adelaide Oval and retractable lights bid dims into 1990s farce

Adelaide Oval is where England’s Barmy Army was founded in 1994, on the Hill underneath the famous scoreboard. On Day 1 of the 1994 Ashes Test, supporters of the English cricket team headed to T Shirt City on Hindley Street during the lunch break and ordered 50 shirts saying “Atherton's Barmy Army” with the Union Jack on the back. By the end of the Test, more than 200 shirts had been bought. Meanwhile, some more serious madness was brewing the South Australian Cricket Association’s attempt to install lighting to lure Australian football or rugby league to the oval during the winter months. But the cricket association had to battle Adelaide City Council, residents of North Adelaide and protectors of the oval’s look, who claimed towers would be a blight. After a radical solution to install retractable light towers was chosen, work began in 1995 but with delays and cost blowouts. The lights were used for two day/night cricket matches in December 1997 but, on Saint Patrick's Day 1998, the No.2 tower collapsed and two injured men were left dangling from a crane by their harnesses. After an inquiry and an expensive legal fight between the light's designer and the construction company, South Australian Cricket Association submitted new plans for permanent lights. It started a new battle but with design changes, the oval’s permanent lights were finally switched on in 2000. The entire exercise had cost about $20 million.

Kaurna Boomerangs the first Aboriginal ice hockey team, from Adelaide youth program

The driest state on the driest continent has produced an ice hockey team from an unlikely source in Adelaide. The Kaurna Boomerangs are Australia’s first representative Aboriginal ice hockey team. It emerged from the Ice Factor program started in 2005 to help at-risk students stay in school and out of trouble. A former program member Shaquille Burgoyne, with Jaidyn O’Neil, came up with Kaurna Boomerangs ideas, inspired by the 1990s Mighty Ducks films. Taking their Kaurna name from the traditional owners of the Adelaide plains, the Boomerangs got the chance to stage the first exhibition ice hockey games in 2019 in Darwin at the Arafura Games –  a week-long international sporting event for Indigenous representatives from 33 countries. The Boomerangs team for the Arafura Games included one of its coaches and captain, Jarrad Chester, the first Aboriginal  ice hockey player to compete for Australia. The other coach is Justine Shaw, the first Ice Factor kid, whose mother, Marie Shaw QC, started the program. South Australian Ice Sports Federation and the Ice Arena at Thebarton helped developed the program with Adelaide metropolitan high schools, starting with advice from Don Anderson a youth worker in alternative education at northern suburbs’ Parafield Gardens High School and a group of disengaged students ages 13 to 18. A pilot project led to the Ice Factor Program using ice hockey as a vehicle to develop a team and long-term life skills. By 2019,15 high schools were involved in the program aimed at youth at risk, because of absenteeism, behaviour or literacy. 

South Australian Eleni Glouftsis, first female AFL umpire: first to get MCG marriage proposal

The first female to umpire in a top-level Australian Football League (AFL) game, Eleni Glouftsis, added another quirky football first in 2019. Glouftsis was named the 2019 South Australia Young Australian of the Year at an Adelaide Oval ceremony. She also received 2019 Australia Day honours in South Australia for her services to football. The daughter of two umpires from Greek-Australian background, Glouftsis officiated at her first match at the elite level when Essendon and West Coast met in 2017 at Etihad (now Marvel) Stadium . After starting her career as a whistleblower in 2008 and progressing through the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) junior ranks, Glouftsis in 2013 became the first woman to be a field umpire in the senior SANFL competition’s 137-year history. She moved to Melbourne on a three-year Australian Football League female pathway scholarship in 2014. She umpired 33 Victoria Football League matches from 2015. Glouftsis joined the AFL umpires rookie list as a field umpire at the start of the 2015 season, and trained with a dedicated coach in the AFL umpires group. In July 2019, after being a field umpire in the game between Adelaide and Carlton at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Glouftsis received a marriage proposal at the centre of the oval from boundary umpire Dillon Tee, another South Australian. The Carlton v Adelaide game was Glouftsis’s 25th AFL match as a field umpire while Tee had umpired more than 100 games. But it was the first time the pair, who met in South Australia before moving to Victoria, had umpired together in an AFL match.



macabre murders; Somerton Man, Beaumont children mysteries

Cold War spy theories hover over the 1948 mystery of body found on Somerton beach

Somerton Man remains one of Australia's biggest mysteries. He was found dead in a suit and tie, on Adelaide’s Somerton Beach on December 1, 1948. The coronial cause of death was probably from an unknown poison. Nothing identified him but a phone number and words from the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam. A page of the Rubáiyát, with the words “tamam shud” (“the end”) were found in a secret pocket in Somerton Man’s pants. When the page of the book was treated with iodine, five lines of code appeared. It set off deeper theories that micro writing within the code referred to plans for the de Havilland Venom — a British jet. Somerton Man’s death coincided with a Cold War visit to Adelaide by British officials and weapons trials at Woomera — the later site of nuclear testing. The other clue in the Rubáiyát book was the phone number of a nurse, Jessica Thomson, who lived in Somerton Park, and died in 2007. Her family told 60 Minutes in 2013 she may have been a Russian Soviet spy who had a son with Somerton Man, also a Soviet spy and double agent. 

 signs pop up all over Adelaide CBD as flamboyant Con goes on property buyup in 1960s

The “Polites” signs that dominate Adelaide CBD commercial buildings reflect the astonishing rise of Constantine George Polites from 1959 as a property tycoon. Born in 1919 at Port Pirie to Greek farming parents, Polites grew up in poverty but set up a deli/snack bar at the age of 16. He moved to Adelaide at 19 and worked as a general hand at Woolworths in Rundle Street before starting businesses in Adelaide. Polites' first real-estate buys included a building in Grenfell Street, across from Harris Scarfe’s, in the 1960s. Polites put a blue-and-white sign with his name on each building be bought. Hindley Street has the greatest concentration of the signs as Polites bought and sold hundreds of properties in the 1970s and 1980s. He was also a noticeable figues around town, driving a 1977 Cadillac, usually smoking a cigar. Polites died in 2001 but his passion for property and doing deals has been passed on to the next generation of his family. The death of George Polites had at least two odd sequels. In 2011,10 shots fired were fired at the former home and, in 2016, his grave was desecrated in a macabre attack believed to have been sparked by a family feud. A dead cat wrapped in a towel was found inside a pet carrier when police excavated the Adelaide property tycoon's grave. The excavation was believed to be linked to a suspicious package found at an Adelaide home. Police removed that package and said it was not dangerous.

Jack Becker: enigmatic and controversial but also enthusiastic wide achiever/entrepreneur

Jack Becker is among the most extraordinary, enigmatic and controversial South Australians. From a suburban Unley middle-class state-school background, Becker was an apprentice jeweller before his first entrepreneurial leap in reviving Adelaide College of Music in the 1930s. Becker taught instruments by keeping one lesson ahead of students. Becker also launched the Music League of South Australia to promote music through big On Parade shows or the world’s biggest boys’ military band. Becker’s altruism was tainted by commercial benefits from selling his musical instruments. He made a fortune from selling the music college. He made a second fortune by selling a big land holding near Keith in the-then Ninety Mile Desert that he transformed by encouraging scientific research on his property into adding trace elements to soil. Becker brought ideas and research to his next projects in breeding top merino sheep and Hereford cattle. The costs of these ideas and research meant Becker’s didn’t fully realise their financial potential. His main money gain came from selling properties such as stud farms at Smithfield and Angle Vale being encroached by Adelaide suburbia. Becker’s fought off tax office claims that these sales were land speculation. The aura of tax avoidance hung over Becker, not helped by his retirement in Bermuda. The negative slant on big donations to the Australian Academy of Science is that he was seeking a knighthood. He became “Sir J. Ellerton Becker” yet he and wife Gladys shunned the social scene. Whatever clouds Becker’s reputation, his enthusiasm and achievements are undeniable.

Zeta: an extraordinary foray into car making by Harold Lightburn's washing machine plant

One brave Adelaide company made an extraordinary foray into making cars in 1963-65. The Zeta, made by Lightburn & Co at its factory in the Adelaide suburb of Camden Park, became an instant collector’s item because of its odd features and rarity. Set up by car enthusiast Harold Lightburn, the factory initially made goods such as washing machines and industrial products like concrete mixers. In the 1960s, Lightburn bought lapsed rights for a UK small sports car, the Frisky, From it, Lightburn introduced the Zeta in 1963, priced at £595, but sold fewer than 400. Zeta models were a sedan, sedan deluxe, utility and sports model. Lightburn also produced an electric “mobility-scooteresque” runabout. The Zeta sedan and utility were powered by a 324cc Villiers engine and were front-wheel drive with independent rear trailing arms. The sedan had no rear hatch so the front seats had to be removed to access the cargo area. The chassis was steel, with a fibreglass body. Windows were perspex except for the front laminated glass windscreen. The four-speed dog clutch Villiers gearbox had no reverse so the engine had to be switched off and started backwards to provide four reverse gears. The utility was the rarest, with only eight produced. Some were bought by Sydney City Council for its Hyde Park fleet. The two-seater Zeta Sports was introduced in 1964. Like the Goggomobil Dart, it lacked doors and bumper bars. Only 28 were sold.

Beaumont trio, Joanne Ratcliffe, Kirste Gordon disappearance in 1960s, 1970s remain mysteries

The disappearance of the three Beaumont children at Glenelg on Australia Day 1966 and then Joanne Ratcliffe, 11, and four-year-old Kirste Gordon at Adelaide Oval in 1973 remain mighty South Australian mysteries, despite numerous leads and major search efforts. In January 2018, a unsuccessful dig search for remains of the Beaumont children was made at the site of North Plympton factory previously owned by the late Harry Phipps, a person of interest in the ongoing Beaumont investigation. The Beaumont children Jane, 9, Arnna, 7, and Grant, 4, left their Somerton Park home at 10am on Australia Day 1966 for an unsupervised day at the beach but they never came home. Volunteers helped police in the largest search in South Australia's history. Seven years after the Beaumont children’s disappearance, Joanne Ratcliffe, 11, and four-year-old Kirste Gordon went missing during a football match at Adelaide Oval in August 1973. Joanne had walked with Kirste to the oval toilets and they never came back.

Gerry Karidis and the Khemlani loan affair that hastened end of Whitlam government

Gerry Karidis, an Adelaide developer, started what became the Loans Affairs that hastened the end of Gough Whitlam’s federal Labor government in 1975. Karidis started as a young Greek-migrant wharf labourer at Port Adelaide on his way to being a multi-million property developer whose links included Clyde Cameron, the federal MP for Hindmarsh and minister in the Whitlam Cabinet. In 1974, minerals and energy minister Rex Connor was trying to fund major natural resource and energy projects with a $4 billion loan but preferably from an independent – not traditional European bank – source. Via Cameron, Karidis gave Connor that unconventional source: Tirath Khemlani, a Pakistani trader with a London trading firm. Karidis had been told Khemlani had access to millions of Middle East petrodollars. Karidis became Connor’s right-hand man and confidant as well as the initial link and chief conduit to Klemlani. The loan never eventuated but its circumstances were painted as “extraordinary and reprehensible” by federal opposition leader Malcolm Fraser in blocking the budget, before Whitlam was removed as prime minister on November 11, 1975, by governor general John Kerr

Don Dunstan plays 
Canute in 1976 at
 Glenelg as thousands laugh off tidal wave prophecy

Adelaide hit overseas headlines in 1975 when Melbourne clairvoyant and house painter John Nash predicted that the city would be wiped out by an earthquake and tidal wave at noon on January 19, 1976. Nash believed divine wrath would destroy Adelaide for leading Australia in anti-homosexual law reform. Publicity caused panic, particularly among non-English speaking migrants, with reports of properties, especially beachfront, being sold. On the designated day, some staff in seaside eateries refused to work and others drove to the Adelaide Hills. Country caravan parks emptied overnight. With  overseas interest, including The Times in London, reporters flew in from the UK and the BBC phoned premier Don Dunstan to ask if were true that all the snails had left Adelaide. The theatrical Dunstan (author of homosexual reform laws) went to Glenelg on the day to stand King Canute-like on the beach. Along with media, including a BBC TV crew, thousands turned up in a mostly fun mood. Some had banners calling to repent sins as the end was nigh; others in bathers with flippers and goggles. As noon loomed, a countdown started. Nothing happened. Adelaide happily remained the driest city in the driest state in the driest continent.

Macabre and bizarre characterises South Australian murders in late 20th Century

Adelaide was called the “murder capital of the world” in the British TV documentary The trials of Joanne Lees in 2002. Statistically, this is absurd, with Adelaide and South Australia's s murder rate mostly below the national average at less than two per 100,000 people since 1989. But a string of bizarre homicides in the late 20th Century gave Adelaide notoriety. Most prominent were: • The Truro murders, named after the discovery in 1978-79 of the remains of two young women in bushland east of the town Truro. Later, the remains of seven women were discovered: five at Truro, one at Wingfield at  and one at Port Gawler. The women had been murdered over two months in 1976-77. Christopher Worrall and James Miller died before they could be charged. • The Family was the name for a close-knit group of men believed to be involved in the kidnapping, drugging, sexual abuse and, at times, torture of young men and teenage boys in Adelaide and surrounding areas throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. This followed the murder of five teenagers between 1979 and 1983. • The Snowtown (or bodies-in-barrels) murders were homicides mainly in Salisbury North by John Bunting, Robert Wagner, and James Vlassakis between 1992 and 1999. The trial was one of the longest and most publicised in Australian legal history. The killers were led by Bunting to believe the victims were paedophiles, homosexual or “weak”. In some instances, the murders were preceded by torture, with efforts made to access victims’ Centrelink social security payments and bank funds.

Iced coffee becomes a South Australian global oddity that conquered even Coca-Cola in sales

Farmers Union Iced Coffee is a South Australian – and a global – oddity. First sold in 1977, it became so popular in South Australia that it outsold Coca-Cola (by 3:1 in 2008). South Australia was the only place in the world where a milk drink outsold a cola, with South Australians consuming 36 million litres of it in 2008, Launched when Farmers Union was still a South Australian dairy farmers cooperative, its iced coffee was Australia’s best-selling flavoured milk by 2003 when sales reached 22 million litres. The drink is made with coffee, glucose, and homogenised reduced fat milk and milk solids. It is available predominantly in 600 mL and 375 mL cartons. In the early 1990s, the Farmers Union was bought by Adelaide Steamship Company and made part of National Foods. Meanwhile, another South Australian milk cooperative, Dairy Vale, from Mount Compass, was taken over in 1997 by a New South Wales cooperative called Dairy Farmers. This set up an advertising war from South Australia for the national iced coffee market using Farmers Union and Dairy Vale brands. Pitting marketing figures such as Trevor Pomery (Farmers Union) and Patrick Baker (Dairy Vale) against each other, the battle saw “It’s a Farmers Union Iced Coffee or it’s nothing” win, along with television commercials doing twists on: “When the wall came down”, “Survived the Apollo disaster”, “When Chisel broke up”, “Lived through the Millennium bug” “..and Trevor’s underarm” and “Strongly opposed the Bush invasion”. These and others helped raise the Farmer’s Union Iced Coffee profile nationally.


Clifton Pugh's Adam and Eve on a pole adds spicy uproar to Adelaide's war of hairdressers in 1980s

Adelaide’s ubiquitous Stobie poles attracted national attention in a 1984 episode with layers of Adelaide oddity. It centred around multiple Archibald Prize-winning painter Clifton Pugh’s offer to help a project to put pictures on 170 of the poles widely regarded as hideous and, perversely, killers of reckless drivers. Pugh scandalised religious zealots by painting a perceived raunchy Adam and Eve mural on the pole outside Don Violi and Domenic Marafiote’s Hair International salon in Prospect. This brushed with another Adelaide oddity. The 1970s/80s days saw fierce competition between high-profile hairdressers such as Arturo ("The early bird catches the perm") Taverna, Mr Joseph and Feres Trabilsie (with a five-minute Head Start to Beauty segment on Channel 9). The Pugh mural was launched at the Prospect hair salon by former state premier Don Dunstan (of pink shorts fame) at a pink champagne lunch. It attracted support but church groups' opposition. As it'd been done without permission, Prospect Council ordered it gone. South Australian Centre for Performing Arts head Dr Barry Young paid $800 to save Adam and Eve by removing the Pugh pole, installing it in the centre, and paying for a new pole. The controversy drove Pugh to the bush seeking peace.

Starbucks rejected as Adelaide starts its own coffee revolution with Cibo Espresso in 2000

Adelaide saw off the American retail coffee megalith Starbucks in the early 2000s. Starbucks opened outlets in Rundle Mall, Glenelg and Noarlunga in 2007 but they closed in July 2008 when the franchise shut down 75% of its Australian locations.  Adelaide had already created its own coffee revolution in 2000 with Cibo Espresso opening its first outlet on the corner of Frome and Rundle streets in 2000. Cibo expanded to other outlets as it won the city over to an authentic Italian coffee experience. Cibo’s founders, Roberto Cardone, Salvatore Pepe, Angelo Inglese and Claudio Ferraro, had become renowned for the Italian experience they presented at their CIBO Ristorante in O’Connell Street, North Adelaide, from 1996. They were convinced Adelaide was ready for a real Italian coffee bar but it took a year to wean the city off scalding hot coffee and foamy cappuccinos. Surveys show Adelaide has the most enthusiastic coffee drinkers. Bean Bar is another Adelaide coffee company with outlets in the Adelaide CBD.

A South Australian bent for the name Brenton has its postwar peak between 1944 and 1988

One of South Australia’s quirks was the postwar popularity of the name Brenton. It’s was in the top 100 baby names in South Australia in every year, except one, between 1944 and 1988. Since 1944, 3,325 South Australian babies were named Brenton. Its peak popularity was in 1962, when 134 boys were named Brenton, making it the 19th most popular male name. In South Australia, more people per capita than other Australian states also have the last name Brenton. This could stem from the many Cornish people who emigrated to South Australia in the 1840s because of a famine in Cornwall and a copper mining boom in towns such as Burra, Kapunda and Moonta. The first internationally famous South Australian Brenton was Brenton Langbein, a child prodigy violinist from Gawler, who began playing with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at 14 and later settled in Zurich. Also with an international profile, Brenton Cox was appointed executive general manager of Adelaide Airport in 2013, a master of law graduate from Cambridge University who worked extensively in European airport management. Other well-known Brentons include former Adelaide Crows football coach Brenton Sanderson, former South Australian player/coach and Australian Football League player Brenton Phillips, Pirates of the Carribean film actor Brenton Thwaites, Adelaide Channel 9 newsreader Brenton Ragless and Adelaide music rapper Brenton Torrens. 

Ita Buttrose a product of family history entwined into twists of Adelaide's early years from 1850s

Ita Buttrose, chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from 2019, has a family background entrenched in early Adelaide history. The Buttrose name is from William Butters and wife Frances who sailed for Adelaide on the Washington from Scotland in 1851. William’s grandfather and father came from a Buttrose line but used the surname Butter. When he married Frances in Glasgow, William’s name was recorded as “Butters”; on the Washington passenger list it was  “Birtrouse”. These name anomalies became irrelevant when the Washington entered St Vincent Gulf and its drunken captain ran the ship aground on Troubridge Shoal. Among ship items lost were its log book with passengers’ names. The switch to "Buttrose” was simple. William was soon a policeman with Alexander Tolmer, bringing gold back from South Australian diggers in Victoria. He died in 1864 from a horse fall and/or diabetes, leaving Francis with eight children. She opened a school at Angaston and lived to 81. Her children included John Oswald Buttrose, a drinking womaniser whose son John was in the same mould, although he captained Sturt Football Club and played for South Australia in 1904 against Victoria. John/“Ossie" married Agnes, daughter of Murray Bridge publican Charles Kelly, whose father worked on the Adelaide-Darwin telegraph project. “Ossie” made an unsteady living in show business. He deserted Agnes and their seven children, the eldest being Charles, who got a job at 14 on Adelaide’s afternoon newspaper, The News. Charles, Ita Buttrose's father, became an eminent editor, war correspondent – and deputy manager of the ABC.


and Maree Man: South Australian creations with slight weirdness

Colton, Palmer&Preston boldly shows the skill to make versions of top global products in 1940s

Colton, Palmer & Preston showed the boldness and skill of South Australian manufacturing in the early 20th Century by making its versions of some of the world’s best-known brands. Ezy-bilt was a South Australian made imitation of Frank Hornby's Meccano construction kits. Ezy-bilt was a popular toy from the late 1940s until the 1960s. Also from the late 1940s, a Singer 20-lookalike toy sewing machine, called the Peter Pan Model 0 was made at Colton, Palmer & Preston’s factories that grew from locations at Southwark (now Thebarton) to Allenby Gardens on Port Road. The company originated with John Colton (later a South Australian premier, 1876-77) starting a wholesale harness and hardware business in 1842 with the first loan – £500 – issued by the Savings Bank of South Australia. Colton and Co. supplied horse bridles, saddles and hardware, with premises in Currie Street, Adelaide. By the 1860s, it begun making bicycles and kerosene lamps. It merged with ironmongers Harrold Bros in 1889, survived a big Currie Street fire in 1907, and joined with Palmer Preston & Co. in 1911. As wholesalers and makers of hardware, saddles, bicycles, lamps and clocks, the company moved in the 1920s to Port Road factories at Thebarton (now the brewery site) and then Allenby Gardens. In the 1930s, it had 300 employees. During World II, the company made grenades for the Australian army. In the 1950s, Colton, Palmer & Preston concentrated on light engineering, before tending towards wholesale and, in 1965, it was taken over by another Adelaide-born wholesaler G. & R. Wills (Holdings).

Mark Holden shocks 
rest of Australia 
with dance homage 
to Adelaide's own Bobo the Clown

Singer Mark Holden caused a very Adelaide sensation on his 2014 appearance on the Dancing with the Stars television show. His performance dressed as Bobo the Clown was condemned as “disturbing”, a “disaster on the dance floor”, “one of the scariest things I've ever seen” and “a train wreck”. Holden received four out of 40 (the lowest score possible) and was voted out of the show. Holden may have exposed a national clown phobia but he was paying tribute to Bobo as the phenomenally popular character of 1960s South Australia. Bobo the Clown, played by Charles “Hal” Turner, was a children’s character who first appeared on Adelaide’s Channel 9 and grew so popular that in the early 1960s that he was hired by new rival Adelaide TV station SAS10 and hosted its first program. This loss caused Channel 9 to come up with a new character: Humphrey B. Bear. After the Bobo incident, Holden released Holden Brothers Travelling Circus on CD/DVD, referring to his family background in circuses. Holden’s career had an intrinsically local start, from appearing on Ernie Sigley’s Adelaide Tonight in 1972 to  phases as singer, actor, TV personality, record producer, songwriter and barrister.

Humphrey B. Bear born on Channel 9 in 1960s after Bobo the Clown bolts off to Channel 10

Humphrey B. Bear, the Adelaide-born Channel 9 children’s television character who went on to international and national fame, was created as a reaction to Bobo the Clown. Bobo, played by Charles “Hal” Turner, was Channel 9’s previous main children’s character from the early 1960s. From a theatrical and vaudeville background, Turner, who wrote comedy and played leading roles in pantomimes produced by the station, was convinced by Channel 9 program director Rex Heading to play a clown on the Channel Niners children’s program. This set off the enormous success of Bobo who was mobbed by children in Adelaide and at regional centres such as Broken Hill and Port Lincoln. In the mid-1960s, Bobo's young fans could join The Bobo Club, buy Bobo dolls and drink Bobo cordial. When Adelaide’s SAS Channel 10 opened in July 1965, Bobo had switched allegiance, and its first program was at 4pm: The Bobo Show, with Bobo the Clown, Penny Ramsay and included The Magic Circle Club. Channel 9 lost the court case claiming Bobo was its property and not Turner’s. From that, they came up with a character they could copyright without relying on the actor playing it. Humphrey Bear emerged from this. Bobo disappeared from television in the 1970s but Humphrey B. Bear is an Adelaide-born children’s television character who went on to national and international fame, with viewers in 55 languages. In 2003, Humphrey became heritage listed in South Australia and a National Trust icon of the state. Humphrey also has been recognised as an icon of Australian television.

Bob Neil, Bob Neil, Bob Neil, Bob Neil, Bob Neil, Bob Neil, Bob Neil, Bob Neil, Bob Neil, Bob Neil

Bob Neil is an Adelaide legend – to the point that his reality carries a question mark. Legend has it that, from 1974, Bob Neil played 200 games over 20 years with Adelaide University Football Club (the Blacks) in the-then South Australian Amateur Football League. During the 1986 Al grand final, a chant of "Bob Neil, Bob Neil” spurred the Blacks to victory. His name began appearing all over Adelaide in graffiti, on banners, and over Adelaide Oval loudspeaker. When a Bob Neil banner was spotted at an Australian football match at The Oval, London, he went from cult figure to phenomenon. His name appeared on the Berlin Wall just before it was demolished in 1990. In 2014, Bob Neil was named a South Australian Living Legend in a radio poll. Bob Neil is reputed to have served at Adelaide University Football Club as player, coach and committee member. The club adopted him as the official club legend because he represented what the club stood for. He was known for good deeds such as appearing out of nowhere to help tap a beer keg at a party or filling in for a player or umpire at short notice. He is the only footballer in Adelaide who got away with wearing grey shorts (so he didn’t need to change between black for home games or white for away matches). A brilliant mathematican, Neil's football guernsey number 130 was worn to teach opponents the power of numbers as well as football. Sightings of Bob Neil – like Elvis – remain elusive

Nullarbor Nymph hoax grabs global media in 1970s; mythologised later in bronze and film

The Nullarbor Nymph grabbed global media focus in 1971-72. It was a hoax around sightings of a half-naked woman living among kangaroos on the Nullabor Plain. The first report was by professional kangaroo shooters from Eucla in Western Australia, near the South Australian border. They claimed to have seen a blond white woman among kangaroos and showed a grainy amateur film of a woman wearing kangaroo skins and holding a kangaroo by the tail. After more claimed sightings, the story went world-wide and journalists descended on Eucla (population eight at the time). The incident was eventually revealed as a hoax publicity stunt. The girl filmed later, as the Nullarbor Nymph, turned out to be a 17-year-old model Janice Beeby. The woman in the original photograph used by the media to perpetuate the hoax was Geneice Brooker, partner of Laurie Scott, one of the kangaroo shooters. Scott admitted to the Sunday Mail in 1972 that the hoax was created by a passing publicist at the Eucla Hotel. In 1992, sculptor Dora Dallwitz’s research on the hoax led to several exhibitions. Nullarbor Nymph sculptures were shown in 1994 by master’s students, and in 2000 and 2004 at Topfloor Gallery in Adelaide. Dallwitz’s bronze sculpture, After the Nullarbor Nymph, was exhibited in front of the South Australian Museum and selected in the 2004 Sculpture by the Sea exhibition in Sydney. It is now in front of Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide. In 2012, a $25,000-budget film The Nullarbor Nymph was produced out of Ceduna, written and directed by Mathew J. Wilkinson. 

Mysterious Maree Man rejuvenated in the South Australian outback since first 1998 sighting

The Maree Man – a 28 km by 4.2 km outline etching of an Aboriginal figure on the south east edge of Kati Thandi-Lake Eyre – is a mystery figure on the South Australian outback landscape. Maree Man was found by a Central Air Services pilot in 1998. Soon afterwards, Shane Anderson from William Creek Hotel, 200km northwest of Marree, said he had received an anonymous fax describing the location of the artwork that set off UFO and alien theories. The site was closed by the state government after legal action taken by Arabana Aboriginal Corporation as the area's native title claimants. State environment minister Dorothy Kotz called it environmental vandalism. But police found no evidence of an offence. One theory was that Maree Man was parting gift from the US Air Force after their time at the joint defence facility Nurrungar at Woomera, 1969 to late 1990s. In 1999, a plaque found buried five metres south of the nose of the figure featured an American flag and the Olympic rings. An inscription read: “In honour of the land they once knew . . .” But, in 2006, The Avertiser reported that South Australian artist and eccentric Bardius Goldberg, from Alice Springs, was the most likely creator of the figure. Flights over the site in 2010 began to be wound back as the figure deteriorated. In 2016, Maree Hotel owners Phil and Maz Turner and William Creek Hotel owner Trevor Wright joined to bring Maree Man back to life, with the blessing of the Arabana people. Two surveyors plotted the course using mapping software, before a grader cut 10cm into the ground to restore the outline.

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