King William Road, Adelaide. Monuments Lost . . . Almost.
A hapless sailor's gravestone, a brave firefighter honored, a grandiose family memorial . . . they are all along Adelaide's main thoroughfare, King William Road, and they are all but forgotten. With perfect Autumn weather to get us walking in our own capital, welcome to our promenade through the plane trees. Near the Government House gates there are three busts on pedestals, all post 1970 arrivals. Sir Mellis Napier was Chief Justice for 25 years and a long time Lieutenant Governor of South Australia, and so its an appropriate spot for a memorial to his service.
Sir Mark Oliphant is one of the states most famous sons, and the first local to be appointed Governor. An Unley High schoolboy, he went on to work on splitting the atom and research on the development of radar. He calls himself a "belligerent pacifist" and the trappings of office certainly did not stop him from having his say while he was in Government House.
The last memorial to arrive probably should have been first. Mary Lee definitely had a go in her time. She harangued the colonial parliament and populous persistently, and finally succeeded in seeing South Australia become a world leader in giving women the vote, and the right to stand for parliament. Her memorial dates from the century of women's suffrage in 1994. South Australia's pioneer women are celebrated in two far flung Memorials. The Flying Doctor Base in Alice Springs was officially opened on the same day as the Pioneer WOMEN'S Memorial Garden on King William Road, behind Government House. The centrepiece of the brick-walled haven is a statue of a young women carved in Waikerie limestone by controversial Melbourne sculptor Olga Cohn. The lines of the memorial show she was very much a modernist.
Another almost lost memorial sits on the edge of Elder Park, overlooking the Torrens Lake. It gave expression to the grief of Adelaide when it lost two firefighters in particularly touching circumstances. On Christmas Eve, 1886, as the lamps were lit in the busy shops of Rundle Street, a draper's window caught alight. The resulting blaze took two lives. Fireman Clark was pulled out of the building, but died within hours. Fireman John Gardner's body was not found till the early hours of Christmas morning.
As the Clark family wanted only a private funeral and gravestone, the public poured donations into a fund which saw a drinking fountain erected with a small marble cupola over it. On each side is chiseled "Fireman Gardner's Memorial". To this day, it provides a symbolically cooling sip as you stroll down King William Road.
Just over the City Bridge by the Torrens, there stands a very classical marble memorial set back in the gardens. It's classical temple design comes complete with life-size bronze angel on the steps. It is, in fact, a private family memorial, erected at their expense - about $500,000 in today's money. The Angas Family Memorial cast panels on each side of the monument beneath its temple structure. George Fife Angas was seen by many colonists as the "father and founder of South Australia".
As a Baptist merchant banker, he knew the disadvantages of being a dissenter, and he saw free enterprise and free religion going together in a brave experimental colony in far off Australia. As Chairman of the South Australian Company in London, he gave much support to both ideas. It was with his urging, for instance, that persecuted Lutherans from Silesia landed here instead of joining other brethren in Texas. They were the founders of the states strong German tradition in the Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills. His son John Howard Angas is depicted to. He built Collingrove, now a fine National Trust property with accommodation. It is near Angaston, named after the family.
Our search for the last memorial on our Autumn walk takes us just off King William Road past the War Memorial Gardens. Lining up exactly with the Cross of Sacrifice is a recent installation, the Naval Memorial Gardens.
A nineteenth century gravestone in the park lands is its focus, behind an anchor shaped garden. It's inscription reveals how a young sailor died amid community celebrations. On the State's founding day, Proclamation Day, December 28, 1885, the colonial navy's only ship HMCS Protector was firing its first Royal Salute off Glenelg. 20 year old, Phineas Davies failed to completely extinguish the flames from the previous shot, and as he loaded the next blank cartridge in the breech it exploded.He was killed instantly.Other plaques note naval losses and service to recent times. The garden is now a gathering place for the naval contingent after each Anzac Day March in Adelaide.
There are several other interesting monuments in the vicinity of our route this week on Postcards. On previous programs, for instance, we've looked at the imposing South African War Memorial, with its strong equestrian statue outside Government House. Over the City Bridge, the Sir Ross Smith Memorial marks his epic flight from London to Australia, and the Victor Richardson Gates chronicle a brilliant sports. For keen statue spotters intent on unraveling their meaning, I hereby recommend a 1997 publication, Silent Witnesses, by Simon Cameron. This book has been critical in my preparation to guide you on our insightful Autumn ramble. For more information you can email firstname.lastname@example.org