As I walk about Adelaide I love to recall its history. Many of the buildings in the city have a story hiding behind their facades. Love and lust, cruelty and kindness, greed and graft - all these qualities are found in the hidden history of Adelaide.
Who would think of murder as they pass the grand gates of Government House? Unlikely as it seems, a police inspector was shot dead by a constable in 1862 while the governor was holding a furniture auction.
Unearth The Dark History of Government House in Adelaide
The murderer told witnesses that he had brought his pistol to shoot troublesome cats, but he actually wanted to get even with the man who had recently sacked him for drunkenness. Less than a month later the murderer was hanged by the neck until dead at old Adelaide Gaol.
Bert Edwards' Tea Rooms Near the Central Market 1912 (State Library SA, B1831)
Courage and Crime There are many lurid tales of crime and punishment in Adelaide, but the story of Bert Edwards is quite remarkable. Born in 1888, Edwards is believed to have been the illegitimate son of SA premier Charles Cameron Kingston. As an adult Bert Edwards operated tea rooms on Compton Street in Adelaide near the Central Market. Despite being gay he was a popular member of parliament from 1917, where he worked to alleviate the conditions of the poor and was a campaigner for prison reform.
In 1931 Bert Edwards was convicted of sodomy and imprisoned for five years with hard labour. He was released after two years, and continued his charitable works until his death in 1963. Hundreds of people pass his former shop every day, but few would be aware of its connections in Adelaide history.
A Triple Murder on Hindley Street Not Far From Here
Mass Murder after Cards An unassuming building on Hindley Street's West End was the scene of a triple murder during World War 2. When the fire brigade was called to a blaze at a betting shop they discovered the bodies of three men who had been brutally murdered with a butchers cleaver. Despite a reward of £500, nobody was ever convicted of the crime. Patrons of this popular place would never imagine the horrors that have taken place here.
The First Balfours Bakery Stood Here, Demolished by Hines Construction
Dough and Determination James Calder came to Adelaide from Scotland in 1852 and set up a thriving bakery business. In 1880 James' eyesight failed and believing that he had cataracts, he took on his nephew as partner in his City Steam Biscuit Factory. After visiting an eye specialist in England Calder learned that he just needed new glasses to regain good vision, and lived another nine years.
The City Steam Biscuit Factory business later took on the name of Calder's nephew John Balfour, and it survives as Balfour's Bakery even today. Sadly the 130 year old bakery was demolished by Hines Construction while building the Ibis Hotel on Grenfell St, leaving a vacant block today.
Refused Heritage Listing by John Rau - The Walk of the Condemned
Unearthing the Dirt If you're not a familiar with Adelaide's history then you must first find a way to easily unearth it. The Adelaide City Explorer app is an easy and colourful way to discover the city. It will also show you places that the government refuses to heritage list despite Adelaide City Council recommendations.
Dark History Tours.
One of the best ways to explore the hidden history of Adelaide is on a Dark History Tour run by Adelaide's Haunted Horizons. Join a small group for this guided tour off the beaten track in the city. Our knowledgeable tour leader led us at a relaxed pace to several places in Adelaide where fascinating tales were told.
During the About Time History Festival Dark History tours cost just $25, and take about two hours. We had a fun group of people of all ages, and the walking tour was not tiring for me. The stories are not the same as those above, as I didn't want to include any spoilers here.
On a Dark History Tour Near Government House Adelaide
After my guided tour ended it was also possible to follow up with a tour of Adelaide Arcade, including its long abandoned Tea Rooms. With three deaths in Adelaide Arcade since it opened in 1885, is it haunted? You be the judge after you take the tour.
Other Tours From Adelaide's Haunted Horizons
Several other guided tours are available from Adelaide's Haunted Horizons. Take a Ghost Hunt at the Torrens Island Quarantine Station - if anywhere in Adelaide is haunted then surely this would be the place.
In the past guided tours of Glenside Hospital precinct and the spooky Z Ward have also been available - stay tuned for more news of these. In the meantime, I'm told that a pinch of salt in your pocket is a good deterrent for any supernatural spooks!